Michigan’s Torch Lake Looks Exactly Like The Caribbean Sea
Looking for your own piece of paradise? You can skip the flight to the Caribbean and head to Michigan’s tropical Torch Lake. It will remind you of the Caribbean with its crystal clear turquoise waters, white sandbars, and raucous summer parties.
The lake was once part of the much larger Lake Michigan but was separated into its own lake by the formation of a sandbar across the northwest mouth of the lake. The lake is now the second-largest in the state of Michigan, with nearly 19,000 acres and a maximum depth of 285 feet. Torch Lake is known to Michiganders as both a summer party lake and a vacation destination for the rich and famous of Michigan.
Its famous sandbar is the location of summer parties, with boats anchoring alongside the sandbars. The water depth steeply drops off from the sandbar, turning the water from a tropical turquoise to a deep blue. The lake is perfect for water skiing, boating, and fishing and is a popular tourist destination for Michiganders.
Several famous Michiganders call Torch Lake their home, including Kid Rock, Michael Moore, and Eminem. The lake is named after a local Native American tradition where tribes would use torches to attract fishes at night.
Torch Lake sandbar
You may be wondering what causes Torch Lake to have such beautiful crystal clear turquoise waters. The answer lies largely in the underlying geology. The lake is a fjord-like bay that was carved by glaciers during the last glaciation (ice age). As glaciers retreated during the end of the glaciation, they carved lakes and glacial till. Under great pressure, ice can behave similarly to a viscous liquid.
Over time, a glacier picks up gravel, rocks, and sometimes boulders in the ice. As the glacier flows and moves it acts as sandpaper, carving out glacial lakes and pulverizing the underlying rock into fine glacial till.
— Torch Lake, Michigan (@4torch) October 23, 2015
The sediments at the bottom of Torch Lake are primarily calcium carbonate (limestone), pulverized when glaciers once sat where the lake now lies. The combination of fine calcium carbonate white sediment and very low organic content means there’s nothing to darken or discolor the lake’s water. Coincidently, much of the Caribbean is also limestone with low organic content. This is why both Torch Lake and the Caribbean sea look so similar.
So next time you’re looking for a white sandy beach to dig your toes into and crystal clear water, take a look north at Michigan’s Torch Lake.
WHERE TO STAY IN TORCH LAKE MICHIGAN
They say spending a day in Torch Lake is a good idea, but staying for the night is better. For the best Torch Lake hotels, here are your options:
- The Torch Lake Bed and Breakfast: This is a famous beachfront bed and breakfast in Central Lake, Michigan. Torch Lake B&B offers cozy and comfortable rooms with free Wi-Fi, upgraded amenities, and parking. Aside from complimentary breakfast, there’s a host of activities to enjoy here. To name a few, you can try kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and fishing.
- The Legend Cottage Inn: Aside from modern amenities, the rooms come with a private bathroom. This inn also has a seating area complete with a cable-equipped TV. The best activity to enjoy near The Legend Cottage Inn is skiing.
- Grand Victorian B&B Inn: A beautiful B&B inn nestled in a garden? Yes, please! The Grand Victorian B&B has a terrace that opens up to a lush garden. Here, guests will wake up to relaxing mornings complete with a full English/Irish breakfast. For fun activities, you can hike and ski nearby.
- Torch Lake Home: If you’re looking for a holiday home in Torch Lake, this one offers 36 m of blue-water access. This accommodation offers four bedrooms, a kitchen, and upgraded amenities. Walking, hiking and skiing are popular activities around the area.
WHAT CAUSES TORCH LAKE TO BE SO CLEAR?
This is perhaps a common question for Torch Lake visitors. The answer lies in the sediments at the bottom of the lake, which is primarily calcium carbonate. Add to this the very low organic content in Torch Lake, which means there’s nothing to darken the water’s color. Can’t imagine how clear the water is? You need to visit soon!
IS IT SAFE TO SWIM IN TORCH LAKE?
It is, definitely! The stunning clear waters make it very easy and safe to swim in and do other activities. Torch Lake is an ideal swimming spot for all ages. Aside from that, the sandbars around the lake provide great areas to relax, play, and wade.
WHAT IS THE DEPTH OF LAKE MICHIGAN?
The average depth of Lake Michigan is 279 ft; 85 m. Meanwhile, the greatest depth is 923 ft; 281 m.
HOW WIDE IS LAKE MICHIGAN?
Lake Michigan stretches 307 miles long by 118 miles wide. It also boasts a 1,640-mile shoreline.
WHAT IS TORCH LAKE MICHIGAN WEATHER LIKE?
The weather in Torch Lake is generally cold and temperate. It usually rains in the lake, even during the dry months. Visit in February if you want the least amount of rain. Meanwhile, if you’re after the highest Temperatures, visit in July. On the other hand, the lowest average temperatures occur in January.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO RIDE A BOAT FROM LAKE BELLAIRE TO TORCH LAKE?
Sitting on the east of Lake Michigan. Is Lake Bellaire. If you’re vacationing here, you can swing by Torch Lake or other nearby lakes. Small boats can and are allowed to navigate the majority of the lakes comprising the Lower Chain. These lakes include Lake Bellaire, Clam Lake, Torch Lake, Lake Skegemog, and Elk Lake.
Torch Lake is Michigan’s own slice of the Caribbean
Torch Lake, a glacier-carved gem set into the lush land of northwest lower Michigan, is often compared to the Caribbean, thanks to its incredibly clear (albeit quite cold) blue-green waters.
It is undoubtedly one of the state’s most popular — and most lovely — lakes. But how much do you know about this stunning body of water? Read on for nine lesser-known facts about the lake, and a collection of some of our favorite Instagram photos featuring this beauty.
1. It was once named the third most beautiful lake in the world … maybe.
Torch Lake is beloved for its gorgeous sunsets, crystal-clear waters, and jewel-like shades of blue and green. It’s no surprise, then, that there has been a long-running rumor claiming the lake was once named ‘third-most beautiful lake in the world by National Geographic magazine.
If there’s any truth to that claim, though, it has been tough to verify; still, though, the lake is so incredible, who can fault folks for believing it?
2. It’s ‘uuuuuge.
With a maximum depth of nearly 300 feet and a surface area of more than 18,000 acres, Torch is the state’s largest inland lake by water volume. (Houghton Lake is the largest by surface area, at more than 20,000 acres).
Torch is so deep, in fact, that it stays quite cold late into the summer and often does not freeze over in the winter.
3. Its sandbars are legendary.
Kid Rock’s 2008 summertime anthem “All Summer Long” includes a lyric about “splashing through the sandbar,” which was reportedly a reference to Torch Lake.
In recent years the beautiful, shallow sandbars at the south end of the lake have become a party hot spot — most notably the weekend sounding July 4th.
In 2015 the revelry came to a head when a reported 10,000 people crammed the lake’s southern sandbar for the three-day Fourth of July weekend.
A subsequent law-enforcement crackdown led to more peaceful revelry, though that part of the lake is still a large draw for boaters.
4. Sandbars aren’t just at the south end.
There are also sandbars at the north end of the lake, and according to Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, nearly the entire lake is ringed by a shallow, sandy band that gives way to a steep drop-off, which is partly what gives the lake its jaw-dropping contrasting shades.
5. It has more public access points than miles of shoreline.
Waterfront property on Torch Lake is famously expensive (homes on the “sunset side” often price well into the millions), but the lake is easily accessible to anyone, with 48 public access points scattered along 41 miles of shoreline.
6. Its length makes it a waterskiing dream.
For waterskiing and wakeboarding, Torch Lake is damn near perfect: Sizing up at a whopping 19 miles long, this finger of a lake provides a nearly straight shot for miles and miles. No need to keep circling! Just cruise right up and down the center of the lake.
7. It’s part of the Chain of Lakes.
Torch Lake is part of a 75-mile string of northwest lower Michigan lakes, streams and rivers called the Chain of Lakes. The Chain also includes Elk Lake, Lake Bellaire, Lake Skegemog, Clam Lake, Intermediate Lake, and others.
Popular summer activity is boating the “Lower Chain,” which includes Torch. (Read more at Michigan Water Trails).
8. It has a boat-to-dinner restaurant.
The Dockside sits at the mouth of Clam River where it meets Torch Lake and has one of the best sunset-watching decks around. Boaters can pull right up to the restaurant and dock their boats to grab lunch or dinner.
9. It’s home to a historic sailing club.
The Torch Lake Yacht & Country Club, which sits on a picturesque point that juts out into the lake, dates back to 1928 — in fact, the original log clubhouse, built in ’28, still stands as part of the club’s facilities.
Beautiful Torch Lake, located in Northern Michigan just off Lake Michigan, is famous for its Caribbean-like clear turquoise blue water and large party sandbar.
It’s considered one of the jewels of Michigan’s Chain of Lakes, and with its near-perfect summer weather with temperatures average 75 – 80 degrees, is a great destination for summer travelers looking for a getaway without the typical tourist crowds.
Despite being surrounded by million-dollar homes, the lake is still somewhat secluded and doesn’t feel touristy or commercial.
Because of the coronavirus, my partner and I were looking for a destination we could reach by car, seclude ourselves in a nearby cabin, and participate in activities that did not require much interaction with others.
With its emphasis on boating, kayaking, and other outdoor activities, It fits the requirement perfectly for us. We spent a week there and had plenty to do.