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Your guide to stand-up paddleboarding in Western Michigan

Your guide to stand-up paddleboarding in Western Michigan

Photo courtesy of Marco López via Unsplash.

By Britteny Dee

June 12, 2024

When it comes to having fun on the water, there’s no better place than Western Michigan.

The west side of the Mitten is home to tons of inland lakes, as well as Lake Michigan, where aquatic adventurers can partake in all sorts of water sports, from boating and kayaking to jet skiing and paddleboarding. Stand-up paddleboarding, in particular, has become increasingly popular in recent years, resulting in a slew of rental options near Western Michigan’s best lakes and rivers. 

From the Grand River all the way up to Lake Charlevoix, we’re sharing the best bodies of water in Western Michigan for stand-up paddleboarding and the top businesses to rent all the necessary equipment. 

Torch Lake

With its twinkly turquoise waters and white sandbars, Torch Lake has earned the nickname “Caribbean of the North.” Michigan’s second-largest inland lake is perfect for relaxing or adventuring. Explore the pristine waters of Torch Lake via paddleboard from Torch Lake Tiki. They’ll deliver right to the shoreline, so you can simply show up and get straight to paddling. 

For another rental option in the area, check out Butch’s Torch Lake, located on the Eastern side of the lake a bit further north than Torch Lake Tiki. You can paddle directly from Butch’s boat ramp, though they advise against doing so on a Saturday or holiday weekend. 

  • Torch Lake Tiki: 7586 Crystal Beach Rd. NW, Rapid City
  • Butch’s Torch Lake: 6235 Crystal Springs Rd., Bellaire

Grand Traverse Bay

Grand Traverse Bay is the second-largest bay of Lake Michigan and a scenic spot for stand-up paddleboarding. Thanks to its size and popularity as a vacation destination, there are a plethora of places to rent paddleboards.

One such spot is The River Outfitters in Traverse City. Explore nearby Boardman Lake and Boardman River as you paddle your way to Grand Traverse Bay. If you’re staying within 10 miles of Traverse City, The River Outfitters will deliver your board to your accommodation. 

Paddle TC is another great rental option for those looking to paddle the blue waters of the bay. They also offer delivery anywhere within 30 minutes of their downtown office. Paddle TC has a variety of board options, and a team member will help you choose the right one based on your experience level. 

  • The River Outfitters: 1910 W. South Airport Rd, Traverse City 
  • Paddle TC: 199 E. Grandview Pkwy, Traverse City

Lake Michigan

Breathtakingly beautiful Lake Michigan is a popular summertime destination. While you might have swam or boated in the second largest of the Great Lakes, paddleboarding provides a fun new way to experience Lake Michigan. 

There are tons of places to paddleboard in Lake Michigan — it has 1,638 miles of shoreline after all — but one of our favorites is a tiny village called Empire. Empire is located on the shore of Lake Michigan and is home to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Sleeping Bear Surf, located in Empire, offers full-day, half-day, overnight, and multi-day paddleboard rentals. The shop is located a block from Empire Beach and provides rolling carts that make it easy to walk your board to the water. 

Once you’re in the water, enjoy the scenic views of Empire Bluffs, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and the lakeshore in between. 

If you’re in the southern half of the Mitten and want to paddleboard on Lake Michigan, head to SoHa Surf Shop. SoHa has three locations in South Haven, two of which are right on the beach, so you don’t need to worry about lugging your equipment to the water. 

  • Sleeping Bear Surf: 10228 W. Front St., Empire
  • SoHa Surf Shop: Multiple locations in South Haven

Lake Charlevoix

As Michigan’s third-largest inland lake, Lake Charlevoix offers plenty of opportunity for exploration. Lake Charlevoix is known for its crystal-clear waters and is surrounded by forests and rolling hills, making it a picturesque place to paddle. 

Summertime Rentals of Lake Charlevoix, located at South Arm Marina, has been serving the Lake Charlevoix area for 22 years and offers top-of-the-line equipment. Their location on the lake’s South Arm, which is naturally protected and generally calmer than other parts of the lake, is ideal for paddleboarding. The marina is also sandwiched between two beaches that you can easily paddle to. 

Summertime Rentals delivers to your waterfront property, or you can choose to pick up your board at the marina, but you must have a truck in order to do so (no rooftop carrying). 

  • Summertime Rentals: 2474 South M-66, East Jordan

Silver Lake

With the sand dunes as your backdrop, paddleboarding on Silver Lake is as scenic as it gets. Start your aquatic adventure at Wave Club Water Sports and make your way across the lake to the dunes. There, all sorts of other activities await you, from off-roading to hiking to sand surfing. 

Wave Club Water Sports is located on the lake near the dunes, so you can pick up your board and get right in the water. 

  • Wave Club Water Sports: 1220 N. Shore Dr., Mears

Grand River

If you want to spend a day on Grand River, Michigan’s largest river, head to Lakeshore Kayak Rental, located about 10 minutes from downtown Grand Haven. The business is located on Lloyd’s Bayou, a lake that’s connected to Grand River, so you’ll start your journey there. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as bald eagles, turtles, and river otters as you make your way through the bayou to the river. The Grand River is a slow, meandering body of water, which makes it perfect for a relaxing paddle trip. 

The company offers delivery but also has inflatable paddleboards, which are easier to transport if you prefer to pick them up. 

  • Lakeshore Kayak Rental: 15378 Cleveland St., Spring Lake

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Your guide to stand-up paddleboarding in Western MichiganYour guide to stand-up paddleboarding in Western Michigan

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