Best Places to go Paddleboarding in Michigan

There are many reasons to visit Michigan, chief of which are its waterways offer enthusiasts and experts alike a unique, unforgettable paddleboarding experience. Continue reading to find out where these exciting waterways are situated when you go paddleboarding in Michigan. 

Here are exciting places to paddleboard in Michigan:

  1. Pictured Rocks
  2. Muskegon
  3. Platte River
  4. Sleeping Bear Dunes
  5. Grand Traverse Bay
  6. Isle Royale
  7. North Bar Lake

7 Places To Go Standup Paddleboarding in Michigan

Of the many places to visit in Michigan, the following are the top pick for people looking for some standup paddleboarding fun. 

1. Pictured Rocks

Address: N8391 Sand Point Rd, Munising, MI 49862

The Pictured Rocks has a little something for everyone looking to have a fun day out. The waters are fast and free-flowing, enough to get your adrenaline going, and flanked by a park with educative resources to keep the children entertained. People looking for a guided tour can sign up with North Coast Paddleboarding for a relaxed showing of the Pictured Rocks scenery. 

You can come here several times and still find something new every time as this picturesque location along the shoreline of Lake Superior is a sprawling 42 miles. Take in the season as you paddle across elegantly colored rock formations with family and friends as you explore features like the 70’ waterfall. 

It is not in the middle of nowhere, as you are only an hour’s drive from the City of Marquette if you need to pick up supplies. But you would hardly need to leave this scenic location as there are outlets to provide you with your every need, including rental of paddleboarding gear. 

2. Muskegon Lake

Address: Fulton Ave, Muskegon, MI 49441

Muskegon lake is the go-to destination for paddleboarders looking to share their surfing stories with other enthusiasts. The Pere Marquette river calls this beach home, and so do surfers that troop here in August as they kick off the Annual Great Lakes Surf Festival. The festival sees people compete in competitions such as windsurfing and wind sailing events. It also features fun yoga sessions. 

The waters here are flat, warm and shallow. These enable boarders of all skill levels to have a swell time on the water without worrying about the cold or high tides. You can bring your vehicles to the beach, as it is easily accessible by road. The only downside to choosing Muskegon lake could be the crowd. The popularity of the beach makes it very popular with tourists, so if crowds are a deal breaker, you might want to consider other options on this list. 

If you intend to travel light, you will have no problem securing your paddleboarding gear at Muskegon Lakes. 

3. Platte River

Address: 5685 Lake Michigan Road, Honor, MI 49640

The Platte River offers a 30-mile stretch of calm waters perfect for newbie paddleboarders or people looking to paddleboard with their dog. With 2500 acres, you have several options to launch your paddleboard in the clear blue waters of this peaceful lake and can rest from paddling in any of the campgrounds in the vicinity. 

This location can be easily accessed by road, as it is only 45 minutes from Traverse City. You can decide to shop for all your gear here or consider the rental options around the lake. 

4. Sleeping Bear Dunes


  • Visitor Center

9922 Front Street, Empire, MI 49630

  • Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

8500 Stocking Drive, Empire, MI 49630

  • Dune Climb

6748 Dune Hwy (M-109), Glen Arbor, MI 49636

  • Maritime Museum

8799 Sleeping Bear Road, Glen Arbor, MI 49636

  • Platte River Campground

5685 Lake Michigan Road, Honor, MI 49640

  • D. H. Day Campground

8010 West Harbor Hwy. (M-109), Glen Arbor, MI 49636

There are some locations on this list you do not want to miss, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes is one of them. People that have visited consider it a magical experience, and it’s only right that you share in its magic. The first thing that jumps at you is the remoteness of the location, coupled with the peaceful waters make it perfect for brushing up on your paddleboarding skills. 

This 35-mile sandy shoreline offers views of dunes 500 feet high and is less than an hour from Traverse City. You can shop for supplies here or at rentals close to the lake. The only thing that can interrupt all the fun waiting for you here is the unpredictable weather. As a result, you must go informed and ready to handle whatever mother nature throws at you. 

5. Grand Traverse Bay

Address: 100 Grand Traverse Boulevard, PO Box 404, Acme, Michigan 49610

This is, in many ways, ideal for newbie paddleboarders. The first major consideration for anyone new to SUP is where to launch your board. Here, you can launch your board along the bay or from the sandy banks. Furthermore, you do not have to worry about high tides or currents as the crystal clear waters are generally calm with mild wind.

With several picnic spots for you, your friends and your family to choose from, you can not go wrong with a visit to Grand Traverse Bay. The only thing that might be considered a drawback of visiting this 32-mile-long lake is that it can be crowdy in the summer. If this is no issue, you are all good. 

6. Isle Royale

Address: 00 East Lakeshore Drive Houghton, MI 49931

If you want a once-in-a-lifetime experience, few places compare to the untamed Isle Royale. This, with 450 smaller islands, makes up the Isle Royale National Park and is sparsely visited by tourists partly because it can’t be accessed by road but by seaplane and boats. 

There’s a myriad of activities for you if you choose to visit. You can paddle the inland lakes and streams or the rocky coastline. The unique wildlife, like the moose and wolf, to name a few, is one other reason people visit the Isle Royale. You can cap it off by hiking one of the trails before ending your exciting day at any camping spot.

7. North Bar Lake

Address: East Point Dr, Empire, MI, 49630

The North Bar Lake elegantly merges two worlds so you do not have to choose. Usually, paddleboarders have to choose between slow moving, recreational paddling and choppy, fast paced action. Now, you can have all the above in the same location, the North Bar Lake. 

When you think it can’t get better, it does. The lake has a low sand dune closeby that protects paddleboarders from the wind, so you only have the water to worry about. This coupled with facilities like properly maintained restrooms and closeby parking makes this one of the best locations to visit in Michigan.

Michigan Boating Laws

The following are some important boating laws to know before paddleboarding in Michigan.

  • All persons aboard or being towed must each have a personal floatation device.
  • Pets must have a 6-foot leash in and out of the water
  • Pets must not disturb the wildlife and other visitors
  • Unless exempt, all watercraft must be registered


Michigan is perfect for newbie and experienced paddleboarders. The number of surfing locations ensures there is something for everyone and all of the above-listed guarantees that you have fun on the water with friends and family while staying safe. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need a License for Paddleboarding?

Yes, you need a license from the relevant authority to use a paddleboard, kayak, or other unpowered craft on the waterways. 

Do You Need a Lifejacket on a Paddleboard in Michigan?

Also known as Life vests, the state of Michigan mandates that anybody on the water have a personal flotation device (PFD)on their person. The only exemption is when they are in a designated swim area. 

Can You Paddleboard Picture Rocks?

Yes, you can paddleboard at the pictured rocks. You can enjoy the view of Spray Falls, a 70’ waterfall, on a solo run or as part of a guided tour.