A backcountry camping permit is required to camp. Camping is allowed anywhere with the exception of staying 300 feet from water and off the trail. Wood fires are only allowed at the campground near the ferry dock. There is a potable water source at the ferry docks as well. Pack extra food as bad storms can prevent the ferry from running. Pack out all trash. Pets are prohibited. No bicycles or motorized vehicles are allowed.
This island is a backpacking gem in the Midwest. North Manitou Island is part of the National Park Service's Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. The island is almost entirely covered in forests but offers incredible views of Lake Michigan from the shoreline. The water of Lake Michigan is insanely clear at this latitude and provides for great sunrises and sunsets. Mosquitoes and flies can be bad during parts of the year, so plan accordingly.
The main trails are clearly marked and the footing is stable. The secondary and "historic" trails are not being maintained and are becoming hard to follow and are clogged with downed trees. I wish the NPS would maintain these trails as most people that come to the island want solitude and these trails would better distribute backpackers.
Lake Manitou, a lake within the island, offers great fishing but be aware that you'll get a really bad case of Swimmers Itch if you wade into the lake. Please Google "swimmers itch" if you are not aware of this medical condition caused by parasites in the water (please note that you'll not get Swimmers Itch in Lake Michigan).