Pelee Island Tours: Wine, Water & Ruins (2022)

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This post was sponsored in part by Short Trips, who provided us with a complimentary tour of Pelee Island.

If you’re looking to escape the busyness of the city this summer, a Pelee Island tour might just be calling your name.

As Canada’s southern most inhabited location, Pelee Island attracts bucket-listers, wine-lovers and nature enthusiasts, alike.

But what is the best way to tour the island?

Keep reading to learn all about the best Pelee Island tours available so that you can see all that this beautiful island has to offer.

Scenic Vineyards seen on Pelee Island Winery Tour

Pelee Island Tours

There are a few different types of tours to consider when planning a trip to Pelee Island:

1. Pelee Island Bus Tours

2. Pelee Island Winery & Brewery Tours

3. Pelee Island Boat Tours

4. Bike, E-Bike & Golf Cart Rentals on Pelee Island

We will look at each option in detail to help you decide the best way to tour Pelee Island.

1. Pelee Island Bus Tour

Short Trips bus tour at Pelee Island Winery Pavilion

Forget filling up on gas and spending hours of your vacation navigating traffic, and consider seeing Pelee Island by way of a comfortable coach bus with a reputable tour company.

Not only is a bus tour hassle-free when it comes to securing a spot on the Pelee Island Ferry and planning out the logistics of the multiple legs of the trip, a bus tour is also convenient given Pelee Island’s lack of public transportation options.

With only a few hundred year-round residents and its extremely rural setting, the island certainly extends beyond what can be seen by foot.

There are a few coach bus companies that offer bus tours from Toronto to Pelee Island in the late spring and summer time, which is truly the best time to visit the island. (Any later and the ferry risks being cancelled due to weather.)

In our recent trip to Pelee Island, we travelled with Short Trips, a reputable tour bus company located out of Toronto. Short Trips was willing to provide us with complimentary tickets to join them for the day to Pelee Island.

Short Trips’ Pelee Island Bus Tour Itinerary

Short Trips bus tour to Pelee Island is a 2-day bus tour that starts and ends at your pick up location within the Greater Toronto Area, Kitchener, or London.

Day 1 – Short Trips Bus Tour to Windsor-Essex County

The first day is spent driving south, with a sightseeing stop at Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Dresden, Ontario.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a historic site that commemorates the life and work of Josiah Henson, who escaped slavery and worked tirelessly to help other slaves along the Underground Railroad.

Uncle Tom's Cabin Wikicommons
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Tony White, March 21, 2007. Public Domain.

After a guided tour of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the bus carries onto its resting spot for the night at the luxurious Caesar’s Windsor Hotel & Casino in Windsor, Ontario.

While we did not participate in the hotel stay with the group, everyone we spoke to said the hotel stay at Caesar’s is a major perk of the bus tour!

Day 2 – Day Trip to Pelee Island

The second day of the trip starts bright and early with a bus ride to Leamington to board the Pelee Island Ferry.

Again, a major advantage of the bus tour is that you do not need to worry about booking ferry tickets before they are sold out. Short Trips takes care of these logistics, which gives you peace of mind so you can sit back and really relax on your mini getaway vacation.

The ferry ride over to Pelee island is scenic and relaxing, and takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Pelee Island Ferry Ride to Pelee Island

Once on Pelee Island, the bus headed straight to Pelee Island Winery Pavilion, with the addition of an informative local tour guide from Explore Pelee.

At Pelee Island Winery Pavilion, we enjoyed a catered lunch with a generous portion of Pelee Island wine! The Pavilion staff gave us a brief introduction to the winery while we prepared to eat.

Lunch at Pelee Island Winery Pavilion

After lunch, we had time to explore the gift shop and enjoy some complimentary wine tasting in the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion. This is where you can taste signature Pelee Island Wines and champagnes that you won’t find at any regular wine shop!

Wine Tasting and Tour at Pelee Island Winery Pavilion

From here, the Pelee Island guide joined us for an informative bus tour around the island. We learned about the history of the island, drove past the extensive Pelee Island Vineyards and saw the island’s noteworthy landmarks, including the shoe tree and inukshuk!

Bus Tour of Pelee Island

Our day trip to Pelee Island coming to a close, we spent the last bit of the afternoon meandering around the shops and sites at the west island Ferry Terminal before boarding the Pelee Islander Ferry back to Leamington.

After the ferry ride back to mainland, the bus brought everyone home back to their initial departure points.

We loved hearing from other guests on the tour how much they love Short Trips bus tours. Some of the people we spoke to had been on dozens of tours with them, and it was clear to us that one that that stands out with this tour company is their dedication to making sure their guests want to return for another tour.

Pros & Cons of a Pelee Island Bus Tour

Pros:
– Logistics and driving taken care of so you can simply relax
– No need to worry about ferry booking up in advance
– Comfortable coach bus with washroom
– Luxurious stay at Caesar’s Windsor (Short Trips’ hotel choice)
– Great bus tour for single travelers or social couples
– Good mix of activities on Pelee Island without feeling rushed
– Short Trips offers multiple pick up locations, make it a great bus tour from London, Kitchener and multiple places in GTA

Cons:
– Lots of driving time and ferry time, but this is split over two days
– More costly then traveling on your own, as you are paying for convenience
– There’s not enough time to see everything on Pelee Island, but you do see the main attraction of Pelee Island Winery

Pelee Island Winery Pavilion

Short Trips Bus Tour to Pelee Island: The Verdict

All in all, we thought the bus tour to Pelee Island with Short Trips was a fun, convenient and enjoyable way to visit the island.

If you decide that a coach bus tour to Pelee is for you, we definitely recommend this company for their professional service and dedication to customer satisfaction.

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    2. Pelee Island Winery Tour & Brewery Tours

    The world-renowned Pelee Island Winery is certainly the island’s main attraction, but you do have some choice when it comes to booking your wine tours. And to the surprise of many, you can even find a brewery tour on Pelee Island!

    Pelee Island Winery Tour & Tasting

    Pelee Island Winery Pavilion runs tours Thursday through Monday at 12pm for individuals and groups. The cost is $5 per person. To reserve your place on the tour and obtain any information you need about Pelee Island Winery, visit the Pelee Island Winery website. Wine tastings do not require reservations.

    Note: Pelee Island Winery Pavilion is open seasonally, starting in May. At the time of writing, its hours are Thursday-Monday from 9am-4pm, open until 6pm on Friday and Saturday. The Winery Pavilion is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

    Pelee Island Winery Pavilion
    Pelee Island Winery Pavilion outdoor seating

    Vin Villa Tours

    Located on the northwest side of Pelee Island, the historic Vin Villa Winery (now only ruins and a cellar) played a significant role in triggering wine production in North America.

    Having won international awards and claiming such titles as the first winery to make champagne in Canada, Vin Villa is a site to be seen by wine connoisseurs who make the trip to Pelee Island.

    Vin Villa tours and wine tasting in the enchanting stone cellar are run through Pelee Island Adventures.

    Grapes and Grain Tour

    For a behind the scenes look at both the winemaking and brewing process on Pelee Island, a Grapes & Grain Tour with Pelee Island Adventures is a great option.

    Tours run in July and August and start and end at the Pelee Island Ferry Dock. This is a great option for a complete day on the island for anyone wishing to leave their cars behind, as all transportation on the island is taken care of.

    The tour includes a brewery tour, beer tasting and lunch at Stone House 1891, a ride up the island’s west coast to Vin Villa, tour and tasting at Vin Villa, and free time for you to explore the shops and sites near the island ferry dock.

    Wine and Beer

    3. Pelee Island Boat Tours

    If you’re looking to explore the island at your own pace and prefer to have a totally unique experience, a Zodiac Boat Sightseeing Tour with Pelee Island Charters might be just your style.

    Boat tours typically last between 1-2 hours and provide an up-close look at the natural beauty that Pelee Island has to offer.

    Pelee Island Charters can also work with you to customize your boat tour to what you’re looking for. Reach out to them directly for more information.

    4. Bike, E-Bike & Golf Cart Rentals on Pelee Island

    Exploring Pelee Island by bike, e-bike or golf cart is a great way to see the island at your own pace.

    There are two different companies that offer these rentals for your own self-guided tour of Pelee Island: Pelee Island Adventures and Comfortech Bike Rentals.

    Golf Cart Rentals on Pelee Island are perfect for a self-guided tour

    Pelee Island Adventures

    Golf carts and e-bikes are available for rent from Pelee Island Adventures to give you a totally unique experience of the island at your own pace.

    Located within walking distance of the west Pelee Island Ferry dock, this is the perfect option for anyone seeing the island without a vehicle.

    Pelee Island Adventures e-bike and golf cart rentals can be rented for 4 hour or 7 hour intervals, which is ample time to see most of the island’s best things to do, including Pelee Island Winery, Vin Villa, the Pelee Island Bakery, and Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve.

    Comfortech Bike Rentals

    Renting a bike from Comfortech Bike Rentals on Pelee Island is another great way to explore the island. Since there’s very little car traffic on the island, biking the roads is a great way to get around.

    Bike rentals include adult bikes, child bikes, tandem bikes and e-bikes. Comfortech Bike Rentals is located close to the west Pelee Island Ferry Dock, making it easy to pick up your rental, even without a car.

    How to Get to Pelee Island

    There are a few ways to get to Pelee Island:

    • By ferry from mainland Ontario or from Sandusky, Ohio
    • By private boat
    • By plane to the Pelee Island Airport
    Pelee Island Ferry

    Pelee Island Ferry

    The most popular way to get to the island is by ferry from the town of Leamington (April to mid-July) or from Kingsville (mid-July to early December).

    The Pelee Island Ferry travel time is about 1 hour 30 minutes and provides beautiful views of Lake Erie.

    If you’re looking to take the ferry to Pelee Island, tickets must be purchased in advance online, as the ferry often books up during peak season. The ferry can accommodate both vehicles and walk-on passengers, and rates are quite reasonable.

    Check the ferry schedule and rates here.

    Pelee Island Ferry Ride

    Note: If travelling to or from Pelee Island to Sandusky, the ferry is 1 hour 45 minutes, and the operating season is shorter. Because you will be crossing an international border between Canada and the USA, you will need to show your passport to the border officials.

    How to Get to Pelee Island From Toronto

    If you’re planning a trip to Pelee Island from Toronto, you have a few options for how to get there.

    You can drive from Toronto to Leamington or Kingsville ferry docks (which one you go to depends on the season). From there, you can leave your car or drive it onto the ferry. You may wish to stay overnight or return to mainland Ontario the same day.

    We happen to think that a trip to Pelee Island is the perfect opportunity to hop on a coach bus (like we did with Short Trips) and let someone else do the driving and scheduling.

    How to Get to Pelee Island in Winter

    If you’re looking to visit Pelee Island in the winter, you will need to book a flight to the Pelee Island Airport, as the ferry does not run in the winter months.

    Pelee Island Transportation Company offers flights throughout the winter as does the Windsor Flying Club.

    Pelee Island FAQs

    If you feel like Pelee Island is a little-known Canadian secret, you’re not alone. Check out some of the most popular questions (and our answers) about Pelee Island.

    Is Pelee Island Worth Visiting?

    Pelee Island is worth visiting at least once in your life! While the trip involves more planning if you are travelling on your own, those who do so are rewarded with a unique and unforgettable Canadian experience. From its serene natural landscape and sheer remoteness to its award-winning wineries, Pelee Island is a relaxing summer getaway for couples and families.

    Pelee Island Sign and Ferry

    What is There to Do on Pelee Island?

    Pelee Island is a great place to relax and enjoy nature. There are plenty of things to do on the island, including visiting Pelee Island Winery and Vin Villa Ruins, fishing, boating and SUP rentals, biking, and walking. You can also camp, spend the night in a hotel/BnB or book a rental on the island.

    How Long Do You Need on Pelee Island?

    Pelee Island is a fairly small island, and while there are many things to do to relax and explore the island, you can check off a few major attractions easily in one day. If you like to explore at a more leisurely pace, you will probably enjoy camping or spending the night in one of the Pelee Island accommodations.

    If you plan on a day trip to Pelee Island, you will probably want to stay in a nearby hotel on the mainland. This is because getting to Pelee Island in and of itself takes a fair amount of time and you will want to start your day as early as possible.

    Top Hotels near Pelee Island:

    Top Hotel in Leamington: Best Western Plus Leamington Hotel & Conference Centre 
    Top Hotel in Kingsville: Hellemsfield Inn & Bed and Breakfast
    Top Hotel in Windsor: Stonecroft Inn

    Can You Stay on Pelee Island?

    Yes! Pelee Island offers a variety of accommodation options, including camping, cottage rentals, bed and breakfasts, and inns/motels. You can also stay on the mainland in Kingsville or Leamington and take the ferry to the island for a day trip.

    Pelee Island Accommodations at Westview Motel

    Is Pelee Island in Canada?

    Yes. Pelee Island is actually Canada’s southernmost inhabited region.

    Where is Pelee Island Located?

    Pelee Island is located in Lake Erie, just north of the international border between Canada and the USA.

    When Does the Pelee Island Ferry Run?

    The Pelee Island Ferry runs from Leamington to Pelee Island from early April to mid-July, and from Kingsville to Pelee Island from mid-July to early December. The Sandusky-Pelee Island route runs from early spring until late September.

    How Many Wineries are on Pelee Island?

    Pelee Island Winery is the only official vineyard and winery on Pelee Island. Pelee Island Winery is the largest privately owned estate winery in Canada, owning over 700 acres of vineyards on Pelee Island.

    Do You Need a Car on Pelee Island?

    No, you do not need a car on Pelee Island if you have booked a tour that involves pick up at the ferry terminal. You can also rent e-bikes, bicycles or golf carts, or simply walk to Pelee Island Winery Pavilion (if your ferry arrives at the west island terminal).

    We always recommend booking your tours and rentals ahead of time so you can make the most of your trip to Pelee Island!

    Wrap Up: Pelee Island Tours

    When planning a trip to Pelee Island, booking a tour is a great way to go. Not only will you get to see the best attractions on the island, you’ll also learn about the unique history of Canada’s southernmost inhabited area and award-winning wine region.

    Whether you book a bus tour, wine tour or simply create your own self-guided tour, we wish you all the very best on your trip to Pelee Island!

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