South Bass Island kayaking (photo courtesy of South Bass Island Kayak Rendezvous)

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. (The 2022 dates are set for June 10 through 12.)

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