Big Bear Lake Paddle Boarding

Here are the 7 Top Reasons we like Big Bear Lake Paddle Boarding including our 5 favorite places to park, launch and paddle.

Nestled in the heart of Southern California, Big Bear Lake presents an impeccable backdrop for stand-up paddle boarding. Imagine gliding across the serene, crystal-clear waters of the lake with the sun smiling down, and the picturesque San Bernardino Mountains framing every view. The lake's calm waters make it perfect for beginners, offering a safe and relaxed environment to master the sport. More advanced paddlers will relish exploring the lake's extensive shoreline, uncovering hidden coves, and perhaps catching a glimpse of local wildlife.

Refreshing mountain air, mild summer temperatures, and astounding natural beauty make Big Bear Lake an idyllic SUP destination. Beyond paddleboarding, the area presents endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, from hiking to mountain biking to fishing. Make sure to cap your day with an awe-inspiring sunset viewed from the tranquil waters of Big Bear Lake.

We usually park and launch at the North Shore Recreation Area when we want to avoid the crowds. It can be a bit windy, but we have a ton of fun since our dogs can run and play on the beach with us.

A couple more sheltered areas you will enjoy when there is wind are Big Bear Marina, Pine Knot Marina (there is a playground for kids and Veteran’s Park has a big grassy area if you have a group and not everyone will be paddling at once) and Boulder Bay (which also has a park with grass). Read on for more on places to park and put your board into the water.

The 7 Top Reasons we like Big Bear Lake Paddle Boarding

#1 - Incredible Natural Scenery: The location of Big Bear Lake - surrounded by the gorgeous San Bernardino Mountains - offers an exceptional natural panorama. Paddle boarding on the lake gives you front-row seats to enjoy the breathtaking mountain views, beautiful alpine forests, and even catch sunsets that set the sky ablaze with color. The reflection of the skies and mountains on the water all around you enhances the visual treat.

#2 - Abundant Wildlife: Big Bear Lake is surrounded by a network of dense forests, making it a hot spot for local wildlife. Eagles, ducks, and ospreys are often spotted near the water while paddle boarding. Furthermore, the lake's clear waters offer glimpses of underwater life, creating an immersive nature experience.

#3 - Ideal Waters for Paddle Boarding: Big Bear Lake is known for its calm and clear waters, offering perfect conditions for paddle boarding. The lake's size gives ample space for everyone while still providing serene patches for beginners and less experienced paddle boarders. The water currents and wind conditions are usually manageable, ensuring a pleasurably smooth experience. As is typical for any mountain lake, the wind usually kicks up in the afternoon so plan accordingly.

#4 - Year-Round Attraction: Big Bear Lake is a four-season destination. In warmer months from April through October, paddle boarding can be comfortably enjoyed amidst mild weather conditions. Even during the rest of the year, the snow-capped mountains offer a dreamy landscape, which the brave and well-prepared paddle boarders can enjoy.

#5 - Health and Wellness Benefits: Big Bear Lake paddle boarding lets you work on your balance, strength, and endurance. Big Bear Lake is big enough and varied enough for everyone to get the level of exercise they desire.  Staying balanced while paddle boarding engages your core and lower body muscles, making it an effective full-body workout. This is true, albeit to a lesser extent when you sit down paddle board. The act of paddling helps in enhancing upper body and cardiovascular strength. Moreover, being out in nature, soaking up the sun, and breathing in mountain air offers tremendous mental health benefits, including stress reduction and improved concentration.

#6 - Exploration Opportunities: Big Bear Lake allows paddle boarders to explore the lake’s sizeable area at their own pace. You can paddle to the quieter sides of the lake, navigate into the narrower waterways branching off the main lake, or simply float and enjoy the scenery.

#7 - Great Place to Paddle Board with Friends: Due to its beautiful and convenient location, we have found Big Bear Lake to be a great place to meet up with friends for a fun day on the water. Not only can people of all ages and skillsets paddleboard together, but there are other water activities that people can participate in while others enjoy a paddle board adventure. From sunbathing lakeside to floating in the sun, to barbequing a delicious lunch or dinner, there is something for everyone. Plus, there are lots of delicious places to dine nearby after a big day paddle boarding on the lake. We will often camp at the Serrano Campground or one of the many others lining the lake.

As you can see there are lots of good reasons for you to give Big Bear Lake paddle boarding a try.  Remember, safety should always come first - wear appropriate gear, check local weather conditions, and ensure you stick to areas that match your skill level.

Why we think the Pros outweigh the 5 Cons when it comes to Big Bear Lake Paddle Boarding

Our writeup about Big Bear Lake Paddle Boarding would not be complete without also discussing the possible downsides of paddle boarding here.  Here are the 5 most likely reasons that some people may not enjoy paddle boarding on Big Bear Lake and why we don't think they reasons not to go.

#1 - Cold Water Temperature: As Big Bear Lake is a high-altitude lake filled largely by snow runoff, it can have quite cold water temperatures, even during the summer. This might not be comfortable for everyone, especially those sensitive to cold or unaccustomed to cold water paddle boarding. It could also increase the risk of hypothermia if you accidentally fall in without proper gear. There is an easy fix to this “problem”… simply wear the right clothing! If you are sensitive to cold wear shorty wetsuit or neoprene tights and booties. You can also choose to paddleboard sitting down where you are unlikely to fall into the water. This is a great way to regulate your temperature since you can choose to jump in or just splash water on yourself to keep your body at the perfect temperature!

#2 - High Traffic and Watercraft: Big Bear Lake is a popular destination for various water sports, including boating and jet-skiing. Due to the high traffic and larger watercraft, the lake could have some choppy water, creating challenging conditions for paddle boarding. Additionally, the spot can get crowded, particularly during the high season, which might restrict your ability to freely navigate. We have a simple solution for this, park at one of the less crowded areas of the lake and paddle along the shoreline. It really is no fun to paddle board in the middle of the lake anyhow since there is not much to see there. However, paddling west from either the North Shore Recreation Area or Boulder Bay is wonderful. We avoid the Big Bear Marina during the high season.

#3 - High Altitude: Situated over 6,000 feet above sea level, the high altitude of Big Bear Lake might be problematic for some individuals, especially those with respiratory issues or those not acclimated to such heights. Paddle boarding is a physical activity, and at higher altitudes, you may find yourself getting tired more quickly and potentially experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness. We have a simple solution to this “problem” as well… We drink plenty of water and restrict our activity to sit down paddle boarding so we can better manage our physical expenditure. If you are seated comfortably in a folding seat, you can simply stop paddling and rest. We often rest and eat lunch while floating in beautiful places!

#4 - Limited Services in Off-Season: While the lake is accessible year-round, many nearby services (like gear rental shops) may have limited availability or be closed altogether during the off-season. If you're planning to paddle board outside the summer months, you'll need to bring your own equipment and be prepared for cooler weather. We have all our own equipment plus extra for our friends so this has never been a problem for us. If you don’t have your own equipment yet and you know you love paddle boarding, check out our article about the Best Paddle Board for Beginners and Best Paddle Boards with Seats. Heck, read our entire Paddle Boards Reviews section since there is so much information to help you!

#5 - Potentially Harmful Algal Blooms: Like many bodies of water, there can be algal blooms, including blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), present in Big Bear Lake. These blooms can be harmful to both humans and animals if ingested or even touched, causing sickness. While the authorities monitor water quality regularly, it is advisable for visitors to stay informed about current conditions. Again, this is a no-brainer. For information regarding lake algae conditions at Big Bear Lake, visit Big Bear Municipal Water District or call 909-866-5796. 

Big Bear Lake paddle boarding as well as many other lakes and the ocean may all be affected by harmful Algae at times. It would be a good idea to learn more about the kind of algae that can be harmful to humans and animals and how to differentiate between harmful and benign water plant life.  Here is a wonderful, free, .PDF Guide with pictures that is very helpful: Look Out for Harmful Algal Bloom

Whether to paddle board on Big Bear Lake should be a decision based on one's own abilities, preparation, and personal comfort level.

The 5 Best Spots to Paddle Board on Big Bear Lake

#1 - Big Bear Marina

One of the most popular Big Bear Lake paddle boarding spots, this marina provides a convenient and centralized location for paddle boarders. It has ample parking space and a very friendly staff. Paddle boards can be easily launched from the dock. The marina also offers paddle board rentals, making it a good choice even for those traveling without equipment. During the high season, the marina can be very crowded, so if you are allergic to crowds like we are, pick another place to park and launch on the weekend during the summer.

#2 - Boulder Bay Park

Definately the most picturesque Big Bear Lake paddle boarding location favored for its calm waters and the iconic boulders protruding from the water. The park provides convenient parking, and paddle boards can be launched directly from the sandy shoreline. Being less crowded, it’s a peaceful spot to enjoy paddle boarding while taking in the incredible views. We especially like this location when it is just John, Julie and Silli paddle boarding on a windy day. Boulder Bay is protected from the wind and the bays next to it are as well, so we can do a lot of paddling without being stuck going directly into the wind.

#3 - Meadow Edge Picnic Area

Offering over 16 acres of park area, it has plenty of parking. The park has direct access to the lake's sandy beaches, which makes it easy to launch a paddle board. Facilities like restrooms, picnic areas, and a swim beach make it a family favorite. The picnic area and parking is a little farther from the shoreline than Juniper Point or North Shore Landing. If you have a ton of stuff and want to be as close to the water as possible, those may be better choices. However, if you have people that would enjoy hiking and want to see wildlife from the shore, this is a perfect spot.

#4 - Juniper Point

This well-liked Big Bear Lake paddle boarding spot has a large parking lot and provides easy access to the lake. The launch area is broad and accommodating. Though located near the center of town, Juniper Point often feels more secluded, providing a serene paddle boarding experience.

#5 - North Shore Landing

This part of the lake is a hub for many water sports and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. There's plenty of parking spaces, and you can easily put your paddleboard in the water from the beach. It's also walking distance from a few local restaurants, if you wish to grab a bite post paddle boarding. This is one of our favorite places to paddle board from since it is not too crowded. There is plenty of room for people to lounge in the sun on the sand as well as it is very dog friendly. As you know from our intro, this is definitely our favorite spot especially for a day paddling with our dog loving friends.

For each location, remember to check local regulations and updates regarding access, parking fees, and allowed activities. Be aware of the weather and lake conditions for a safe and enjoyable paddle boarding experience on the day of your visit.

We hope to see you out on the water!

zack and chloe on beach big bear lake caZack and Elyse relaxing on the beach at the North Shore Landing on Big Bear Lake, CA

Join our Community

Welcome to Sit Down Paddle Board. We are a group of friends and family that love to be out in nature having fun adventures on our paddle boards. We hope you will become part of the fun by joining our community!

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    You might like these

    • Here are our favorite places to go paddle boarding in the western United States.  We have personally paddled and had a wonderful time in each of these places.

      Places To Go Paddle Boarding

      Here are our favorite places to go paddle boarding in the western United States. We have personally paddled and had a wonderful time in each of these places.