Mackinac is another weirdly pronounced island name like Bois Blanc (Bob-lo). Mackinac is pronounced Mackinaw.
Mackinac Island was the original tourist location in Northern Michigan before Bois Blanc Island and it still attracts thousands of people per day.
Initially, Mackinac Island was a trading post for the local Ojibwa Native Americans. They brought furs to trade with European settlers. The Europeans then took the furs east and sold them.
The traders chose Mackinac to conduct business because it is well situated at the junction between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. People could easily reach Mackinac by boat from all over the Northwest Territory.
Since Mackinac was the center of this trade it was important for the British to defend it.
The British built Fort Mackinac on the south side of the island to protect and control the fur trade.
As the fur trade died out it became replaced by tourism in the late 1800s.
Millions of people visit Mackinac Island every year, but what do they all do there?
There are gift shops, arcades, toy stores, fudge shops (Mackinac Island fudge is the best in the world), and tons of state park space to explore.
Fort Mackinac is now a historical site where costumed employees will tell you what life on the frontier was like in the 1800s.
There are a few other historical buildings sprinkled around the island including an old doctor’s house and a beautiful church.
My favorite attraction on Mackinac is the Butterfly House.
It’s a little house on the hill behind the beautiful church.
The house connects to a greenhouse filled with hundreds of butterflies from all over the world.
The butterflies flap around and land on flowers and people who are sitting still while instrumental music plays through overhead speakers.
A picture doesn’t really capture the whole experience, but here’s one of my better ones when a butterfly landed on a flower.
It’s like stepping into a greenhouse full of flowers, only the flowers are flying around over your head, dancing.
My wife and I got some delicious Mackinac Island fudge before being picked up by my uncle in the family motor boat for the return trip to Bois Blanc Island.
Round Island is just offshore of the West End on Bois Blanc Island.
From my family’s cottages, the national park is only 0.6 miles away.
My wife and I like kayaking over there when we come to Bois Blanc.
There is a current towards the west that will sweep you away if you don’t constantly correct your course on the kayak.
My wife and I capsized our kayak halfway to Round Island once and almost got taken away by the current.
We couldn’t right the kayak, so we ended up kicking with our feet to push the kayak the rest of the way to Round Island.
My grandpa is always in an overwatch position with a telescope on the porch of the New Cottage.
When we capsized my grandpa was ready to call the Coast Guard to rescue us if we went past Round Island into the open part of Lake Huron.
We landed on the westernmost tip of Round Island and saved ourselves a lot of trouble.
Round Island itself is empty and there isn’t much to do there. You can’t go inland because the forest is too deep. There’s an old lighthouse, but it closed when radar became the standard method for preventing ships from running aground.
My family spends our time on Round Island looking for cool rocks, beach glass, or the occasional piece of coal that fell off a freighter and washed ashore.
We do all that stuff, but mostly my wife and I go to Round Island because there is no one else on it.
Bois Blanc is isolated, but there are still happy relatives all around you.
On Round Island there is literally no other person within half a mile of you.