lake oconee

Lake Oconee: How to Plan Safe, Fun, Family Lake Activities

Lake Oconee is known for its pristine shoreline, consistent water level, luxury lakefront living, championship golf courses, fine and casual dining, world-class resorts, and excellent shopping. With 374 miles of shoreline and 19,000 acres of water, lake activities on Georgia's second-largest lake can't be beat.

Whatever you have on the agenda, you'll find it here. Need equipment? No problem; rentals ensure you get what is necessary to spend a day, a week, or a lifetime on the water.

Don't take my word for it. Keep reading to learn about Lake Oconee's family fun water activities.




Schedule a private tour of the islands, lakeside communities, golf courses, coves, and luxury homes with Lake Oconee Boat Tours. Captain Scott is a lifetime boater with 20 years of experience navigating Lake Oconee. He enjoys sharing knowledge about the area during tours on his private 23-foot Barletta Tri-Toon with a 250 HP motor.

You can relax and enjoy the sights while the boat captain pilots you through the water. He'll even pick you up at your location! You can select from a variety of cruising options:

  • Bachelor/Bachelorette party cruises
  • Birthday party cruises
  • Family reunion cruises
  • Full moon cruises
  • Girls' day out cruises
  • Pirate Island cruises
  • Sunset cruises
  • Treasure hunt cruises

If what you want isn't on their list, ask! They provide customized itineraries for small groups.

For a larger group, Reynolds Lake Oconee members can book a cruise on the Spirit of Oconee. You'll cruise Lake Oconee on a 39-foot houseboat with a fully enclosed lower deck and an open-air canopy top deck. Open bow seating is ideal for those who like to stay out front of what is happening.

Those who enjoy the classic woodies will enjoy a tour by Lake Oconee Tours. Guests enjoy water views from the luxury of a 30-foot, nine-passenger, 1999 Hacker-Craft triple cockpit mahogany boat powered by a 520 Crusader engine.

In the 1930s, this boat was known as the Steinway of Runabouts. Celebrities, racers, royalty, and industry boat captains favored it.




If your ideal water activity is tossing in a line and waiting for a nibble as you float along, you'll enjoy Lake Oconee fishing. The lake is known for excellent catfish and lineside fishing, great crappie and slab fishing, and good bass fishing.

Consider using a Lake Oconee Georgia US GPS for fishing spots with a lake this size. The database download provides over 300 fishing spots on Lake Oconee and a total of a total of 600,000 fishing spots.

The GPS provides information on natural and artificial buoys, ledges, reefs, rocks, shipwrecks, and other structures where fish hide. They offer more Lake Oconee fishing spots than any competitor.

The GPS files showing fishing spots are importable to most boat and car navigation units. KML files open the spots on Google Earth. Take a quick glimpse at everything they offer, and don't miss their website's list of the top 25 fishing spots on Lake Oconee.

For a personal approach, contact Mark Smith at Reel Time Guide Service. Mark has been fishing on Lake Oconee for 30 years. He began serving as a guide because of his love for the sport. He enjoys showing people how to get the most out of their time on the water.

Those over 16 need a State of Georgia fishing license for a reel day on the water with Mark. Bring your own drinks, snacks, sunscreen, a cooler to store your catch, and rain gear for inclement weather.




If beach bumming is more your style, you'll love the selection of places you can relax on a lounger and read a book while sipping your favorite cocktail. Those staying at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee have a private beach with umbrellas and lounge chairs.

The Beach Hut has everything you need, including forgotten necessities like sunscreen or towels.

Those not staying at the Ritz-Carlton can visit the following beaches. Be sure to check whether a lifeguard is on duty or if they are a swim-at-your-own risk spot.


Hard Labor Creek State Park


This spot is known for its golf course, but the lakeside beach is in demand for those who prefer sand over turf. Swimming is available year-round from seven am to sunset.

The campground is on the National Register of Historic Places. Speculation is that the name is in remembrance of either enslaved people who worked the summer fields or Native American Indians who had difficulty crossing the creek.

Additional activities at the park include horseback riding, fishing, mini golf, and various water activities.


North Shore Landing Beach


This is a family-friendly railroad-themed campground and resort full of unique amenities. Visitors select from full hook-up RV sites, tent sites, or cabin rentals. Imagine your child's delight at spending the night in an authentic railroad boxcar, club car, or caboose.

North Shore sits on 55 acres of Lake Oconee, offering something for all adventure levels. You can enjoy a sunset cruise on a pontoon boat, stay in a retro row trailer, try your luck casting a line, or relax in an Adirondack chair, watching the kids play on the resort's private beach.


Oconee Springs Park


Visitors love this 12-acre marina and campground on the shore of Lake Sinclair, the sister of Lake Oconee. Wallace Dam separates the two lakes.

The area offers day and overnight fun with furnished cabins and RV parking. Landlubbers can partake in the playground, lakeside waterpark, and volleyball areas. Those wanting to get their toes wet will enjoy the beach area, pedal boats, paddle boards, and kayaks.


Parks Ferry Recreation Area


Take advantage of Parks Ferry options for day-use passes and camping. You can spend time on the beach, go fishing, or enjoy local shops and boutiques full of jewelry, antiques, and fashion.

The area has three campgrounds: Lawrence Shoals, Old Salem, and Parks Ferry. Each has its own beach and additional amenities such as boat ramps, an archery range, a target range, and more.




When you live on Lake Oconee, you can launch your watercraft off your private dock. If you still need to invest in the kind of vessel you want to spend some time on, check out Young Harris Water Sports. They have five rental locations, including at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Lake Oconee, so it's only a short trip to take a lake holiday.

Watercraft rentals include ski boats, pontoon boats, wake boats, the only Doulbe-Decker Tritoon Boats with a water slide on the lake, and a Tiki boa with a bar for a fun water party. You can rent jet skis, tubes, water skis, wakeboards, surfers, and kneeboards for a more thrilling water ride.

Want a more relaxing paddle? Rent rent single kayaks, double kayaks, or stand-up paddle boards. Pick up all your water and beach needs at their 44 Bridge location, including sunglasses, sunscreen, water guns, life jackets, lake maps, and more.


Jet Skiing


For those who enjoy feeling the wind in their face as water splashes around them, check out Southern Watercraft Rental to arrange for daily or weekly use of a jet ski. Southern offers turn-key rentals, where you show up, check in, and hop onto your jet ski, waiting on the water. Life couldn't get any easier.

If you prefer, they will deliver and pick up your wave runner to the Lake Oconee marina you select:

  • Anchors Marina
  • Blue Springs Marina
  • The Boathouse at Harbor Club
  • Fish Tale Marina
  • Great Waters Marina
  • Lake Club Marina
  • The Landing Marina
  • Linger Longer Marina
  • Sugar Creek Marina
  • Sun Life Marina

Safety is crucial on the water. Southern Watercraft will review machine operation, distribute life jackets, and provide safety tips for use on the water.

Oconee Wild Watersports will get you out on the waves in a pontoon, wakeboard, waterskis, or Yamaha jet ski.

Georgia law requires those operating watercraft over ten horsepower to complete a vessel rental certification course. The law does not apply if you have a master of a vessel license from the United States Coast Guard. Any person who presents proof that they have taken a boater education course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators may receive a waiver from the renter's certification course.

If you do not have documentation waiving the requirement, you must watch a ten-minute video to receive your certification before renting. This can be completed onsite with the certificate issued by Oconee Wild Watersports.


Kayaking and Paddleboarding


If you prefer physically challenging water activities, Oconee Outfitters offers a variety of Kayak trips to help you explore. The Oconee Greenway to Central State trip takes two-and-a-half to three hours and is popular with beginners.

Trip offerings increase in difficulty, so you can enjoy new paddling challenges as your skills improve. The longest kayak trip will test your endurance with a five to six-hour paddle, covering the total distance of their two shorter trips.

To help you navigate the water and get back to your car, they provide a 15-passenger shuttle van for transporting you and your kayaks. Shuttle service is also available for those with their own equipment.


Water Skiing


Those who enjoy the thrill of wakeboarding or waterskiing but don't have the power to move across the water can rent a ski boat at Oconee Wild Watersports. Before sticking your feet into the skis, make sure you understand Georgia laws for the sport.

The law prohibits boats and personal watercraft from towing ski boards, water skiers, or any device between sunset and sunrise. The operator of the towing vessel and the person being towed may not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Anyone being towed must wear a ski jacket, ski belt, or Type I, II, or III personal flotation device.

When towing a person on water skis, the tow vehicle must also have another person on board who can always observe the skier. A vessel with a wide-angle mirror mounted so the operator can see the towed person does not require a spotter.

The wide-angle mirror for observing a towed person is not an option for personal watercraft. If towing using a jet ski or similar vessel, it must be rated by the manufacturer for transporting three or more persons and have someone onboard in addition to the operator to observe the person being towed.


Georgia Boating Laws


Whether you are an out-of-stater experiencing Lake Oconee water sports for the first time or a permanent resident stepping off your private dock, compliance with the law ensures safe water activities. Before you hop on a jet ski, set your feet into a set of water skis, or take your first paddle in a kayak, remember these things.

  • It is illegal to use your watercraft to splash someone on a dock intentionally
  • It is illegal to jump the wake of another watercraft less than 100 feet away
  • All watercraft must slow to idle speed when traveling within 100 feet of bridges, piers, docks, shorelines, or people in the water
  • All wakesurf boats must be 200 feet from the shoreline when pulling surfers

When pulling another person on skis, a tube, surfboard, or any other device, you must ensure that you are not traveling faster than idle speed within 100 feet of any anchored, moored, adrift watercraft. This also applies to passing any piling, bridge, abutment, pier, dock, wharf, person in the water, public park, public beach, public swimming area, restaurant, marina, or other public use area.

You are not to go faster than idle within 100 feet of any shoreline adjacent to any residence, regardless of whether it is a permanent or vacation dwelling,


Rules of the Road


Just like when traveling down a paved street, the water has rules of the road. If you are meeting another water vessel, pass on the right like in a car. If the stream or river is narrow, move as close to the right side as possible.

If two boats are approaching an area where they will cross each other's path, just like at a roadway intersection, the boat on the right has the right away. The boat on the left must slow down and cross after the other boat passes.

If you are overtaking another boat from the rear, assess the situation to determine which side is safest for passing. Look for waterway markers, obstacles, oncoming traffic, and any turns in the channel. Take a wide berth around the other vehicle when you pass.

When powerboats share water with sailboats and paddle vessels, the powerboat must yield to the other vessel.


Age Requirements


Georgia boating laws include several age requirements for operating watercraft.

If born on or after January 1, 1988, before operating watercraft on Georgia water, you must take a DNR-approved boater education course.

Children under age 12 cannot legally operate any personal watercraft or boat 16 feet or longer. If they operate a boat under 16 feet, the motor must be 30 horsepower or less, and an adult must accompany them.

Those between 12 and 15 years old cannot legally operate vessels over 16 feet long. They may operate watercraft under 16 feet long if they have passed a DNR-approved boating education course or are accompanied by an adult.

Anyone over 16 can operate a personal watercraft or any boat if they have a proper photo ID, including a driver's license or legible photocopy or any other government-issued ID that displays their photo, date of birth, and description.

Anyone who must pass a boater education course for the legal operation of watercraft must carry their boater education card with them at all times and produce it upon the request of any water enforcement officer.

This requirement applies to Lake Oconee residents and those visiting from another state or Canada. Your boater education card from your residential area meeting The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) requirements or Transport Canada requirements is acceptable for legal operation in Georgia.


Lake Oconee Is Safe


Lake Oconee is a man-made lake resulting from the 1979 building of Wallace Dam. The dam separates Lake Oconee from its sister lake, Lake Sinclair. Lake Oconee has an average depth of 21 feet, is 225 feet at its deepest spot, and is a reservoir for Georgia Power Company's Wallace Hydroelectric Plant.

Two rivers, The Oconee and Apalachee, flow into Lake Oconee. Neither river travels through major industrial areas, keeping the water clean and contamination-free.

The power company owns the land around the lake. It does not allow any buildings, septic tanks, or lines near the water, eliminating the risk of spills and leaks. The company's devotion to keeping the water free of contamination makes it a popular spot for water activities with locals and tourists.

Georgia's fall line is a geologic boundary marking the Atlantic Ocean's prehistoric shoreline. It is about 20 miles wide and runs northeast across the state from Columbus to Augusta.


Off-The-Lake Activities


The fun doesn't end just because your feet look like prunes from too much time in the water. Living on Lake Oconee is like a vacationIt's a short drive from your luxury waterfront home to championship golf courses, horseback riding, shopping, and casual or fine dining.


Horse Back Riding


Lake Oconee doesn't disappoint if you enjoy trails from a saddle.

Classic City Clydesdales provides a unique experience for you and your family. You can get up close and personal with the Clydesdale horses and highland cows. Children enjoy the petting zoo and farm animals, including chickens, ducks, donkeys, pigs, sheep, and turkeys.

Schedule an appointment to visit and ride the Clydesdale horses. Start in the arena to familiarize yourself with these giant beauties, then advance to riding the open trails.

Diamond K Stables has 115 acres of trails, outdoor and indoor arenas, and a round pen. They offer trail riding, lessons, and boarding. Saturday camps and birthday parties are ideal for children.

Hard Labor Creek State Park is about 35 miles from Lake Oconee and has a 22-mile horseback riding trail. They offer 11 horse campsites and 20 horse stalls if bringing your horse with you.

Southern Cross Guest Ranch is a bed and breakfast only 25 miles from Lake Oconee. Trails are available for overnight guests and day visitors. You can ride over six miles of trails or gallop across several acres of pasture.

Those staying at the B&B will enjoy 17 unique guest rooms, 12 decks and lounges, plus 225 acres of outdoor space. Activities abound, so leave some time for the game room, fishing, swimming pool, hiking, mountain bike riding, and fixing s'mores around a bonfire.

A. H. Stephens State Park is known for its equestrian facilities and Confederate museum. They have ten horse stalls for rent and 21 miles of riding trails.




Lake Oconee offers championship golf courses designed by golf legends. If swinging a club is your cup of tea, you'll want to enjoy a round at:

  • Cuscowilla Golf Course
  • Great Waters
  • The Club at Lake Sinclair
  • Harbor Club at Lake Oconee
  • The Landing
  • The National
  • The Oconee
  • The Preserve
  • Uncle Remus

In 2024, a new 18-hold course designed by Tom Fazio will open at Reynolds Lake Oconee. This private, member-only course will have golfers experiencing a change in elevation of 100 feet during their time on the fairways. It will be the only course in the area to touch the lake from Richland Creek and the Oconee River and traverse both sides of the peninsula.


Visit Greensboro


For a change of pace, head over to Greensboro, a small town founded in 1786. Serving as Lake Oconee's hometown and county seat, the city is rich in southern tradition and hospitality, from its elegant antebellum homes and churches to the Goal, one of Georgia's oldest penal structures.

History lovers will enjoy the African American Museum and historic downtown. If you love fresh produce, take advantage of the Ripe Thing Market.


Dive in Without Getting Wet


If you like the variety of lake activities, golf, horseback riding, and other amenities Lake Oconee offers, Dive into Lake Oconee living. Contact Jennifer Vaughan Realtor and her team of professional agents  to begin your search for the luxury home of your dreams.

With over 60 years of combined professional sales experience our team specializes in the luxury home communities of Lake Oconee. Don't hesitate to take the plunge by calling (706) 431-0678 today.

Work With Us

Jennifer Vaughan Real Estate Group dedicates resources, time and talent to organizations that make Lake Oconee such an amazing place to call home! Whether you are a buyer, a seller, or an investor, they can help with all of your real estate needs.


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