Boating families enjoying Big Bear Lake on a summer day.

Boating on Big Bear Lake is one of the most popular activities during the summer season. On sunny summer days you will find all kinds of boats on the lake, from tiny aluminum fishing boats, sail boats and hobie-cats to luxury performance boats.

Having a boat on the lake gives you an entirely different view of Big Bear. Boaters can cruise the shore and see the lakefront homes from the water, they can cruise into the many coves and inlets and around China Island aka Garstin Island providing the water is deep enough. China Island is a curious, beautiful, privately owned island and the tall rock formation behind is a favorite spot for locals and tourists to climb and jump into the water below. Boating families love the area around the island for beaching their boats and picnicking. Adjacent to China Island closer to the dam, there are several public buoys to tie your boat to; you can then relax and enjoy the views – this is on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you don’t own a boat you can rent one from one of the many marinas in Big Bear Lake. For boat owners Big Bear Lake has two excellent, well maintained public launch ramps operated by the Municipal Water District or MWD. The launch ramps are on the north side of the lake and the launch ramp on the east side near the Stanfield Cut-off is the Carol Morrison Public Launch Ramp and the launch ramp to the west is the Duane Boyer Public Launch Ramp. Remember that the maximum boat length is 26 ft and the MWD requires that all boats be inspected and have a boat permit for Big Bear Lake before they are launched. Happy Boating!

General Regulations
  • LAKE PATROL officers are authorized to enforce all laws, ordinances and regulations in effect on the waters of Big Bear Lake.
  • BOAT PERMITS must be properly displayed on all boats.
  • BOAT PERMITS may be suspended or revoked when the permittee, owner or operator violates the terms and conditions of the permit, this Code or other requirements of the law.
  • BOAT SIZE REQUIREMENTS: Maximum boat length is 26 feet. Manually propelled boats less than 12 feet in length and float-tubes are required to operate between the 5 MPH buoys and the shore.
  • PUBLIC DOCKS located at the boat launch facilities are for loading and unloading only; do not leave a boat unattended.
  • SANITATION: No refuse shall be thrown into or left on the shoreline of the lake; no oil from a bilge pump shall be allowed to discharge into the lake; no person shall deposit any type of fish, amphibian or plant into the lake.
  • VEHICLES are prohibited from driving on the lake bottom. Vehicles on District property must obey posted speed signs and operate in accordance with the Vehicle Code.
  • ANIMALS must be on a leash no more than 7 feet long while on District property.
Age Limitations
  • PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 16 are prohibited from operating any vessel with more than 15 horsepower.
  • PERSONS 12 THROUGH 15 years of age are
    prohibited from operating a vessel with more than
    15 horsepower unless supervised on board by a
    person at least 18 years of age.
  • RECKLESS OPERATION: No person shall operate a boat, waterski, or similar device in a reckless or negligent manner. The owner and op. erator are responsible for any damage caused by their boat, its wake or its tow.
  • BOATING ACCIDENTS must be reported immediately to the Lake Patrol.
  • SPEED LIMIT: 35 MPH maximum; 10 MPH from sunset to 7:00 a.m.; 5 MPH between buoys indicating same and the shoreline; 3 MPH in Papoose Bay, Canvasback Cove and Mallard Lagoon.
  • SAFETY EQUIPMENT: All boats must be equipped according to California Boating Law safety requirements.
  • LAUNChING: Boats requiring trailers may be launched only from designated launch ramps. All other boats may be carried and launched at designated recreational or public access points after obtaining a Boat Permit.
  • MOORING or tying to navigational markers is prohibited. Overnight mooring orbeaching ofboats along shoreline is prohibited.
  • CHILDREN under the age of 12 are required
    to wear a personal flotation device while on board
    a vessel that is underway.
Personal Watercraft
  • PERSONAL WATERCRAFT shall maintain a 100 foot distance from all other boats while operating above wakeless speeds.
  • PERSONAL WATERCRAFT operators are prohibited from "spraying down" any person or vessel in the water.
  • PERSONAL WATERCRAFT riders shall wear personal flotation devices.
  • HOURS OF WATERSKIING (wakeboarding, tubing, etc.) are between 7:00a.m. and sunset.
  • AN OBSERVER at least 12 years of age is required to be on board the boat to monitor the progress of the skier.
  • A RED FLAG must be displayed whenever a skier or equipment is in the water.
  • ALL BOATS engaged in waterskiing shall maintain a counter clockwise direction.
  • NO PERSON shall operate waterskis or similar device so as to endanger the life of any person.
  • AERIAL DEVICES are prohibited to be towed by a boat.
  • WATERSKIERS shall wear personal flotation
  • FISHING is prohibited from the Dam or from within posted "No Fishing" areas.
  • ANGLERS 16 YEARS OR OLDER must have a current fishing license properly displayed.
  • 'ALE. FISHING REGULATIONS are strictly
  • SWIMMING is allowed within 50 feet of the
    shore, within a designated swimming area, within
    20 feet of a private dock, or as incidental or necessary to waterskiing,jetskiing, sailboarding or in an
  • SCUBA DIVING is prohibited.

  • OPERATORS should maneuver boats slowly and carefully in unfamiliar waters since fluctuating lake levels can cause unmarked natural or manmade hazards to occur.
  • TROLLING ANGLERS should display a white trolling flag to indicate to other boaters that they are trailing a line.
  • FISHING BOATS should not impede safe access for waterskiers entering or exiting a designated ski beach.
  • ALL SAILING CRAFT have the right of way over motorized boats, except in an overtaking situation.
  • SWIMMERS should always swim with a partner and swim with caution in unfamiliar water.
  • LIGHTNING STORMS can develop quickly in the mountains and lightning frequently strikes the lake's surface. Boaters are advised to quickly seek shelter and safety.
  • BE A SOBER BOATER - Alcohol and boating are a deadly mix. 'ICE COVERING BIG BEAR LAKE during the winter months is extremely dangerous, unstable and deceptive - STAY OFF LAKE ICE!