State of the Beach/State Reports/WI/Surfing Areas

From Beachapedia

Home Beach Indicators Methodology Findings Beach Manifesto State Reports Chapters Perspectives Model Programs Bad and Rad Conclusion

Wisconsin Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access88
Water Quality74
Beach Erosion6-
Erosion Response-5
Beach Fill2-
Shoreline Structures6 3
Beach Ecology3-
Surfing Areas55

Inventory and Perception of Status

Surfing Near Milwaukee, Credit: Marc Ponto.

Believe it or not, there are at least 64 well-known surfing spots along Lake Michigan. The photo to the left and this report from Surfline prove that people do surf in Wisconsin. Most good surf spots are located adjacent to shoreline structures like jetties and piers. Surfing locations include Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, South Haven, Ludington, and Traverse City. People come from as far away as the Chicago and Milwaukee areas to surf these spots.

They are generally in fair condition. However, concerns have been raised about water quality. Only the state and city beaches are tested, and there have been an increasing number of beach closures due to high bacteria levels. Awareness of this problem has also been increasing in the press and in local and state governments. Lake Michigan provides for a wide variety of water recreation opportunities, with beach and boating access as high priorities. Windsurfing is a popular sport along the Great Lakes as well as inland waters.

Recognition by State

Wisconsin does not recognize surfing as an economic, cultural, and recreational resource.

According to results of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), surfing makes up 0.3% or 12,000 of outdoor recreation participants (Age 16+) in the state.

State Coastal Management Program staff has stated: "Surfers make up a small but visible component of coastal users in our state."

Surfrider Foundation Chapters

Wisconsin-Great Lakes Chapter43° 2' 20.0508", -87° 54' 23.3064"

Wisconsin-Great Lakes Chapter Wisconsin-Great Lakes Chapter Website

Why a Wisconsin Great Lakes Surfrider Foundation Chapter?

To leverage the popularity of surfing and use the reputation of Surfrider Foundation as a platform to inspire environmental ethics towards our waterways. There are actually a good number of people in Wisconsin who surf, whether on Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, or other Wisconsin waterways (rivers/inland lakes) who believe in the mission of the Surfrider Foundation. Some might even call Sheboygan the world’s fresh water surfing capitol! Our region boasts many surfers, sailboarders, wakeboarders, kiteboarders, kayakers, Stand Up Paddleboarders, and watermen and waterwomen who support the Surfrider Foundation vision and want to contribute to preserving our water resources here in Wisconsin. Surfrider serves as a great vehicle for individuals looking to take action and has the resources to empower those individuals.

Check out the Wisconsin-Great Lakes Chapter blog at

You can contact the Wisconsin-Great Lakes Chapter via email at

Surfrider Foundation now has a Wisconsin-Great Lakes Chapter. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

Surfrider Foundation also has a Lake Michigan Chapter based in Grand Haven, Michigan, as well as chapters in Chicago and Minnesota.

Information Sources

Other sources of information on surfing in Wisconsin include:

State of the Beach Report: Wisconsin
Wisconsin Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
2011 7 SOTB Banner Small.jpg