From the team at Great Turtle Kayak Tours

We sincerely hope that everyone is staying healthy and happy in these challenging times. We thank you deeply for your interest in our tours and for supporting small, local businesses as we all find ways to make it through and enjoy another beautiful summer on Mackinac Island.

The GTKT team is well and keeping a cautiously optimistic outlook. We've slowly started doing small tours booked in advance, and we're looking forward to making the very best of another summer on the water with you.

We've made detailed changes to our policies, and we will use this page to announce and catalog any future changes. We intend it to be a resource that reflects our commitment to the health and safety of our customers and team as our top priority. We plan to run the season fully staffed and in full compliance with local and state safety restrictions.

Opening Day

We opened for the season on June 5th, and have taken a few small tours. We are continuing to start into the season slowly, so as to work our new policies in consistently. Our decision to start tour operations has been aligned with advice from qualified health officials, state and local authorities. We have worked hard to make this in conjunction with the unanimous consensus of the Mackinac Island community. Although we are making all of the necessary preparations to operate whenever safely possible for the 2020 season, too much is uncertain at this moment to project a reliable opening date.

June 1st, 2020, Governor Whitmer announced a listing of the stay at home orders. All of our returning team members have now traveled to the area under strict guidlines to ensure safety. 

Advance Reservations

Currently, due to indoor space restrictions, we are not equipped with the appropriate space to accomodate walk-ins. This year, we are requiring reservations in advance until further notice. If the situation changes and travel or our operations become impossible, we will of course issue refunds, in a very similar way to our weather cancelation policy.

Updates to Policies & Procedures

Our policies have been updated extensively to ensure we conduct all of our operations in compliance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) social distancing guidelines and Michigan Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders (Executive Orders 2020-11, 2020-20, and 2020-42). Details are still evolving regarding exact protocols and regulations for small businesses, and we are keeping our policies updated daily as details become available.

Our procedures have been improved to ensure a safe and secure environment for our guests and team:

Gear Sanitization

We are fortunate enough that our new neighbor, the Gypsy Vodka Company, has rapidly repurposed a factory right here in our local area to produce an alcohol based sanitizer for mitigating COVID-19 on surfaces. Since the disinfectant is biodegradable, it is safe for our customers and the lake. This is exactly the type of product that we strongly prefer to use and sell.

  1. All gear to be used on a tour is disinfected before and after each tour. Lifejackets, paddles, kayaks, and paddleboards are sprayed with a spray bottle filled with liquid sanitizer, and wiped thoroughly with a sponge dipped in the same liquid sanitizer.
  2. After a tour, the lifejackets and paddles that were used are hung on racks to dry completely in direct sunlight before reuse.
  3. Subsequent tours for a given day will use different gear, following the Step 1 & 2 procedures.
  4. Step 1 will be performed on all gear that was used during the day before performing nightly storage.
Social Distancing Policies

Our policies have been improved to ensure that guests maintain 6 feet from other groups during their tour.

  1. Group sizes for our tours will be kept to a strict limit of 10 people or 4 families per guide, whichever is the least.
  2. Our indoor retail store will be closed to the public, but we will be operating an outdoor, walk up reservation desk.
  3. Face masks are required to be worn on our beach at all times. Face masks may only be removed on the water.
  4. A maximum limit of 25 guests are allowed on our beach at once. We decrease this limit as needed when multiple groups are present.
  5. We have slightly modified our tour start times so that launches and landings are staggered, minimizing contact between guests.
  6. During reception, guests will be given disinfected lifejackets and paddles.
  7. Guests must take care to maintain 6 feet from other groups.
  8. During paddle instruction, the extra space will be an advantage for practicing paddling motions.
  9. We will launch and land by group, to maximize space efficiency and guide attention on our beach.
  10. On the beach, on tours and at our reservation desk, staff will remind guests to be careful to maintain 6 feet from other groups. This will be easily done on tours by default since our kayaks range from 12.5-16 feet in length.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) & Personal Sanitization

We provide face masks and disposable gloves to all employees as required. Hand sanitizer dispensers are available at our retail store and on our beach.

Cashless Payment Transactions

We offer contactless payments for reservations via our website, and for retail items using our contactless card readers.

Health Screenings

All team members will complete a confidential self-assessment survey, specifying health details including body temperature and symptoms, at the start and end of each shift. We have based are survey on the following resources:

  1. SBAM: COVID-19 Employee Health Screening Form
  2. Ingham Medical: Workplace Screening
  3. Ingham Medical: Workplace Checklist

Team members experiencing any known symptoms of COVID-19 exposure (fever, cough, sore throat, headache, running nose, or shortness of breath) will be required to stay home. Cases of suspected exposure will be referred to city and county medical officials. We continue to research the availability of reliable COVID-19 testing methods.

Michigan & Mackinac Island Readiness & Pandemic Updates

May 7, 2020 Update: The Mackinac Island community is still planning our return to normal operations. There remain restrictions in place on travel, occupance of public spaces, and business operations. If you are planning to visit Mackinac Island, please refer to the following resources for more updated information about general Mackinac Island operational readiness.

Further Resources

Mackinac Island Medical Center & Mackinac Straits Health System:

7474 Market St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Phone: (906) 847-3582

State of Michigan Department of Public Health & Safety

The Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

The City of Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island COVID-19 Business Plan:

Mackinac State Historic Parks

Ferry Boats

Ferry boats are currently operating on a very limited schedule. Please see the two companies' official websites for more details:

Star Line




The American Canoe Association: COVID-19 Guidelines for Instructors & Event Organizers

The American Canoe Association: COVID-19 & Responsible Paddling Infographic