Sand Harbor Beach.
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Sand Harbor Beach at Lake Tahoe

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Around 15 million people make their way to the stunning Lake Tahoe every single year.

Not only is it the biggest alpine lake in North America, but its beauty can’t be rivaled, and one location that showcases it at its best is Sand Harbor Beach in Lake Tahoe.

This gorgeous pocket of shoreline can be found to the east of the lake, complete with a stunning beach, beautiful hiking trails, opportunities for boating, incredibly clear waters and full-filled events.

That’s before even mentioning the plentiful facilities and some of the most awe-inspiring views of Lake Tahoe. If that didn’t get your attention, check out what else Sand Harbor Beach has going for it.

Getting to Sand Harbor and Parking

When somewhere is so popular, it’s a bit of a given that the parking situation isn’t going to be the easiest.

During the summer months, the parking lot fills up quickly, and it will likely be full by 9am. If you do manage to snag a spot, parking for the day is either $10 per vehicle for a Nevada resident or $15 for anyone else. 

An information map explaining the around around Sand Point Boardwalk.
There are information maps to help direct you.

If you don’t get a space, don’t worry, there is an easy shuttle service. Take the East Shore Express shuttle from Incline Village, although check it is running first.

Alternatively, you could go and spend the day doing something else around the lake, and come back a bit later, between 4 and 5, and there is a good chance that the day trippers would have left, offering the chance for a second wave of visitors. 

A path splitting in two different directions with a brown information sign directing the way.
Choose your beach wisely…

TIP: Walk-in entry to Sand Harbor is no longer allowed, and parking or dropping off along the highway is actually illegal. This is the case around 3/4 of a mile in both directions from the main entrance. 

Visitor Center and Restaurant

Inside the small center, you’ll find plenty of informative panels and information about the nature and history of Sand Harbor Beach. There is also a small gift shop, so you can pick up a souvenir. 

An exterior view of the modern looking Sand Harbor Beach visitor center.
The visitor center is a must-see!

Feeling peckish? Inside the center, there is a small restaurant/cafe area offering a range of tasty food. Sit on the shady deck and get refueled for a day on the lake. 

Sand Harbor Beach

All of the beaches in Lake Tahoe are gorgeous, but there is something a little unique about Sand Harbor Beach. The main beach is a large crescent of soft white sand, complimented by the shallow white waters.

Tourists swimming in Lake Tahoe at Sand Harbor Beach with boats and kayak while standing on rocks in the water.
There’s enough space for everyone!

It’s a great family beach with plenty of room to play, spread out, and enjoy the lovely lake views while you paddle or beach bum. There is also beach patrol during the summer months.

There’s a smaller pocket of sand near the visitor center and then in the north of the park there’s another beach which also doubles as the boat launch area.

Beach goers in tents and under umbrellas on Sand Harbor Beach with an amazing view over Lake Tahoe.
You can easily find quieter areas.

While there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the main beach, if you go exploring, you can quickly discover hidden pockets of sand that offer a bit more of an exclusive beach experience.

Water Sport Rental

Hiring a kayak or similar is one of the best ways to explore the scenic coastline of Sand Harbor Beach, its hidden bays, and its rocky shoreline.

You can hire kayaks and SUPs right here, which is located at the main beach.

Groups of kayakers and paddle boarders in the bay of Sand Harbor Beach with a small peninsula covered in trees in the distance.
Sand Harbor Beach is a super popular spot for water sports!

You can even get personal sailboats if you don’t mind rowing. While you can hire a kayak and go off by yourself to explore the crystal water, another option is to choose a guided tour and have your tour guide show you all the best spots.

Boat Launch at Sand Harbor Beach

Sand Harbor is known for its boat launch. It’s the perfect place to get out onto the water and explore the rich blue waters. The extensive facility has two boat ramps, docks, and a parking area

Lots of beach goers in and around Sand Harbor Beach with trees behind and a pier to the left.
You can see one of the docks in the distance!

One thing to note before using the boat launch is that all boats must be inspected before launch to check that they don’t have any invasive species on them. We don’t want anything nasty getting in the perfect water! 

Tahoe East Shore Trail

Distance: 5.2 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 344 feet

Other important info:

  • Dogs are allowed
  • No fees are required for this trail

Sand Harbor is a beautiful place to go for a stroll because, trust us when we say that once you park your car, you will not want to move it. The trails here are not hiking trails; they are more designed to get you from A to B, but they are scenic nonetheless. 

However, the Tahoe East Shore Trail is one trail you can’t miss on your trip to Sand Harbor Beach in Lake Tahoe. The trail is relatively new and runs from the state park for nearly 3 miles back to Incline Village. 

Aerial view overlooking the Tahoe East Shore Trail as people walk along the paved pathway between trees with a view of Lake Tahoe to the left.
The East Shore Trail makes for a great recreational track!

The flat trail is completely paved and runs right up against the water’s edge, giving you interrupted views of the water as you walk or bike. There are six bridges to cross, observation points, interpretive panels, and plenty of benches, so give yourself longer than you might think to complete this popular hike.

Shakespeare Festival

Did you know you can watch Shakespeare plays right on the shores of Lake Tahoe in Sand Harbor Beach? That’s right, you can get cultural with an epic natural backdrop, but it doesn’t get much better. 

Every summer, the Shakespeare Festival comes to town, bringing an al fresco show every day of the week.

It’s hard to beat sipping a glass of wine, watching the sun set behind the mountains, and feeling the sand between your toes as you watch some of the greatest literary works on earth. 

There are plenty of good options while the festival is running, or you can bring your picnic. Lake Tahoe is one of the best places to visit in the USA in July, and Sand Harbor is a good spot to be!

Read more of our guides to Lake Tahoe:

We hope this helped you plan your visit to Sand Harbor Beach!

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