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Crescent Beach Rd (Onekama) – Wind Direction N, NNW, NW, WNW

Follow Crescent Beach Rd all the way to the end.  There is a small parking lot where you can access the pier.  The beach is private here so if you kite here keep your gear on the pier.  It’s about a 5 minute walk from the parking lot to the water.  The pier is short and doesn’t provide a lot of protection so you may be better off launching at Portage Point.

Portage Point: (Onekama Beach) – Wind Direction SSW, SW, WSW, W

Locals are a bit odd here 🙂  Great “Up North” location off of Portage Lake.  If you have some extra coin stop at the Glenwood to complete a perfect day on the water.

13 Mile Rd (Pierport) – Wind Direction SSW, SW, WSW, W, WNW, NW, NNW, N 

13 Mile beach in Pierport is a public access point at the west end of 13 mile road.  Parking is limited and the public beach is only a little wider than the road itself.  Private beach signs are featured prominently by land owners to the north and south.  The sandy part of the beach is wide enough to launch or land your kite comfortably.  The surrounding landscape is beautiful and has some medium size bluffs sparsely populated by houses.

Bischoff Rd(Arcadia) – Rideable Wind Directions S, SW, W, NW, N

Bischoff Rd is a road end beach immediately north of Arcadia bluffs golf course and resort.  The trek to the beach is not exactly easy since there is a small bluff that you need to traverse.  However, the reward is great.  Large clay bluffs surround you from the north and south and you are the only one on the water for miles.  Be mindful of some large boulders underneath the water in this area.  Also parking is limited since this is a road end.

Chamberlain Rd Beach (Arcadia) Rideable Wind Directions N, NNW, NW, WNW, W

This beach is just south of Arcadia harbor.  There is a small parking lot where the road ends and it is a short walk to the beach.  The beach itself is amazing.  Very wide, long, and remote enough not to attract a lot of crowds.

Arcadia Beach Rideable Wind Directions S, SW, W, NW, N

Arcadia Beach natural area is within the town of Arcadia.  The harbor has a short pier head the beach is kiteable in most wind directions although a straight south can sometimes be gusty.  Parking is right next the beach but you will probably have to hike to the south to find an open launch spot.

Arcadia Dunes S, SW, W, NW, N

Arcadia dunes is a nature preserve and the hike to the beach is around 1 1/2 miles.  The area is beautiful and you’ll be getting more and more stoked the closer you get to the water.

Grace Rd(South of Elberta) Rideable Wind Directions S, SW, W, NW, N

Grace road is a road end beach just south of Elberta.  It may be a good access point for launching your rig in the off chance you ar battling some summer crowds around Frankfort.

Elberta – Wind Direction: N, NNW, NW, WNW

Often mentioned in the same breath as Frankfort,  Elberta is just south of the Frankfort channel.  The beach is very long and on a north wind the water is protected by the pier.  Awesome clay cliff landscapes surrounds you to the north and south.  The only drawback is the parking lot is on the small side so you might have trouble finding a spot on a warm summer day.

Frankfort – Rideable Wind Directions S, SSW, SW

The premier SW downwinder starting point in the northern section of Lake Michigan. Maybe for all of Lake Michigan.  Known for the quality of waves.  Frankforts harbor looks like one of the widest on the West coast and provides shelter if you want to ride in the flat water.  The city of Frankfort is lively in the summer and offers good places to eat and drink.

Point Betsie(Map) – Rideable Wind Directions S, SSW, SW, WSW, W, WNW

Third and most northern of the 3 major points. It’s on the southern tip of one of this country’s most scenic national parks, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Betsie will receive thermal wind from the SW and is the ending point for epic downwinders from Frankfort.  When it is blowing 20 knots in Frankfort on a SW, it might be 30 knots at Betsie.  Also, it is not a good spot for learning.  The beach is rocky and there are some gnarly metal breakwalls around the lighthouse, which is downwind from the kiting area.

Platte River Outlet – Rideable Wind Directions W, WNW, NW, NNW, N, NE

Platte river outlet is located where the lazy Platte river outlets into Lake Michigan. The Platte is warm and heats up the surrounding water nicely. This is a popular beach for people canoeing and tubing down the Platte as well as beachgoers.  If you’re only up for a day then park in the middle “county” lot for $4.00.  Otherwise it may make sense to buy a parking pass to the National Park and use either lot to the north or south end of the beach.  On a north wind hike across the Platte river(it’s only knee deep) staying clear of the piping plover protected areas and launch on the south side of the dunes.  Beautiful dunes surround you from the north and south.  If you plan to camp then the Platte River Campground is one of the nicest around with amenities such as hot showers, clean bathrooms, and an area to clean your dishes.  The sites are spacious as well.  They have first come first serve sites available but you have to get there early.  I recommend arriving on Thursday evening to secure your spot.

Esch Road – Wind Direction: W, WNW, NW, NNW, N

dsc_6993Esch Rd looking NorthEsch Rd SignEsch Rd Beach Looking North

WARNING: No public nudity! Due to poximity to Point Betsie, any wind with south in it will be traveling over land and could be gusty.  Part of the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, Esch road is 3 miles south of Empire and is in a great location to take in dunes while kitesurfing.  Platte river outlet and Point Betsie are visible to the south.  The parking lot is big enough for the amount of people that visit this beach and there is no parking fee.

Empire (Village Park) – Rideable Wind Directions WSW, W, WNW, NW, NNW, N

Empire village is a sweet spot due to it’s proximity to Sleeping Bear sand dunes.  The  views in this location are awesome and the beach gets pretty crowded during the summer.  Ask the private landowners to the North or South if you can use their property to launch and land.  I’ve had good success with the owners but if you don’t you can walk a few hundred yards south past the private beach as it becomes public again near the big sand dune and there is a lot of  open space.

Leland (Off Reynolds St. south of Leland) – Rideable Wind Directions NW, N, NNE

Islands may affect the wind slightly when out of the west.

South Manitou Island (Expert Kiters Only, lots of hiking) – Wind Direction – Any   [Not a valid template]

Take the ferry from Leland to the island.  South Manitou is a 16 mile ferry ride from Leland, but only 8 miles off Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.  This location provides more wind than on the mainland of Michigan.  However, it requires a great deal of planning and hard work to access the beaches on the island.  In addition to your kiteboarding gear, you will have to bring camping gear and food for at least two days. (Ferry only runs with weather permitting, so there is a possibility of being stuck on the island) Closest beach to the boat landing is the bay which will work for any easterly wind. Second closest campground is on the south end of the island. Beaches have some rocks and watch your gear on the ferry trip.  (had a fin broken off my board) The reward is better wind and seclusion and scenery like no where else on Lake Michigan.  Could be an epic trip with a good group of friends.

Peterson Park (North of Leland) – Rideable Wind Direction: SW, WSW, W, WNW, NNW

Clean blue water in a great “Up North” location.

Christmas Cove – Wind Direction: SSW, SW, WSW, W, WNW, NNW, N

Christmas cove is a public beach with about 200 feet of frontage on Lake Michigan.  Parking is right off the beach.

Leelanau State Park (Cathead Bay) – Wind Direction: WSW, W, WNW, NNW, N, NNE, NE:

Cathead Bay is one of the few areas along the west coast of Lake Michigan where you can kitsurf on an East wind.

Have you been here?  Share your experience!

Traverse City (West and East Bay) – Wind Direction: NW, N, NE:

The nice thing about the bays is the shallow flat water.  Keep your eye open for a steady wind and you’ll have a kiting experience in Michigan that feels like the flats of Key West.  An east wind can be on the gusty side.


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