Video: Surfing Lake Michigan in Frankfort…In November

Watching these surfers leap into Lake Michigan on a blue-sky day, it’s almost easy to forget they are surfing in November in Northern Michigan. Surfing the Great Lakes is not for the meek. While the waves are not the 50-foot variety found in Hawaii, the frigid air and water make Great Lakes surfing a challenge, and an adventure all its own.

Surfboards are a bit scarce in the Great Lakes as most of the board builders and sellers are located on the ocean coasts. Most people who are just getting started ask the locals about used boards of check the “for sale” section on If you’re buying a board, be sure to learn about the difference between buying to salt water versus fresh water as there is a different equation used in estimating the correct size board. Renting is an option. One spot that can be usually counted on to have surfing equipment is Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak in Empire. You’ll also need a wetsuit, or two if you plan to surf in to November, ranging from a 3 mil jacket to a hooded 6 mil for late fall and winter. And don’t forget booties and gloves.

Check out the rules associated with surfing the Great Lakes on and then give it a go. In general, new surfers can surf any waves on any shoreline, but they are asked to be courteous, to stay out of the way of others and remember to never, ever surf alone.

More on Surfing: 

Quick Links to More Fun in Benzie County and Northern Michigan’s West Shore