6 Best Kayak Tours in Door County

Here are the best Door County kayak tours:

Door County kayak tours – a must-do adventure for anyone visiting this picturesque peninsula. Set between the calm waters of Green Bay and the vast expanse of Lake Michigan, Door County offers kayakers an unparalleled experience. From serene inland lakes to historic shipwrecks off rocky shores, the variety of landscapes to explore is astounding.

Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a curious newbie, these tours promise an immersive journey through nature’s beauty, local wildlife, and the rich history of the area. Join us as we dive into the best kayak tours Door County has to offer, tailored for every skill level and interest.

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Best Door County Kayak Tours

Cave Point Kayak Tour

Grid of images: Scenes from Cave Point County Park and kayakers.

At Cave Point County Park, stone and water collide. Hydrological and geological forces meet. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer power of the elements at play here. That’s why it’s one of the most popular spots in Door County.

The Cave Point Kayak Tour is the best way to take in the magnitude of this awesome place.

Exploring Cave Point County Park by kayak offers an unmatched perspective, bringing you up close to the stunning geological formations that make this area a Door County gem. From the unique vantage point on the water, kayakers of all levels can marvel at the breathtaking caves, cliffs, and coves only visible from Lake Michigan’s surface.

This experience, combining natural beauty with adventure, is a must-do for families and individuals alike. On my adventure with the kids, the beauty of paddling past Cave Point and Whitefish Dunes State Park, and the thrill of venturing into accessible caves, made for an unforgettable experience.

The tour is an incredible way to connect with nature, offering chances to see the park’s iconic features up close, and even, conditions permitting, to paddle into the mysterious caves that dot the shoreline.

Check availability for this classic Door County boat tour.

Sunset Kayak Tour

Grid of images depicting the sunset kayak boat tour in Door County, Wisconsin.

If you prefer to greet the dusk in a quieter, more intimate setting, the Sunset Kayak Tour is a better option for you. Down in your kayak, close to the water, it’s as if you are a part of the waters of Green Bay that the sun will be setting into.

Launching from the lovely village of Ephraim, nestled on the shores of the Bay of Green Bay, the Sunset Kayak Tour offers an unparalleled experience to witness Door County’s famous sunsets. With Eagle Harbor’s Bluff and Horseshoe Island forming a picturesque backdrop, this tour is an idyllic way to end the day.

Whether seeking a romantic outing or an unforgettable family adventure, the calm waters and the spectacular sunset create a breathtaking, tranquil scene.

Check availability for this relaxing boat tour.

Death’s Door Bluff Kayak Tour

Grid of images depicting a kayak tour at Death's Door Bluff County Park in Door County, Wisconsin.

This is a boat tour for adventurous souls who want to get away from the crowds. Few folks undertake it—those who do have an experience to brag about.

This tour offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue. Over the course of 2 hours, you’ll glide through the waters of Garrett Bay, approaching the famous Door Bluff County Park.

The tour highlights include the Schooner Fleetwing Shipwreck, captivating Native American pictographs, and the towering rock cairns of Door Bluff County Park. Marvel at Door County’s highest natural point and enjoy panoramic views of Washington Island. Meeting directly at the launch site ensures maximum time on the water, making it ideal for those eager to explore without delay.

The secluded nature of this location, far from the usual tourist paths, promises an intimate and unique kayaking experience. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a first-timer, the provided Red Cross-trained guides ensure a safe and memorable adventure. Don’t miss the chance to discover the secrets of Death’s Door, where the peninsula got its foreboding name.

Check availability for this adventurous boat tour.

Peninsula State Park Kayak Tour

Grid of images depicting kayak tours at Peninsula State Park in Door County, Wisconsin.

The Peninsula State Park Kayak Tour gives you a new perspective on Wisconsin’s most popular state park.

This state park is so popular for a reason – stunning natural beauty combined with fascinating history makes for a winning combination. This boat tour lets you explore it from a different angle – the water.

Participants can explore the park’s famous sights, including the majestic Eagle Bluff, the historic Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Horseshoe Island, and the serene Nicolet Bay over approximately 4 hours. This tour immerses you in the tranquil waters and scenic vistas of Door County and brings you close to landmarks that narrate the area’s rich history.

The Peninsula State Park Kayak Tour is designed to accommodate both beginners and experienced kayakers, with all necessary instruction provided. As you paddle alongside the park’s coastline, you’ll gain insights into the natural and cultural history of the area, making for an enriching and enjoyable experience.

Check availability now for this scenic boat tour.

Naturalist Led Sea Kayak Boat Tour

Grid of images depicting a naturalist led sea kayak tour in Door County.

Some of the world’s rarest ecosystems can be found in Door County. The Naturalist Led Sea Kayak Tour is one of the best ways to experience these precious natural phenomena.

These boat tours not only allow you to paddle through the crystal-clear waters alongside the breathtaking bluffs of Cave Point County Park but also to discover the hidden beauty that lies beneath the surface, such as underwater caves and shipwrecks.

With guidance from knowledgeable naturalists, you gain intimate insights into the local geology, ecology, and history, making it more than just a kayaking adventure—it’s a deep dive into the heart of Door County’s natural wonders.

These tours cater to all levels, from beginners to experienced kayakers, ensuring everyone can safely enjoy the beauty of the area. Whether it’s the chance to see a shipwreck up close or to marvel at the geological formations, this tour promises a memorable experience that combines physical activity with educational enrichment.

Check availability now for this great experience.

Wetlands Kayak Tour

Grid of images of people taking kayak tours in Door County, Wisconsin.

Lake Michigan and Green Bay get most of the glory. But, if your water-based explorations stop there, you’ve only scratched the surface. In the Wetlands Kayak Tour, you will delve deep into Door County’s natural treasures to see abundant wild and plant life.

As you meander through the calm waters of Rieboldt Creek and onto Mud Lake, you’re immersed in an eco-rich environment where the harmonious coexistence of plants, birds, fish, and insects unfolds before you. This tour, suitable for beginners and seasoned kayakers alike, provides a rare opportunity to closely observe and be part of an incredible ecological community, making it an ideal choice for those looking to connect with nature and witness wildlife in its natural habitat.

Check availability for this natural deep dive.

Grid of kayaking scenes in Door County. Superimposed text says: Kayak Tours.

Tips for Choosing a Kayak Tour in Door County

Here are some tips to help you choose the right kayak tour, based on our experiences:

  1. Consider Your Skill Level: Door County offers a range of kayaking experiences from calm, easy paddles in protected waters perfect for beginners and families with kids, to more challenging open water tours for the more experienced. Be honest about your skill level to ensure you enjoy your time on the water safely.
  2. Look for Experienced Guides: A good guide makes all the difference. They not only ensure safety but also enrich your tour with stories about the local history, geology, and wildlife. Ask about the guides’ qualifications and experience, especially if you’re eyeing more adventurous routes.
  3. Check the Tour Length and Route: Some tours offer quick, hour-long jaunts, while others can take up half a day or more. Consider what you want to see and how much time you’re willing to spend. Do you want to explore caves, paddle along the shoreline, or venture out to see shipwrecks? Door County has it all, so choose accordingly.
  4. Read Reviews: Nowadays, it’s easy to find reviews online. Look for feedback on the tour operators you’re considering. Previous adventurers can offer insights on the quality of the equipment, the knowledge of the guides, and the overall experience.
  5. Ask About the Gear: Ensure the tour provides high-quality, well-maintained kayaks and safety equipment. Proper fitting life jackets and comfortable kayaks make a big difference in your enjoyment and safety.
  6. Consider the Scenery: Door County is stunning, and each area offers its own unique beauty. Whether it’s the limestone cliffs of Cave Point, the tranquil waters of Kangaroo Lake, or the historic Eagle Harbor, choose a tour that matches the scenery you most want to experience.
  7. Plan for the Weather: Weather can change quickly on the water. Ask how the tour operator handles changing conditions and what their cancellation policy is. Some of my family’s best kayaking experiences have come from being flexible with our plans.
  8. Look for Special Features: Some tours offer unique experiences like sunset paddles, full moon tours, or photography-focused excursions. If you have a particular interest, look for a tour that caters to it.

Kayaking in Door County isn’t just about paddling; it’s about immersing yourself in the natural beauty and tranquility of the peninsula. Whether it’s spotting wildlife, exploring caves, or just enjoying the peacefulness of the water, there’s a kayak tour out there for you. Remember, the best tour is the one that matches your interests, skills, and sense of adventure. Happy paddling!

Dressing for a Door County Kayak Tour

Dressing for a kayak tour in Door County is all about preparing for a mix of sun, water, and the occasional cool breeze, especially in the mornings or late evenings. Here’s how my family and I gear up for these adventures, ensuring we’re comfortable, protected, and ready to enjoy the day:

  1. Layer Up: Weather in Door County can be a bit unpredictable. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep sweat off your skin. Add a warmer layer like a fleece or a long-sleeve shirt that you can remove if it gets too warm. During cooler months, a waterproof or windproof jacket is a good idea.
  2. Water-Resistant Bottoms: Quick-dry shorts or pants are ideal. They’ll help you stay comfortable even if you get splashed. In cooler weather, you might prefer lightweight, quick-dry pants to protect against the chill.
  3. Footwear That Can Get Wet: Wear water shoes or old sneakers. Sandals that strap securely to your feet can also work, but avoid flip-flops—they offer little protection and can easily get lost.
  4. Sun Protection: The sun can be stronger than you think, especially when it reflects off the water. Wear a broad-brimmed hat or a cap, sunglasses with UV protection, and don’t forget to apply (and reapply) waterproof sunscreen.
  5. Gloves: If you’re not used to paddling, gloves can help prevent blisters. Look for ones designed for water sports; they’ll provide a good grip even when wet.
  6. Dry Bag for Extras: While not exactly an item of clothing, a dry bag is essential for keeping your extra clothes, towel, phone, and snacks dry. You can usually rent one from the tour operator if you don’t have your own.
  7. Safety Gear: Your tour provider will supply a life jacket, also known as a personal flotation device (PFD). Make sure it fits snugly; it’s there to keep you safe.
  8. Bug Spray: Especially during the early summer or if you’re kayaking near marshy areas, insect repellent can be a lifesaver. Apply it before you start your tour.
  9. Light Snacks and Water: Again, not clothing, but crucial for longer tours. Pack lightweight, high-energy snacks like nuts or granola bars, and bring more water than you think you’ll need.
  10. Change of Clothes: Leave a dry set of clothes in your car for after the tour. It’s nice to have dry, comfortable clothes to change into, especially if you’re planning to explore more of Door County after your kayaking adventure.

Remember, kayaking is about comfort and safety as much as it is about fun. Dressing appropriately means you can focus on the beauty around you without distraction. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned paddler, being well-prepared will help make your Door County kayaking tour an unforgettable experience.

What To Bring on a Kayak Tour in Door County

Embarking on a kayak tour in Door County is an adventure you’ll cherish, whether you’re paddling along the serene shores of Lake Michigan or exploring the hidden beauty of the Peninsula’s inland waterways. Here’s a list of essentials my family and I always make sure to bring along, ensuring our kayaking journey is safe, comfortable, and enjoyable. And a quick tip: It’s always wise to ask your outfitter ahead of time if they provide any of these items or if there’s anything specific they recommend you bring along for their tours.

  1. Water and Snacks: Bring more water than you think you’ll need to stay hydrated, and pack some high-energy, easily portable snacks like energy bars or trail mix.
  2. Sun Protection: Apply waterproof sunscreen before you leave and bring extra for reapplication. Include a hat with a brim to protect your face and sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes.
  3. Appropriate Clothing: Dress in layers using quick-dry materials. Even in summer, it can get chilly on the water, especially early in the morning or late in the evening. Avoid cotton as it takes long to dry.
  4. Footwear: Water shoes or old sneakers are best. They’ll protect your feet and won’t mind getting wet.
  5. Dry Bag: Essential for keeping your valuables, extra clothing, and electronic devices dry. Some outfitters might provide these, but check first.
  6. First Aid Kit: Small, waterproof first aid kits tailored for outdoor activities are perfect for dealing with minor scrapes or blisters.
  7. Insect Repellent: Depending on the time of year and the route of your tour, you might encounter biting insects, especially near marshy areas.
  8. Life Jacket (PFD): Your outfitter will provide this, but if you have a personal one that fits you well and is designed for paddling, consider bringing it along.
  9. Waterproof Camera or Phone Case: For capturing those memorable moments without risking water damage to your devices.
  10. Change of Clothes: Keep a set of dry clothes and a towel in your car for after the tour. It’s nice to be able to change into something dry for the ride home.
  11. Gloves for Paddling: To prevent blisters if you’re not accustomed to paddling, consider bringing along a pair of gloves. They should be snug but comfortable.
  12. Map or Guidebook: If you’re on a self-guided tour, a waterproof map or guidebook of the area can be invaluable for navigating and learning more about the sights.
  13. Emergency Whistle: Usually attached to your PFD, but it’s good to have your own as an extra safety measure.
  14. Binoculars: If you’re a bird watcher or just want to get a closer look at the shoreline wildlife, a small pair of waterproof binoculars can enhance your experience.
  15. Reusable Water Bottle: Many outfitters advocate for environmental conservation, so bringing a reusable water bottle helps reduce plastic waste.

Remember, every kayak tour in Door County is unique, and the specific items you’ll need can vary based on the length of the tour, the weather, and the time of year. Always check with your outfitter ahead of time for any additional recommendations or requirements. This way, you’ll be as prepared as possible to enjoy the stunning beauty of Door County from the water!

Which Body of Water?

Kayaking in Door County offers a diverse array of waterscapes, each with its unique charm and challenges. Whether you’re gliding along the expansive shores of Lake Michigan, exploring the calmer waters of Green Bay, navigating the thoroughfares of Sturgeon Bay, or discovering the tranquil beauty of inland lakes and rivers, there’s something for every paddler. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each to help you decide where your next kayaking adventure in Door County should be:

Lake Michigan


  • Scenic Beauty: Vast and breathtaking, the open water offers stunning views of the sunrise or sunset over the horizon.
  • Wildlife Encounters: You might spot a variety of birds and aquatic life unique to this Great Lake.
  • Shipwrecks: Parts of Lake Michigan are renowned for kayaking over shipwrecks, offering a glimpse into history.


  • Variable Conditions: Weather and water conditions can change rapidly, making it more suitable for experienced kayakers.
  • Cooler Temperatures: The open water can be significantly cooler, requiring better preparation and gear.
  • Waves and Currents: Can be challenging, with the potential for high waves and strong currents.

Green Bay


  • Protected Waters: Generally calmer than Lake Michigan, making it suitable for paddlers of all skill levels.
  • Accessibility: Easy access to a variety of launch sites and amenities along the shoreline.
  • Fishing Opportunities: Green Bay is known for excellent fishing, so you can combine kayaking with angling.


  • Busy Waterways: Can be crowded with motorized watercraft, especially during peak season, which requires vigilance.
  • Limited Seclusion: The more accessible areas might not offer the solitude some kayakers seek.

Sturgeon Bay


  • Gateway to Both Waters: Acts as a connector between Lake Michigan and Green Bay, offering diverse kayaking experiences.
  • Urban Amenities: Close proximity to Sturgeon Bay means easy access to rentals, tours, and after-paddle dining and shopping.
  • Historic Sites: Paddle past historic lighthouses and shipyards for a unique blend of natural beauty and heritage.


  • Traffic: Both marine and on land, the area can get busy, especially near boat launches and bridges.
  • Industrial Areas: Some sections might lack the natural scenery as they pass by more developed or industrial zones.

Inland Bodies of Water


  • Calm and Clear Waters: Ideal for beginners, families, or those seeking a peaceful paddle.
  • Scenic and Secluded: Many inland lakes are nestled in pristine settings, offering beautiful landscapes and wildlife viewing.
  • Warm Water: Inland lakes and rivers can be warmer than the open waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay.


  • Smaller Areas to Explore: Depending on the body of water, you might have a more limited area to kayak.
  • Variable Water Levels: Especially in rivers and streams, water levels can fluctuate, affecting navigability.
  • Limited Amenities: Some inland waters are more remote, with fewer nearby facilities for rentals or other needs.

When choosing where to kayak in Door County, consider your experience level, the kind of experience you’re looking for, and the current weather conditions. Each body of water offers its own unique set of joys and challenges, ensuring that whether you’re seeking adventure, tranquility, or something in-between, you’ll find the perfect spot in Door County.

About the author
Mark Stoneman
Hi! My name is Mark! I have been a resident of Door County for almost ten years now, and I'm glad to help you say "Hello" to Door County. I believe that travel helps to change lives, and because of that, I want to help you improve your life through travel.

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