To truly experience Lake Tahoe, every visitor should get onto the lake. While Tahoe is beautiful to gaze at from the shoreline, there is nothing that can compare with floating across the deep blue surface while pondering the mountains and forests rising high up from the shore.
A kayak or paddleboard are certainly two ways to ride the lake, but some visitors would prefer not having to work up a sweat. A great option is to climb aboard one of Tahoe’s tour boats and spend a few hours. I recently had the opportunity to take a ride on the “Safari Rose,” an 80-foot luxury yacht, built in 1959 for the 3M Corporation. It has sailed waters throughout the world, but is now a tour boat out of Ski Run Marina in South Lake Tahoe.
It was a pleasant jaunt along the South Shore; the yacht kept to a mellow cruising speed, providing lovely views of Mount Tallac and Taylor Creek.
I chose the shortest cruise: a 1.5-hour-long, happy-hour cruise. Other options are the slightly more luxurious two-hour sunset cruise that includes appetizers and a three-hour cruise into Emerald Bay with a lunch barbecue prepared on deck.
The “Safari Rose” embarks from the end of the Ski Run dock, located on a popular sandy beach and adjacent to a mini-commercial area that includes Riva Grill and Artemis Lakefront Cafe.
The interior of the “Safari Rose” is sumptuous with beautiful teak and leather accents in what was once a dining room and salon and now serves as a place to congregate around the bar. At the back of the boat on the main level, there is an enclosed area surrounded by windows providing a panoramic view. Up top is a large sun deck with plenty of seating and views in every direction.
The wind was fierce when we departed for the Happy Hour cruise at 5:30 p.m., but the long and lean “Safari Rose” cut right through the waves smoothly and there was little in the way of rocking. It was a pleasant jaunt along the South Shore; the yacht kept to a mellow cruising speed, providing lovely views of Mount Tallac and Taylor Creek. On less windy days, I was told the yacht coasts along the East Shore of the lake, but the waves made a route to the west wiser for our cruise.
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On our way back, we traveled with the wind and the ride was gentle and warm. We took a slight detour so that our first mate could reach out and bring aboard an unoccupied wayward inflated raft. She was doing her part to clean up Lake Tahoe.
After returning to shore, I partook of a delicious kebab meal on the outside patio at Artemis Lakefront Cafe, enjoying another warm Tahoe evening. For dessert, there are ice-cream, chocolate and gelato options near the Tahoe Cruises ticket office.
“Safari Rose” sails out of Ski Run Marina at the bottom of Ski Run Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe. There is pay parking in the marina near the boat, as well as parking in the neighborhoods off Ski Run Boulevard. Tahoe Cruises also provides complementary shuttle service from some South Lake Tahoe hotels to the dock. The yacht is available for private charters and is a popular wedding venue. Be sure to bring layers because it is often colder out on the lake than it is on shore.
For more information or to make reservations, visit tahoecruises.com.