ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WWJ) – It’s not a sport that comes to mind when you think of Michigan — but people have been surfing in the state since the 1940’s.
“We get it every day still in the store here,” said Ryan Gerard who owns Third Coast Surf Shop in St. Joseph. “I mean, even people who live in this town don’t know that we surf on the Great Lakes.
“We certainly get people coming in and they don’t know that we actually sell real surf boards; and then they walk towards the back of the store and they see all of these,” Gerard said. “Some people think they’re props.”
Gerard says Michigan surfing is no joke. “Oh, it’s a real wave. For anybody that’s ever been to San Diego or Honolulu … it’s the same thing.”
Gerard said there are thousands of Michigan surfers and the sport is growing. He says anyone can do it: All you need is a board, a swimsuit and some nerve. A beginner’s lesson is also wise.
Gerard said surfing in Michigan has its advantages.
“When I drive eight hours up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan when I follow the waves … I know where the good spots are, and it’s just you and a few friends out there,” he said. “In California there could be dozens or hundreds of people in, you know, the best spots.”
Gerard said the best time to surf in Michigan is winter — and, with the latest technology in wet-suits, it’s possible to surf year-round.