Experience Big Bear Lake from a Canoe

Big Bear Lake is the place to be if you enjoy boating and fishing in the summer. The sparkling fresh water lake is surrounded by pine trees and mountains, just waiting for you to enjoy its natural beauty. The next time you visit us, think about enjoying the lake from a canoe. When you do, here are a few tips to become a canoeing pro on the lake.

big bear canoeing basics
Big Bear Lake is the place to be if you enjoy boating and fishing in the summer.

Loading Up the Canoe

Never load up your canoe on land. Canoes were built to withstand the support of the water. Loading a canoe that is sitting on land instead of water can cause it to crack. Here’s the rundown on loading a canoe in the water:

  • Place the canoe in the water along the shore.
  • Wear waterproof shoes (you’re going to get wet) and place items in the canoe starting in the center.
  • Once the canoe is loaded up, grab both gunwales (metal-rimmed edges of the canoe) and hop into the center of the canoe as you give a good kick against the land to propel your boat into the water.
  • Stay balanced as you take a seat in the canoe.

Canoeing Don’t: If you are making jerking motions to get the canoe off land, you’re not balanced and are likely scratching the canoe.

Types of Canoes

There are a variety of canoes to choose from and all of them serve a different purpose. Here’s a canoe breakdown to help you make a decision:

  • Wood canoes don’t weigh a lot but they aren’t very durable. They are the most authentic canoe and many argue they are the best looking canoes.
  • Aluminum canoes are heavy but durable and can hold more belongings. It’s almost impossible to break an aluminum canoe.
  • Fiberglass canoes handle well because they are made out of light composites like plastic and resin.
  • Plastic canoes are lighter than fiberglass ones and more durable.
big bear canoeing basics
There are a variety of canoes to choose from and all of them serve a different purpose.

How to Paddle a Canoe

How do you paddle a canoe? It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Follow these paddle techniques so you’ll look like a canoe master on Big Bear Lake:

  • Forward Stroke: If there are two people in your canoe, the person in the front should be doing the forward stroke. This basic stroke involves making a forceful straight line paddle into the water forcefully.
  • J-Stroke: If you’re paddling solo, this is the stroke you will use most to keep the canoe straight. Turn the paddle as you push off at the end. This offsets the canoe’s urge to turn as you paddle.
  • Sweep: The sweep is a correction paddle. Make a large half circle sweep to correct a canoe from heading off course too quickly. If you have to use this paddle stroke often, you’re doing something wrong.

Steering Tip: The paddler in the front must always resist the urge to steer. Steering is always the responsibility of the person in the back of the canoe.

Canoeing Safety Equipment

Here is a rundown on the must have canoe safety equipment you should be taking with you to keep you safe:

  • Floatation Devices: Wear a personal floatation device at all times when operating a canoe.
  • Whistle: Whistles can be used to alert people that you need assistance.
  • Hand bailer: Everyone capsizes in a canoe eventually. This device is crucial for getting the water out of your canoe after you flip it back over.
Big Bear Canoeing Basics
It’s time to book a visit and Big Bear Frontier is just steps away from Big Bear Lake.

Canoeing Safety

Capsizing in a canoe is likely to happen to everyone. Wear light clothing so your clothing doesn’t hinder your swimming ability if you fall out of your canoe. If your canoe does flip over, follow these safety tips:

  • As soon as your canoe tips over, tilt it so a pocket of air stays inside it. This will keep the canoe from sinking.
  • Flip the canoe back over as soon as it’s safe and begin bailing water out of the canoe with a hand bailer.
  • With the help of a friend, climb back in the canoe from the front or rear. Climbing in from the side will cause the canoe to tip over again.

Rent a Canoe

Looking for a place to rent a canoe on Big Bear Lake? There are plenty of available rental operator options. Holloway’s Marina & RV Park, Captain John’s Marina, Big Bear Marina and other canoe rental options are available at Big Bear Lake.

Book Your Big Bear Lake Visit Now

It’s time to book a visit and Big Bear Frontier is just steps away from Big Bear Lake. Make a reservation for a cozy cabin or luxury hotel room at Big Bear Frontier. For the entire month of July, pay in full for two or more nights at Big Bear Frontier and receive 20 percent off your visit! Make your reservation today!


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