GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — We survived the third-snowiest winter on record in West Michigan. This is your reward: Beach season is back.
The WOOD TV8 Lake Michigan Summer Beach Guide is better than ever with 56 public beaches from St. Joseph to Ludington. Check out the map to see a picture from every beach and get prepared for parking fees, the hike to the water and whether you can bring a pet.
Before you head to the beach, there are some changes you should know this year.
BEACHES KEEP GETTING BIGGER
At nearly every beach we visited this year, there’s more sand to spread out on than last summer. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, water levels on Lake Michigan are down 2 inches from May 2022 and more than 2 feet from record highs set in 2020.
While erosion caused a lot of problems for lakeshore homeowners in 2020, cliff collapses have helped create even bigger beaches as water levels decline. It is especially noticeable at beaches like Kirk Park and Windsnest Park in Ottawa County.
P.J. HOFFMASTER BEACH CLOSED
One of the best beaches in West Michigan is closed to start the summer. A much-needed construction project is expected to keep the beach at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Norton Shores closed until July 7. The pothole-filled roads and old restrooms are both being replaced. Once the beach opens in July, the campground will close for repairs.
KOUW PARK REOPENS
A tiny beach in Ottawa County is back open for the first summer in years. High water levels washed out the staircase at Kouw Park in Port Sheldon Township. The stairs have been rebuilt, once again providing access to the sandy shore below.
Kouw Park, along with Windsnest Park, are now managed by Ottawa County. The biggest change you’ll notice is the new $8 daily fee for parking at both beaches. Port Sheldon Township residents get a discounted rate.
OTTAWA COUNTY PARK CHANGES
The way you pay parking fees at Ottawa County parks has changed. Previously, you could buy a physical permit to have in your car. New this year, all Ottawa County-managed parks have pay stations where you can register your license plate in person.
Ottawa County annual permits are $25. Daily passes are $8. Ottawa County residents can get a discount on annual passes, but you have to pay online to get the discounted rate.
Luke Stier is a lifelong Michigan resident who joined WOOD TV8 in 2008. If you have questions or suggestions about the beach guide, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.