Lake St. Clair is a freshwater lake that lies between Ontario’s Canadian provinces and the US state of Michigan. There are two popular spots to kite from land on Lake St. Clair during the summer. The most popular site is Metro Beach because of its close proximity to Detroit’s metropolitan area, with its big thermal boost in the spring when the warm air is pushed upward by the cold water. This ‘dome effect’ produces flat water and lofty elevator jumps that keep you in the air forever. Metro’s best wind directions are south and southwest, which is directly onshore. For beginners, there is a small bay area called the ‘kiddie pool’ where they can safely practice without getting pushed into land, but instead into a marsh area. Metro offers superb flat to choppy conditions with steady winds coming directly across the lake for beginners and intermediates without obstructions. St. Clair’s second spot is Harsens Island, located on the northeast side of the lake. Accessed via a car ferry, you feel as if you are hundreds of miles from the city. Harsens Island works in southwest, west, northwest and north wind directions and is a very user-friendly and beautiful

spot on Lake St. Clair. The water is a bit colder due to the shipping channels that run down from the St. Clair River from Lake Huron. If you have access to a boat or sign up for a trip with Great Lakes Surf, there are several epic bays you can kite along St. Clair’s shores. Fisher Bay, Muscamoot Bay, Anchor Bay and Strawberry Island are the most popular spots. Here you can explore marshy protected areas for absolute glass conditions where you can pick the best place to ride based on any wind direction with some of the most steady wind you will find on the lake. With miles and miles of slicks, St. Clair puts the famous Hatteras Planet of the Apes to shame. St. Clair is a kiteboarder’s paradise for flat water and steady winds.

IDEAL DISCIPLINES: Kiteboarding | Foilboarding | Wingsurfing

CLOSEST AIRPORT: Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW).

DISTANCE TO LOCATION: DTW is 40 minutes from Metro Beach and about 1.5 hours from Harsens Island.

TRANSPORT TO LOCATION: You will need some wheels, so it is best to rent a car or rely upon Uber.

BEST SEASON: May through November is the main kiteboarding season.

WIND RANGE: Depending on the wind direction, most days average between 15-25 knots.

WATER TEMPERATURE: Water temps in the summer are warm, with most kiters sporting only board shorts. In July, the water can reach up to 83° F with air into the 90s. In the spring and fall, most kiteboarders opt for a 4/3mm or 5/4mm full wetsuit.

OFF-SEASON: From December through February, Lake St. Clair will freeze over, but the lake is open for snowkiting once the ice is sufficiently thick enough.

LOCAL RULES/SAFETY HAZARDS: Since there are only two public places to kite from on Lake St. Clair, it is important that beginners take a lesson from a reputable kite school. Some of the spots have experienced restrictions and potential closures due to the actions of inexperienced kiters. Kite smart and always within your abilities, and don’t hesitate to reach out to local schools or local kiters at the beaches.

LODGING RECOMMENDATIONS: There are a plethora of basic hotels starting at $50, ranging up to 5-star accommodations that cost $250 per night. There are also some amazing Airbnb’s located right on the lake that will vary in price depending on the season. The highest prices are during the summer.

For budget travelers, check out the Red Roof Inn at $52 a night, just seven miles from Metro Beach; it is fairly close with basic standard accommodations. At the same distance from Metro but with more amenities, the Baymont by Wyndham starts at $85 a night, including free breakfast. For higher-end lodging, there is the Hyatt Place Detroit located in Utica, which is only nine miles from Lake St. Clair, starting at $149 a night.

LOCAL CUISINE: Within close proximity to Detroit, you will find a variety of American and ethnic cuisine choices from Mexican, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Ethiopian, Indian and more. The food here is diverse, and we have some of the top restaurants in the US. Prices can range from McDonald’s’ dollar menu to 5-star culinary experiences as famous as Whitney in Detroit. If you’re on Harsens Island, don’t hesitate to visit the Schoolhouse Grille, which features a vintage schoolhouse turned into a restaurant. The owners are originally from Maui and have brought a Hawaiian fusion cuisine to Michigan.

LOCAL SHOPS/SCHOOLS:
Great Lakes Kiteboarding School – www.greatlakeskiteboarding.com

LOCAL RESOURCES:
www.noaaweather.com – General forecasting
www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=45149 – Buoy data
www.greatlakeskiteboarding.com/kite-blog – Beach guide and notes

 

WHY BRIAN LEFEVE RECOMMENDS THIS SPOT:

Having started kiteboarding in 1998 during the inception of the sport, I have been teaching kiteboarding for over 20 years, offering lessons and adventures by boat on Lake St. Clair and Tawas because of the area’s incredibly clean winds, flat, shallow water and beautiful backdrops. With rentals and instruction for everything from SUP to foilboarding and wingsurfing, Great Lakes Kiteboarding is a key resource for the Lake St. Clair kiteboarding community.

LOCAL CUISINE: Within close proximity to Detroit, you will find a variety of American and ethnic cuisine choices from Mexican, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Ethiopian, Indian and more. The food here is diverse, and we have some of the top restaurants in the US. Prices can range from McDonald’s’ dollar menu to 5-star culinary experiences as famous as Whitney in Detroit. If you’re on Harsens Island, don’t hesitate to visit the Schoolhouse Grille, which features a vintage schoolhouse turned into a restaurant. The owners are originally from Maui and have brought a Hawaiian fusion cuisine to Michigan.

THE ONE THING EVERYONE MUST DO: Visit downtown Detroit with its rich history from the Motor City, Ford and Chrysler to the beautiful monument and statue of Joe Lewis and The Spirit of Detroit. Other sights worth seeing are the outdoor art project called The Heidelberg Project, the Detroit Institute of Arts and Motown Museum.

NON-WIND ACTIVITIES: There’s endless standup paddleboarding to explore an evening sunset and dinner charters on Great Lakes Marine Charter’s luxury 44’ catamaran.

 


Tkb’s North American Travel Guide is chock full of destinations like this. Get the digital roadmap to more nooks and crannies than you could ever hope to explore in a North American season. Whether you’re into kiteboarding, foilboarding, snowkiting or wingsurfing, this guide’s got all the in-depth travel info and insider intel you need to plan your next North American kiteboarding adventure. If you’re already a Tkb subscriber, log into your account to view the entire North American Travel Guide Guide for free.

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