Grand Traverse Bay

Known for its shimmering blue water and golden sand beaches, the Grand Traverse Bay region is a popular vacation destination, year round.

Grand Traverse Bay is located on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of North America’s Great Lakes. The bay is 32 miles long, 10 miles wide, and up to 620 feet deep in spots. It is divided into two arms by the Old Mission Peninsula; East Bay and West Bay.

The Grand Traverse Bay also includes several important smaller bays: Northport Bay, Suttons Bay, Omena Bay, Bowers Harbor, and Old Mission Bay. Northport Bay, located at the northwest corner of Grand Traverse Bay, is about 10 miles long and 4 miles wide. Northport Bay opens to the east, except inside the arms at each end, with the Leelanau Peninsula on the West side. There are several shoals in Northport Bay marked by buoys. Bellows Island, a low gravel island covered by shrubs and located near the middle of Northport Bay, is owned by the Nature Conservancy and it is primarily known as a bird rookery, and locally called Gull Island.

The Village of Northport operates a public marina, with a public beach on the south side. The bay is lined with homes, and there are two boat yards north of town and a private marina on the southerly end of the bay.

In September 2007, an underwater archaeologist with the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve Council said that they might have discovered a boulder about 3.5 to 4 feet high x 5 feet long with a prehistoric carving in the bay. The granite rock has markings that resemble a mastodon with a spear in its side. However, confirmation that the markings are such an ancient petroglyph will require more evidence.

Lastly, cherry orchards line the bay region, giving rise to Traverse City’s famous claim to be the Cherry Capital of the World, with several nationally known companies offering cherry-based products made from Northern Michigan tart cherries. Besides cherries, the surrounding countryside orchards produce grapes and other fruits, and is home to a large part of the Michigan’s wine industry. Grand Traverse Bay is not only a beautiful place to stay, but also to call home.