Lake Marion, South Carolina, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lake Marion.

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Lake Marion visitor and community guide

The largest lake in South Carolina at 172 square miles, Lake Marion straddles five counties: Berkeley, Calhoun, Clarendon, Orangeburg, and Sumter. It is located in the Santee Cooper Country Tourism Region. Created in 1942 in tandem with its sister reservoir, Lake Moultrie, the two lakes cover 174,000 acres and contain more than 875 billion gallons of water. Connected by the 6.5-mile Diversion Channel, these lakes were created from 1939-1942.

Built as part of the Santee Cooper Hydroelectric & Navigation Project, Lake Marion was named after Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion. It was designed to create electricity for the Santee Cooper area by damming up the Santee River. The resulting lake not only provides power, but it created an exceptional recreation area. Lake Marion boasts 315 miles of tree-dotted shoreline, combining with Lake Moultrie’s 135 miles to give visitors and area residents a 450 mile lakeside playground to enjoy.

Activities on Lake Marion include boating, sailing, jet skiing, swimming, fishing, hunting, kayaking/canoeing, and wildlife viewing. The lake is home to osprey, deer, fox, squirrel, alligator, turkey, dove, hawk, eagle, and egret. Towns close to Lake Marion include Santee, Summerton, Vance, and Eutawville. Santee, located just minutes from the lake, is known as a golfers’ paradise – with three courses for its 800 residents. Lake Marion is halfway between Columbia and Charleston making it the perfect stopping-off point between the two large South Carolina cities.

Fishing on Lake Marion is an experience some anglers dream of. The lake’s shallow swamps and blackwater ponds provide ideal homes for many fish. Year-round opportunities abound to catch challengers to some of the lake’s record-breakers: a 58-pound Channel Catfish, 2.2-pound Warmouth, 55-pound Striped Bass, 16.2-pound Largemouth Bass, 5-pound Black Crappie, and more have all been prizes of happy fishermen.

Public access to the lake is available through several boat ramps at Santee State Park and the Santee National Wildlife Refuge. Anglers should follow the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control guidelines for the consumption of fish.

The perfect visit for nature lovers, Santee State Park offers cabins and camping sites to provide a roof over your head after an enjoyable day at the lake. Situated on the banks of Lake Marion, the park sweeps out over 2,500 acres and boasts hiking trails, picnic facilities, fishing piers, a marina, and public access to Lake Marion’s cool, blue waters.

The 15,000 acre Santee National Wildlife Refuge includes one of the largest wetlands in the eastern USA to support migratory birds. It is also home to the Santee Native American Mound, which is the farthest eastern evidence of the Mississippian culture. There are walking trails, a visitor center, an auto tour, fishing, hunting, and photography opportunities at the refuge.

Vacation rentals and homes for sale are readily available on the shores of Lake Marion. Visitors can enjoy a week or a long weekend in a lake house on one of the most beautiful lakes in the deep south. So grab your beach towel and head to the lake to dip your toes and cast your fishing line into South Carolina’s largest lake.

Custom Lake Marion house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Marion

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Wildlife Refuge
  • State Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Marion

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Warmouth

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Marion

The Lake Marion map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Lake Marion photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Lake Marion statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Not Known

Water Level Control: South Carolina Public Service Authority

Surface Area: 110,600 acres

Shoreline Length: 315 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 75 feet

Average Depth: 13 feet

Maximum Depth: 50 feet

Water Volume: 1,437,800 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1942

Water Residence Time: 44 days

Drainage Area: 14,300 sq. miles

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