Well, I guess the secret is out...

Get our free mobile app

Although, for most of us Michiganders it's NOT a secret that we've got some of the best beaches in the country!

One of our glorious beaches in Northern Michigan is getting national attention as one of the top twenty "secret" beaches in the country.

Michigan's South Manitou Island Ranked a Top 'Secret' Beach in America

Southern Living Magazine has compiled a list of 20 of the best "secret" beaches in the country - and it includes Lake Michigan's South Manitou Island.

National Park Service
Shore of Lake Michigan/ National Park Service
loading...

What makes a beach "secret"? According to Southern Living,

While beaches everywhere are becoming increasingly popular, some remain obscure and relatively well-hidden... As long as you're willing to hike, sail, or fly to a secret beach, you can seize the chance to enjoy the surf with as few people around you as possible.

Here's the magazines praise for South Manitou Island:

Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore coast has two islands that are part of an island chain that extends north to the Straits of Mackinac—with the Southern island having three miles of sandy beaches only accessible by ferry. There is plenty to do on South Manitou Island thanks to lightly traveled hiking routes, huge cedar forests, uncrowded campgrounds, and approximately 50 shipwreck sites. And you can do it all without having to wade through throngs of beach goers.

History of Michigan's South Manitou Island

According to the National Parks Service, "South Manitou Island was once the center of civilization and commerce in the Manitou Passage."

Settlers flocked to the island because of its protected natural deep-water harbor and its strategic location between Chicago and the straits of Mackinac. Steamer ships traveling between Chicago and Buffalo, New York, would stop and use the island's dense forests for firewood for their boilers. Sailors soon discovered, however, how treacherous Lake Michigan can be.

Wreck of the Francisco Morazan off the coast of South Manitou Island/ National Park Service
Wreck of the Francisco Morazan off the coast of South Manitou Island/ National Park Service
loading...

NPS shares,

As the shipping disasters increased and the Lake Michigan shoreline became a graveyard for ships, the government launched an ambitious program to build lighthouses and establish lifesaving stations. That brought lightkeepers and surfmen to South Manitou Island as well as to North Manitou Island and the mainland.

South Manitou Island Lighthouse/ National Park Service
South Manitou Island Lighthouse/ National Park Service
loading...

Over time though, as coal became less expensive, the need for ships to stop at South Manitou Island lessened. The cost of shipping supplies and food to island increased, and eventually the families living there abandoned South Mantiou for the mainland, resulting in a kind of "ghost town".

View from on top of the Dunes on South Manitou Island/ National Park Service
View from on top of the Dunes on South Manitou Island/ National Park Service
loading...

Visitors today can take in structures that remain from the "boom" years on South Manitou, secluded hiking trails, miles of dunes and beaches.

What a beautiful "secret" place in Michigan! Have you visited South Manitou Island? Take a tour in the gallery below.

LOOK: Lake Michigan Beach Named One of the Best 'Secret' Beaches in U.S.

Northern Michigan's South Manitou Island has been named among the best 20 "secret" beaches in the U.S. by Southern Living Magazine.

Within Sleeping Bear Dune's National Lakeshore, South and North Manitou Island are part of an island chain in Lake Michigan that extends north to the Straits of Mackinac. 

According to the National Park Service, "The island consists of a ridge of tilted layers of limestone, buried under a blanket of glacial debris. It features unique sand dune formations, 10 miles of beaches, and a grove of old growth white cedars that date back over 500 years."

More From K102.5