Point Betsie

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Place Category: Paddle Spots and Great LakesPlace Tags: lake michigan surfing and point betsie

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  • Point Betsie, Frankfurt

    Point Betsie is one of the top wind and wave locations on Lake Michigan.  It is an all time favorite for kiters and surfers.   The beach is decent, but this spot is really all about the wind and waves.

    The geographic nature and positioning of Point Betsie make it a very special place.   Whether the wind is blowing from the North or South, from the point you can quickly get out into really nice clean swell.   And depending on the wind direction, on either side of the point you can find waves cleaning up and lining up as they come around the point.

    The Beach

    The beach is not too big by Northern Michigan standards,  but there is some space for non-paddlers to hang out.

    Parking Tips:
    • There isn’t really much of a parking lot at Point Betsie.
    • Most people tend to just park along the side of the road
    North Wind

    A north wind will create pretty big conditions at Point Betsie.   The waves have a long fetch coming straight down from the top of the lake without too much interference.

    West Wind

    Waves will be coming directly on-shore.   Great for doing out and backs

    South Wind

    A straight south wind or southwest will create great conditions out at Point Betsie with hundreds of miles of unobstructed fetch the swell builds beautifully.

    Point to Point Options
    • Point Betsie to Frankfurt – On a North wind this is a great, short downwind run that is very popular with kiters and the local SUP surfers.     It is about 4 1/2 miles down to Frankfurt  with waves running parallel to shore.
    • Frankfurt to Point Betsie  – On a straight South wind this is a great run with awesome conditions paralleling the shore.   If the wind is Southwest you’ll need to head out offshore about 2 miles to get a good line down to the point as the waves will tend to feel pretty onshore
    • Point Betsie to Empire – On a southwest wind, this may very well be the best downwind run in Northern Michigan.   And fortunately we get a lot of southwest wind through the summer months.   In total this will be about a 16 mile run and if you take a straight line you’ll be 5 miles off shore at times,  so this is definitely for expert paddlers who are well prepared.   This could someday be a world class race route with a classic big sandy beach finish like you see in Australia and South Africa.
    • Point Betsie to Platte Point –  If you aren’t up for the long run to Empire, taking out at Platte Point can be a great option.  Still lots of phenomenal runs, just a bit shorter and you can stay closer to shore
    Safety Precautions
    • Wear high visibility clothing.   There is typically not a lot of boat traffic in this area, but you never know
    • When the wind and waves are up,  the surf at Point Betsie can be very challenging.
    • Be very aware of the wind.  The same things that make the point such a great location, can also make it challenging.  If you go around the point with the wind at your back you can quickly find yourself further offshore than you expected.
    Post Paddle Food & Libations
    • Frankfurt has lots of boutique restaurants and bars that would all be great options.  Every time I’m in the area we always add in a mountain bike ride at the Pierre Forest (the reviews don’t do it justice.  Not incredibly technical, but still a very fun place to ride, especially with family)  and eat at ElBerto’s Taqueria  the food is fresh, local, largely organic, and simply amazing!
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