North Shore Water Festival, Grand Marais, MN

Kayaking and Stand-Up-Paddle-Boarding on the North Shore MN

Ever wanted to try paddling a kayak, canoe, or stand-up-paddleboard (SUP)? The North Shore Water Festival is your chance! Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply in Grand Marais, MN holds this event during the third weekend in July to introduce people to the sports. 

The event is held on Lake Superior, in the Grand Marais, MN harbor. It’s the perfect location because it’s right in the heart of downtown Grand Marais. The cobblestone beach and beautiful Lake Superior harbor is the hub of all kinds of summer activities. Picture kids throwing rocks, families picnicking and relaxing on the shore between visiting gift shops, and dogs playing fetch into the water. 

North Shore Water Festival, Grand Marais, MN

North Shore Water Festival, Grand Marais, MN

The North Shore Water Festival creates a fun vibe around the harbor with kayaks and SUP’s sprawled out on the beach, people coming and going on the water, guides getting their groups ready to take off onto Lake Superior, and live music on the beach. Normally there are also indoor activities such as book signings with local authors and a film festival, but those were canceled in 2020 due to Coronavirus. And, it’s all free! 

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply offers all kinds of kayak, canoe, and stand-up-paddleboard (SUP) demos for the event. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced paddler there is something for you! Your tour guide will set you up with the boat that is just right for your skill and experience level.

Kayak Demos at Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply, Grand Marais MN

Kayak Demos lined up on shore.

Stone Harbor has some of the best brands including Eddyline, Wilderness Systems, P&H, Pau Hana, and Grey Duck. And there are experts available to answer all of your questions. 

North Shore Water Festival

Throughout the day there is a schedule of guided tours around the Grand Marais MN harbor. Kayaking, canoeing, SUP tours, and SUP yoga! It’s best if you pre-register for an activity online, but you can sign up in person as space allows. 

I took a kayaking tour! I’m a total rookie so our guide Beth assigned me to “beginner” kayak which is heavier and very stable in the water. Experienced paddlers can try higher-performance boats for greater speed and maneuverability. 

Beth did a great job of showing my group how to paddle our kayaks! See her in action below.


Paddling Across the Grand Marais MN Harbor

After getting suited up in life jackets and into our kayaks the four of us took off into the Grand Marais harbor. 

North Shore Water Festival

Kayak tour at the North Shore Water Festival

We paddled across the Grand Marais MN harbor and watched the schooner Hjordis cross our path.

kayaking by the schooner Hjordis, Grand Marais MN

kayaking by the schooner Hjordis, Grand Marais MN

After reaching the rock jetty near the campground, we looped around to get a nice view of the light station. We also caught a glimpse of another group doing SUP yoga! 

Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga

SUP Yoga with Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply

Then we leisurely made our way back to shore. It was so easy and fun, and I loved the feeling of bobbing on the water. I’m hooked on kayaking now! 

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply offers all kinds of guided tours by land and by sea! Explore Artists Point on a kayak. Paddle board around an inland lake. Canoe into the Boundary Waters. Take a hiking adventure in the Superior National Forest. And in the winter the guides at Stone Harbor can take you river skiing, ice climbing, ice fishing, and more. 

learning how to stand-up-paddle-board Grand Marais, MN

learning how to stand-up-paddleboard

Stone Harbor also has an awesome retail store with outdoor gear and equipment for just about every activity. High-quality outdoor apparel as well. Stone Harbor is a must-stop in Grand Marais MN!

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply

Tips to enjoy the North Shore Water Festival

  • Plan ahead and sign up for the tours you’d like to experience. Walk-ins are welcome based on availability.
  • Dress in layers. It is usually colder by the lake, and certainly on the lake.
  • Stick around and enjoy live music or other water-festival activities such as book signings and film showings.

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