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

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Wisconsin Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access88
Water Quality74
Beach Erosion6-
Erosion Response-5
Beach Fill2-
Shoreline Structures6 3
Beach Ecology3-
Surfing Areas55
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}

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

Milwaukee Chapter43° 2' 20.05" N, 87° 54' 23.31" W

<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Milwaukee Chapter<html></legend></html> Milwaukee Chapter Website

Sunset surf parties on the beach; gallery nights at local cafes; winter excursions into open water: Surfrider-Milwaukee hosts events throughout the year to help you love your lake in a whole new way.

Lake Michigan is a part of the world's largest freshwater ecosystem: our Great Lakes hold 20% of our planet's surface freshwater! Join Surfrider-Milwaukee and help protect this precious resource for the next generation and beyond.

Surfrider-Milwaukee educates on the beach, at inland presentations, and through community-based campaigns. Join Surfrider-Milwaukee to learn more.

You can contact the Milwaukee Chapter via email at


Surfrider Foundation also has three other chapters on the Great Lakes - 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
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