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 COVID-safe for us to do. That is when a recent conversation I had with a co-worker who lives in Atlanta came to my memory. He mentioned having a blast renting a boat on Lake Lanier.

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.

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; even to party boats and houseboats. Rentals are available in four and eight hour time increments.

After a quick search on their site, I discovered that they actually had one four hour time slot left for renting a pontoon boat on my husband’s birthday; it was meant to be. The only issue was neither my husband nor I had ever driven a boat before. When you check out and confirm the reservation, there is a boat driving safety section which 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. 

Besides, who could pass up the opportunity of four hours of fun on the lake for under $300? This total, $292.27 to be exact, included space for eight individuals, renting a single person tube and fuel. Plus, the option to bring our own food and drinks made it a no-brainer. 

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. I must say that the open-air restaurant looked a bit crowded during a pandemic, but we had brought our own food and drinks so we weren’t too concerned. Do note that there is a bit of a distance between car parking and the 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 licensing test 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, 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.

All Of The Islands

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

We had so much fun being out on the water, feeling the refreshing breeze gently brush against our faces. 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. There’s even Lake Lanier Islands, a resort complex that includes Margaritaville, a waterpark, hotel, restaurants, beach, and more.

Boat Anchor_Lake Lanier
Anchoring the pontoon at our beach cove.

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” at. Now I must say that I’m glad that unbeknownst to us, one of our guests 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 this adventure. It was literally like having a private beach to yourself. 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.

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 occur 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 renting a boat on Lake Lanier, there will be an eight hour time slot available and we can stop at the Lake Lanier Islands.

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