Kayaking the Lake Erie Islands
South Bass Island Kayak Rendezvous founder Eric Slough shares how to see Ohio’s islands from a new perspective.
Embrace your adventurous spirit by kayaking around the Lake Erie islands. This northwest Ohio spot offers paddlers plentiful island-to-island routes and unique water-exclusive views of things you can’t see from land. Catch a glimpse of the Benson Ford Shiphouse (a shipping vessel-turned-home that’s perched along the shore of South Bass Island) or Manila Bay (a crescent-shaped bay offering clear water, wild plants and a sandy beach). Green Island is a wildlife refuge with a bird sanctuary and the ruins of an abandoned lighthouse.
“We have full-on, expedition-touring sea kayaks, and we go all over the Great Lakes and Canada,” Eric Slough says of his circle of friends. “But Lake Erie is still our home waters … where we cut our teeth, where we learned, and … the sport is really starting to take off.”
Since 2005, Slough has organized the annual South Bass Island Kayak Rendezvous, a three-day event for paddlers of all skill levels that highlights the islands as a kayaking destination. (This year’s event was still scheduled at press time for June 5 through 7.)
Traveling from South Bass Island to Green Island offers a swift 2-mile paddle, while the route from North Bass Island to Green Island promises a lengthier 5-mile trip. For an extended 11-mile excursion, paddle around the perimeter of South Bass Island.
“It’s a great learning environment,” Slough says. “There are awesome coastal areas to paddle and rock gardening you can go in and out of and all kinds of fun stuff — you can cross between islands … just, you know, exploring every nook and cranny out there.” South Bass Island State Park, 1523 Catawba Ave., Put-in-Bay 43456