NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan is home to beaches that are often rated among the best in the world.
Big beaches like Grand Haven, Holland and Oval Beach often claim the awards, but off the beaten path are some gems even locals have never heard of. Here’s a look at some secret beaches you need to visit.
COVERT TOWNSHIP PARK
80559 32nd Ave., Covert, MI 49043
Just as the name suggests, this beach is as secret as they come. Just a 10-minute drive from downtown South Haven, even if you have directions to Covert Township Park it can still be hard to find. Tucked off winding and tree-covered 32nd Avenue, Covert Township Park offers a secluded campground with a spectacular beach.
There is only a small gravel lot to park in, so make sure to get there early on weekends. The beach is free if you are lucky enough to live in Covert Township. Everyone else has to pay $8. You can also rent a kayak or paddleboard for the day at the beach.
6710 142nd Ave., Holland, MI 49423
This is one of the most scenic spots anywhere along the Lake Michigan shoreline, but despite being just miles from both Saugatuck and Holland, Laketown Beach is still relatively unknown.
The secrecy is at least partially because it is a very difficult hike to get to the beach. You have to climb dozens of sand-covered stairs then run down a large dune. The climb up the stairs on the way back is even more difficult. From the top of the dunes, the views are stunning and crowds rarely gather at the beach.
There are a limited number of parking spots at the end of 142nd Avenue, so go early on weekends. Make sure to obey the no-parking zones; they are strictly enforced.
If you show up and there aren’t any parking spots available, Saugatuck Dunes State Park is less than 2 miles away.
7905 Margaret Ave., West Olive, MI 49460
For miles along the lakeshore, you can see the smokestack at the Consumers Energy J.H. Campbell Generating Complex in Port Sheldon Township. Near the base of that smokestack is a secret beach you’ve likely never heard of.
Windsnest Park boasts a short boardwalk that gets you to nearly 1,000 feet of sandy lakeshore in less than a minute. It also has new bathrooms and redesigned playground. Situated halfway between Grand Haven and Holland, it’s a pretty quick trip for anyone in metro Grand Rapids.
There’s also a free parking lot that usually has enough room even on busy summer weekends.
LAKE HARBOR PARK
4635 Lake Harbor Road, Norton Shores, MI 49441
Where Mona Lake flows into Lake Michigan is one of West Michigan’s best kept secrets.
Lake Harbor Park is along the drive between giant beaches at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park and Pere Marquette Park.
The half-mile wooded walk from the parking lot follows the channel to Lake Michigan. It leads you to a beach that stretches for 4,000 feet along Lake Michigan.
The park is a massive 189 acres in total with multiple hiking trails through the woods and along a dune.
MEINERT PARK & FLOWER CREEK DUNES NATURE PRESERVE
This secret beach is a two-for-one special that you need to find time to visit.
Meinert Park itself is a beautiful stretch of secluded lakeshore that includes the outlet of Little Flower Creek.
You can also hike just north to the Flower Creek Dunes Nature Preserve — a large stretch of protected dune land. It includes Flower Creek and has a boardwalk along the bluff with panoramic views of Lake Michigan.
The beaches are just northwest of Montague. With its proximity to US-31, it is only an hour drive from Grand Rapids.