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10 Best Lakes in Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Known for its stunning landscapes, warm summers, and sparkling fresh water lakes, the Okanagan Valley is one of Canada’s most beautiful regions.

Waterfront net zero home on the Okanagan lakefront by Bercum

Lakes like Skaha, Osoyoos, and Okanagan Lake are fjord lakes that were formed over 10,000 years ago through glacial activity. Advancing and retreating glaciers carved out the edges of the valley, leaving behind large deposits of gravel, silt and sand that impede the flow of water and form the lakes at the base of the valley.

Now enjoyed by millions of visitors and residents every summer, the lakes of the Okanagan Valley are known for their crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, and warm summer temperatures.

Early mornings are often tranquil, with a gentle mist rising from the lake water and the only sounds being the birds and the occasional fish jumping. As the day progresses, the lakes become livelier with the sounds of people enjoying the water and the sight of sailboats and jet skis skimming across the surface.

From lakefront paddleboarding and tanning on sandy beaches to boating, fishing, and sailing, the Okanagan Valley’s lakes offer a perfect blend of relaxation, natural beauty, and outdoor adventure.

Let’s explore the 10 best lakes in the Okanagan Valley – one of many things that make this area such a special place to call home.

Okanagan Lake

Kelowna, Lake Country, Vernon, Peachland, Summerland, & Penticton.

Imagine waking up to the breathtaking views of Lake Okanagan, where the vibrant downtown Kelowna waterfront meets rolling hills, lush vineyards, and orchards.

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Stretching 135 kilometers through the picturesque Okanagan Valley, Lake Okanagan boasts a summer water temperature average of 22°C (72°F), making it pleasant for a wide range of water activities.

You can spend your days swimming, wake surfing, paddleboarding, or simply enjoying a swim followed by a stunning Okanagan sunset.

For adrenaline seekers, Lake Okanagan offers jet skiing, water skiing, wake surfing, and parasailing, ensuring every day is an adventure. Nature enthusiasts can indulge in bird watching, spotting eagles, ospreys, and migratory birds like trumpeter swans.

Access to the lake is convenient with multiple boat launches, including Kelowna Yacht Club, West Kelowna Yacht Club, and Eldorado Marina.

According to local myth, an enormous serpentine creature called “Ogopogo” inhabits Okanagan Lake, adding to the area’s appeal.

Kalamalka Lake


Often called the “Lake of a Thousand Colors,” Kalamalka Lake – also known as “Kal Lake” – is famous for its striking turquoise waters, which change hue depending on the season and time of day.

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The best time to see Kalamalka Lake is during the hottest months of the year, July and August, when limestone deposits in the lake begin to crystallize and reflect sunlight into a breathtaking display of green and blue hues.

Considered to be one of the top 10 most beautiful lakes in the world, Kal Lake is a 16km long lake that’s located immediately south of Vernon, BC.

Kalamalka Lake is a beautiful spot for kayaking, paddleboarding, boating and enjoying the sandy beaches & hiking trails in Kalamalka Provincial Park.

Skaha Lake

Penticton, Kaleden & OK Falls

Skaha Lake, nestled in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, is a stunning natural gem bordered by Penticton to the north, Kaleden to the west, and Okanagan Falls to the south.

Spanning approximately 11.8 kilometers in length and reaching depths up to 87 feet, Skaha Lake is renowned for its clear, inviting waters and surrounding bluffs that are famous for their bighorn sheep populations, world-class rock climbing walls, and panoramic vistas.

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Skaha Lake is a hub for both relaxation and adventure. The warm waters and sandy beaches are ideal for swimming, while the surrounding parks offer excellent hiking and picnicking opportunities.

A cherished summer tradition in the Okanagan, riding inner tubes or floaties down the 7km Penticton Channel “lazy river” between Lake Okanagan and Skaha Lake is a amusing way to enjoy the warm season.

Skaha Bluffs Park, located on the east side of the lake, has a network of hiking trails leading to panoramic views, trad & sport rock climbing areas, and opportunities to see wildlife – including rattlesnakes & black bear. With occasionally strong winds near the airport, Skaha Lake is also known as an excellent windsurfing destination.

It’s easy to get a boat on Skaha Lake with accessible boat launches at Skaha Marina, Okanagan Marina, and additional sites in OK Falls and Kaleden. Historically known as “Dog Lake,” Skaha – meaning “horse” in the Shuswap language – serves as a vital component of the region’s natural history and community life.

Osoyoos Lake

Osoyoos, BC

Nestled on the sun-drenched edges of the Canada-U.S. border, the 17.7km (11 mile) long Osoyoos Lake is known as Canada’s warmest freshwater lake.

During the peak of summer when lake water temperatures hit 24°C (75°F), Osoyoos Lake during July & August, Osoyoos invites visitors to bask in its warm waters and enjoy the unique desert landscape.

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The name “Osoyoos” comes from the local Okanagan language (Syilx’tsn), meaning “narrowing of the waters.” Osoyoos Lake’s warm waters make it perfect for swimming, boating, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking, tubing, and floating.

Beyond the water, the region offers a rich tapestry of experiences – from sipping on fine wines at award-winning vineyards to exploring lush orchards and enjoying upscale dining. Luxurious properties and accommodations line the shores, offering exclusive lakefront views and private beach access. Whether it’s indulging in a spa treatment overlooking vineyards or dining under the stars at a lakeside restaurant, Osoyoos and the South Okanagan is a special place to be.

Wood Lake

Lake Country

Wood Lake, a hidden gem located in Lake Country, offers a serene escape with its crystal-clear waters framed by lush, rolling hills. Nestled between Kelowna and Vernon, Wood Lake is part of a chain of five lakes connected by the Okanagan River.

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As a smaller lake in the region, it provides a quieter alternative to its bustling neighbors, ideal for those seeking solitude or a gentle day on the water. The lake is well-loved for fishing, with abundant populations of Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon. Watersports enthusiasts can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and water skiing in a more secluded setting. The calm waters also make it ideal for paddleboarding and kayaking.

The nearby community of Lake Country hosts charming vineyards and orchards, adding a rustic touch to any visit. With boat launches at Turtle Bay Marina, Oyama Boat Launch, and Bottom Wood Lake Road, it’s easy to get out for a day on the water.

Mabel Lake

Mabel Lake Provincial Park

Mabel Lake, renowned for its striking clarity and tranquil waters, is a haven for adventurers and relaxation seekers alike. Located within Mabel Lake Provincial Park, this lake is a popular destination for camping, with well-equipped sites that offer spectacular views of the waterfront.

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Boating and fishing are favorite pastimes here, with the lake being home to a variety of fish species, including Dolly Varden, Rainbow Trout, and Chinook Salmon. The surrounding trails and picnic areas make Mabel Lake a perfect family getaway spot in the heart of nature.

Echo Lake

Lumby, Cherryville

Echo Lake, near Lumby and Cherryville, is a small yet vibrant lake known for its exceptional rainbow trout fishing. This secluded lake is ideal for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle and indulge in the tranquility of nature.

The surrounding area is dotted with rustic cabins and offers activities such as hiking and bird watching, where visitors can immerse themselves in the peaceful sounds of the local wildlife. Echo Lake’s intimate setting makes it a favorite among those who appreciate a more laid-back, nature-centric experience.

Sugar Lake

Lumby, Cherryville

Sugar Lake is a picturesque destination that captivates visitors with its stunning blue waters and scenic mountain backdrop. Tucked away near Lumby and Cherryville, it is less traveled, providing a peaceful retreat for those looking to unwind.

The lake offers excellent opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing. Sugar Lake is also equipped with a well-maintained campground, making it ideal for long stays where visitors can enjoy nightly bonfires and stargazing.

Vaseux Lake

Okanagan Falls, Oliver

Sugar Lake is a picturesque destination that captivates visitors with its stunning blue waters and scenic mountain backdrop. Tucked away near Lumby and Cherryville, it is less traveled, providing a peaceful retreat for those looking to unwind.

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The lake offers excellent opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing. Sugar Lake is also equipped with a well-maintained campground, making it ideal for long stays where visitors can enjoy nightly bonfires and stargazing.

Activities (Things to Do) in Okanagan Valley Lakes

The lakes of the Okanagan Valley offer a myriad of activities for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or family fun, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Beach Activities

You can find both pebbled, rocky, and sandy beaches on the edge of the Okanagan Valley’s lakes, making them suitable for a wide range of activities like swimming, beach volleyball, building sandcastles, or basking in the sun. Attractions like ferry docks, diving boards, and floating playgrounds add fun for youngsters. For those with furry friends, both on- and off-leash dog beaches offer places for your dog to swim.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing quite like watching the sunset at the beach, as the Okanagan sky transforms into a rich canvas of pink, orange, and purple.

Watersports & Adrenaline

The clear, warm waters of the Okanagan lakes are perfect for a wide range of water sports – from challenging sports like wake surfing to relaxed cruises on kayaks.

Boating is one of the most popular pastimes in the Okanagan Valley, with plenty of opportunities for sailing, water skiing, wakeboarding, and wake surfing. If you’re entertaining a big group, you can rent out houseboats and party boats on Lake Okanagan, Skaha, and Mabel Lake.

For an adrenaline rush, go flyboarding, kite surfing, jet skiing, or parasailing on Lake Okanagan. For a more tranquil experience, there are myriad places to launch your paddleboarding, kayak, or canoe.

Note that to operate a recreational boat in BC, you’ll need to have a valid Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC).

Outdoor Recreation

Hiking and Biking: The valley boasts numerous hiking and biking trails that cater to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is particularly popular, offering gentle gradients and scenic views as it winds through vineyards, orchards, and along the picturesque lake shores. The Myra Canyon Trestles section of the trail is a highlight, featuring impressive wooden trestle bridges and breathtaking views of Okanagan Lake.

Bird Watching: Bird watchers will find the Okanagan Valley to be a paradise. The diverse ecosystems around the lakes support a wide variety of bird species, including ospreys, herons, and bald eagles. The tranquil environment and abundant wildlife make for an enjoyable and rewarding bird-watching experience.

Lakeside Wineries and Breweries: An afternoon spent visiting the lakeside wineries and breweries is a must. The region is renowned for its vineyards and craft breweries, where you can enjoy tastings of local wines and beers, often with stunning lake views as a backdrop. This blend of outdoor recreation and culinary delight offers a perfect way to relax and savor the flavors of the Okanagan.

Camping: Numerous campgrounds are scattered around the lakes, making it easy to find a perfect spot for a weekend getaway or an extended outdoor adventure. Provincial parks in the area provide well-maintained facilities, scenic beauty, and a range of activities from hiking to fishing.

Orchard Tours: A visit to the Okanagan Valley isn’t complete without touring its orchards. The region is famous for its fruit, including cherries, apples, and peaches. Orchard tours offer a chance to pick your own fruit and learn about the local agriculture, adding a delicious and educational element to your outdoor adventures.


Fishing in the Okanagan lakes offers a diverse and rewarding experience for anglers. The region is home to several species, including Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Burbot, Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Whitefish, Carp, and Perch.

Various fishing methods are effective in these lakes, including fly fishing, trolling, and spin casting. Shore fishing is also popular, particularly in areas with easy access to deep water.

The best time of year for fishing in the Okanagan Valley is typically from late spring to early fall, with peak activity in June and September when the water temperatures are ideal for fish activity.

Ice fishing in winter is also popular in the Okanagan lakes, offering a unique opportunity to catch species like Kokanee Salmon and Rainbow Trout through the frozen surface.

To fish in Okanagan Valley lakes, you need to have a valid BC freshwater fishing license, which you can get online or at local retailers. You can review quotas and each lake’s specific regulations in Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis (PDF).

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