Grand Haven "Surf City"
Early Grand Haven Surfing
Grand Haven “Surf City”
Grand Haven became known as "Surf City,
Michigan" not just because a 1973 Detroit Free Press article dubbed it so, but
rather because of its location, its flourishing surf and beach culture, the
Great Lakes Surfing Association and because it was a place to buy surfboards.
Situated on the central west coast of Michigan, on what surfers refer to as the 'golden crescent,' it is in the direct line of the prevailing southwest winds of the wider portion of Lake Michigan. It is also in line with northwest winds, offering plenty of fetch or distance required to form suitable surfing waves.
The Great Lakes Surfing Association, established in 1964 went to great effort to spread the word of surfing throughout the region by sending out quarterly newsletters, traveling around the lakes on 'surfing safaris' and organizing contests. Great Lakes surfers in turn came to Grand Haven to ride the waves, surf in contests and partake in the surf culture.
They also came to buy surfboards at Felix's Marina and Bill & Paul's of Grand Rapids, which also rented surfboards on the beach at Grand Haven The first true surf shops on the lakes were the Beach Point Surf Shop of Grand Haven and Lake Shore Surf Shop at nearby Muskegon.
Whether they came to the Grand Haven area to buy boards, surf the contests, or bond with other surfers, the common refrain sung during their journey was "We're going to Surf City," and like the song says, there really were 'two girls for every guy,' that is, if you were a surfer.
“Calls from Traverse City, Detroit, Chicago and other outlying areas are being received at Felix’s to indicate demand for surf boards.” Grand Haven Daily Tribune 1966