Christmas Cove Beach

Leelanau Township, MI

Lake Michigan

3.5/ 5


            Located on the northern shore of the Leelanau Township, Christmas Cove Beach is a hidden gem. Drive through the farmland, take a turn down a steep hill in the woods and you will arrive. The water at this beach is a stunning teal blue, with endless views of Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, I believe this beach is in danger of being swallowed up by Lake Michigan. Erosion from the lake has removed dirt from underneath the asphalt, causing part of the parking lot overlooking the beach to collapse. Unfortunately, my visit to Christmas Cove Beach was cut short by a large storm, but I was impressed even with my short visit.


Northwest Michigan (lower peninsula), Lake Michigan

Distance from:

Traverse City: 33 miles (46 minutes)

Grand Rapids: 171 miles (2 hours 54 minutes)

Lansing: 211 miles (3 hours 38 minutes)

Kalamazoo: 221 miles (3 hours 37 minutes)

Flint: 223 miles (3 hours 41 minutes)

Detroit: 288 miles (4 hours 34 minutes)

Swimming Conditions:

            What happened when I came to Christmas Cove was, I brought our stuff from the truck, set it up on the beach, waded out into the water, then it started raining. Talk about timing. For the 30 seconds I was in the water, it was very comfortable. The water was crystal clear and had a teal hue to it, extending out 200-300 yards. I believe on a better weather day it is an excellent place to go swimming.

Sand and Land:

            The high water throughout the Great Lakes is really detrimental to every beach along their shores. As a result, Christmas Cove is only about 20-30 feet wide at most. The beach is about 100 yards long, not limited by houses, but by the woods. Water’s edge is very rocky, so I recommend water-shoes.


            Even on a cloudy day before the rain, the beach is a great place to take in the immense power and size of Lake Michigan. Being a hidden beach, Christmas Cove is a perfect natural beach. From the beach you can see no buildings or development at all as far as the eye can see. Again, the color of the water is magical.


            One of the drawbacks of Christmas Cove Beach is the bathroom. It is a single, simple outhouse located in the parking lot, not exactly close to the beach. That being said, I am not sure where they would put a real bathroom.

Parking/ Cost:

            With the lake erosion taking away parking, there are only about 10 parking spots remaining in the lot. I am not sure how many people know about this beach, but it wouldn’t take many cars to fill the lot. Good news is that there is no charge to enter this beach.

Beach size: 3.5 /5

Views: 5/5

Bathroom: 1/5

Swimming Conditions: 5/5

Overall: 3.5/5

Travel Rating:

            If you find yourself in Traverse City or the Sleeping Bear Dunes, head to this hidden beach (probably on a weekday because parking is limited). I bet this is a local favorite secret beach. Now the secret is out. Christmas Cove makes a great day trip beach for anyone within 1 to 2 hours of the beach. Escape your problems at Christmas Cove.

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