Around 100 million Americans go boating each year and it's a number that has significantly risen over the course of the past year. Lake Norman has plenty of lake for people to enjoy a boat ride. No boat? No problem. There are a variety of companies you can contact to rent a boat and jet ski. Some will even offer tubes and skis if you're really into watersports and others that come with captains for those who don't have their boaters license. We've put together this guide for you to learn the basics of renting a boat in Lake Norman so when you plan on visiting, you'll be ready to go for a ride.
Boaters License 101
Before you take on the lake, make sure someone in your traveling group has a valid boaters license. Anyone born after January 1, 1988 must successfully complete a NASBLA approved boating education course before operating any vessel propelled by a motor of 10 horsepower or greater. A boaters license is not required for people born before 1988, but it is recommended. If no one has a boaters license, don't worry, we've listed places that offer captains with their boat rentals below. For those who have the time to take lessons, Expert Boat Lessons by Capt. Andy is a great way to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of boating, specifically on Lake Norman.
Captained Boat Rentals
There are a few different places you can call to secure a boat rental with a captain. Cornelius Pontoon Rentals provides a great experience to get on the lake with a captain driving the boat. They will deliver the boat and meet you at Ramsey Creek Park because of its ideal location. Gas, snacks, water, and ice is included with every reservation. For the kiddos or even adults, water noodles will be provided. Half-day and full-day reservations are available.
77 Watersports offer boat tours Monday through Thursday and rates start at $275 for two hours. If you'd like to double your ride time, it will include a stop at one of the area's waterfront restaurants. The price does not include the food, so don't forget your wallet. Carolina Boat Rentals is another place to call if you'd like to hire a captain with your boat rental. Their captain will meet you at Ramsey Creek Park and are available 7 days a week from 8am-8pm. Prices are $160 per hour which includes gas and refreshments to cool down and munch on while you're out on the water. Tubes and waterskis are available to rent along with your boat.
If you're not an avid skier or wake surfer, Ride LKN offers personalized lessons to get you up and riding! If you're looking to take your surf game to the next level, then they'll show you professional-level tricks. Do they offer boat rentals? Of course, Ride LKN has captained boat rentals that come with tubing and wakeboards.
If you'd like to bar hop on the lake, then Party Pontoon has you covered! They'll take you around a few different bars and restaurants. As you cruise around, Captain Kevin will give you a rundown on the history of the lake. You can also check out our blog here if you'd like to learn about the lake's history ahead of time. You're able to pack your own cooler with beer & wine if you'd like to make a stop at one of the popular sand bars. Their boat can accommodate up to 10 passengers and even have designated reservation times if you'd like to book a sunset cruise.
Speaking of sunsets and a good time, Charlotte Cycleboats is a perfect activity to get with friends and family. It's Charlotte's only pedal-powered, eco-friendly party boat! Charlotte Cycleboats can accommodate private groups of 15 people for 2-hour time slots. Five of the seats are for those who don't want to partake in the pedaling making it wheelchair accessible. There must be at least nine passengers pedaling to power the boat. They have dedicated time slots for sunset cruises. Like the previous boat rental places mentioned, you're able to bring your own drinks and snacks since you'll be getting in a nice workout. Their captain serves as an on-site DJ too so once you've loosened up after a few drinks, it'll be hard not to get up off your seat to dance!
Non-captained Boat Rentals
For those who have their boaters license, you'll have several more options to call and secure your boat rental. A boat rental that stands out from most is Cajun Carolina Adventures located in Cornelius. Because of the double decker water slide and wet bar, this boat offers plenty of fun for people of all ages. In addition to half and full day rentals, you're able to make multi-day reservations making it an ideal choice to call if you're planning to visit for several days. Their 25 foot boat can hold up to 12 people and can come with tubes if you request ahead of time. Cajun Carolina will meet customers at Blythe Landing for drop-off and pick-up.
Also located in Cornelius, Crown Boat Rentals offers pontoon and small boats to rent. Minimum rental age for this place is 31 and prior experience on Lake Norman is required. They have a couple pontoons and one ski boat to choose from. Their rental season opens on April 15 this year, but we recommend to call ahead of time to book your rental. Tip: Rental rates are typically cheaper on weekdays.
Safe Harbor Marinas at Kings Point also have their own supply of boats to rent. Similar to Cajun Carolina Adventures, Safe Harbor has a double decker pontoon boat that comes with a slide as well as a tritoon that has plenty of power to go tubing. Tube rentals are an additional cost. The tritoon can hold 10 people and the double decker can hold 16 people! Because of their popularity, we recommend to give them a call ahead of your visit to secure your rental.
Safe Harbor has their own little store if you need to grab some snacks or drinks before you head out. They also have souvenirs and boating items for purchase.
Tip #2: Based on previous visitor's experience and during the shoulder seasons, it's recommended to bring a sweatshirt because it can feel chilly once you're on the lake. Shop our LKN-branded sweatshirts here!
Jet Ski Rentals
If you're looking for an extra bit of fun on the lake, then you'll want to consider renting a jet ski. Carolina Boat Rentals also offer jet ski rentals in addition to their captained pontoon rentals. Jet skis are not permitted on Lake Norman at night for safety reasons, so you'll have to return the jet skis before it gets dark. For those couples who will be supervised by a little one, Cannon Water Adventures offer rentals that can hold 2 adults and 1 child per jet ski.
Just a couple exits north from Davidson, Lake Norman Jet Ski Rentals open their rental season on April 1. You need to be at least 21 to book your rental and be able to meet at Queen's Landing to launch onto the lake. They will provide everyone that will be operating the jet ski with an orientation which includes a how-to on operating and a rundown on NC boating laws and regulations. What's Up Watersports offer jet ski rentals that can be delivered just about anywhere on Lake Norman. You can book them for a couple hours to multiple days.
We hope after reading this you come out feeling comfortable on how to go about renting a boat or jet ski on Lake Norman. To view a comprehensive list of boat and jet ski rental companies all around Lake Norman, please visit the Lake Rentals page. You will see the appropriate phone number on each listing so you can call them directly for info on pricing and availability. When you go for a boat ride, be sure to tag us in your photos on social media @VisitLakeNorman!