Apostle Island Sea Caves – What You Need to Know

kayaking at the Apostle Island Sea Caves

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The Apostle Islands consist of 22 small islands in the Lake Superior, off the Bayfield Peninsula in N. Wisconsin (US). It is home to some of the most beautiful and amazing sea caves in the world: The Apostle Island Sea Caves. The view becomes more scenic in the winter when these caves transform themselves into temples of ice. It is interesting to note that although they are called sea caves, they are lake caves.

The Sea Caves of Apostle Island are revered across the world as stunningly beautiful, and the eroded caverns just beneath the Apostle Islands are one of the most popular natural wonders of the US. From a distance, the sea caves look like a delicate stone honeycomb. During the warm summer months, the caves and tunnels can only be accessed by boats, with many of them too dangerous to enter. However, the caves are much more accessible during the winter months.

More about the Apostle Island Sea Caves

Are the ice caves open now?

The mainland region and the islands of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore remain open to the visitors throughout the year. However, the ice caves are not open yet, but you can still come here and visit the Bayfield Visitor Center and pick up some cool ice cave memorabilia.

Apostle Island Sea Caves Ice Caves

The ice caves will be open in due course of time as the authorities need many weeks of sub-zero temperatures and steady winds so that the top surface of the Lake Superior freezes, and people can walk right across the ice to the caves. The central concept is that the ice in the lake must lock itself naturally into the land features, and it should be very thick so that it can support the visitors. Since December is relatively warm, until and unless there are continuous cold temperatures, it won’t be very easy for the authorities to make the ice cave accessible to visitors.

It is to be remembered that the trek across the ice is challenging. We recommend that you use sturdy boots and ski pools to maintain stability on the ice. If it had snowed the night before, then you should switch to snowshoes for easier hiking. It is a good idea to call the Ice Line for the latest updates at 715 – 779 – 3397 and ask for extension 3.

kayaking at the Apostle Island Sea Caves

Kayaking to the Apostle Islands

A lot of people come to the Apostle Islands in pursuit of an adventure of exploring the region by boat. The kayaks are very popular for travel among the islands and also in the mainland sea caves. Operating on these kayaks is a lot of fun and feels exciting, but it can get dangerous when the weather conditions are not so favorable. Paddlers must respect the weather pattern of Lake Superior and then decide to kayak to Apostle Islands. Guided trips and safety classes are held regularly. But this region is indeed considered to be an excellent place for beginner kayakers who want to get a feel of the caves. Since Lake Superior does not have a reputation for being a calm and quiet inland lake, it is a good idea to take a guide along with you if you do not have enough experience in kayaking.

Apostle Island Sea Caves ferry

Why are the Apostle Islands so called?

It is widely believed and accepted that the French Jesuits named the islands ‘Apostle’ as they had a practice of naming places after biblical names. Still, experts say that they were definitely under the false impression that there were only 12 islands. However, the name – Apostle Islands – was extensively used in general till the 1820s when an explorer called Henry Schoolcraft named them as Federation Islands. This name never had any mass takers, and it was New France historian Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix who renamed the island as Apostle Islands after the 12 apostles or the twelve largest islands.

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