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The Great Lakes present some of the best sailing spots in North America, with beaches, vineyards, quaint towns, roaring waterfalls and buzzing cities dotted along the shoreline. Stemming from the Atlantic Ocean, the interconnected lakes – Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior – straddle the US-Canada border, abutting eight US states and the Canadian province of Ontario. Their combined surface area represents the world’s largest body of fresh water – enough to engulf the entire United Kingdom – meaning there are countless places to explore as you traverse the sometimes tumultuous and sometimes glassy waters.
“You can swim nearly anywhere in the Great Lakes and the pristine water makes life easier for your boat too,” says Amy Krueger Malow, Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales President, based in Michigan. “The lakes offer over 10,000 miles of shoreline to explore and there are no tides … or sharks.”
Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes, but is a boat-lover’s dream on a summer’s day and the deep waters are lined with yacht clubs and marinas. The Thousand Islands region at the mouth of the St Lawrence River is – as the name suggests – sprinkled with small, oft uninhabited, islands and sheltered coves, and keen divers will love the nearby Kingston area for its shipwrecks.
Cruising onwards to the shallowest of the lakes, Erie, you can navigate to even more islands, including Kelleys to admire the Glacial Grooves. Here, the limestone bedrock carved out by glaciers is a spectacular sight of nature.
Put-In-Bay, Catawba Island and Cedar Point are also worthy of a stopover on Erie. Cedar Point has been coined the best amusement park in the world.
On Lake Huron, Mackinac Island prides itself on having no cars and no chain hotels, meaning that when you moor, you can meander on foot, bicycle or horse-drawn carriage to explore the vibrant cafe and restaurant scene (don’t miss the famous fudge), find secluded picnic spots to watch the sunset and visit historic Fort Mackinac.
On the Canadian side of Huron, more than a dozen ports in Georgian Bay allow for extensive exploration by water, including Manitoulin Island – a natural paradise and home of Canada’s first European settlement.
“As far as cruising and anchoring, the Huron’s North Channel and Georgian Bay are the absolute best areas in the Great Lakes to explore and experience nature at its finest,” says Krueger Malow. “Growing up, we spent two weeks or more each summer cruising this area. The whole land area is essentially glaciated rock where the views, hiking and dinghy exploration are out of this world.”
Then, on Lake Michigan, there’s 1640 miles of shoreline to explore. “Lake Michigan has so many wonderful destinations and, as with all the Great Lakes, is a very large and diverse area, but uniquely features sandy beaches and incredible dunes,” says Krueger Malow. “Some of my top picks on Lake Michigan include Charlevoix for its historic architecture, restaurants and world-class events, and Pentwater for its old-fashioned, laidback community with rich history and sugar-fine-sand beaches.”
The most western of the Great Lakes, Superior has a reputation for being chilly and untamed, but under the right conditions and with careful planning, you’ll be met with views of towering cliffs topped by dense, green forests and vast, azure waters.
So, choose your lake, and choose your reward.
For Sunseeker enquiries in The Great Lakes Region, please contact Sunseeker Great Lakes firstname.lastname@example.org