Pelee Island is located less than 30 kilometres south of Leamington, Ontario, and approximately 22 miles north of Sandusky, Ohio. Depending on where you’re coming from, and the time of the year there are a few different ways that you can get to our remote island.
Pelee Island has three official Canadian port of entry sites. Any visitors coming from outside of Canada must have a valid passport with them.
Owen Sound Transportation runs daily ferry trips to and from Pelee Island from early April until early December. The company currently operates two vessels.
The Pelee Islander which is a small ship that first began operating in 1960 and can carry 9-10 vehicles. The ship has a small indoor seating area with a little canteen selling a few different non-alcoholic beverages, chocolate bars, and pre-packaged snacks including cookies and muffins. On the top of the ship there is a larger outdoor seating area that is oftentimes (but not always) tarp covered to protect from rain and sun. The Pelee Islander runs from Pelee Island to both mainland Canada (Kingsville or Leamington, Ontario depending on the time of year), as well as Sandusky, Ohio. This ship in recent years has run a shorter season than the other ferry in the fleet.
The Pelee Islander II is the larger, newer ferry that began operations in 2018. The ferry can hold nearly 40 passenger vehicles and also has space for larger vehicles like buses, semi-trucks, tractors, and heavy machinery. The ship has a passenger capacity of just under 400. Inside the ship there are two seating areas, the larger lounge area is located at the bow of the ship and somewhat resembles that of simplified airplane seating. At the stern of the ship is a small eating area with a handful of tables, two of which are wheelchair accessible. The ship has a small canteen selling coffee, tea, bottled pop, juice, and water, chocolate bars, prepackaged cookies, muffins, and chips. On the upper deck of the ship there is seating at both the bow and stern as well as seating along both sides of the ship. There is also a small gated off and covered area for those who have dogs with them.
The ferry ride from mainland Ontario to Pelee Island typically has a duration of around 1.5 hours and usually operates from Leamington, Ontario from April - July, and from Kingsville, Ontario from August 1, until the boat shuts down for the season in early December. From Sandusky, Ohio the ferry ride typically has a duration of 2 hours.
There are a few important things to note with the ferry services:
All passengers whether driving on, bringing a bike, or walking on must make reservations beforehand. The ferry service requests that you arrive 1 hour prior to your scheduled departure time; they will not let anyone on the ship if you arrive less than 10 minutes before your scheduled departure time (if you are on the 4pm boat and show up at 3:51, you’re probably not getting on the boat.). Neither of the two ferries offer real food or meals, they only have prepackaged snacks so if you want to eat on your ride to or from the island it is best to pick something up beforehand and bring it with you.
Ferry crossings may be delayed, cancelled, or switch docking locations on the mainland due to weather conditions or mechanical issues. Typically you will receive an automatic text message and/or email from the phone number or email address that you made your reservation with but oftentimes it can be very last minute before they make that decision, sometimes you may already be at the dock waiting to get your ticket. This can be disheartening and frustrating but it is something that is typically uncontrollable and is done out of the safety of all passengers and crew of the ships.
In the winter months when the ferry is not operating the only way to get to and from Pelee Island is by airplane. From early December until late March Canadian plane service is run by Cameron Air and operates daily between Windsor, Ontario, and Pelee Island. The plane is very small holding less than 10 passengers per flight. Public air transportation is not available from Canada during the months that the ferry operates.
Flight services from the United States are available year round and are run by Griffing Flying Service and operate out of Port Clinton, Ohio.
Pelee Island’s airport is also available for use by private aircraft. If you require information regarding the Pelee Island airport for private aircraft use please call (519) 724-2931 between 8:30am and 4:30pm Monday-Friday.
Personal watercraft is a very popular way to travel to and from Pelee Island. Scudder Marina is the only marina on Pelee Island and is located in the north bay (coordinates N 41 49.00 W 82 39.40). The marina typically operates from early May until sometime in the early fall. Most of the docks at Scudder Marina have been fairly recently updated or replaced. There are both serviced (mostly 30 amp, but there are a few 50 amp as well) and unserviced slips. The marina has slips with fingers ranging in length from around 15 - 35 feet and can accommodate vessels up to 65 feet at the very end of either of the two main docks on the “T”. Scudder Marina monitors VHF channel 68, and can be reached by phone at 519-724-2377. Reservations are not required but are highly encouraged as the marina does fill up, especially on Canadian and American holiday weekends or weekends when events are happening on the island.