Is Mackinac Island Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On January 25, 2023
Mackinac Island, United States
Safety Index:
83
* Based on Research & Crime Data

If I asked you what the best island in the continental United States was, I doubt a Michigan island would come to mind.

If that’s true for you, there’s much to learn about Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Travel & Leisure ranked this as the top island, beating even Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Once you look closer, it’s not hard to see why.

Mackinac Island sits between Michigan’s “Mitten” and Upper Peninsula (UP) just east of the Mackinac Bridge.

Imagine an island with no traffic or trouble finding a parking spot.

Mackinac Island is car-free and has the country’s only highway that doesn’t allow motor vehicles.

Bicycles and horse-drawn carriages are the only options if you don’t want to walk.

You can bring your bike or rent one easily in town.

You’ll be amazed at how much can fit into one island at just five square miles and how little you miss having a car.

The island is known for its fudge shops, so always save room for dessert.

Even in an island escape, you can escape because 80% of the island is a state park.

Whether you want to explore a cave, play golf perched atop a War of 1812 golf course, or just soak in the charming atmosphere of The Village, Mackinac Island is a premiere safe destination for all.

To get in the mood for Mackinac Island, watch the 1980 movie “Somewhere in Time,” starring Christopher Reeve.

Warnings & Dangers in Mackinac Island

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

The risk is low even when you just compare crime data to the 500 permanent island residents but add in the tens of thousands of tourists, and it's shocking how safe this place is. On top of that, you will never run out of things to do or places to relax and rejuvenate.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

You won't be able to get a taxi, rideshare, bus, or rental car here. Cars are banned, aside from emergency services. You can bring your own bike on the ferry or rent one by the hour or by the day. The bike rental costs do add up - hourly rates are up to $15, daily rates are as high as $90, and if you want one for 24 hours, plan to spend up to $120. A ferry is the only way to get to the airport, and you'll need a ride to the Mackinac Bridge, about four hours by car from Detroit.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

The risk is low, with just one purse snatching reported in 2021. Bicycle thefts are the most common, accounting for 63% of thefts. Don't let a safe community ranking make you forget bicycle safety steps.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW

The risks during the tourist season are relatively low, with the biggest concerns being severe thunderstorms, extreme winds, or localized flooding. Even rainy days don't stop the summer fun on this island, as there's plenty to do indoors. Winter is particularly brutal at times, but it's also very unlikely you'll be a winter visitor. We'll address that specifically a little later on in this article.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

The island has seen one robbery since at least 2011, so the risk is very low. You should still always be aware of your surroundings regardless.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

This is another low risk. With a small population, remote nature, and lack of hard targets, this city is one of the safest for those concerned about terrorism. However, as America deals with a mass shooting crisis, Lone Wolf acts in random places are always possible.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

Mackinac Island relies on tourists, so it's unlikely they'll be scammed while on the island. Some scams have been reported through fake ferry posts on social media where personal and credit card information was requested. Never give information to someone if you didn't initiate the call or website activity. You can also view the tourism website for a list of the official ferry services to the island.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Women should feel safe visiting here, even if traveling solo. While you should never stop using safety practices, this community is rich with shopping, spas, golf, and outdoor adventures to soothe the soul.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The 2021 Water Quality Report shows the water was safe and met or exceeded all standards. One reporting error was incurred, but nothing will impact your trip. The city did win an award in 2018 for the best-tasting water.

Safest Places to Visit in Mackinac Island

Mackinacisland.org is the official tourism website for the island.

MackinacParks.com is another great resource for those who want the basic lay of the land for history and wilderness areas.

Mackinac Island is the name of the island and the city.

It is not to be confused with Mackinaw City, which is on the mainland.

To double down on the confusion, Mackinaw and Mackinac are pronounced the same – “MACK-in-awe.”

There’s a detailed story behind it, but it traces back to the French, who add consonants after vowels even though the consonant isn’t pronounced.

Another example is King Louis was King “Louee” and not “King Lew-iss.”

Places to Avoid in Mackinac Island

While Mackinac Island is a year-round destination on paper, in reality, the island is pretty barren in winter.

Most stores and restaurants close, and finding a hotel room will be challenging.

You can still take a limited ferry service to the state park, open year-round.

Check out the tourism website blog for things to do in the winter.

However, visit in the fall, spring, or summer if you want the full experience.

While every vendor, from the ferry to the hotels, offers as much accessibility as possible, the island’s layout isn’t easy to get around for those in a wheelchair or scooter.

There are strict rules about e-bikes, which you can read on the city’s website, aimed to be accommodating but also preserve the non-motorized vehicle rules.

The perimeter tour is flat, making it easy for every ability level, but the trails and other roads can be more hilly than you’d expect.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Mackinac Island

  1. The island has its own police force, with a chief, a corporal, and four officers. Follow the Mackinac Island Police Department GROUP on Facebook to get a true sense of community policing and safety information.
  2. Fire trucks and ambulances are available in modern form, so you can rest assured that a medical emergency won’t require you to wait for a bicycle to arrive. Mackinac Island Medical Center offers health care services, but more serious health emergencies could require an airlift or ferry ride to the mainland.
  3. With more than 500 horses on the island and many used to transport guests, you might be worried about horse droppings. Specially designated workers work tirelessly to clean up the poop as it drops to avoid any health risks or ongoing foul odors, but you will likely, at some point, get a whiff of it. Keep in mind; it’s better than car pollution.
  4. You can bring your own bike, dog, or horse to Mackinac Island, but you should review the rules and restrictions on the tourism website. It’s not like you can just walk a horse onto a ferry.
  5. Every morning, the Fort Mackinac cannon is fired. Those who don’t know that might be concerned when they hear a loud boom. You can pay $75 to fire the cannon, but book that early since spots fill up quickly, and it’s just once per day.
  6. If the idea of riding a ferry gives you seasickness before you’re even on the water, there are flight options to the island. In winter, it’s likely your only option because of the ice in the lake. Flights between the island and St. Ignace are available; they only take seven minutes!
  7. You can get to the island on your own boat or a charter boat from the mainland, but you’ll need to reserve one of 80 marine slips on Mackinac Island.
  8. If you aren’t sold on vacationing on the island, look into the Great Lakes Cruise options. Much like a traditional cruise ship, you’ll stop at some of the best spots along all the lakes, including a day on Mackinac Island. Cruises run seven or 11 days, and nearly 30 cruise ships stop here yearly.
  9. The wildlife here is pretty tame, especially for Michigan, where bears or wolves are known to roam. However, you should know a coyote can cross the ice from the mainland and wander the island. Mostly, you’ll get great birding views and smaller animals like rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks. Don’t feed any wildlife anytime for any reason.
  10. Sign up for Mackinac County RAVE Emergency Alerts. You’ll need information about developing weather which could make it unsafe to go outside or cancel a ferry trip. If you just want alerts via text, send “MackinacEAS” to 67283.

So... How Safe Is Mackinac Island Really?

It’s incredibly safe, especially in a state with so many dangerous cities.

The city hasn’t seen more than eight violent crimes in a year since 2011, and all but one year had five or fewer violent crimes.

Stolen bicycles make up 63% of all thefts, and robberies are nearly non-existent.

It’s great to visit such a safe place, but it also shouldn’t cause you to let your guard down.

You still need to use personal safety measures while reporting anything suspicious you see.

Most of the reason this community is so safe is due to community involvement.

While bicycles and horse rides sound refreshing, consider your physical abilities to bike that far for that long.

People with lower back issues might have issues on bumpy horse-drawn carriage rides.

While it’s not an overwhelming concern, you should consider every person’s ability within your party to get the maximum benefit.

Non-motorized taxis aren’t readily available on the street.

You need to call Mackinac Island Taxi Service at 906-847-3323 to book a ride.

The “taxis” will take you around the business district but not the entire island.

If you want to explore the park, you’ll have to use a bike or walk.

Summer is the high season for tourism, so you’ll face a lot of bicycles and people in close proximity.

Rules of the road include bicycle safety measures and pedestrians being asked to stay out of the street.

Review the city’s website’s local ordinances and safety steps to make the most of your trip.

How Does Mackinac Island Compare?

CitySafety Index
Mackinac Island83
New York City67
Detroit56
San Diego67
Miami55
Honolulu65
Chicago65
Cordoba (Argentina)61
Toronto (Canada)81
Melbourne (Australia)80
Montreal (Canada)81
Sydney (Australia)80
Santiago de Chile (Chile)71

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

Since the island is part of Michigan, you won't need to show proof of passport or visa to use the ferry, but you will need to go through Customs when you arrive in the country. Don't wait to apply for a visa since the process is sometimes backlogged for months, even with the State Department promising a faster yet safe process starting in 2023.

Currency

Currency

You'll need cash to tip the drivers here, and the U.S. Dollar is the only form accepted. If you want to use a credit card, ask when you are booking the taxi if you can pay and tip that way.

Weather

Weather

The tourism website has a great list of what to pack during each season, but since this is the Midwest, you should know that fall and spring can have fluctuating temperatures. Summers will be warm but not hot, and you'll likely want a sweater or jacket for evenings and mornings. Bring comfortable shoes since you'll be wearing out your feet walking or riding a bike.

Airports

Airports

The Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport is the closest major commercial airport, and it's about four hours from the ferry dock on the mainland. There are shuttle options from Mackinaw City to Detroit but book that far in advance.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a smart investment since there are several pressure points where the weather can cause a trip cancelation or delay (airport, connecting airport, ferry, etc.).

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Mackinac Island Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -7° C
Feb -8° C
Mar -3° C
Apr 4° C
May 10° C
Jun 16° C
Jul 19° C
Aug 20° C
Sep 16° C
Oct 9° C
Nov 3° C
Dec -3° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
-3-32815212424201261
Low
°C
-11-12-7-15111415115-1-7
High
°F
272736465970757568544334
Low
°F
121019304152575952413019

Michigan - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Ann Arbor63
Battle Creek45
Dearborn77
Detroit56
Farmington Hills72
Flat Rock81
Flint47
Frankenmuth84
Glen Arbor76
Grand Rapids73
Houghton82
Ironwood83
Kalamazoo44
Lansing41
Livonia76
Mackinac Island83
Mackinaw City78
Macomb84
Marquette78
Muskegon72
Pontiac45
Port Huron73
Saginaw42
Sault Ste. Marie82
Sterling Heights78
Taylor68
Traverse City77
Troy78
Warren58

Where to Next?

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