When you have the world’s largest freshwater lake in your backyard, there is no shortage of ways to experience it—from strolling the sandy coves tucked along its rocky shores to diving off the ancient cliffs that tower above it. 

With 83 miles of Superior shoreline—plus 150 streams and nearly 300 other bodies of water—there are plenty of opportunities to get on, in, or under the water—or just dip your toes! Whatever your vacation speed or experience level, there’s a water adventure perfectly suited for you in Marquette. 

A couple enjoying themselves kayaking at Deer Lake in Ishpeming

Paddle Your Way

Paddle your way around islands and along coves on the greatest lake of all or ramble down streams through a woodsy wonderland. If you’re looking for places to paddle, The Cove at Presque Isle Park is the perfect spot to launch a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard into Lake Superior

For a cozier paddling experience, head to one of the County's smaller lakes like Harlow, Deer or Teal for a serene scene. You can even find some challenging whitewater on the area’s rivers. 

World-famous Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, with its stunning colorful rock formations, is less than an hour away. Or paddle your way along 120 miles of shoreline traveled by the Ojibwa and early European explorers on the Hiawatha Water Trail. Stretching from Grand Marais to Big Bay, the water trail offers some of the most scenic shorelines in the state.  

A couple splashing and floating in Lake Superior at McCarty's Cove

Splish Splash

Whether you want to experience the adrenaline rush of jumping from 20-foot cliffs or the serenity of watching the sun paint the lake with her morning or evening colors, you will find miles of beaches for summer sunbathing, swimming, or strolling along the sandy shore searching for stones and Lake Superior Agate.   

From popular in-town spots like McCarty’s Cove, Black Rocks and South Beach, to the more secluded Little Presque Isle Beach and—further afield—Au Train Beach, you’ll discover the perfect spot to roll out your blanket, lay back, close your eyes and soak in the sun. But don’t forget to open them once in a while to take in the stunning views all around of dunes, hills, cliffs, and that endless expanse of Lake Superior blue.

Certified Scuba Divers Exploring Lake Superior

Dive In 

For experienced scuba divers, The Marquette Underwater Preserve offers up some hidden gems to explore. The Marquette Unit features 24 miles of shoreline around Marquette where you can discover the remains of wooden schooners, steamers, and commercial fishing vessels, along with some cool geological formations. 

The Huron Islands, 25 miles to the northwest, boast some of the most impressive coastlines in the U.P. Dive in and discover what’s under the surface!

A couple fishing at Deer Lake in Ishpeming

Hook, Line and Sinker

Fishing experiences abound in Marquette, from trolling for salmon, trout, whitefish, steelhead and splake in the deep waters of the world’s largest freshwater lake to casting for walleye, bass and perch from cozy, quiet, motor-free Teal Lake in Negaunee

Whether you are hoping to reel in something tasty for dinner, land a catch-and-release record-breaker, or looking to take the kids out to fish for bluegill, sunfish, perch and pike, there’s a body of water just waiting for you.

A surfer on Lake Superior in summer

Catch a Thrill

Surfing the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior used to be a niche sport left to a handful of hardy souls. But interest in it has gained traction in recent years, particularly with students from NMU. Experienced surfers know when the surf is U.P., it’s time to don their wetsuit and head to “The Zoo,” a sandy beach on the southwest end of Presque Isle. For those not ready to dive in, you can still catch a thrill watching the surfers ride out some icy ocean-sized whitecaps. 



Whether it’s your first time in Superior or a yearly tradition, the big lake can change quickly and must be respected.
  1. Swim where there are lifeguards. Never swim alone. Before entering the water, make sure someone knows you are doing so.
  2. Check the City of Marquette website’s beach flag advisory system before swimming in Lake Superior. Flags are put up at South Beach, McCarty's Cove, Middle Beach, and Picnic Rocks to indicate dangerous to highly dangerous rip current conditions. Also, check the National Weather Service's Rip Current Forecast.
  3. Rock formations are a likely place to find dangerously strong rip currents. This includes the Picnic Rock area, which is located on Lake Shore Boulevard, near the Lakeview Arena and a short walk from campus. Do not swim in this area.  Move down the beach to McCarty’s Cove where lifeguards are located. 
  4. Know how to “break the grip of a rip.”  Learn more from the National Weather Service at http://ripcurrents.noaa.gov and see below.
  5. If you see someone caught in a rip current, going into the rip current area yourself is not the best solution.
  6. Strong winds on Lake Superior that create huge waves are amazing to see and photograph, but they, too, can be deadly.  Do not go into the water or out onto the breakwall at Presque Isle Park during high winds.