The waters around Traverse City may not have the coral reefs and technicolor fish of the tropics, but they’re filled with shipwrecks! Thanks to Lake Michigan’s cold, fresh water, there are dozens of well-preserved wrecks on the bottom, and they’re easy to spot and explore.
Scuba North in Traverse City can help divers who’d like to explore the deeper wrecks, but many can be found with a snorkel, mask and fins. If you take the Manitou Island Transit ferry from Leland to South Manitou Island, you can explore four wrecks, including the Francisco Morazan, a steel-hulled freighter that ran aground in a 1960 blizzard. (Even beachcombers can come upon wrecks at Sleeping Bear; the rangers at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire can give you directions to some of their beached remains.) More wrecks can be found even closer to Traverse City itself, in the sheltered waters of Grand Traverse Bay. Paddle Away Tours at Bowers Harbor, for instance, will take you out to the 125-foot Metropolis, a popular snorkeling destination near the Old Mission Peninsula.