Visit Lake Michigan, Lake Huron Beaches
Published: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
LAKE MICHIGAN BEACHES
Baily’s Harbor, WI
When we visited this harbor by boat, we found a 5000-foot crescent-shaped, sandy beach located on the northern shore of this well-protected natural harbor. It is called the Bailey's Harbor Ridges Park Beach, and it is part of the Ridges Sanctuary Park. We loved it because, although it was mid-week in August, we almost had the whole place to our self. For those who dislike crowds, check this beach out, and search Facebook for “Baileys Harbor Ridges Park.”
North Manitou Island, MI
Taking our boat out of Leland Harbor, a favorite swimming/anchoring area is anywhere on the southeastern side of the North Manitou Island. Shallow, sugar-sandy bottom, miles of beach to explore with shipwrecks on the southern tip of the Island... I have a fond memory of scrubbing off the summer scum line on our 13 meter Trojan here. It was a long task but when in waist-deep cool, clear Lake Michigan water, you can’t ask for a better spot to work. Visit www.manitoutransit.com/beaches-and-swimming for more.
Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, MI
While not known as a swimming beach for the public, a boater has miles of shoreline to beach up–and I mean beach up–with your bow planted on the shore, and a stern anchor out back some 100 feet down! We love to sit on our bow and look up at the towering Sleeping Bear Dune high above us, with the occasional “out-of-control” kid flying by, running out of control, down the dune with that look on his face... yea, you know the look.
I have visited this beach the last couple of years by car while on my travels for Great Lakes Scuttlebutt. I picked this beach due to the many accolades it has received. Thanks to a community-wide initiative, North Beach is Wisconsin's first beach to be designated as a Certified Blue Wave clean beach by the National Clean Beaches Council. Its national accolades include Top 5 Best Freshwater Beach (USA Today), Top 10 Family Friendly Beach (Parents magazine), and Top City Beach (Midwest Living magazine). These 50 acres of pristine sand and 2,500 feet of shoreline is located a few blocks from Downtown Racine, and the massive Reef Point Marina. Learn more by visiting www.cityofracine.org/Beaches.
If you live in the Chicago area and like climbing sand dunes, then the Warren Dunes State Park is worth checking out. There are miles of sand dune beaches to be found in the extreme southwest corner of the state of Michigan. Can’t make it up to the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northern Michigan? Then, this place is close by and offers many nice dunes to climb. It’s an easy car drive, or boat ride, from Chicago. Visit www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails or click http://bit.ly/2sBmr4P.
Grand Haven, MI
Ok, I admit, this harbor has been my home port now for some 25 years and we never get tired of jumping in our boat and hitting the beaches, dunes, or the busy harbor. Granted, this state park beach is the busiest state park of all the Michigan state parks, but there is a reason! There is something going on every weekend, and you can visit the great restaurants and go shopping in town, only a short walk from the beach. If you have a dog, bring Fido to the Grand Haven CITY BEACH, adjacent to the State Park Beach, to the south. Visit www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails or click http://bit.ly/2sprW67 for more information.
LAKE HURON BEACHES
Grand Bend, Ont.
It has been a while since we cruised up the Canadian side of Lake Huron, but I can remember well how I thought I was in one of Western Michigan’s harbor towns. The town is right there on the beach, and while boats slips are scarce, this beach town is worth checking out. www.grandbendtourism.com.
Caseville, Mich., is a beach town on Lake Huron at the mouth of the Pigeon River. The city is near the tip of lower Michigan's "Thumb Region" on the state's east side. While on your way “up north”, I encourage you to go a little out of your way and check out Caseville for its sprawling, sandy county beach and state park. The water also provides ample opportunities for boating and fishing at the marina and pier. http://bit.ly/2rifxgW
Port Elgin, Ont.
On our trip up to Tobermory, Ontario, we stayed in the harbor in the town of Port Elgin, Ont. What I liked about this port was that the town was close by but the big beach was even closer, right next to the marina. Cruising up this way, I highly recommend a planned stop in this neat Ontario town. Visit http://visitportelgin.ca/profile/port-elgin-main-beach/800.
Canatara Park in Sarnia, Ont.
Back in the 1980s, when we lived on the east side of the state, we would cruise up to Sarnia/Port Huron to watch my brother sail the Port Huron to Mackinaw races. My boys were young at the time so, after rocking at anchor all morning watching the start of the races, I had to let them and the wife get some firm ground under them and we would head over to this great stretch of beach just east of the mouth of the St Clair River. This beach boasts more than 3,000 feet of beautiful sandy beach for swimmers and sunbathers. Check out Canatara Park at http://bit.ly/2rhOe6E.
Flowerpot Island, Tobermory, Ont.
This is not your sugar-sandy beach like all the rest of my picks, far from it. It is rocky, but smooth, flat slab-types of rocks, which, while slippery, are easy on the feet. The draw? Well, just look at the rock formations and the reason this island got its name. Now, you can drop anchor and swim in or take your dinghy for the long ride out of Tobermory Harbor, like we did. My three sons and I trekked all the way out in our inflatable and spent the day exploring, leaving the inflatable resting on those flat slabs I mentioned. Well, halfway back that late afternoon, I could not understand why the boat was so sluggish. We found out later that those slabs rubbed a hole in the bottom of the little keel area and we were taking on water all the way back! Ah, the stories we lived to tell. The whole area is worth the visit – www.flowerpotisland.ca.