2017-01-26 / Local News

Lakeshore beaches among world’s best

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

Fresh off a record-breaking year of attendance, Sleeping Bear Dunes is the recipient of another accolade — this time on an international scale.

Sleeping Bear Dunes — specifically Sleeping Bear Point — was named as one of the top 21 destinations in the world for beaches as ranked by National Geographic.

“Pure freshwater and 450-foot bluffs mean eyes-open swimming and vast views over Lake Michigan,” the article states.

The latest award is no big surprise for Bob Sutherland, a county native and founder of Cherry Republic, an all cherries-all-the-time business, based in Glen Arbor.

“National Geographic has loved this area since the early 1900s,” Sutherland said. “At one time they ranked Glen Lake among the top five most beautiful lakes in the world.

“So it’s no surprise this that this authority in travel and geography would pick us for our beaches.”

More than simply geography or a place on a map, Sutherland says beaches are a part of who we are in Leelanau County and the lifestyle we embrace.

“It’s so important to Cherry Republic and its staff that its included in our logo,” Sutherland said.

The business’ logo reads: lifelibertybeachespie.

“It stands more for more than a towel by the water. It’s a lifestyle we live here,” Sutherland said.

Neither did the international recognition surprise Tom Ulrich, deputy superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. But that doesn’t mean he’s unimpressed.

“It’s a big deal because its read all over the world,” Ulrich said.

Beaches are among the most popular attractions in the park — from Good Harbor Bay to the north and Platte Bay to the south.

Designated beaches in Glen Haven and at the end of Co. Rd. 669 and 651 are among the post popular in the park — second only to Platte Point Beach in Benzie County.

That could be due to its proximity to the park’s largest campground, the 179- site Platte River Campground. It also serves as the outlet for the thousands of canoes and kayaks paddling the river and into Platte Bay.

Activity at the beach is not limited to summer alone. Just last weekend, many people took advantage of unseasonably warm temperatures to walk along Sleeping Bear’s shoreline.

Helping to keep those beaches beautiful are a cadre of 140 volunteers from Friends of the Sleeping Bear, who walk Park beaches, picking up litter and monitoring the landscape for safety issues.

“They’re out on the beaches spring through fall,” said Kerry Kelly, Friends’ chairman of the board. “Last year, we picked up more than 2,000 pounds of litter.”

The National Geography listing is for Glen Haven and specifically mentions walking from the from Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station — now the maritime museum — or along Sleeping Bear Trail with views of North and South Manitou islands in the distance.

“There are a lot of things to do there. Plus they have some awesome changing rooms,” Ulrich said.

The Friends are looking to help improve handicapped beach access at Glen Haven.

Kelly met Tuesday with Park representatives about constructing a path there from the cannery down to the beach made from metal gridding or wood.

This would be in addition to two handicapped wheelchairs available at Glen Haven.

“We want to make it easier for people to get to the water,” he said.

Other “best beaches” listed by National Geographic include Brunswick Island, N.C.; Sanibel Island, Fla.; Carmel-by-the Sea, Calif. in the U.S. and others in Mexico, Spain, Cambodia, Western Austrailia, England and The Philippines.

Return to top