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How to Move to Mackinac Island

Moving to Mackinac Island requires advanced planning, coordination, and attention to detail.  Your belongings will be handled more than a typical move and it is imperative that they be securely packed or wrapped.   


Household moves are generally allowed between October and May but some restrictions or allowances may apply.  In the months prior to the move to assure moving day runs smoothly, arrangements must be made with a freight ferry line, the dray service, the City of Mackinac Island, your moving company, and possibly laborers on the Island.  If a moving company is hired, it is strongly recommended that your moving company coordinate directly with the freight ferry line and dray service.   


Mackinac Island Ferry Company (formerly known as Star Line Ferry) (freight 906-298-1737) and Arnold Freight (906-643-8288), offer freight services. 


Mackinac Island Service Company (906-847-3307) operates the dray service on the Island and charges a fee for each dray used.  An account must be opened for billing of their services.


Ferry – Mackinac Island is reached by ferries crossing the Straits of Mackinac from Mackinaw City in the Lower Peninsula and St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula.  During tourist season, Shepler’s Ferry (, 800-828-6157) and Mackinac Island Ferry Company (formerly known as Star Line Ferry) (, 800-638-9892) offer this service.  During the off-season, only Star Line transports to the Island and only from St. Ignace.  Standard ferry tickets are available for purchase online or at the ferry docks; however, Island residents have other ticket options at reduced cost.  Commuter books with a number of one-way tickets and an annual pass that allows unlimited, year round ferry rides are available to residents.  To purchase the commuter books and annual passes, residents must provide specific forms of identification as required by the ferry lines.

Vehicle parking/storage – The ferry lines offer parking/storage options for your vehicle in Mackinac City and St. Ignace which include outdoor open lots, gated lots, guaranteed parking spaces, as well as indoor parking and valet service.  Fees are commensurate with the level of parking/storage chosen.  Contact Shepler’s Ferry (, 800-828-6157) and Mackinac Island Ferry Company (formerly known as Star Line Ferry)  (, 800-638-9892) to determine which option meets your needs.  


Taxi – Horse drawn taxi cabs provide 24-hour transportation around Mackinac Island during tourist season for nominal per person fares.  Unlike motorized taxis, ours cannot be “hailed”, rather you must call the Mackinac Island Carriage Tours radio dispatch (906-847-3323) for taxi service.  Taxi fares are based on distance traveled and number of passengers, and as Sunset Forest is 2.5 miles from downtown, there is a three-fare minimum.  Handicap accessible taxis are available at request. Cash is accepted by the drivers, and credit card payment can be arranged in advance with radio dispatch.  In addition, residents may open an account to charge their fares. A limited amount of luggage can be carried on the taxi but no bicycles are allowed.  Taxi service is available by appointment during certain hours from November to April. 


Bicycles – Bicycles are a favorite form of personal transportation on Mackinac Island.  Horses are king on Mackinac and have the right-of-way over bicyclists and pedestrians.  Keeping that in mind, the City of Mackinac Island advises the following for bicyclists to co-exist with the horses for everyone’s safety: stay to the right, look before stopping in the middle of the street, and always park inside the white lines on Main Street.  Careless and reckless operation is prohibited by City ordinance and will be ticketed.  Bicycle trailers are extremely useful to carry luggage, groceries, etc.  The use of plastic totes instead of grocery bags is preferred for on- and off-Island shopping as they stack and transport easily on the trailers.  Electric bicycles are not allowed on Mackinac Island with the exception of Class I pedal assist for those persons with a mobility disability, and those bikes must be inspected by the Police Department when licensed. Bicycle licenses are required and available in the summer at the Police Department for a small fee and they help to identify and prove ownership if a bicycle should become misplaced.  

Air – Mackinac Island can be reached with a 5-minute flight from Mackinac County Airport in St. Ignace (906-643-7327) to the Mackinac Island Airport (906-847-3231).  Fresh Air Aviation (231-237-9482) offer affordable year round flights.  Ground transportation taxi to and from the Island airport terminal is available by calling Mackinac Island Carriage Tours radio dispatch (906-847-3323).  As Sunset Forest surrounds the west end of the airport runway, and for the convenience of our residents, boarding and deplaning at the west end of the runway instead of at the terminal may be requested.  A gate in the airport fence allows access to the west end of the airport for that purpose; however, walking to the terminal from that gate is strictly prohibited.  Bicycle rental is not available at the airport, but bicycle and snowmobile parking is available.  


Snowmobiles – Snowmobiles are allowed on Mackinac Island from November 15th to April 15th when adequate snow and ice coverage exist to operate safely, but are prohibited in certain Mackinac Island State Park areas and on groomed trails.  Helmets are required for drivers and passengers, and speed limits and traffic signs are posted.   Within Sunset Forest, snowmobiles must be parked on your property and not along the roadway where access by emergency vehicles and the snow plow might be impaired.  Snowmobile trailers are extremely useful to carry luggage, groceries, etc.  The use of plastic totes instead of grocery bags is preferred for on- and off-Island shopping as they stack and transport easily on the trailers.  Three different permits must be affixed to your snowmobile and failure to do so could result in a significant fine: 1) a multi-year registration sticker from the State of Michigan Secretary of State; 2) an annual permit sticker from the City of Mackinac Island which may be purchased from the Mackinac Island Police Department or the Mackinac Island Airport; and 3) an annual trail permit sticker from the Michigan Snowmobile & ORV Association. From April 15th to November 15th, stored snowmobiles must not be visible.  Off-Island storage is preferred.  The ferry lines transport for a reasonable fee and may provide storage.  Many off-Island businesses offer pick-up and delivery, service and storage.   


Senior transportation – Winter vehicle transportation is available from the Police Department (906-287-0445) for disabled individuals and senior citizens aged 58+.  The police vehicle is used to transport to church, the Medical Center, the airport, and to the ferry dock and shops downtown.  No luggage, pets or grocery totes are transported.

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Drays are horse-drawn flat-bed wagons that are used to transport freight, household goods, luggage, etc. throughout Mackinac Island.  Mackinac Island Service Company (906-847-3307) operates this service and an account must be opened for billing purposes.  Fees for dray transport are not based on weight but rather on how much space is used on the dray.

Trash, Recycling, Compost

Mackinac Island has an impressive garbage program.  Specially designated bags for “landfill” and “compost” are required and are purchased from the City DPW (906-847-6130).  Clear "yard waste" bags can also be purchased from the City, however, any clear plastic bags may be used. Bins for “recyclables” are provided by the City DPW along with instructions to designate how waste is separated into the three categories. Sunset Forest is home to the usual woodland creatures drawn to accessible trash.  If trash is stored outdoors, it is strongly recommended to be kept in sturdy containers (aluminum, not plastic) with secure lids and concealed from public view.  In addition, Sunset Forest allows for a permanent roadside structure to hold garbage.  The design of the structure must be in keeping with the home and approved by the SFA Architectural Review Committee.  If you will be away from your home for an extended period, ask a neighbor to put out and bring in trash containers and if necessary, clean up any debris damage from wildlife. 


Landfill, compost and yard waste bags are collected weekly. Recyclables are collected every other week via dray at the roadside.  The schedule changes seasonally and updates can be found on the post office and other community bulletin boards as well as the cable television City channel.  An account for your household must be set up with Mackinac Island Service Company (906-847-3307) as there is a nominal fee each time they make a pick up.  Oversized items may be put out for pick-up but a ticket must be purchased from DPW and affixed to the discarded item.  In addition, anyone wishing to transport their garbage to the Island DPW solid waste facility (aka “the dump”) in their bicycle or snowmobile trailer may do so for a small fee.  All “landfill” and “recycling” waste is shipped off the Island for disposal; however, “compost” remains at the dump where it is mixed with manure and hotel/restaurant food waste to make a rich compost material that residents may purchase for their gardens.

Mail Service and Package Delivery

United States Postal Service – The Postal Service has an office on Mackinac Island (906-847-3821), however, there is no home delivery on the Island.  Residents apply for and obtain a free post office box from which to pick up mail.  The box number will become your mailing address as the Island post office does not sort by street address. 

United Parcel Service and Federal Express – Packages shipped by these carriers will arrive on the Island and on your doorstep via Mackinac Island Service Company dray at no additional cost.  Use your street address when ordering items to be shipped.  Many household items, including groceries, can be purchased online and shipped to your home with no freight costs.  Countless businesses and retailers offer this service but Amazon Prime is especially popular with Mackinac Island residents. 


Common Carrier – Items shipped to the Island too large for UPS and FedEx (appliances, furniture, etc.) will arrive at the mainland ferry docks via common carrier.  The ferry line and Mackinac Island Service Company dray will bill the resident for transport of such items.  Use your street address when making these types of purchases.      


Heating –  Natural gas is not available on Mackinac Island but other options exist.  In addition, for homes with cast iron stoves or fireplace inserts, propane tanks are available on the Island through the Mackinac Island Service Company (906-847-3307), and firewood and wood pellets can be purchased off-Island, brought over by freight ferry, and delivered by dray.  Firewood is not readily available on the Island except for the trees removed from your property during excavation.  Harvesting live or dead trees from State Park land is not permitted.

Water and Waste Water – City water and sewers are available in the Stonecliffe Manors, and City water and septic tanks are available in Woodbluff.  Homes with sewers will have a “turtle shell” or “garbage can lid” grinder pump access near the home.  Septic tanks require periodic pumping depending on the amount of usage the system receives and there is an access to the tank in the yard.  There are businesses that come to the Island for this service in the off season.  And speaking of City water, it is worth mentioning that Mackinac Island received the 2018 Michigan Rural Water Association award for best tasting water!

Winterizing – If your home will be unused during the Winter months, it is necessary to winterize the home.  Plumbing services are available to hire on the Island or you may do this yourself.  The water lines need to be drained, including turning off the outdoor hose bibs, and recreational vehicle anti-freeze should be poured into the drains.  Notify the City Water Department in advance of your turn-off and, if you wish, they will come out to turn off the water at the road and disconnect and remove the water meter from inside the home.  In the Spring, you or the plumbing service will reverse the process and the City will turn on the water at the road and reconnect the water meter for a standard fee.  The heating system should be turned down but not off to prevent freezing of household systems.

Cable, Internet & Satellite 

Cable television and internet providers are available on Mackinac Island; however, not all the providers are available in all of the neighborhood developments.  The new Starlink technology is also an option.  It is recommended to call the providers as soon as you know you want service as it could take days, weeks or even months for installation. 

Medical Services

The Mackinac Island Medical Center on Market Street (906-847-3582), affiliated with the Mackinac Straits Health Systems, consists of a walk-in clinic and a two-bed emergency department.  Medical services including primary care, x-ray, vaccine clinic and 24/7 emergency care are provided by one resident physician, two nurses, and a lab/radiology technician. Hours for the walk-in clinic are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May through October and 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on certain days November through April.


A state-of-the-art 4-wheel drive ambulance is staffed by a paramedic and an emergency medical technician who are capable of providing advanced life support.  Cheboygan Life Support (231-627-9348) operates the ambulance service and offers annual ambulance subscriptions to Island residents at a reasonable cost.  With an annual subscription, if a resident has needed ambulance service on the Island, Cheboygan Life Support will bill all covering insurance and write off any remaining patient co-pay.   


There are 20+ automated external defibrillators (AEDs) located throughout Mackinac Island in hotels, restaurants and businesses to render immediate care.  In Sunset Forest one is located inside the Fire Department truck parked on Ironwood Lane in Manor I.  During tourist season AEDs are also located nearby at Woods Restaurant, the airport, and Wawashkamo Golf Course.  Anyone can use them, HOWEVER, IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY CARDIAC EVENT, ALWAYS CALL 911!     

Emergency Services

Police Department – The Mackinac Island Police Department consists of five full-time officers and expands with extra seasonal officers and two interns during the tourist season to meet the needs of residents, businesses, employees and visitors.  Summer patrol is on foot and bicycle with a motorized vehicle available for emergencies and winter patrol, along with two snowmobiles.  An additional police presence on the Island during the summer is two Michigan State Troopers and, for high-volume events such as the yacht races, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Mackinac County Sheriff’s Department provide support.  CALL 911 FOR ALL POLICE SERVICES (except Senior Transportation mentioned on this website).   

Fire Department – The Mackinac Island Fire Department consists of 29 volunteer officers, firefighters and EMS personnel who protect the Island year-round. The Department has two ladder trucks, an engine-pumper truck, three support vehicles, and an ambulance described below in Medical Services.  Mackinac Island is part of a reciprocal community agreement with nearby mainland fire departments. Participants ferry or fly to provide additional support to each other’s departments when necessary.  CALL 911 FOR ALL FIRE DEPARTMENT NEEDS.  


Mackinac Marine Rescue – Mackinac Marine Rescue is a 35’ SAFE boat owned and operated by the City of Mackinac Island and staffed by paid-on-call volunteers.  MMR operates as a platform for any emergency service in need of water transportation such as emergency medical transports off the Island after the ferries are done for the day, assisting USCG in search and rescue operations as well as fireworks displays and the Labor Day Bridge Walk, transporting our firefighters responding to other communities, transporting utility workers for emergency repairs, transporting police with prisoners and evidence, and as a chemical, biological, and radiological detection platform. MMR does not charge for any services, however, EMS does charge for their medical services.  

Hardware & Gasoline

Mackinac Island has a hardware store located on the Coal Dock off of Main Street behind the taxi stand.  Island Hardware (906-847-6350) carries plumbing, electrical and gardening supplies, propane, paint, tools, and more.  In addition, they have dockside gasoline pumps for regular and diesel fuel.    

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