Seven Ways to Explore Our Harbor

Water, water everywhere—and so many ways to explore it!

From the Kalamazoo River to the harbor and the big lake, water is all around you in the Saugatuck-Douglas area. While it’s beautiful to gaze at from the beach, your hotel, or restaurant, it’s a whole different kind of experience when you get out into the water itself. And thanks to the harbor’s protected inland location away from strong winds and big waves, it’s one of the friendliest places to explore.

Here are seven of our favorite ways to experience the Kalamazoo River harbor:

Star of Saugatuck II

Sit back, relax, and let someone else do the driving on this family-friendly paddleboat tour.  The double-decker boat has open seating on the top level and indoor seating below. A 90-minute narrated tour takes you past summer homes and scenic natural areas where you may spot birds or wildlife, and there’s a snack bar onboard for drinks and refreshments during the trip. Tours run May-October, and sunset cruises and private charters are also available.

Duck Boat Tours

Buckle up for a new kind of off-road adventure with Harbor Duck Adventure Tours. These refurbished WWII duck boats rumble through the streets of downtown Saugatuck and across the bridge to Douglas, splashing down into the harbor and returning to Saugatuck Harbor as a boat. Leave or join the boat in either town and continue the trip when you like, enjoying a comedic and kitschy tour of both towns. Tours begin in late May and run through the summer season. Private charters are also available.

Retro Boat Rentals

If you’re going to be seen on the water, you may as well arrive in style. Retro Boat Rentals maintains a fleet of restored runabouts from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, letting you choose from 2- to 6-seaters decked out with fanciful colors, fins, chrome, and quiet, environmentally friendly electric motors. Rentals range from 1.5 to 3 hours, and boats are available throughout the summer.

Pontoon Boat Rentals

Need room for a crowd? A pontoon rental may float your boat. Well equipped with cushy seats, tables, and flat decks, they make it easy to fish, swim, or drop your anchor in the cove to party with your friends. Each boat can accommodate 8-16 people, and fishing gear is also available. Choose from 1- to 4-hour rentals during the summer season.

Jet Ski rentals

Throttle up. Loud, fast, and raring to go, jet skis give you a wet & wild ride where you feel the torque on every turn. Remember to be kind to other boats in the no-wake zone, but then feel free to let it rip and hold on for the ride.  Each jet ski holds up to three people and can be rented from 1.5 hours to a whole day.


Kayaks provide a unique perspective of the harbor and river, giving you a duck’s eye view almost parallel with the water’s surface. Their shallow hulls allow you to explore areas where other boats can’t go, slipping quietly through lily pads for a close-up look at turtles, birds, or other wildlife. Choose a single or tandem kayak and paddle away for anywhere from two hours to a whole week. Livery service is also available.


StandUp Paddleboards

‘SUP, friend? Stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) are a new trend in boating, blending the quiet, peaceful nature of kayaks with a a relaxing workout and a unique vantage point high above the water. Rent your board for anywhere from two hours to the whole week, gliding past the boats and bobbing ducks and out toward the sunset.  Livery service is also available.


Whether you’re content to stay high and dry on the deck or want to be one with the wind and water, the Saugatuck-Douglas area has a boating adventure with your name all over it. Climb aboard.

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