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Welcome to our guide to boating Lake Martin, Alabama. We hope that you know how to operate a boat and navigate without hitting things because this guide will not help you with that. What you will find are the best things to do on Lake Martin, as well as points of interest, marinas, boat ramps, restaurants, and places to stay on the lake. We put these all together in easy-to-read lists and an interactive map so you can make the most of your time boating Lake Martin.
Children's Harbor at Sunset
Lake Martin Boat Tour

Interactive Lake Martin Boating Map

Are you looking for the GPS points for Chimney Rock? Goat Island? Pirate Island and more? They’re on our boating map. What’s more, we put the exact point that is interesting, like where you jump at Chimney Rock and where the goats are on Goat Island (technically, Billy Goat Island).

In fact, here’s our dirty little secret. You can click around this map and not have to read the rest of the guide. You’ll miss out on our pictures that way, but you can load this boating map onto your phone as you’re on the lake and see everything for yourself.

Be warned; it took us a full day on the water with our Lake Martin boat tour to see all these points of interest, and we certainly didn’t go to every marina, but we’ve already established that you’re a skilled boat captain, so you know how far you can go in a day and how to get there safely, so this map is for inspiration, not navigation. You’ll want to use a nautical chart for that. If you don’t see the Lake Martin boating map below, be sure to hit refresh on your browser 😉.

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Things To Do On Lake Martin

Lake Martin is a large lake with over 800 miles of shoreline, 41,000 acres of water, and over 40 named islands. The lake spans over three counties in Alabama: Tallapoosa, Elmore, and Coosa. You could spend all summer exploring the lake, but we’ll make it easy for you with our list of…. The best things do on Lake Martin:

  • Jump off Chimney Rock
  • Feed goats on Goat Island
  • Visit Pirate Island
  • Cruise Children’s Harbor
  • Tour Jim Scott Gardens (by water)
  • Splash at Big Beach
  • Stop by Peanut Point
Lake Martin Boat Tour-8
Lake Martin Boat Tour-58

Chimney Rock on Lake Martin

Chimney Rock on Lake Martin is perhaps the most famous and notorious thing to do on the lake. It’s a summer-long party jumping off the rocks and parking boats in the bay. Although, interestingly enough, you’re technically jumping off Acapulco Rocks but don’t worry because put our GPS points right to where the jumps are. You have a couple of choices, like the shorter Chicken Rock, but be sure you know where (and how) to land before you jump. There have been accidents and fatalities jumping at Chimney Rock, so be careful. Here’s the skinny about Chimney Rock on Lake Martin:

  • Where is Chimney Rock in Alabama? You’d think this would be straight forward, but it’s easy to get confused. There’s a GPS point for Chimney Rock Island, but the actual jump is off Acapulco Rock. There’s also a trail called the Chimney Rock Trail that lets you see the island, but it doesn’t lead you to the jump. Long story short, it’s on Lake Martin, right about here.
  • How high is Chimney Rock? About 50-60′ depending on where you jump and if the lake is lowered for the winter.
  • How deep is it at Chimney Rock Lake Martin? Where our boat was parked, it was about 80′ deep. However, there are rock outcroppings off the cliff, so be careful where you leap.
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Chimney Rock on Lake Martin
Chimney Rock on Lake Martin-2

Goat Island Lake Martin

Goat Island Lake Martin is technically Billy Goat Island. If you look for ‘Goat Island Alabama’ on Google Maps, it will return a point on Lake Mitchell and stories about how there aren’t actually goats on goat island. Have no fear; there are plenty of goats on the Lake Martin Goat Island, at least during the summer months. However, if we want to keep it that way, people need to be responsible. You can bring your kids and even treats for the goats, but leave your dogs at home or at least on the boat.

In May of 2021, a dog attacked Rosie, one of the resident goats. It bit her face and chest and chased her into the water. She would have drowned, except a couple of good Samaritans jumped in and saved her. Rosie required a vet visit and lots of care, but she appears to be on the mend, but it’s a lesson that people need to be responsible for everybody (and everything) in their boats.

If you’re not a jerk and want to visit the goats on Goat Island, they hang out at a shelter on the southwest side of Billy Goat Island, which is near the Lake Martin Dam. If you are a jerk, try Lake Mitchell, I hear they have goats there.

Goat Island Lake Martin
Goat Island Lake Martin-2

Pirate Island Lake Martin

Nobody really knows where the pirates came from or why they’re here. However, if you’re looking for a jolly good time, check out Pirate Island Lake Martin. It’s a pirate-themed art installation at the mouth of Madwin Creek. Rumor has it that the mysterious keepers of Pirate Island added solar-powered LEDs for 2021.

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Pirate Island Lake Martin
Big Beach Lake Martin

Big Beach Lake Martin

Big Beach is just around the corner from Pirate Island, but other than that, it’s an entirely different experience. The only “installation art” is a sign that says Big Beach. Instead of cruising by, boaters park, splash, and generally hang out on the long sandy shoreline. Also, everybody knows who the unofficial Mayor of Big Beach is. It’s local builder Ronnie Sanford

Jim Scott Gardens Lake Martin 2-2
Jim Scott Gardens Lake Martin

Jim Scott Gardens Lake Martin

Jim Scott is a retired attorney who bought some lakefront property and started living la vida lake-a. He kept acquiring adjacent lots for his kids and putting in whimsical gardens, like if Alice in Wonderland wandered into a Japanese garden. The results are the Jim Scott Gardens on Lake Martin.

Garden clubs and private events bring thousands of people through the gardens every year, but you can get a pretty good view from the water without a reservation or invitation.

Children's Harbor Lake Martin_-2
Children's Harbor Lake Martin_-3

Children’s Harbor Lake Martin

There’s undoubtedly a wealthy feel to properties on Lake Martin. Some people say money is the root of all evil. Of course, given that, you can also prove that girls are evil, and 2 + 2 = 5 for large values of 2. The real proof is what you do with your money. Jim Scott put in beautiful gardens. Children’s Harbor takes philanthropy to the next level.

They have provided unique services to seriously ill children and their families for over 30 years and provide accessible, state-of-the-art camp facilities at no cost. It’s one of the most beautiful locations on the lake, inside and out, especially their iconic lighthouse. It’s also home to the cabin where Hank Williams wrote Kaw-Liga that you could rent for a unique Lake Martin experience.

Children's Harbor Lake Martin_
Hank Williams Cabin Children's Harbor Lake Martin_

Peanut Point Lake Martin

While Lake Martin seems to be the playground for the real housewives of Birmingham, other people are working for peanuts. The Dunhams have been boiling up hundreds of pounds of peanuts for boaters at Peanut Point since 1988.

What started as a side hustle is now a Lake Martin landmark. Come for this traditional Southern dish, but be careful of the shallow water on the way in.

Peanut Point Lake Martin_
Peanut Point Lake Martin_-2

Marinas on Lake Martin AL

There are twelve marinas on Lake Martin, AL, thirteen (334-857-2654)if you have military credentials and can access the Maxell Gunter recreation area. Here is our marina reference list in no particular order:

  • Blue Creek Marina / Parker Creek Marina – Part of the Singleton Marine group (Blue Creek Marina – 256-825-8888) (Parker Creek Marina – 256-329-8550)
  • Lakeside Marina – Since 2003, Lakeside Marina has been proudly serving Lake Martin, AL, and is now offering much more than just boat sales at two locations. (Lake Martin – 256-825-9286) (Bay Pines – 256-825-0999)
  • Harbor Pointe Marina – Harbor Pointe’s ship store sells everything to make your day on the lake more enjoyable! (256-825-0600)
  • Russell Marine – Alabama’s Largest Boat Dealer with four locations on Lake Martin. (The Ridge Marina – 256-397-1300) (River North Marina – 256-397-1500) (Real Island Marina – 256-397-1200) (Kowaliga Marina – 256-397-1210).
  • Wind Creek State Park Marina – A marina specializing in boat rentals in the state park. (256-329-0845)
  • Smith Marina – A place to go for gas and ice cream. (256-444-8793)
  • Anchor Bay Marina Inc – A marina specializing in boat rentals. (334-857-2654)
  • Chuck’s Marina – Marina with a pizza place in the Blue Creek Area (256-825-7733)
  • Maxwell Gunter Recreation Area – Only military personnel are permitted, including Active duty, Retired, Reservists, DoD, Retired DoD and DoD Contractors.
Lake Martin Marinas- Kowaliga Marina
Lake Martin Marinas-Ridge Marina

Lake Martin Boat Rentals

If you’re 21 or older and have a valid boater’s license, you could be hitting the water with Lake Martin boat rentals. Most marinas have half-day and full-day options, and many will rent a tube as well. You’ll mostly find pontoon boats, but there are a few bass boats, ski boats, and Jon boats available. Just click and pick the options that work best for you. We made sure that each link goes directly to the boat rental page to make it easy for you.

Lake Martin Tours from Harbor Pointe Marina
Lake Martin water patrol

Restaurants on Lake Martin

Nothing says lake life like eating on the water. We found a selection of restaurants on Lake Martin to make your nautical nutrition dreams come true.

  • Kowaliga Restaurant – Southern comfort food with a view
  • SpringHouse / Catherine’s Market – Technically not waterfront, but if you call from the docks, they’ll send a golf cart down so you can experience fine dining at Lake Martin.
  • Chuckwalla’s Pizza – The name says it all (except for why they named a pizza shop after a southwestern lizard).
  • The Landing at Parker Creek – Bring your “beard game” for outdoor dining in a seating area made from old shipping containers with craft beer on tap. Oh, they also have tiny homes, in case you’re wondering. Now, if only they had farm-to-table herbs from a pallet garden.
  • Creem at the Creek – Boat-in ice cream at Wind Creek State Park
  • Shipwreck Sam’s – Boat-in ice cream and frozen yogurt at Smith’s Marina
  • Bluffs Daiquiri Bar – Boat-in bars make as much sense as drive-through liquor stores. I guess your captain can be the designated driver.
Exterior Kowaliga 2.0
Catherine's Market Russell Crossing-2

Paradise Bed and Breakfast on Lake Martin

One of the blessings and curses of Lake Martin is that there aren’t any lakefront hotels. You could get a VRBO, like the 8-bedroom Health South House or the Creekside Lodge with on-premise docks, but we loved our stay at the Paradise Bed and Breakfast on Lake Martin. They have their own dock, and you’ll get to use their kayaks and a paddle boat too. Plus, for an additional fee, they’ll arrange a sunset cruise with wine and cheese.

Nothing is better than picking up a Lake Martin Pizza on the way in (best crust we have had in years) and eating it as you watch the sunset. We also loved watching the sunrise over the water and enjoying our super host, Kathy’s signature, smoked pork breakfast. Nothing that is, except for their comfortable bedrooms, complete with stunning lake views.

Paradise Bed and Breakfast-2
Paradise BnB-40
Paradise BnB-2
Paradise Bed and Breakfast 2.0

Wrapping up the Guide to Boating Lake Martin

We’ve covered what to see, do, and eat on Lake Martin. We highlighted marinas and boat rentals and included boat ramps, and named bodies of water on the map. There’s one more important thing to mention.

Alabama Power and Russell Lands own the majority of the shoreline on Lake Martin. They have an active shoreline management program that addresses the health and wellness of the lake. If there’s an emergency, call the authorities, but if there’s just something a little off, contact the shoreline management program. 

Individuals with boats and other water-related equipment and facilities should always be alert to changing conditions on Alabama Power reservoirs and be prepared to take the necessary steps to protect their property. One of the things to pay attention to is the planned water level drop in the winter. Some years, this begins on September 1. Other times it’s extended until mid-October. The lake is usually at its summer levels by the end of April. The winter water drop is around 10′, so everything from navigation to access is different in the winter.

Disclosure: A big thank you to the Lake Martin Tourism Association for hosting us and setting up a fantastic itinerary! For more travel inspiration check out their Instagram and Facebook accounts.

As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.

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Lake Martin Alabama

Boat on Lake Martin at sunset

Lake Martin Alabama

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