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It’s Saturday AND it’s your birthday!

That can only mean that you have to plan to do something fun and special. That’s exactly how I felt once I realized that we would be in Atlanta on my husband’s birthday since Atlanta was our stop-over to his birthday vacation in Blue Ridge, Georgia.

I needed to find something fun and unique to do.

That is when a recent conversation I had with a co-worker who lives in Atlanta came to my memory. He mentioned how taking advantage of Lake Lanier’s boat rental options made for one of the best weekends he had in a long time.

Get all of the details of our mountain vacation in Blue Ridge, GA, here.
If you have not been, trust me, you want to experience this quaint mountain town.

Where is Lake Lanier?

Lake Lanier is located in Northern Georgia, just 60 miles from the state capitol of Atlanta, and has an interesting and somewhat controversial history.

It opened as a lake in 1957 after the completion of the Budford Dam on the Chattahoochee River by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide Atlanta and surrounding counties with power and water. The creation of the lake was controversial as the land used to be inhabited by hundreds of families who needed to leave the area. In fact, rumor has it that graves of those who once inhabited the land are still there today, at the bottom of the lake.

Why visit Lake Lanier?

Now you may ask, why rent a boat on Lake Lanier?

Well, Lake Lanier is huge! It has 76 recreational areas, including 40 Corps-operated parks and campgrounds, 10 marinas, and the Lake Lanier Islands. There are over 20 access points to the lake via boat ramps and park complexes. Whether you are looking for fishing, camping, boating, picnicking, swimming or some other recreational activity, you won’t have to look far to find it at Lake Lanier!

It’s a perfect place to visit with your family if you are near Atlanta and want to enjoy a bit of nature or enjoy the day on a boat on Lake Lanier.

Lake Lanier Boat Rental Companies

Paradise Boat Rentals

Since this bright idea didn’t come to mind until two days before my husband’s birthday, I knew my options would be slim.

Luckily, I stumbled upon Paradise Rental Boats, They are your one-stop shop for renting a boat on Lake Lanier, thirty miles northeast of Atlanta, and Lake Allatoona, thirty miles northwest of Atlanta.

At both lakes, boat rentals range from pontoons to sports boats, as well as party boats, houseboats, and motorsports. Lake Lanier boat rentals are available in four and eight-hour time increments.

Other Lake Lanier Boat Rental Options

  • Gainesville Marina– They mainly rent tritoons, that range from 22″-24″. There’s an option to add tubes, skis, and kneeboards
  • Aqua Sports Adventures– They offer a variety of Lake Lanier boat rental options: water sports boats, bowriders, and pontoons.
  • Bait Shack Water Sports– A variety of pontoon, fishing, and ski boat rentals are available
  • Lanier Sail Academy– If sailing is more of your thing, look no further than here. You don’t have to be a club member to sail but a BKB 101 certificate is required.

How do Lake Lanier Boat Rentals Work?

The Lake Lanier boat rentals do not come with drivers. And neither my husband nor I had ever driven a boat before. Luckily they offer the safety certification online with the boat rental.

When you check out and confirm the reservation, there is a boat driving safety section that includes an almost nineteen-minute-long safety video. It walks you through the necessary precautions to take while driving, participating in tow-sports, and other safety warnings. After reviewing the video and passing the test, I was certain we could safely drive the pontoon on our own. 

Arriving at Lake Lanier Boat Rental: The Check-in Process

How beautiful is this marina?!?!

When my group of eight arrived, including my two-year-old twin boys, we were thoroughly impressed. The marina was beautiful! A feeling of “this is going to be fun” took over us.

There was a restaurant, live music, and people enjoying time with their friends and family. We had brought our own food and drinks so we didn’t stop at the restaurant.

Do note that there is a bit of a distance between car parking and boat rentals. There are a few wheelbarrows available to help transport your belongings if you are lucky enough to snag one.

Our boat driving licenses. Valid for six months.

Once you arrive at the boat rental desk, they’ll confirm that you passed the safety certification and then you’re on your way to the boat!

At the boat, they’ll train you on how to use the boat and answer any additional questions. The pontoon was very clean, and spacious, and came with Bluetooth capability to connect your phone to the speakers. In addition, they provide life jackets for everyone’s safety, although we brought the boys’ life jackets from home.

➡️ Click here to purchase a toddler life jacket ⬅️
➡️ Click here to purchase a toddler swim vest ⬅️

Places to Dock with a Lake Lanier Boat Rental

Beaching at one of Lake Lanier’s dozens of islands.

We had so much fun being out on the water with our Lake Lanier boat rental!

Feeling the refreshing breeze gently brushing against our faces during the Georgia August heat was warmly welcomed. But the most fun part of renting a boat on Lake Lanier was stopping at one of the dozens of beaches within its 680-mile shoreline.

Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

One of the popular Lake Lanier docking options is Lake Lanier Islands, a resort complex that includes Margaritaville. Margaritaville includes a waterpark, hotel, restaurants, beach, and more. They offer the options to either dock your Lake Lanier boat rental or rent a boat directly from them.

As mentioned, Margaritaville is a popular destination on Lake Lanier, so although dock slip reservations aren’t required, they are recommended, especially on the weekend and holidays. Monday-Friday there isn’t a fee, while fees during the weekend range between $100-$150, and include 4 tickets for beach access.

If you only want to go to the restaurant, docking is free but each boat rider must purchase a beach voucher for $24.99-$29.99, each. The vouchers can be used as a credit toward the restaurant bill.

Boat Anchor_Lake Lanier
Anchoring the pontoon at our beach cove.

Lake Lanier Beach Coves

Unfortunately, we did not have time to stop at Lake Lanier Islands. However, we found a beautiful beach cove to anchor the boat and “beach”.

Now I must say that I’m glad that unbeknownst to us, one of our guests on our Lake Lanier boat rentals had anchored boats numerous times before. This gave us the confidence that we anchored the boat correctly. It isn’t necessarily hard to anchor a boat, but you want to make sure you do it right to prevent your boat from drifting. 

Jam enjoying the beach cove.

The beach cove was the highlight of our Lake Lanier boat rental experience; it was literally like having a private beach to yourself!

Can you safely swim in Lake Lanier?

The kids ran around the beach carefree, playing in the sand, the water, and on the tube. The adults enjoyed the food and beverages we brought on board, sunbathed, listened to music, and enjoyed some much-needed beach time. We were so disappointed when it was time to return the boat. So much that, I was willing to pay the extra $50 for returning the boat late.

My Lake Lanier Boat Rental: Overall Impression 

I know Lake Lanier has a bad reputation for the various accidents that have occurred on the lake. My personal perspective is that it’s not uncommon for accidents to happen on a body of water of this size, especially when drinking is involved.

Therefore, we decided to be cautious while driving- not speeding, keeping our distance from other boats, and limiting our consumption of alcohol. We also chose to use the tube close to the beach cove where we docked- away from other boats. 

We had such an awesome time, I cannot wait to return. Hopefully next time we are looking into Lake Lanier boat rental, there will be an eight-hour time slot available and we can stop at the Lake Lanier Islands and Margaritaville!

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