With 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers many places to sunbathe, beach walk, rock pick, build sand castles and play in the waves. The entire lakeshore is open to swimming, but be aware of your surroundings, because there are no lifeguards on duty in the park, and rip currents can be present along these pristine beaches.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite beaches, but check a map: there are public accesses at nearly every road that ends at the lake!
Good Harbor Bay Beach
This beach at the far northeast corner of the park features the sweeping Good Harbor Bay, along with views of Pyramid Point, Whaleback, North Manitou Island, and even the Fox Islands (if the weather is clear). Access this area via Good Harbor Road, across from County Road 651. If you are a curious beachgoer, be sure to walk south along the lakeshore until you reach the outlet of the small Good Harbor Creek.
Port Oneida Beach
Port Oneida is home to several Lake Michigan beach accesses, all just off Port Oneida Road. The Lane Road Beach south of Pyramid Point is a local favorite, with a winding staircase leading to the water, and commanding views of both North and South Manitou Islands. Perched below the bluffs and tucked away between Pyramid Point to the north and Sleeping Bear Point to the south, visitors will feel like they have the entirety of Sleeping Bear Bay to themselves.
North Bar Lake
This two-for-one location can be deceiving. The parking area may fill up, at times spilling out onto the road, but with both North Bar Lake and Lake Michigan to enjoy, it’s easy to spread out. The inland North Bar lake is a family favorite, as its waters are warmer than the big lake while still being clear. If splashing in the cooler waves is a draw, then follow the path over the dune to the expansive sandy beach. The Empire Bluffs are visible to the south -- indeed, all of Platte Bay is visible -- and South Manitou Island can be seen to the north.
This incredible Lake Michigan beach has it all! There are rocky shores to the north with views of South Manitou Island in the distance, soft sand at the entrance, and to the south there are views of Platte River Point. If that isn't enough, there is also a trailhead here with access to several miles of paths that wind past a marl spring, along Otter Creek, and with stops at a few different small inland lakes. There’s truly something for everyone here.
Platte River Point
At the far end of the park, visitors will find one of the busiest segments of beach. The slow, clear Platte River enters Lake Michigan at the point, and it is the end of a popular route for paddlers and tubers. Take a tube, kayak, canoe, or paddle board down the river and across Loon Lake and wind up a couple hours later at this gorgeous Lake Michigan beach. Most paddlers exit the river at the township park, leaving the river open to wading and swimming. Perch atop the sandy beach for a spectacular sunset.