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Secret Cove Beach in Lake Tahoe (Plus 4 Others!)

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There’s a cluster of beaches in the upper east end of Lake Tahoe on the Nevada side, with Secret Cove Beach being the most popular of the bunch.

But getting to these beaches is no small feat. It’s a bit confusing but worth it!

We’re talking about FIVE hidden coves and secluded shores with some of the bluest water and iconic whitewashed rock formations sprinkled along the shoreline.

These are our favorite beaches in Lake Tahoe buuutt there are some things to know first…

Secret Cove Beach and The Beaches In Between

What beaches are around here anyway?

You may have heard of Secret Cove Beach, the most famous beach in the area but there’s more…

An aerial view of Secret Cove Beach along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe with trees lining the mountains around it.
Secret Cove Beach along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe.

Whale Beach is the furthest south of them all, and our personal favorite.

You’ll also happen upon the less visited Secret Harbor Beach (Also Called Boaters Beach) and Creek Beach. If you go far north of Secret Cove Beach, you’ll also find the stunning Chimney Beach.

The Quest for Parking

First things first: parking. If you’ve visited Lake Tahoe before, you know the drill—parking spots are like gold, especially during peak season.

Our hidden beaches are no exception for two reasons:

  1. The parking situation is totally crap. You’re probably going to have to park at a random spot on the side of the road.
  2. While one of the beaches is called Secret Cove Beach and it lies in Secret Harbor… These aren’t really a secret! But I would say they are visited slightly less because you have to make more of an effort to get to them.
Nina in purple hiking gear walking along a tree-lined-trail besides Lake Tahoe with a view of Secret Cove Beach on a sunny day.
Hiking towards Secret Cove Beach.

Aim for an early start to snag a spot near the trailheads. And remember, being an early bird gets you the parking spot and serene beach time before the crowds roll in.

TIP: If you also want to visit the further Chimney Beach, there’s a small parking area and proper trailhead here, but this adds a few miles to getting to the rest of the beaches. It also fills up quick, so uh… good luck!

Navigating the Trails Around Secret Cove Beach and The Others

All set with parking? Great! Now, onto the trails. Oh sorry, did you not know you have to TREK to these beaches? Yeah, put the flip flops in your bag and lace up your hiking shoes.

These aren’t your average marked paths with signs. It’s more of a mishmash of random trails that snake through trees and randomly up hillsides. It honestly doesn’t make much sense.

A trailhead sign giving directions to passers by with trees in the background.
There are trail signs dotted around!

The general idea here is to park once and trek to reach these “secret” beauties.

Here’s the lowdown:

  • Trail System Overview: The trails interconnect, offering various routes to each beach. The journey between each can vary from a leisurely 20-minute walk to a more vigorous hour-long hike, and even some rock scrambling, depending on your starting point and pace.
  • Trail Tips: Keep an eye out for subtle signs and markers. Sometimes, the best way to ensure you’re on the right path is to follow the slight wear of previous adventurers’ footsteps.
  • Parking Tip: Maybe set a Google pin on your map so you don’t forget where you parked because heading back up is also a bit disorienting. It will be obvious where the road is, but like… Where is your car!?

More of a visual learner? Same! I made you a map to better explain what’s going on here. This is from Maps.Me app which will give you a better layout of the trails around here.

You can see they kind of just squiggle around and once you’re here, you’ll see a lot more pathways that aren’t even on this map!

A map of Secret Cove Beach and the surrounding areas.
Secret Cove Beach area map.

Beach Breakdown: Don’t Just Visit Secret Cove Beach!

While you might be heading to bask at Secret Cove Beach, you might find that this isn’t the beach for you… Plus, with four other options all along the same trail, why only choose one?

Here is more info on all five beaches in the area going from north to south.

1. Chimney Beach

Ever stumbled upon a beach with a fireplace but no house? Welcome to Chimney Beach, where the main attraction is a lone chimney standing proudly on the shoreline, a relic from a cabin that once was.

Aerial view over Chimney Beach beside Lake Tahoe with trees covering the mountain.
Chimney Beach.

It’s a stunning beach of sandy shores and rock boulders that’s also worth a visit, although it’s a bit north and further removed from our beaches below.

2. Secret Cove Beach

The name says it all – a secluded spot with breathtaking clear waters perfect for a tranquil swim in your birthday suit. Yeah, this is a clothing-optional beach, and the slice of sand here isn’t that big.

I wouldn’t bring any kids here or be a person that’s easily offended by nudity!

An information sign stating clothing options nailed to a tree with a view of Secret Cove Beach in the background.
There are signs to let you know!

While Secret Cove Beach is the most popular beach in this stretch of Lake Tahoe, it might not be the beach for you. It’s small and nudity is allowed so that’s why we wanted to talk about some of these other great nearby spots!

3. Secret Harbor Beach (Boaters Beach)

Ahoy, mateys! This beach is a favorite among those boating (shocker!). It’s also still accessible by foot, offering crystal-clear waters and a chill vibe. A great spot for paddling or just enjoying the view with your feet in the sand.

Two paddle boarders on the turquoise waters of Lake Tahoe heading towards Boaters Beach over rocks in the lake with trees around the beach.
Paddle boarding at Boaters Beach.

This is a cool stretch of sand to sprawl out on, let the dogs run around, and enjoy turquoise epic waters.

4. Creek Beach

Where freshwater meets lake water, Creek Beach offers a unique beach experience with its creek running into the lake. It’s a serene place to cool off and enjoy the natural beauty surrounding you.

Creek Beach beside Lake Tahoe surrounded by rocks and trees.
Creek Beach.

It’s also another spot to ditch the swimsuit if you so choose, so again, unless you don’t mind seeing grandpa’s wang hanging, you might want to avoid this beach too!

5. Whale Beach

Ever wanted to beach where whales once roamed? Just kidding. While you won’t find any marine giants here, you’ll see a rock that looks like a breaching whale.

You’ll find expansive sandy shores and privacy, making it ideal for sunbathers and peace-seekers alike.

A view from standing on Whale Beach with smooth, round rocks on the beach and in Lake Tahoe on a sunny day.
Whale Beach.

If I’m being honest, THIS is the best beach in the lineup here. It was our personal favorite, and we spent a lot of time just chilling on the shores. It’s the furthest south of the beaches, so most people skip it. Score for us! (And maybe you too?)


RELATED: 12 BEST Views of Lake Tahoe


👉 TIP: Want to Visit Them ALL!?

Well, I hope so. They are all epic and worth visiting. Plus, you likely just had a hellish time parking, and you already hiked all the way down.

If you want to visit them all, you’ll need to hike at least 3 miles in total.

Going from Chimney Beach to Whale Beach one way is about 1.5 miles. I’d add on a bit more, you’ll need it. I hope this gives you a better idea of how to tackle all of them!

Kayaking to The Beaches Around Secret Cove

Don’t feel like strapping into your hiking boots? I feel ya. If you have your own kayak or SUP, you can use them to bop around the beaches here instead.

Two people paddle boarding on Lake Tahoe with a speedboat in the background and mountains and clouds in the distance.
Or paddle boarding!

Tips For Your Visit

Here’s where I sprinkle in some sage advice for your beach-hopping journey:

  • Prep: Water, snacks, sunscreen, and a good hat are your best friends. Also, sturdy shoes for the trails and flip-flops for the beach make for happy feet.
  • Leave No Trace: These beaches are pristine because we all play our part. Pack out what you pack in, and maybe even a bit more if you’re feeling extra earth-loving.
  • Safety First: Trails can be tricky, and rocks slippery. Keep an eye out for your footing and stay hydrated.
  • Facilities: What facilities? No, seriously, there’s not much here. Chimney Beach has a toilet at the trailhead, and Whale Beach has a porta-potty. That’s about it.
A view over Boaters Beach framed with trees with a view of rocks and mountains in the distance.
Another portion of Boaters Beach.

Final Thoughts

These are hands down some of the most stunning beaches in Lake Tahoe; you’ve got to check them out!

All in all, we recommend finding parking anywhere along the road where these beaches are, hiking down, and enjoying beach bumming and trekking to the different shorelines.

It’s a great way to spend the day in Lake Tahoe!

Read more of our guides to Lake Tahoe:

We hope this helped you plan your visit to Secret Cove Beach in Tahoe and you can make your way to some of the other great coves nearby too!

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