Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan

Has anyone here kayaked Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan? It goes out into Lake Michigan. Just wondering if this is a decent place to paddle this time of year and where is the best spot to put in? I would like to put in nearier the channel to Lake Michigan if possible because this lake is a skinny 6 miles long.

Here is a map I found with boat put in locations. Not sure which ones are good for kayaking though.

Please help me out!

Spent a lot of time there as a kid.
My dad was born in Holland, and the grandparents lived on there till parting. I remember the lake as a LOT nicer in the late 50’s, early 60’s, before the few cottage style homes got knocked down and the McMansions began dotting the shores. Always thought about using Macatawa as an access to the big lake but never got a boat on it. Other than a put-in for Lake Michagan, I’d think Macatawa might be a bit disappointing now that those with $$$$ have ‘modified’ the look of that lakeshore. I do remember, what at the time seemed like a nice put-in, where the city park is now on the south/south east shore. I remember that the ship (the Chicago?) that brought folks over from Green Bay and down to Chicago used to dock there, and grandpa used to like going down to watch the wealthy visiters off load. I miss those days, Holland is a cool town, or at least it used to be.

area P or 0 and what about speed boats
I remember a sandy park in one of those two areas probably the one to the north.

Almost went there when I was on vacation in September but had second thoughts about paddling there alone. Lots of wealthier people, an abundance of fast moving vessels, broad expanse of water, and figured I could wait for a braver day when I have more experience and skills

I’d say O
I used to live out there for a number of years.

I think that’s a small city park beach with a fairly level access to the water. They have a concession with lots of beach toy rentals there in the summer.

How much you want to deal with the big lake this time of year will depend on your experience level and how well you’re equipped. That includes what you’re wearing.

Water temps will be can be deadly chilly this time of year, and the beaches can be pretty vacant in late fall.

I used to live near the mouth of the channel near the Coast Guard station and I would see plenty of boats being dragged back in.

My sister once got into trouble out there some years ago when they were trying to bring a small boat down the lake shore to a lake north of there.

Conditions can change very quickly, and storms and fog can move in on you before you do anything about it.

Also, the cautions about Sunday driver power boaters are very real. There’s a lot of drinking and boating out there. There are also a lot of large, fast sailing vessels and last but not least, large commercial freighters that also use the channel into Macatawa to come into port at Holland.

In addition the breakwaters and jetties around near the lighthouse and going out into the big lake can have some tricky and strong currents around them. I’ve seen boats thrown up into them and on them by waves this time of year.

If you use the access mentioned, there is a restaurant called Ottawa Beach Inn near there (on the left side as you head west) that has some tasty fried lake perch. It’s an old time local favorite.

Another thought is that if you want to launch directly into the big lake, you might try Tunnel Park.

It’s accessed by an interesting tunnel that goes under a dune. Usually only locals go there. Access is flatter at the Ottawa Beach access on the lake just North of the channel.

If you decide the big lake is too much you might look into the marshes which are at the north east portion of the lake. Not sure whether development has cleaned these out yet, but it used to be fairly natural and the power boat traffic didn’t go there.

If you need supplies, most of the stores, etc., are seasonal and would be closed by now. Anchorage Marina, a few miles east up the road has marine supplies as well as food and other miscellaneous items.

Hope this helps. Be safe and have a good time.

Thanks for your input guys. I ended up checking out Lake Mac the other day. I drove up South Shore Dr. which is very long if you look at the map Went past all the mansions including the DeVos and VanAndel summer homes. I don’t mind that the smaller cottages were knocked down to make mansions. It just guarantees that the lake won’t become trashy or rundown anytime soon. Nice, carefully manicured yards.

But South Shore Dr. is very long and I couldn’t find any spots to put in besides at Kollen Park (S18 on the map). I think this is where the local outdoor store does their kayak demos. It was an okay spot but it had a bunch of large rocks that we had to watch out for on the beach part of it. I would like a spot a closer to Lake Michigan for the summer so I can slip right out the channel. I couldn’t find location Q. Next time I will probably try driving the North shore of the lake and see how good put in O and P are. I would still be interested in hearing from people who have been on Lake Macatawa.

And I have been to Tunnel Park several times, but not recently. Never thought to put in a kayak in there. Might be kind of hard in the summer when the beach is packed but this time of year it would probably be a good access point, and I wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with a channel. Kind of a long distance to carry the boats though (65lbs a piece).

Southside is not very access friendly
Northside is a better bet. Tunnel park does require a climb down some stairs if I remember right.

Also… remember that where roads end at the lake in most cases the public usually has the right of access. You’ll have to drive around and check these out individually however.

My dad tells me they’ve had some court battles up there lately to try to shut this down and allow the land to be sold to the adjacent landowners.

Beautiful houses are nice of course, but I think what stickman was referring nostagically to was a time when many middle class people had little weekend cottages on Michigan lakes.

Now you can’t do that without lots of $$$. It’s just a shame because fewer families now are able to enjoy what was once an accessible pleasure.

Luckily, my family has a spot on the lake, however taxes on lakeside properties are doing their own work to drive the remaining middle class people out.

Been to O
It is a very hand launch friendly area. It is located directly across the street from the state park entrance. Parking is limited but I didn’t have a problem (and it was free). Short carry to the water (maybe 30 yards) with a sandy shore. I didn’t paddle to Lake Michigan because it was a homebuilt boat gathering and I was to busy paddling other boats. A number of folks did go out and back and it seemed to be a pretty short trip based on the time they were gone.

Have fun


If you get a chance talk to the folks at the Outpost in downtown Holland. They know a lot about the area and most of the guys and gals are willing to help you out with your questions about the lake and the area.

the North Shore Drive is a long one too
Check with the Outpost in Holland 1-616-396-5556 is the number in my cell phone. They should be able to fill you in with more details of the area.

Are you in Holland? Tunnel Park would be a walk and a steeper climb down to the water.

Twenty some yrs ago my mother bought a canoe and we went paddling upstream from Saugatuck a few times. We launched off of Douglas and went up the river a ways. I wish we had done that more often.

South of Saugatuck there is a place where the road which runs along Lake Michigan turns and there are a limited number of parking places on the Lake side of the street. It would be a short but downhill walk in sand to the shore of Lake Michigan.

The road I’m talking about is the one that finally washed out - the area I’m talking about is south of the washout. Go south out of Saugatuck on Blue Star until you reach M89 and then turn West toward the lake and when you get there turn south - it shouldn’t be far. You go around a nearly 45 degree curve and the parking will be there on the lake side of the road. This is just North of the Allegan County Park which has a steep drop down to the Lake.

great input!
The Outpost is a great store. That’s actually where I heard of Kollen Park on Lake Macatawa. One of the workers was telling me that’s where they do their boat demos. This is my favorite outdoor gear store along with Earth’s Edge in Grand Haven.

I live about 30 minutes East of Holland. About a 40 minute drive to Lake Mac. I like the lakes that connect to Lake Michigan because then you get some variety in your days paddle.