This lake in Michigan seriously looks like the Caribbean Sea

Boats anchor at the sand bar in Torch Lake
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Want an island vacation on a lake budget? Head to Michigan, where there’s a lake that’s darn near a dupe of the Caribbean Sea!

Torch Lake in northern Michigan is enormous, and its alluring turquoise waters are reminiscent of more tropical destinations in the Caribbean. Plus, waves on the lake crest at over 4 1/2 feet high, according to Michigan’s Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, which makes for some good body surfing.

This majestic body of water was once a deep, fjord-like bay of ancient Lake Michigan. A sand bar formed across the mouth of the bay on the lake’s northwest portion, creating the inland lake that exists today. Torch Lake has a wide, sandy shallow region that runs parallel to the shore and then steeply drops off, which helps create the stunning blue shades you see from an aerial view.

So, where exactly is this natural gem? To get you acquainted, think of Michigan as a mitten. Torch Lake is in Antrim and Kalkaska counties, which would be the “pinkie” portion of that mitten.

Map of Michigan with Torch Lake pinpointed
Google Maps

The lake is a favorite of locals and tourists and there are a few top-rated places to stay nearby if you plan to visit. Torch Bay Inn is within walking distance to the northern edge of the lake and offers both rooms and cottages at rates starting around $100 a night. The quaint Park Street Inn is also near Torch Lake and boasts nearly perfect scores from Expedia users.

Here are five interesting facts about Torch Lake that will make you even more eager to visit.

1. Torch Lake Is Huge

In fact, it’s the second-largest lake in Michigan by surface area with 29 square miles. Its maximum depth is around 300 feet, according to the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, making it the state’s deepest lake by far. Plus, it’s got 41 miles of shoreline, which makes for some epic waterskiing because you don’t have to keep turning around.

Torch Lake and Lake Michigan seen from the sky
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2. It Inspired a Hit Song

Michigan native Kid Rock’s hit song “All Summer Long” is reputed to be about Torch Lake, according to The Detroit News. The lyrics seem to pay homage to the lake, especially its famous south-end sandbar that was formed by glaciers and goes from calf-deep to 300 feet deep. “It was summertime in Northern Michigan … ”

3. The Lake Has Some Famous Residents

The lake communities surrounding Torch Lake have been home to some famous Michiganders (and their seriously pricey houses). In 2015, filmmaker Michael Moore listed his Torch Lake home for $5.2 million. Real estate broker Nancy Albrecht told MLive that other famous residents and visitors have included Eminem and the aforementioned Kid Rock.

4. Its Name Is A Nod To Indigenous Fishing Practices

The area’s Native American tribes once used torches to attract fish at night. They harvested the fish with spears and nets. For a while, European colonists called it “Torch Light Lake,” before that name was eventually shortened. Today, Torch Lake’s angling scene is known for large muskies and whitefish, according to the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council.

A sunset over Torch Lake in Michigan
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5. Even Michigan Winters Can’t Freeze It

Since Torch Lake is so deep and large, it stores a lot of heat in its vast volume, according to MLive. Because of that, it often doesn’t freeze over during Michigan’s notoriously cold winters, as most lakes in the state do. That’s what happens when you’ve got 858 billion gallons of water.

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About the Author
Brittany Anas
Hi, I'm Brittany Anas (pronounced like the spice, anise ... see, that wasn't too embarrassing to say, now was it?) My professional writing career started when I was in elementary school and my grandma paid me $1 for each story I wrote for her. I'm a former newspaper reporter, with more than a decade of experience Hula-hooping at planning meetings and covering just about every beat from higher-education to crime to science for the Boulder Daily Camera and The Denver Post. Now, I'm a freelance writer, specializing in travel, health, food and adventure.

I've contributed to publications including Men's Journal, Forbes, Women's Health, American Way, TripSavvy, Eat This, Not That!, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life Magazine, 5280, Livability, The Denver Post, Simplemost, USA Today Travel Tips, Make it Better, AAA publications, Reader's Digest, Discover Life and more. Visit Scripps News to see more of Brittany's work.

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