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“Has potential - talked up, but fell short”

Charity Island Dinner Cruise
Ranked #5 of 11 things to do in East Tawas
Attraction details
Reviewed 19 August 2012

We started off with a pontoon boat ride in 4-6 foot waves and it took over 1 hour and 1/2 to get there, it seemed longer because I was very Ill from sea sickness.

The island seems like someone had great dreams that crashed with the housing market. A rundown building at the dock, poorly maintained docks, rustic up-north feel I guess. We walked the short trail to the house and patio area where dinner will be served. There is a small hut for souvenirs, patio, nice house, yard that is poorly maintained with ramshackle fences. Wonderful view of the beach, a nice little stroll down the beach was available. There wasn't a lot of time for exploring, we were running late because of the late arrival.

We opted for the fish, which was very good. The meal was decent considering there is no running water and electricity. Pop and water is included, wine and beer is extra. On the mainland, I would expect to pay maybe $8 for a meal of this fare. 3-4 small pieces of perch, two small boiled red skin potatoes, stir fry cabbage and carrots (was cold when I received them) and a piece of very good, warm bread.

The history told by Bob was interesting, but got a bit long winded.

The ride back was smoother, as the winds died down and the way back is with the waves instead of against them. They did provide blankets if needed if you were chilly. The girls waiting on us were the bright point of the trip. Their smile and desire to serve were over the top. We were served a small piece of cheesecake - no coffee. I don't have a problem with no coffee, but if a website boasts of cheese and wine on the way out and coffee and dessert on the way back, it should be more than what they had.....just saying.

This was to be the highlight of our only weekend away this summer. The price of over $160 for a couple for this adventure is too much.....I hope you go in with eyes open...most other reviews here were misleading

4  Thank kjtuttle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"available for purchase"
in 3 reviews
in 6 reviews
"island lighthouse"
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"boat ride"
in 3 reviews
"sirloin tips"
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19 - 23 of 24 reviews

Reviewed 2 July 2012

It was a pleasant trip, great weather, and the dinner was excellent. The explanation of the island history was also excellent.

However, Other features don't live up to what they say on their website.

On the trip over the website says wine tasting of locally grown fruit wines and artisan cheese appetizers. Only wine available had to be purchased and it was california gallo in airline bottles, The cheese consisted of what I think was velevtta spread and ritz crackers.

On the way back from the island supposed to be a choice of pies and coffee. No coffee available and only one type of pie, and we were served a small sliver.

As I said at the top, we enjoyed it but it was overpriced for what we got.

5  Thank Pabbwb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 September 2011

At the end of September in Michigan, you never know what kind of weather to expect, but we ended up with a perfect day for the 1 hour cruise on Lake Huron from Tawas to Charity Island. We were served drinks and a snack on the hour long ride over and enjoyed beautiful views of the island and lighthouse. Once we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the island's residents. Listening to Bob tell stories of the island's history and his past was very entertaining and one of the highlights of the whole trip. After a delicious dinner, we had some time to tour the house, look through the gift shop and walk the island. Dessert and coffee were served on the cruise back. Having never heard of this tour, I wasn't expecting much, but we came away wanting to experience it all over again.

5  Thank msuadamc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 September 2011

Not only was the trip over to the island great The lunch they provided was excellent. The knowledge of this island was outstanding. I have lived in Michigan most of my life and did not know the new things I learned.

5  Thank Camper23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 2 September 2011

Just made my second trip to Charity Island on the dinner cruise along with my 92 year old dad. Left East Tawas dock on a very comfortable pontoon boat and despite some whitecaps on the lake, the trip was very smooth. The two crew members passed around cheese and crackers and were very attentive to everyone's needs. We were offered refreshments quite frequently on the hour trip out.

Once on the island, the Wiltse's just couldn't do enough to make the trip enjoyable. Those who can't make the short walk to the Lighthouse Keeper's home are given a ride in a wagon - no fear of falling, they make sure everyone is safely on board. There is an open pavilion where dinner is served (a choice of perch or sirloin tips) and Bob gives a really interesting history of the Charity Island lighthouse. It was commissioned by Abraham Lincoln just 5 days before his assassination.

After the delicious dinner there is ample time to explore, climb to the top of the lighthouse, and take pictures before the sunset ride back to the dock. Bob and his wife give guests a tour of the house which is adapted to run on and island with no source of power! The original cistern is still in the basement of the current house which was built over the footprint of the original one. There is quite an interesting water filtration system and the appliances run on propane. The island is the home of some rare flora and fauna including the Pitcher's Thistle and Piping Plovers. There is evidence that Native Americans also came to knap flint to make tools on the island.

Coffee and dessert are served on the way back and everyone compared stories about what they had seen.

For something different and highly enjoyable, I can't recommend it enough!

8  Thank kohola
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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