Luxury Lake Lodgings 

Some would say part of the joy of lake living is ‘roughing it,’ but that doesn’t have to be the case. If you prefer to rest your head somewhere nice, Oklahoma offers a variety of luxury lake lodgings. 

On Grand Lake’s Monkey Island, Shangri-La Resort is “northeastern Oklahoma’s family resort,” a luxury escape near Grove and Afton. The 119-room hotel includes 9,000 square feet of meeting and event spaces, plus golf, dining options, a spa, marinas, rentals, guided fishing tours and a variety of other resort amenities.

Near Beavers Bend State Park and Broken Bow Lake in southeastern Oklahoma, Pine Lake Resort is dubbed “Broken Bow’s finest luxury cabin curation.” There’s nothing cookie cutter about the 30 cabins; included are free Wi-Fi and community amenities like a clubhouse, playgrounds, on-site restaurant and more. Guests are able to choose cabins with hot tubs, ones that are dog friendly or have private ponds, a spa, a waterfront view, an outdoor entertainment area, a driving range or a spectacular view of the Ouachita Mountains. 

On seven acres, Candlewyck Cove Resort is a privately-owned lakefront resort on Grand Lake. Guests choose from one or two bedroom cabins, luxury homes, townhomes and rooms at the award-winning hotel, plus a complimentary continental breakfast. 

Candlewyck offers 450 feet of waterfront, plus private boat docks, a swimming pool, park, basketball court, tether and volleyball, play gym and picnic tables. Guests may bring their own boats, or nearby H2O Sports Rentals offers daily rentals including pontoons, ski boats and jet skis.

Shangri-La Resort at Grand Lake boasts a 119-room hotel and stunning golf course near the water. Photo courtesy Shangri-La Resort

Lake Guide

Known for its “Big 3” – Lake Tenkiller, Lake Eufaula and Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees – Oklahoma offers a plethora of other lakes with recreational and entertainment options including marinas, water sports, guided fish tours, restaurants, shopping and family activities. Guests may bring their own boats, or rent just about any kind at marinas on the water. We highlight a few of the state’s major bodies of water and what they’re best known for. 

Lake Eufaula, alongside a variety of water-based activities, is also an angler’s paradise with crappie and bass galore. Photo by Shi’s Shots Photography

LAKE TENKILLER – Situated amidst other water-centric venues, Lake Tenkiller is in eastern Oklahoma. A 13,000-acre body of water with 130 miles of shoreline, Tenkiller is known as Oklahoma’s clearwater lake. The Tenkiller Scuba Park is one of Oklahoma’s best scuba locations. The Lower Illinois River emerges from the lake, and is Oklahoma’s premier trout stream, although other sportfish abound. Tenkiller State Park offers 38 fully-equipped cabins. Plus, the Driftwood Nature Center has a full-time naturalist. 

LAKE EUFAULA – A 105,500-acre lake with 800 miles of shoreline, Lake Eufaula is Oklahoma’s largest lake. Located near Eufaula  in southeastern Oklahoma, the lake is ideal for crappie and bass anglers. Well-known for its tournaments, Lake Eufaula draws anglers from across the nation due to a wide variety of sportfish as well as 31,800 acres of public hunting areas. 

GRAND LAKE O’ THE CHEROKEES – In the Ozark Mountain Range foothills, Grand Lake sits on the Neosho River in northeastern Oklahoma. The 46,500-acre lake boasts 1,300 miles of shoreline.Among top U.S. bass fishing lakes, Grand Lake has at least 12 marinas, and is filled with numerous bass species, plus other sportfish. Fishing tourneys are popular at the lake. Five state parks surround the area, which is near Spavinaw Wildlife Management Area – a 14,316-acre area hunter’s paradise. 

BROKEN BOW LAKE – Broken Bow Lake sits on the Mountain Fork River, as a 14,000-acre, 22-mile long lake that stretches into the Ouachita Mountains. Scuba divers enjoy the water, which is just north of Broken Bow, and a bit east of Hochatown in southeastern Oklahoma. The lake dovetails with stunning venues including Beavers Bend State Park, Ouachita National Forest and the Kiamichi Mountains. Anglers fish for trout and bass, and there are hundreds of campsites. Lakeview Lodge boasts 40 rooms, and the award-winning Cedar Creek Golf Course is also in the mix.

SKIATOOK LAKE – In northeastern Oklahoma, federally-owned and operated Skiatook Lake is 30 minutes from Tulsa, 45 minutes from Pawhuska, 1.5 hours from the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and is surrounded by wooded and tallgrass prairie areas. The 10,190-acre lake has 160 miles of shoreline, and hails as the lake with the calmest waters in Oklahoma. It also boasts an abundance of sportfish and 6,000 acres of hunting area. 

Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees; photo by Dave Wagenblatt

On-The-Water Activities: Safety 

Tow sports such as water skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, wakeskating and riding jet skis provide amazing experiences on the water. But safety is the No. 1 priority, and knowing the regulating rules on the water will help. 

Some lakes require a mirror on the vessel. All participants must wear an approved lifejacket, whether driver, spotter, or the person being towed. Besides the driver, a spotter is critical for tow sports to ensure that if something goes awry in the water, the driver knows and can turn back. Check ropes and all safety equipment for any damage before heading onto the water. Take extra precautions when towing more than one person.

Shangri-La Resort; photo courtesy Shangri-La Resort

Lake Etiquette 

In his 2024 article “Boating Etiquette: Key Guidelines for Respectful Navigation,” David Ciccarelli – founder and CEO of – offers a few tips on lake behaviors:

“Stay aware of surroundings. Keep an eye out for other vessels, swimmers, and potential hazards. Minimize wake and respect wildlife,” he says. “Communication is key – whether it’s signaling my intentions or navigating crowded areas. Know the rules, often referred to as ‘road rules of the water.’ Assist others in distress. I am always conscious of the environment, striving to keep the waters clean for everyone.” 

For safety purposes, boaters should keep engines off when people are in the water around the boat. Moving slowly when anchoring, mooring, and coming and going from a marina, is important to control the wake. 

Boaters are responsible for damage they cause to others’ property. Sound travels on water, so keeping music and noise down respects neighbors, whether on shore or on the waves. Holding up the fuel line, or the line to launch or load, is a no-no. In all situations, being polite and cleaning up messes are musts.

Boating Lessons and Laws

Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees; photo by Dave Wagenblatt

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol Marine Enforcement Division’s Handbook of Oklahoma Boating Laws and Responsibilities is online in a free PDF format, explaining Oklahoma laws governing boating and providing general information about safe vessel operation.

Oklahoma boaters must have an Oklahoma Certificate of Registration and validation decals on boats to operate on public waters, although there are exceptions. Boaters should also have title certificates for certain vessels. 

During operation, all boaters must carry either their boating safety certificate/card as approved by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, a.k.a. a boating license, or photo identification proving the operator is at least 16 years old. Boat operators ages 12-15 must obtain an Oklahoma Boaters Education Card to operate certain vessels.

Numerous third-party organizations offer boating classes for obtaining boating safety certification, but courses must be certified by the Oklahoma Department of  Public Safety. Both in-person and online boating license courses are available. Examples are and The only free online course is

Motorized watercraft passengers must wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved (USCG) lifejackets. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is punishable by law. Boat owners must be registered with the Department of Safety.

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