12 Breathtaking Beaches on Michigan’s Lake Superior Shoreline
The Lower Peninsula beaches along the Lake Michigan shoreline continue to garner nationwide attention for their scenic dunes and sandy swimming areas. It may be a little colder to the north, but with 900+ miles of shoreline on Lake Superior, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula also boasts a handful of beaches worth checking out. It may not be possible to do much swimming at any of these locations until the late summer months, but these beautiful locations are worth checking out whether you’re heading into the water or not. Many of these beaches are also great spots to launch kayaks, canoes or paddleboards – as they provide great views of might Lake Superior as well as the majestic landscape that surrounds it.
Sand Point (Pictured Rocks) – A popular spot due to its warm waters, the Sand Point beach makes for a great addition to any trip to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Located at the end of Sand Point Rd. near park headquarters in Munising, there is also a marsh trail nearby. The beach offers great views of Grand Island and a distant view of the East Channel Lighthouse.
Great Sand Bay (Keweenaw) – It’s impossible to miss this beach on a trip north on M-26. At times, the sand even covers the road here much like a snowdrift would. Recent improvements have brought updated outhouses and a larger parking lot, and this almost mile-long beach features some of the warmest swimming waters on Lake Superior.
Miners Beach – Possibly the most breathtaking beach in the entire Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Miner’s Beach offers great swimming in Lake Superior or in the warmer Miner’s River. Views of the Pictured Rocks cliffs can be had to the east, and the area is also popular with sea kayakers.
Au Train – Easy to access in a roadside park just north of M-28, this small park and beach offers a great view of Lake Superior and a distant view of Au Train Island. The Au Train River empties into Lake Superior here, making this a great area for a day trip in a kayak.
McCarty’s Cove (Marquette) – With great views of the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse on its south end, and a beautiful swimming beach on it’s north end, McCarty’s Cove is a popular summer destination for many of Marquette’s residents. Swim, kayak, paddleboard or explore a bit on the rocks near the shore – you’ll want to return time and time again.
Little Presque Isle, Marquette – A short drive north of town leads visitors and locals alike to the quiet, sandy shores of Lake Superior at Little Presque Isle. The island is separated from the mainland by a sandbar, and depending on water levels it is possible to walk or swim over. There are also great hiking trails and picnic spots in this park, which can be reached by driving north on Big Bay Rd. and watching for signs that lead to the park.
Bete Grise Bay – On the eastern shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the sand at Bete Grise Bay appears to “sing” when struck, according to legend. Within a mile of Lac LaBelle, this beach borders the Mendota Ship Canal and Lighthouse and is not likely to be overrun with visitors even at peak times.
Ontonagon Township Park – Located just north of Ontonagon, this beach is almost a mile long and a favorite for scenic sunsets. It’s a great place to look for driftwood or go rock picking, or brave the often-chilly waters for a Superior swim. The historic Ontonagon Lighthouse (pictured) is a few blocks away, and the smaller light at the end of the west pier can easily be seen from the beach. Tours of the lighthouse can be arranged through the local historical museum.
Porcupine Mountains – There are more than a few great spots to enjoy Lake Superior beaches in the Porkies, but an easy favorite is the stretch of sand just off M-64 between Silver City and the park entrance near South Boundary Road. This is a great spot for a picnic, looking for rocks or agates, checking out driftwood or even looking for the tracks of some of the area’s larger animals. Much like Ontonagon’s beach, this is a great spot to catch a Superior sunset.
Whitefish Point – No other beach on Lake Superior is a better reminder of how harsh the waters here can be. A memorial on shore honors the lives lost when the Edmund Fitzgerald sank, and many artifacts from the wreck are housed in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum here. Part of the beach is a habitat for the elusive piping plover, there is a wildlife sanctuary on the grounds, and the beach is often full of large rocks that have washed ashore after being pounded by the waves of the greatest of Great Lakes.
FJ McLain State Park – Located 10 miles northwest of Hancock in the Keweenaw Peninsula, McLain State Park features some amazing swimming beach frontage near the Portage Ship Canal. The state park also has a sizable campground, and opportunities for many kinds of recreation.
Grand Marais – The protected swimming beach located within walking distance of downtown is wide and sandy, and includes a playground and volleyball court. Other beaches can be reached at the ends of Lake St. and Canal St. The Woodland Park campground just west of town also features beach frontage on Lake Superior.