No more swimming in Lake Lanier at Margaritaville water park

Margaritaville at Lanier Islands is no longer allowing guests to swim in the lake.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Margaritaville at Lanier Islands is no longer allowing guests to swim in the lake.

Plenty of metro Atlanta families will pack their swim trunks, water wings and sunscreen and head to Lake Lanier for a dip this summer. They just won’t be able to access the lake through one of its most popular beaches.

Margaritaville at Lanier Islands announced this week that its beach at LandShark Landing will no longer be accessible for swimmers. The safety of guests was the primary factor in that decision, according to a statement from the water park, which will open for the season Saturday.

In recent years, multiple drowning incidents have occurred at the Margaritaville beach in Hall County and in other areas of the vast North Georgia reservoir.

“While we understand that this may be disappointing for some, we believe it is the right decision to maintain a safe environment for all our guests to enjoy and will allow us to put added focus on other parts of the park to offer a better overall experience for all our water park guests,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Lake access is still offered in a controlled environment through the park’s Aquatic Adventure Wibit Attraction area, as well as through kayak and paddleboard rentals at LandShark Landing. A fence has been installed about a foot from the shoreline at the beach so guests can still get their feet wet.

“The beach area will remain open for lounging and relaxing, and we hope you will still take advantage of this space to soak up the sun and enjoy the beautiful surroundings,” the park’s spokesperson said.

The announcement comes three weeks before Memorial Day, which is typically a busy weekend at the reservoir, and often a deadly one.

Last summer, at least four people drowned at Lake Lanier in separate incidents. One victim, 20-year-old Jose Camarillo, was swimming at the Margaritaville beach during Memorial Day weekend when he went underwater, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The agency did not say what happened prior to the drowning.

Three others died at the lake over a single week in June last year. They were swimming or boating in other parts of the lake, which encompasses nearly 60 square miles of water and nearly 700 miles of shoreline.

Other tragedies have occurred near the water park in years past. A Hoschton son and father went underwater at the beach near Margaritaville in 2019, according to the DNR. Nine-year-old Ethan Chen and his 30-year-old father, Libao Chen, died within days of each other.

In 2021, the state agency said two teenagers were injured when their boat exploded near the Margaritaville park. The boat was refueling at the Port of Indecision when it caught on fire.

The water park opens for the summer season at 11 a.m. Saturday.