While North Shore Oahu used to have a very different connotation than North Shore Chicago, the two worlds are beginning to collide. While visualizing Hawaii, you may picture surf towns, sandy beaches and humongous waves. North Shore Chicago, on the other hand brings to mind images of the wealthy communities nestled along Lake Michigan’s northern suburbs, an area of affluence, historic homes and the setting to many John Hughes movies.
As of last year, Chicago, though ocean-less, legalized surfing after lifting a decades old ban preventing accidental drowning and liability. Yes, you read that right- freshwater surfing in Chicago. Formerly, surf affectionados had to make the 2 hour trek to New Buffalo, MI to catch the waves or risk a $500 fine. This will be the first full season that the Chicago Park District permits the use of flotation devices on Lake Michigan, if only at a handful of beaches: 57th Street, Montrose, Rainbow and Cathy Osterman, which is viewed as a huge win for the extreme sports scene.
Now permitted in select Chicago waterways are surf boards, boogie boards, stand-up paddle boards and skimboards. Kitesurfing, kiteboarding and windsurfing are allowed year-round at Montrose Beach. Other water sports such as kayaking, canoeing, and non-motorized, self or wind-propelled boards or paddles are allowed year-round at 11 locations which include: Leone Beach, the Wilson Ave. ramp at Montrose Beach,the south end of Montrose Beach,Montrose Harbor, Diversey Harbor north, Diversey Harbor south, 12th Street Beach, 63rd Street Beach, Jackson Park Inner Harbor, Rainbow Beach and Calumet Beach.
Looking to learn? Chicagokitesurfing.com offers kiteboarding lessons. The newest extreme sport making waves, kitesurfing/kiteboarding combines surfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding and skateboarding into one action-packed day of waterfront fun.
Hang 10, Lake Michigan.
For more information on the rules and regulations, visit the Chicago Park District website.