One of the Most Beautiful Beaches in the World: Oval Beach, Saugatuck, Michigan

The following photo essay on Oval Beach, Saugatuck, Michigan is a guest post by Dr. Jessie Voigts of Wandering Educators.

And it's located on Lake Michigan! It's Oval Beach, in Saugatuck, Michigan, and despite being honored in myriad ways, it's still the best beach on Lake Michigan.

  • One of the Top 25 beaches in the world (Condé Naste Magazine)
  • One of the two top freshwater beaches in the USA (National Geographic Traveler Magazine)
  • One of the five best beaches in the United States (MTV)

Lest that scare you away, let me give you some tips. I grew up near this beach, and have spent thousands of hours swimming there. You'll find Saugatuck south of Holland, and north of South Haven on Michigan's Sunset Coast. Saugatuck is a very artsy town – plenty of boutique shops, excellent restaurants (try Chequers, a British Pub, or Butlers, for a burger) , a great kitchen store, and Uncommon Grounds – my favorite coffeeshop. There are three beaches in Saugatuck – the State Park (nice, especially for large gatherings), Pier Cove (very small, but with an awesome creek), and Oval Beach. You reach Oval Beach via a long and winding road on the south side of the river, past a sailing club, tennis courts, and enviable cottages. Take a left before the big hill and wind some more until you crest the dune and see the glory of Lake Michigan. You can buy a day pass or a season pass – it's very reasonably priced.

Once in, you'll see that there are two main beach areas. To the left (south), you'll have less crowds, and reach the beach via weathered wooden stairs. To the right (north), you'll see a large restroom/changing room, picnic area, and concession stand. Just past this is where most people play – it's a gradual slope down to the Big Lake, and there is plenty of parking.

Bring sunscreen, towels, a beach umbrella, plenty of toys to dig with, a kite, beach chairs, your favorite books and magazines, a picnic, and a cooler full of lemonade and spring water. It will be a day to remember!

You won't believe it's a freshwater lake – there are waves of all sizes, depending on the weather.

You're often graced with beautiful sailboats, gliding by far off the coast.

Remember, take joy, leave only footprints.

Sunset can be magical, if the clouds don't get in the way!

The golden glow of summer will stay in your memories forever.

There are plenty of seagulls to feed, if you're so inclined. Hint: Do so at the end of your time there, so you're not swarmed for hours.

Weathered steps down to the south end of Oval Beach.

The sandy Michigan coastline stretches forever.

Just south of Oval Beach is a summer camp – complete with lifeguard. If you want a lifeguard while you swim, swim on the north end of Oval Beach. The south end has no lifeguard.

Lake Michigan can take you by surprise with its bubbly gentleness, and then its raging waves. Check the weather before you go!

Can't get enough of Lake Michigan? Here are 10 great beach towns on Michigan's Sunset Coast!

This was a guest post by Dr. Jessie Voigts,the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about exploring the world. She also founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. You can usually find her family by water anywhere in the world. Join her on the Wandering Educators network on Tripping!