Best Boating Destinations in Alabama

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If you're considering a boating adventure in Alabama, then you're in luck. The state is complete with several picturesque and adventure-filled bodies of water, from tranquil lakes filled with fish to sparkling coastlines along the Gulf of Mexico. Regardless of what you're searching for when planning your boating getaway, Alabama has it all. 

Each waterway allows you to explore Alabama's natural ecosystems up close and personal, and many offer the chance to learn more about the state's history. This guide highlights 11 of the best boating destinations in Alabama, so you can find the perfect location for your next boating trip.

1. Guntersville Lake

Located in northeastern Alabama, Guntersville Lake is the largest lake in the state. Here, you can explore the land and waters at Lake Guntersville State Park.

The park offers 6,000 acres of woodlands, where you can spend time outdoors on the many hiking and biking trails or search the trees for local birds. Lake Guntersville State Park is home to some of Alabama's strongest conservation efforts for bald eagles. When you visit Guntersville Lake, keep your gaze up — you might just catch sight of our national bird.

Around the lake, you have many options for exploring the water. There's a boat dock, a public fishing pier, a beach and designated swimming areas. If you want more private water access, you can take your boat out onto the waters and have a quiet fishing day amongst Alabama's natural wildlife.

2. Walter F. George Lake

Also called Eufala Lake, Walter F. George Lake is a 45,000-mile reservoir that borders the Chattahoochee River and stretches across southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia. The reservoir formed from the Walter F. George Dam, where it gets its name. The lake has 640 miles of shoreline, making it perfect for all lakeside activities.

If you love fishing, Walter F. George Lake is the perfect fishing destination. There's a chance to find catfish, black crappie and largemouth and spotted bass in the waters. Further, nearby Lakepoint State Point hosts annual fishing tournaments for fishing enthusiasts.

Close to Walter F. George Lake, you can find Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge. This space is perfect for participating in your favorite wilderness activities, from hiking and observing wildlife to fishing and hunting.  

3. Lewis Smith Lake

Lewis Smith Lake, often shortened to Smith Lake, is Alabama's cleanest and clearest lake with beautiful blue-green water that will make for a picturesque trip. Lewis Smith Lake is a very popular vacation spot in the South, and many people own homes on the lake's shoreline.

Lewis Smith Lake. Visitors can participate in many popular water activities at Lewis Smith Lake, including boating, swimming and fishing.

Visitors can participate in many popular water activities at Lewis Smith Lake, including boating, swimming and fishing. Along the shoreline, you can find natural fixtures to enhance your visit, like cliff jumps.

The lake's western side is part of the Bankhead National Forest, where you can explore nature, hike and observe natural Alabama wildlife. This park is home to Alabama's largest tree, so you can stop by and visit it while at the lake.

4. Lake Martin

Formed by Dam Martin on the Tallapoosa River, Lake Martin is a human-made lake that generates hydroelectric power for the Alabama Power Company. However, it's also a popular recreation and vacation destination for people looking for a space to cool down and relax. Stop by Lake Martin for boating, swimming, fishing and other popular water activities like water sports.

Lake Martin hosts a variety of natural and event attractions. Enjoy sandy beaches, camping areas, islands and natural formations where you can jump off into the water. Its proximity to Alexander City provides several restaurants for visitors to enjoy. The Lake Martin Amphitheatre hosts an annual jazz festival, concerts and other cultural and artistic events.

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5. Weiss Lake

Like Lake Martin, Weiss Lake is another lake formed from a dam and serves as a source of hydroelectric energy for the Alabama Power Company. Further, like Lake Martin, Weiss Lake boasts many attractions for visitors. This lake stretches over 30,000 acres through northeast Alabama, along the Georgia border. It collects water from three different rivers — the Coosa, Chattooga and Little.

The coastline consists of privately owned marinas and hotels, but you can also find motels and campgrounds, so you can choose how you experience the lake.

Lake Weiss is the place to go for fishing fanatics. Lake Weiss boasts a large crappie population, earning it the title of Crappie Fishing Capital of the World. However, you can also find substantial striped and largemouth bass populations here. Many fishing enthusiasts take advantage of the fishing tournaments offered, too. Bring your bass boat, bowrider or other preferred fishing vessels for a great angler experience.

6. Lake Wedowee

Lake Wedowee is an artificial lake in northeast Alabama by the town of Wedowee. It consists of water from the Tallapoosa River and is the result of flooding behind the R.L. Harris Dam. Like many other lakes in the state, Lake Wedowee provides hydroelectric power to the Alabama Power Company.

This Alabama lake is a popular fishing destination with several fish populations available,  including crappie, channel and flathead catfish and several types of bass, like spotted, striped and largemouth. However, you can also enjoy boating, swimming and water sports for a fun, well-rounded experience in a bowrider or runabout. Try camping at Lake Wedowee to finish your day off right.

7. Lay Lake

Lay Lake

Lay Lake is another lake that sits at the foot of an Alabama dam and gathers hydroelectric energy for the Alabama Power Company. This lake sits just outside of Birmingham and occupies around 12,000 acres. It has seven public access points for visitors and boats, so you can fully enjoy the waters and your favorite lake activities. 

This lake is incredibly popular for fishing, as it's home to several fish populations. Many visitors travel to Lay Lake to experience its large bass population — here, you can find largemouth, spotted and striped bass. Because of the size of bass, the lake communities host annual fishing tournaments specifically for bass fishing. 

However, you can find much more than just bass fishing at Lay Lake. The crappie populations at Lay Lake can reach around 9 to 12 inches long. The catfish and bream population is also fairly prevalent in Lay Lake.

If you're interested in conservation, you'll be pleased to know that many groups work to uphold the environment and take care of Lay Lake. These groups host an annual cleanup day where volunteers gather to pick up trash and litter on the shoreline and in the water. This event has taken place since 1999. Further, they have received permits to build osprey watching platforms to connect the community and visitors to the local bird population.

8. Wilson Lake

Discover Wilson Lake in northern Alabama around Florence and Muscle Shoals, stretching around 15,500 acres in total. It borders the Wheeler Dam, where water helps create hydroelectric energy for the surrounding area. It has many harbors and camping facilities available to visitors, though most people visit to fish. 

Even though Wilson Lake is smaller than some other lakes in the area and state, it has a diverse topography that creates several ecosystems in its waters. Here, you can find shallows, swift waters and deep waters, providing anglers with many options to test and practice their skills. Enthusiasts can find many fish populations available to them at Wilson Lake, including: 

  • Largemouth and smallmouth bass. 
  • Striped bass. 
  • Sauger. 
  • Bluegill. 
  • Freshwater drum. 
  • Blue and channel catfish. 

If you want to catch larger fish, Wilson Lake is the place to go. Catch blue catfish weighing more than 50 pounds, largemouth bass passing 7 pounds and smallmouth bass weighing over 5 pounds. Wilson Lake holds the state record for the largest smallmouth bass caught. 

The fishing pier right below the dam allows for excellent bank fishing and incorporates updates to allow for better accessibility. The lake has several boat ramps for easy access to the water for people who love boating, making it perfect for all kinds of fishing vessels, like runabouts and bass boats.

9. Neely Henry Lake

Located along the Coosa River, Neely Henry Lake provides 11,200 acres and 339 miles of shoreline to people looking for the best boating destinations in Alabama. Neely Henry Lake is another reservoir and dam that helps create hydroelectric energy for the Alabama Power Company. 

This lake offers excellent waters for fishing enthusiasts. There are several types of fish here, including crappie, largemouth bass, spotted bass and striped bass. Some, like striped bass, migrate to the Neely Henry Lake during specific seasons. Head out to fish on the open water from the comfort of your boat or select from piers and docks for a different fishing experience. 

Further, you can participate in many activities other than fishing — try camping, hiking, golfing, rock climbing and quarry diving. Neely Henry Lake has several surrounding communities, including Southside, Rainbow City, Glencoe, Gadsden and Hokes Bluff, that you may be interested in driving through if you've never visited this part of Alabama.

There are several types of fish in Neely Henry Lake, including crappie, largemouth bass, spotted bass and striped bass.

10. Mobile Bay

Mobile Bay is an important cultural and historical center for Alabama and the South. It marks where the Mobile River empties into the Gulf of Mexico and creates the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, the largest river delta in Alabama. With bayous, wetlands, beaches and islands, the area boasts incredible biodiversity with many habitats and species calling it home. 

Some call Mobile Bay the “Paris of the South” because of its cultural importance. This area is the birthplace of Mardi Gras. The tradition began in 1703 when Joe Cain led an unplanned parade. Mobile continues to celebrate this tradition by holding parades and festivities for Mardi Gras. For more information about the history and birth of Mardi Gras, you can visit the Mobile Carnival Museum.

Mobile Bay is the location of an important Civil War naval battle. In August 1864, Union Admiral David Farragut successfully carried out a blockade in Mobile Bay and got Confederate forts to surrender, including Fort Morgan and Mobile Point, which were vital Confederate strongholds. Mobile's history continues with the USS Alabama, which fought in World War II and now rests in the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, where visitors can visit and learn about it.

There's plenty available to do in Mobile for visitors, regardless of your interests. Get out on the water with a canoe, kayak or another boat to explore the area, or you can sign up for a fishing tour. If you want to hike or observe nature, you can explore Gulf State Park or Meaher State Park.

11. Orange Beach

If you're searching for a boating destination in Alabama that can cater to any adventure type, look no further than Orange Beach. This 32-mile stretch of white beaches framed by bright blue water is perfect whether you want a place to relax, an active adventure full of exploring and nature or a family-friendly location. Orange Beach is also a popular beach wedding destination, making it perfect for couples looking for a romantic location to tie the knot.

When planning a trip to Orange Beach, you have plenty of options for getting out onto the water. You can take your own boat out and explore the many beaches and islands or visit one of Orange Beach's waterfront restaurants. There are plenty of locations and opportunities for kayaking, canoeing and other water sports in the area. Orange Beach has the largest charter of fishing boats on the Gulf, making it easy to book a fishing tour while visiting.

You can get in touch with nature at the nearby Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. You can choose to hike or bike through the six ecosystems located along the trail. When you visit, you might see some local Alabama and Gulf species, like otters, alligators and wild boars. The beach is near many protected wildlife islands you can explore, like Robinson Island or Bird Island, so you can continue to explore Gulf habitats while adventuring on your boat.

Go Boating in Alabama Today

Go Boating in Alabama Today

When searching for the best boating destinations in Alabama, having a guide that lists the top choices can help you find the right location for you and your needs. Whether you want to participate in fishing tournaments with other experienced fishing enthusiasts or relax by the beach, you can find a waterway in Alabama that delivers it all. 

If you're interested in purchasing your own boat for your water and fishing adventures, trust My Financing USA to help you find the right boating loan for your budget and needs. Whether you're searching for a bass boat or a fish 'n' ski, My Financing USA can help finance several types of fishing and recreational boats.

Our application process is entirely online, so you can apply easily from the comfort of your home. We pride ourselves on quick services, so you can rest assured you'll receive your financing within 48 to 72 hours of completing your application. 

Fill out our online application today and contact My Financing USA with any questions.

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