Photography courtesy Drone PromotionsIt’s not quite walking on water, but it’s probably as close as one can get. Exploring the shores of Lake Tahoe on a standup paddleboard, it’s not hard to see why this sport has exploded over the past few years.
Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas offer stunning views and easy access to many great adventures. Learning the basics of paddleboarding is simple, but don’t let the short learning curve fool you, this is a full-body workout.
Hidden beaches on the East Shore
Devoid of lakefront homes and businesses, the East Shore offers the most secluded paddleboarding experience on Lake Tahoe. It might be easy to think one is paddling in the Caribbean while gliding through the clear blue waters past sandy beaches and giant granite boulders, but a quick dip in the cold alpine water is a good reminder.
Heading south from Incline Village, keep an eye out for the following places to stop and explore. Hidden Beach is the first pit stop outside of town. This long, sandy beach is a great spot for an afternoon on the lake, but often has limited parking options. Paddleboarding to the beach helps alleviate the parking problem and provides a whole new view of the beach.
Just beyond Hidden Beach is Sand Harbor, a great option for a lunch break as paddleboards provide little space for packing a picnic. The Char Pit of Kings Beach has a concession on the beach, so fuel up with a burger or sandwich and relax on the beach before heading back out on the water.
Just past Sand Harbor is the East Shore’s unofficial nude beach, Secret Cove, as well as endless little nooks and coves among the boulder-strewn shoreline. Skunk Harbor and Chimney beach are two more excellent places to stop. Take in the views of the Thunderbird Lodge from the water. Paddleboard rentals are available from Tahoe City Kayak at Sand Harbor.
Appetizers & spirits on the West Shore
For those seeking more of a wine and dine experience, head to the West Shore and tour the lakefront restaurants. Sunnyside Resort offers a great selection of starters from zucchini sticks and buffalo wings to ahi poke and gazpacho, plus signature cocktails for a quick break from the water.
Afterwards, paddle down to the West Shore cafe and enjoy lawn games in the shade. Large dice, Jenga, Cornhole and Bocce ball are just a few of the options available, or chill out on the beach and admire the view. Refuel on the pier with a snack and one of the West Shore’s signature cocktails.
The oldest bar on Lake Tahoe, Chambers Landing Restaurant and Bar, provides a great spot to rest before heading back north. Be sure to try the signature drink – Chamber’s Punch.
Paddleboard rentals are available from Homewood Mountain Resort and West Shore Sports.
Bonus trip to Emerald Bay
Emerald Bay is another scenic destination for paddling. It’s approximately 10 miles south of Chambers Landing, so the trip is best for those who are up for a big day of paddling or have the ability to transport boards.
Get a round-the-island view of Fannette Island and the Tea House, and see Vikingsholm Castle from a new perspective. Emerald Bay also is a nesting ground for eagles and osprey. Keep an eye out for these birds flying in and out from treetop nests.
Outside the Basin
While the options for paddleboarding on Lake Tahoe extend far beyond what’s covered in this article, don’t limit your paddling opportunities to the Tahoe Basin. Donner Lake is a short drive away offers a different experience. Public docks are scattered along a mile of shoreline and offer great spots to stop and enjoy the views or have a snack.
Paddleboard rentals are available from Donner Lake Marina on both the east and west ends of the lake.
As the days get shorter and the temperatures start to drop, paddleboarding should be a must-do activity on your adventure list before fall sneaks up.