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“Great Lake For Scuba Diving”
Review of Pearl Lake

Pearl Lake
Attraction details
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Great Lake For Scuba Diving”
Reviewed August 19, 2013

Recently, my husband and I completed our Advanced Scuba Diving Certification. It culminated with the deep dive portion achieved diving a shipwreck in Lake Michigan. The experience convinced us we’d like to do a lot more wreck diving, but our next time on the Great Lakes we’ll be on our own, with no instructor to watch over us.

So we took the recommendation of our Milwaukee dive shop, The Scuba Diver Store/Great Lakes Diving, and went to Pearl Lake to further hone our skills. It was the perfect choice and an unexpected treat. Located in South Beloit, IL smack on the Wisconsin/Illinois border, it’s only an hour drive from Milwaukee, Madison or Chicago.

Beginning it’s life as a quarry, Pearl Lake has been owned by the same family since 1963, when they began developing a lovely 35 acre paradise where you’d least expect one. It now features a campground, seasonal park homes, a restaurant and bar, (only open on weekends) and a well-laid out swimming area and beach with a large deck, snack bar and DJ entertainment on the weekends.

All this is cordoned off from the bulk of the lake, though, so none of it intrudes on the diving experience. This small diving paradise has obviously been set up by people who know and love scuba.

One of it’s most appealing aspects is that there are four distinct areas to dive, each with numerous fascinating things sunk at varying depths. Each of these, like an airplane or sub, are marked by buoys at the surface with descent lines down to each. Most are large and open enough to swim through to practice wreck penetration. You can dive them individually or explore one after the other by swimming at a depth of 15 to 20 ft. — a great way to practice underwater navigation.

The east shore, where we dove in early August, has a number of small boats and dive platforms and a 33 ft. replica of a WWII U-boat sub. Also, “a Lake Michigan patrol boat can be found on the sandy slope in about 25 feet of water and a bit further to the south, the lake’s largest wreck, the 45 foot long “Thora Ann”, a classic Great Lakes fishing tug, rests at depths of 30 – 40 feet.”

“Every area of the lake represents a healthy natural habitat and an ideal freshwater ecosystem to be explored. Huge smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye and yellow perch and rainbow trout cruise through lush weed beds. On occasion, one of the lake's 20-30 lb. channel catfish will add an extra heartbeat or two for the diver surprised by one approaching out of the gloom.”
I quote directly from the Pearl Lake website because I highly recommend you check it out under the “DIVING” area of the site. Very well written, it has a plethora of information and photos to give you a complete picture of what to expect not only in sunken attractions, but seasonal water temps, thermocline levels, rules and regulations, etc.
Other areas and highlights are the north shore, featuring a 33 ft. school bus, 30 ft. cabin cruiser, statues, and underwater railroad tracks left over from the lakes’ days as a quarry. The west shore offers more small boats and another cabin cruiser, a “steam shovel” and a Beechcraft twin-engine airplane. The south end is where the deepest part lies, ranging from 60 ft. to an 85 foot “hole” with platform at the bottom used for deep dive training by dive schools who frequent the lake with their students.

Since we didn’t take advantage of getting a tank refill on premises, which is another big plus, we have three more trips to look forward to before we’ve experienced them all. We dove on a Tuesday and had the lake pretty much to ourselves. I can’t attest to how crowded it may be on the weekends, but as described, there are enough areas to explore that there should be room for everyone who has found this inland diving paradise. Be sure to bring your certification card.

Visited August 2013
2 Thank MardiMilwaukee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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46 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Joliet, Illinois, United States
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Little Pricey Well Kept”
Reviewed July 24, 2013

Been going to Pearl for 23 years diving. Started camping and hitting the beach last few years. The staff and the rules and regulations can be a bit over burdensome. The check in was fine but the limits on people, tents, autos, passes at beach, items allowed on beach, pets, areas kids can swim, overhead crawl swim required, etc was difficult to keep up with. We get 4 plus campsites and 16 people so some frustration is to be expected.
The beach and lake are the gem of the facility, very clean and safe for all ages. Showers snack bar and restaurant are well kept. The crowd and permanent residents were very friendly and enjoyable to be around.
We are going back but only once a year..

Visited July 2013
1 Thank 922Todd_A922
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carol Stream, Illinois
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Family Fun”
Reviewed July 8, 2013

This 4th of July we decided to do a camping trip with two other families. We choose Pearl Lake camp grounds in South Beloit, IL. We had three camp sites together which included electricity, water spiket, a fire pit and picnic table. In addition there was a very clean and well kept bathhouse with electricity for hot showers and hair care. The camp grounds were clean and we had alot of space for our three family to spread out and play ball, bags and nighttime flashlight games. The owners of this place take great care in making sure there is no loud obnoxious behavior going on and all families are ensured a safe and enjoyable adventure. The beach that is next to the camp sight is awesome fun! Restaurant, Tiki Hut with DJ and house special drinks. We had a blast. Something for the adults and alot for the kids to do.

Visited July 2013
1 Thank LauraBertolini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Terrible morale”
Reviewed June 13, 2013

This is a nice place to go to but the morale of every employee is horrific. My entire family was treated badly from check-in, to food order, to asking where the restrooms are located. Management here must not be good.

Visited June 2013
5 Thank Jarzymj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level 3 Contributor
24 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Way overpriced.”
Reviewed March 16, 2013

Nice man made beach, but way over priced and over crowded. I would rather drive 45 minutes to lake michigan. Loud music blares all day, sand is all trucked in so its like a mix of sand, dirt and gravel. The price is absurd. like 20$ for one person. They have an advantage being the only beach around. Which really isnt a beach at all. Pearl lake is also the on ly place around for scuba diving and training. I guess thats not too bad. As far a a beach for sun and fun, its not terrible, but bring your wallet and make sure its full of money.

Visited August 2012
3 Thank Aficionado22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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