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Can You Swim in Big Bear Lake?

Big Bear Lake in California is a family-friendly and all-season vacation haven where you can relax, enjoy clear skies, and partake in endless fun. But can you swim in Big Bear Lake?

Swimming in Big Bear Lake is allowed but under strict conditions. You can only swim in specific areas and must stay within 50 feet of the shore. The lake is ideal for swimming during the summer months. Most of the lake’s shoreline is rocky, so be careful.

In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know for a safe, eventful day of swimming in Big Bear Lake!

Safe Swimming Spots in Big Bear Lake

China Island

China Island is an ideal swimming spot if you are an adventurous swimmer.

The lake, which is also known as Garstin Island, is located on the west side of the lakeshore. Here, brave swimmers climb up rocks and dive into the water below.

China Island has no lifeguards on duty, so swim at your own risk!

Meadow Park

Meadow Park is one of Big Bear Lake’s most secure environments, making it ideal for parents who want to take their kids swimming.

Families frequently visit this swimming beach, and for good reason. You will find lifeguards, floating toys, and other swimming essentials in Meadow Park.

Moreover, there are restrooms and a snack bar so hunger-related tantrums won’t be a concern.

The park also has excellent picnic areas as well as swings, basketball and tennis courts, slides, and more.

Boulder Bay Park

Boulder Bay Park is one of Big Bear Lake’s most popular swimming locations. It’s found on the lake’s southern coast.

Most locals and tourists agree that Boulder Bay Park offers the best overall views of Big Bear.

Although Boulder Bay Park is well recognized as an excellent kayaking place, you can swim in its waters too.

There are many other things to do. On the spacious docks, you may go fishing or unwind on the beach while admiring the scenery.

I highly recommend this park for outdoor fun, whether you want to swim or not.

East Boat Ramp Beach

East Boat Ramp Beach in Big Bear Lake is another awesome place to go for swimming.

Located on the western side of the Stanfield cut-off, this beach is beloved for sunbathing, swimming, picnics, and relaxing.

Families with young children like taking their little ones to this spot because its water is clean and clear and the sand is super soft for their little feet.

Those learning how to swim should consider this spot because the water here is shallow.

Additionally, this beach is never overcrowded and has many trees that provide enough shade for visitors. You can also take a break from the water and head to the fishing dock for extra exploration.

Private Beaches

If you prefer a quiet vacation at Big Bear Lake, consider booking a reservation on any of the Big Bear Lake cabin resorts that have a private beach and enjoy swimming with no crowds.

Be sure to book ahead of time during the winter and summer seasons!

Some resorts offer a private dock. This means you can check into the resort and go swimming immediately without waiting for the crowd to thin.

You also won’t need to bring any refreshments or water sports essentials because the cabin you reserve will have everything you need.

Some of the top picks for resorts with beach access in Big Bear Lake include the Sleepy Forest Cottages and Big Bear Frontier Hotel.

What You Need To Know When Visiting Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake is a four-season vacation destination. July is the warmest month and the best time to get into the water.

The sunshine in July provides exceptionally long days perfect for going outside and swimming. However, some summer months are colder than average. Be sure to swim during the day since the nights are cold.

If you plan to visit Big Bear during winter, ensure your car has tire chains because the snow can be a nightmare.

Also, remember to use sunscreen even on foggy winter days!

Other Activities Around Big Bear Lake

Swimming is not the only activity in Big Bear Lake, so your adventure should not be limited.

You can participate in snow tubing, skiing, or snowboarding during the winter.

The summer activities include bicycling, boating, fishing, kayaking, and hiking.

You can also visit Big Bear Village, a hub for shopping, nightlife, and dining. You will love the eclectic collection of stores as you shop for clothing and gifts.

» MORE: Can You Swim in Lake Arrowhead?

Swimming Rules in Big Bear Lake

Before you jump into the water, be sure to heed these Big Bear Lake swimming rules!

Wear a Life Jacket

Anything can happen in the water, and a life jacket will save you from drowning. The rule also extends to those participating in other aquatic activities.

Know the Swimming Depth

As we said earlier, there are no lifeguards at Big Bear Lake, so it is always upon you to take care of yourself.

That’s why the management encourages swimming within 50 feet of the shoreline or 20 feet of a private dock. Scuba diving is also prohibited in Big Bear Lake.

Beware Harmful Algae Blooms

Big Bear Lake has algae, and some of it can be toxic to people and animals.

Lake management advises visitors to consider swimming in areas with clear and blue water and rinse themselves off once they are done swimming.

If the condition of the water appears questionable to you, stay out of it.

Safety Tips For Swimming In Big Bear Lake

Before swimming, check the water’s temperature. Additionally, wear the proper swimming gear and apply sunscreen on your body when swimming.

Moreover, don’t go swimming in areas that have boat and kayak traffic.

Don’t forget the vast waves are dangerous, so always wear a life vest!

Lastly, even if you are a masterful swimmer, ensure there is someone around who can help you in case you struggle.

What to Carry When Going Swimming in Big Bear Lake

Below is a list of items you must have if you plan to swim in Big Bear.

  • Towel
  • First-aid kit
  • Life jacket
  • Changing clothes
  • Sunscreen
  • Swimsuit
  • Flip-flops


Big Bear Lake is an ideal place for vacationing all year long, especially in the summer. You can swim, but taking the proper precautions is critical. I hope this information will help you plan your vacation to Big Bear Lake!