Best beaches in Lake Tahoe.
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13 BEST Beaches in Lake Tahoe

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As the largest alpine lake in North America, beaches in Lake Tahoe are not hard to come by—but instead of cliffs, sea caves, and angry waves, you can expect crystal clear icy water, forests of pines, and a mountainous backdrop.

Who says you have to go to the coast to discover some of the most incredible Californian beaches?

There are tons of beaches to choose from, some buzzing and packed with amenities, some more secluded and wild, but here are some of the best…

1. Calawee Cove and Lester Beach

Situated in D.L. Bliss State Park, Calawee Cove Beach and Lester Beach are some of the most breathtaking beaches in Lake Tahoe.

Tourists relaxing and sunbathing on an almost empty Calawee Cove Beach surrounded by pine trees.
Calawee Cove Beach is a great place to relax!

These cove-like beaches may not be as big as other beaches, but they are visually stunning and offer expansive lake views.

The north portion of the beach is known as Lester Beach, while the south is Calawee Cove. Lester tends to be a classic beach experience, with fine sands and perfectly paddle-able waters.

Calawee Cove is quieter and has a more rugged look, thanks to the huge boulders that line the shores.

Nina exploring the empty Calawee Cove Beach and it's bright blue water on a sunny day.
Nina taking a stroll across Calawee.

TIP: Arrive early, as the beach parking fills up very quickly. You will struggle to find a space after 11 am. Calawee Cove Beach is also a beach along the epic Rubicon Trail!

2. Pope Beach—Longest Beach in Lake Tahoe

Surrounded by tall pine trees, Pope Beach provides that much-needed shade for bathers on a hot day and a feeling of being hidden away!

The beach is long and sandy, sloping down into the water, making it ideal for launching a kayak or going for a swim. If you don’t have your kayak, boat rentals are available directly from the beach area.

Two people sitting under huge umbrellas on Pope Beach beside Lake Tahoe.
Parasols on Pope Beach.

Despite its secluded feel, there are still plenty of amenities, including restrooms, BBQ grills, picnic tables, and easy-to-access parking.

TIP: Make sure you grab an ice cream from Camp Richardson Ice Cream Parlour for some delicious flavors. There is no better way to cool down.

3. El Dorado Beach

There is something pretty special about El Dorado Beach, located at the center of South Lake Tahoe. Due to the shallow, roped-off area, it is a safe place for a swim if you can brace the chill. Because of its location to the south, the views are expansive.

There are plenty of facilities, including picnic and BBQ areas, a tiered beach wall to sit and gaze out over the rich blue water, and watercraft rentals to spend a day on the lake.

Kayaks lined up on El Dorado Beach with two jetties on Lake Tahoe and a mountain view in the distance.
El Dorado Beach has crazy views!

There are food stands to pick up a snack or an ice cream, restrooms, and nearby parking. Although the sand part of the beach is small, it is a scenic, hassle-free place to spend the day.

TIP: The beach also has an expansive lawn area if you want lake views without the sand, or you can bring your own cushions and sit on the cascading stone steps.

4. Zephyr Cove Beach

Zephyr Cove Beach seems to be all about the action. The beach is beautiful in itself, plus there is always something going on, whether that’s a spontaneous volleyball tournament, boat rentals, or a group picnic party.

If you are looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush, you could always add some jet skiing or parasailing to your day before finishing off with some drinks with friends on the sand.

Boats moored up on a pier on Zephyr Cove of Lake Tahoe with kayaks on the sand and snow covered mountains in the distance.
There’s kayaking at Zephyr Cove too!

It is a popular beach for a reason. As well as having the looks, it is close to Zephyr Cove Resort & Marina and plenty of accommodation and food options.

There are ways to escape the crowds, however. Just follow one of the trails away from the beach, and it won’t be long before you stumble across some smaller sections of shoreline paradise.

TIP: Beach chairs and umbrellas ($15 each) are available to rent for the ultimate day of beach bumming.

5. Nevada Beach

Nevada Beach is a beautiful sandy beach from which you can enjoy stunning views of the lake stretching out before you. In our opinion, it is one of the better beaches in Lake Tahoe, offering precisely what you would want from a beach.

Picnicking and chilling are the main activities on this half-mile stretch, with many coming purely for the views. The beach is huge in length and width, so it’s the perfect beach to go to if you are looking for a bit of space.

Aerial view over a huge stretch of Nevada Beach along the shore of Lake Tahoe with trees dotted around and day use areas between.
A huge stretch of Nevada Beach!

If you are not a beach bummer, you could take a swim in the water, paddle out on a kayak and explore the coast, or grab a snack from one of the food concession stands.

Boating, fishing, waterskiing, and kitesurfing are also popular activities.

The south end of the beach is dog-friendly, which is unusual around the lake, so your furry friend can go for a dip, too.

Two girls sunbathing on Nevada Beach near a copse of trees and a house on a pier on Lake Tahoe.
One of the best location for sun bathing.

TIP: If you want to prolong the trip, there’s onsite camping. It’s an incredible place to spend the night.

6. Skunk Harbor

Skunk Harbor Beach is a bit of a hidden gem. It can be challenging, but that makes it part of the adventure.

To reach it, you will either have to take a boat or a hike! The trail is 1.6 miles and has a lot of history, having once been an old railroad built to transport timber.

Boats anchored in the bay of Skunk Harbor along the shores of Lake Tahoe with wood sticking out from the water.
The very secluded Skunk Harbor Beach.

The beach and cove are stunning, surrounded by deep green pine and crystal blue waters, helping it make the list of best beaches in Lake Tahoe.

It’s a small beach, but that adds to its secluded charm. Don’t expect any facilities, this one is about as wild as it comes.

TIP: Don’t be put off by the hike, as it is a stunning walk through a forest of pines, but the walk back up can be a bit of a leg burner.

7. Whale Beach—Our Fav Beach in Lake Tahoe

Whale Beach is a picture-perfect postcard spot, getting its name from the rocks that jut out of the water and look like whales cresting the surface.

It is one of the most secluded beaches on the list and can only be reached via a hike, which will pass several other small secluded beaches.

A view from standing on Whale Beach with smooth, round rocks on the beach and in Lake Tahoe on a sunny day.
The unique rocks make Whale Beach a must-do!

Due to its seclusion, you might end up having it to yourself just like we did. This beach in Tahoe is probably our personal favorite (shhh don’t tell the others!)

TIP: Don’t expect food outlets and BBQ areas. There are no amenities here. This beach is about as wild as it gets.

8. Boaters Beach

When you finally get to Boaters Beach, after a bit of a hike, you’ll be greeted by bright turquoise waters and the most picturesque little cove.

To the left are some huge grey rocks that you might want to consider hiking around. On a sunny day, it is the perfect place to chill out, with the mountains standing tall across the lake.

Two paddle boarders on the turquoise waters of Lake Tahoe heading towards Boaters Beach over rocks in the lake with trees around the beach.
One of the most picturesque spots on Lake Tahoe…

TIP: This beach is labeled as “Secret Harbor Beach” on Google but once you get here the sign shows it as Boaters Beach. It’s a quick walk from Whale Beach so you can do both of these together.

👉 MORE INFO!

These two beaches above are part of a bigger network of beaches in the Secret Harbor area, and this is by far our favorite area for beaches in Lake Tahoe!

These are where you’ll find the iconic blue water with the grey-washed rocks type of beaches.

But it’s a bit of a confusing spot, and there are even some nude beaches here… So yeah, you might want to read our guide to Secret Cove and the surrounding beaches before you go!

9. Kings Beach

With shallow waters and soft sand, Kings Beach offers the perfect place to relax on a warm day. It’s a great family beach, with a picnic area, BBQ area, restaurants nearby, and a large playground and restrooms.

Kayaker, paddle boarders and tourists enjoying a sunny day on Kings Beach beside Lake Tahoe.
Kings Beach is a great tourist spot!

With so many amenities, you could easily spend the whole day here on one of the best beaches in Lake Tahoe.

Other forms of entertainment include volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and paddle boat rentals right on the sand. You can also rent all sorts of watercraft here, like jet skis, floating bicycles, and SUPs.

Two people on Kings Beach besides the pier with peddlo's on the sand and jet skis in the water.
Jet skis for the adrenaline junkies!

This isn’t really a beach for peace and quiet, but you certainly won’t run out of things to do, and there is still so much natural beauty that makes Lake Tahoe beaches so special. 

TIP: There are plenty of restaurants and shops within walking distance of the parking lot and beach, so many people park up and stay in the area all day.

10. Sugar Pine Point Beach

This beautiful beach is located in Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park, which covers two pristine miles of lakefront.

Sunrise light over driftwood on Sugar Pine Point Beach with boats moored just off shore.
Imagine a few beers on a boat moored at Sugar Pine Beach at sunset…

The beach is split into two sections, north and south of General Creek, but it spans around 7000 feet overall, so there is plenty of room for everyone.

You can enjoy swimming and fishing from the pier (although the water is VERY cold!) or rent a boat from one of the nearby marinas.

A boy in a blue jacket and baseball cap fishing off a pier into Lake Tahoe with a mountain backdrop.
At Sugar Pine Beach it’s catching fish, not feelings.

You could always use the BBQ and picnic facilities if you don’t want to take a dip or get out and about on the water. Nearby, you’ll find the historic Pine Point Mansion, which is well worth a look around.

TIP: Be aware that it is about a quarter of a mile walk from the parking area to the beach, and although that may not sound like much, when you are lugging a load of beach gear, you might be envious of those traveling light.

11. Vikingsholm Beach at Emerald Bay

Located in Emerald Bay State Park, Vikingsholm Beach has very impressive surroundings, Vikingsholm Castle on one side, and scenic Emerald Bay on the other.

Tourists on a beach in Emerald Bay beside a giant lakeside tree and lots of other trees around.
This beach is super nature-y!

It can be challenging to reach the beach, as you have to navigate a short but steep trail to get there, but if you can manage the scramble, you’ll be rewarded with waters perfect for a paddle, soft white sand, and stunning views out to the bay.

From the beach, you can rent a kayak and paddle around the bay, or you can kayak out to Fannette Island, which is in the bay.

Red and yellow kayaks on a small beach on Fannette Island in the middle of Lake Tahoe with trees and bushes everywhere.
Kayak over to Fannette Island.

TIP: You can spend all day here! You can hike all or a portion of the Rubicon Trail, kayak, beach bum, check out the castle, and even set up camp at the nearby campsite.

12. Sand Harbor Beach—Best Swimming Beach in Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor is one of the most popular beaches in Lake Tahoe, and for good reason.

With panoramic views of the East Shore, interesting rock formations, and incredibly clear waters perfect for swimming, you can easily see why people come back time and time again.

Although popular, it’s also a pretty big beach, meaning there is plenty of room to lay down a towel and soak up the sights.

Tourists swimming in Lake Tahoe at Sand Harbor Beach with boats and kayak while standing on rocks in the water.
Enjoy the day at Sand Harbor Beach!

If you tire of lazing about, you could always have a bite to eat in the picnic area, take a hike, or head out on a boat from the bustling boat launch.

TIP: Try to time your visit with the annual Shakespeare Festival so you can catch a show with one of the most stunning natural backdrops in existence.

13. Commons Beach

Right in the middle of Tahoe City, you’ll find Commons Beach, a small and friendly beach opposite a grassy park. It’s perfect for families or friends, thanks to the small picnic and BBQ area for evenings next to the shore.

Kids playing on the sand of Commons Beach besides a long pier leading out into Lake Tahoe with a view of forests and mountains.
Sunset light over Commons Beach.

It’s also situated along the Tahoe City Boardwalk, meaning easy access and within stopping distance of plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafes.

TIP: Check the event calendar before you visit; the beach plays host to a whole range of festivities over the year, such as the hugely popular Farmer’s Markets in the summer months, SnowFest in winter, and weekly series such as Movies on the Beach and Concerts at Commons. There is always something going on!

Read more of our guides to Lake Tahoe:

We hope this helped you plan your trip to visit the best beaches in Lake Tahoe!

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