The Most Stunning Locations to Visit When Boating in California

Setting sun cast a warm glow on the skyline of San Diego, California
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Going out on the water, whether to fish or to take a leisurely ride, possesses a unique feeling compared to anything else. If you happen to be going to California, it also has some of the best locations that could make your trip even more memorable. If you’re going to the Golden state any time soon, here are some of the places for boating in California. 

Best Locations for Boating in California

There are plenty of incredible locations for boating in California, including beaches, lakes, and smaller inlets. Wherever you go, you will certainly have a great time. Some of the most popular locations for boating in California include:

Silverwood Lake 

The Silverwood Lake is a reservoir opened to the public for recreational use. It is an especially popular location for adrenaline junkies looking to take on the thrills of various water sports. You will find this Lake at a short distance from the West Fork Mojave River, just 90 minutes away from Los Angeles. 

Silverwood Lake in San Bernardino County, CaliforniaSilverwood Lake in San Bernardino County, California

The Lake is also surrounded by beautiful scenery and snowy peaks, offering a unique boating experience. You can also take off on a fishing boat and throw out a line into one of the many pockets of the Lake with fish.  

Big Bear Lake 

Big Bear Lake is the premier lake for year-round boating fun. While some lakes tend to close down during the winters because of the cold weather, Bear Lakes stays open regardless. There are six marinas across the Lake’s shoreline, offering various rentals for different enthusiasts. 

Sailing boat on the Big Bear Lake in San Bernardino, CaliforniaBig Bear Lake in San Bernardino, California

Kayaking and paddleboarding are easily the highlights of the entire experience, with each one offering a unique experience for boating in California. The shoreline also spans seven miles, giving boaters a chance even to step off and have fun on the beach. 

Bass Lake 

The Bass Lake is the perfect place for anglers looking for a less motorized fishing experience. Take out a paddle boat filled with bait and your necessary fishing equipment. With this Lake usually not getting much attention, there would be just you and your fishing pole. You could find largemouth and smallmouth bass throughout the Lake, along with various other fish species. If you’re lucky, you will be able to find some rarer species that can be especially good for their bragging rights alone. The Lake also houses salmon in the warmer season, with anglers waiting all year. 

Bass Lake is located in the Sierra National Forest in CaliforniaBass Lake is located in the Sierra National Forest in California

Trinity Lake 

Trinity Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes for boating in California, often overshadowed by its much more popular cousin, Shasta Lake. But even if Shasta manages to get most of the attention, it means that it’s the perfect place for people to set out on their cruiser and relax. 

Waters of Trinity Lake are perfectly calm allowing a mirror-image reflection of snow-capped mountains in the Trinity Alps range, Northern CaliforniaTrinity Lake in the Trinity Alps, Northern California

The Lake is also close to many coves that you can claim as a personal base camp. What makes a relaxing cruise on this Lake all the better is how close it is to the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, where you could even spot some of the local wildlife there. 

Lake Sonoma 

Lake Sonoma is one of the largest lakes for boating in California, with over 50 miles of shoreline to explore. It is also especially popular for the sheer number of recreational activities that it allows including waterskiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, and jet skis.

Lake Sonoma in northern Sonoma County, CaliforniaLake Sonoma is a reservoir west of Healdsburg in northern Sonoma County, California

Lake Sonoma offers plenty of space for fun activities that involve boating in California. The Lake also has a rental dock that offers various supplies and everything you could need for your special trip there.  

Don Pedro Reservoir 

Don Pedro Reservoir, also known as Lake Don Pedro, is versatile in the type of experience it offers visitors. Do you want to do something exciting when you are boating in California? Why not go out on the waters for some waterskiing, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding fun? Are you looking just to cruise around and relax while enjoying the view onshore? Well, you can do that too thanks to the scenic view that you get from the Lake. Whatever you have in mind, when headed to the Lake for some fun boating in California, you could do that and more at the Don Pedro Reservoir. 

Don Pedro Reservoir across the Tuolumne River in the Stanislaus National Forest of Tuolumne County, CaliforniaDon Pedro Reservoir across the Tuolumne River in the Stanislaus National Forest of Tuolumne County, California

Long Beach 

Long Beach is a windy haven perfect for windy boating in California. The weather is especially fun for windsurfing, allowing surfers to take off at high speed showing off their skills and talent. If you have a sailboat, you could get a taste for the traditional sailing experience. Steering the boat with the wind can be especially satisfying, as you need a lot of skill to do it right. Setting off on a cruiser is also very fun, as the salty winds make for an especially fun experience boating in California. 

Long Beach, CaliforniaLong Beach beach houses in Naples, California

Lake Havasu 

Lake Havasu’s name is almost as special as the Lake itself, which means the color blue in Mojave. And when setting sights on it for the first time, that’s certainly the first thing to come to your mind.

Boats on Lake HavasuBoats on Lake Havasu

The Lake has managed to stay in pristine condition, allowing it to retain its almost unrealistically blue color. It is easily one of the most beautiful destinations for boating in California.

Thanks to the clear waters, fishing is especially fun on a paddleboat.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Need a Boating License to Drive a Boat in California?

According to California Law, all boaters must carry a government-issued California Boater Card. If you plan to operate any vessel on the water, you want to make sure you have your CBC, as not having it is the equivalent of driving without a driver’s license. 

Can You Drink While on a Boat?

As a passenger on a boat, there are no restrictions to drinking on boat. However, as a driver, you cannot drink while driving. California laws prohibit drivers of any vehicle, whether land or sea, to drink and drive. If you plan to drink while out on the open waters, hire a driver who can steer the boat for you. 

Authorities can commandeer your vessel if they have reason to believe that you are breaking any laws, which can even include drinking and driving. Finally, you can even receive a DUI for driving a motorized boat when under the influence. 

What is the Fastest Slow-No-Wake Speed in California?

The maximum slow-no-wake speed of any vessel boating in California is five mph. You will need to slow down to this necessary speed when your watercraft is 200 feet near a surfer, boat launch, dock, marina, pier, ramp, bank, diving flag, bathhouse, etc. These are some places that you will have to be careful of when driving your boat and be sure to slow down. 

Could You Get a DUI for Drinking on a Kayak?

Despite not being motorized, drinking and riding on a Kayak is grounds for you to receive a DUI. However, the more accurate terminology would be a BUI or boating under the influence charge.

Who Needs to Wear a Life Jacket While on a Boat?

Life jackets are essential to the safety of the passengers on your boat but are not necessary to wear for people over the age of 13. If there are children on the vessel that are under 13 years old, they would need to wear a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket that is serviceable. A good jacket always has no rips or tears, has quality buckles and straps, has no waterlogging, and fits the size of the individual properly. For better safety, people on a boat should wear a life vest, especially when the boat is moving. 

Do You Need Insurance When Operating a Vessel in California? 

To go boating in California, you do not need insurance. Although, in the case of some marinas, they require boaters to have insurance when docking or using any of their other services.  

Boating in California, especially during the summers, is a wonderful pastime. And with the list of lakes mentioned above, there are plenty of activities for you to indulge in when you go there.

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