Few recreational activities can top a boat ride on Lake Lanier on almost any day of the year. Getting out at sunrise to fish or to paddle around in a canoe or a kayak is the perfect way to start the day. Blasting around Lanier in a souped-up speedboat on a sunny afternoon is invigorating, especially because there are no speed limits on the lake. Evening rides — puttering around with friends, family and a refreshing beverage — can pacify even the most stressful days.
In this chapter, we’ll guide you through what you need to know to go boating on Lake Lanier.
- For information about canoeing, kayaking or rowing, go to Chapter 7: Canoeing, Kayaking and Rowing.
- For information about water skiing, wakeboarding or paddle-boarding, go to Chapter 8: Water Skiing, Wakeboarding and Paddleboarding.
Where to Go Boating
The south end of the lake is by far the most popular. It’s closer to Atlanta and has much wider, more open water. On a busy summer weekend, you’ll see thousands of boats. The water can get choppy, but you can always stay close to shore for a smoother ride.
The north end is comparatively quiet and has narrower banks. You’ll find the most picturesque water skiing here. On a winter cruise northward, you might find yourself alone on the lake.
Marinas and Boat Ramps
You can launch from one of the many marinas on the lake (for a complete listing, see Chapter 5: Lake Lanier Marinas). All of the marinas have gas available. A few have restaurants with lakeside dining where you can dock your boat while you enjoy a nice meal. There are no marinas north of Gainesville.
Lake Lanier is surrounded by 45 parks and day-use areas (for a complete listing, see Chapter 4: Lake Lanier Parks) with more than 100 free boat ramps. When lake levels are low, you’ll want to check to see which boat ramps are open.
- To find out more information about lake levels, https://lakelanier.com/lake-lanier-water-levels/.
- To determine if a boat ramp is open, https://lakelanier.com/2016/10/list-of-open-boat-ramps-on-lake-lanier/.
All boats must have a Georgia Certificate of Boat Registration and a validation decal to legally operate on Georgia public waters.
The only exceptions include:
- Sailboats under 12 feet in length.
- Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and rubber rafts that have no mechanical propulsion.
- Boats operated exclusively on private ponds or lakes.
Your registration card must be onboard and available for inspection by a law enforcement officer whenever the boat is in operation.
There are three ways you can register or renew your boat:
- Online at: https://www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com/
- By phone: 1-800-366-2661
- By mail: Print the application, complete and mail it to: GA Dept of Natural Resources, PO Box 934943, Atlanta, GA 31193-4943
After applying, you can legally operate your watercraft for 60 days and until you receive the permanent certificate and decal. Because you must show proof of registration, you must have the following on board your vessel:
- For online registrations: the temporary authorization number and printed receipt.
- For phone registrations: the temporary authorization number.
- For mailed applications: a copy of the registration form and proof of payment.
Certificates are valid for three years and expire on the last day of the owner’s birth month. Renewal forms are mailed to the boat owner at least 30 days prior to expiration.
For more information about registering your boat in Georgia, visit Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources website at http://www.georgiawildlife.com/boating/registration.
There are several boating clubs on Lake Lanier. Whether you’re into sailing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, or cruising, these groups will help you meet others who share your passion. Here is a list of the boating clubs that you’ll find on Lake Lanier.
Atlanta Sail and Power Squadron
Barefoot Sailing Club
Freedom Boat Club
Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club
- Location: Lake Lanier Olympic Park
Lake Lanier Rowing Club
- Location: Lake Lanier Olympic Park
Lake Lanier Sailing Club
- Location: Flowery Branch, GA