The Best North American Beginner Surf Spots


Jan 5, 2006
Outside Magazine
Lake Michigan

This mellow looking beach amps up in the fall.    Photo: Kay Longacre-Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce

New Buffalo—Lake Michigan
Surf Report: Nearly 1000 miles from the ocean and an hour east of Chicago, New Buffalo, Michigan, is a one-stoplight town on the southeast corner of Lake Michigan. The Great Lakes can get surprisingly good surf, but that's usually in the winter. In the summer, New Buffalo gets wind waves from local high pressure systems that push dribbly one to two footers along the shore. June and July have a few decent days, but August is when it starts to fire up. Fall is best with head-high waves and the remnants of summer provide air and water temps in the 70s.
Scene: The public beach and harbor are popular in summer. Kids on skimboards, boogies, and surfboards are common. A prime lake resort destination for city folk, New Buffalo has become Surf City Central as thousands of visitors rent boards and wetsuits.
Bonus: More experienced surfers can be found at the south jetty, where north, northwest, and northeasterly swells wrap into a clean beach hidden from the wind. Check out the Great Lakes surf movie Unsalted ( by Vince Deur and be shocked by the kinds of waves a short fetch can produce-and how determined these guys are to ride them in rain, snow, sleet, or hail.
Wax Run: Third Coast Surf Shop, 269-932-4575,

Filed To: Surfing, Michigan