Best Beaches in Tahoe

10Best Lake Tahoe Beaches for all Seasons

Lake Tahoe has over 70 miles of shoreline, but only a small percentage of it is actual sandy beach. A majority of the lake is privately owned, or too rugged to even find a place to sit. Beaches are at a premium, but what there is is choice. However that also makes them very popular places to hang out. On hot summer days it can sometimes be hard to even find parking for one of Tahoe’s beaches, much less a place to plant your beach umbrella. In the fall and winter, Tahoe beaches are much less crowded and the wind has calmed down, making them perfect locations for a picnic.

Sand Harbor, home to Lake Tahoe's Shakespeare Festival, is probably the most beautiful of the beaches in Lake Tahoe. It has plenty of parking, shade, swimming beaches, a boat launch and a beach specifically for SCUBA divers called Diver's Cove. For some smaller beaches, head to Kiva Beach, Pope Beach or Commons Beach in Tahoe City. Kings Beach is great for catching a parasail ride or for renting a kayak and Lester Beach in D.L. Bliss State Park has a wonderful, clear blue bay where you can jump off the rocks and enjoy the sunshine.


This pleasant little beach is known for its great view of Mt. Tallac and dog friendly area. Right by Camp Richardson, but away from the crowds. This beach is lengthy and full of brightly-colored sand. The beach is dissected by Taylor Creek, a popular destination on its own. To get to Kiva Beach, turn right at the Forest Service Visitor Center turnoff near Camp Richardson and follow the road past the Visitor's Center (this is also the parking for the stream profile chamber) to the beach parking lot. The lot may be full on summer weekends or during summer holidays.

Recommended for Beaches because: Kiva Beach is one of Tahoe's smaller beaches, but lesser known and less crowded than other beaches.

Christina's expert tip: Kiva Beach allows friendly and leashed dogs on the sand and in the water.

Read more about Kiva Beach →

Emerald Bay State Park on the southwest area of Lake Tahoe is home to park is home to Eagle Falls and Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion that is one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere. The views from any part of the Bay are fantastic, from the beach you can see the only island in Lake Tahoe, Fannette Island where a small teahouse was built by the owner of the Vikingsholm Castle. There are several camping areas in Emerald Bay including Eagle Point Campground, Bayview Campground and the boat-in campground on the West side of the bay. The bay is also home to one of the first underwater parks of its type in the state, protecting the various wrecks and other items on the bay's bottom.

Recommended for Beaches because: A mile hike down to the water will bring you to Emerald Bay's beautiful beach

Christina's expert tip: Plan to get to the park early in the morning to get parking. This is the most popular area of the lake.

Read more about Emerald Bay State Park →

Commons Beach
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann

This small and local friendly beach is right in the middle of Tahoe City. There is a grassy area with playgrounds, a BBQ area with picnic tables and bathrooms. Commons Beach is right on the Tahoe City Boardwalk and from the beach you can walk to many restaurants, coffee shops and stores. Free special events are held all year long on Commons Beach including SnowFest! in the winter, the Farmer's Market all summer and fall and in mid-summer, the Concerts at Commons Beach are great for all family members where live music is played on most Sundays. On summer Wednesdays, the park shows Movies at the Beach.

Recommended for Beaches because: Common's Beach is popular hangout in the summer with its free summer concert series.

Christina's expert tip: Commons Beach has a great playground as well as access to the lake's multi-use trail system that runs along the West Shore.

Read more about Commons Beach →


Hidden Beach is Lake Tahoe's only beach that allows for nude sunbathing and swimming. For a long time this beautiful beach, tucked away on the East Shore has been cared for by the area's proud nude attendees and is a great place to hide away on a summer or fall day. The beach has a small parking lot just sough of Incline Village and is accessed by a mile long dirt trail. The beach is small, but has plenty of rocky alcoves for privacy and large boulders in the water for swimming. A bathroom is located at the parking lot.

Recommended for Beaches because: Hidden Beach is small, but if don't want any tan lines, this is your beach.

Christina's expert tip: Like most beach parking in Tahoe, the lot will fill up quickly on summer weekends.

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Kings Beach State Recreation Area
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann

Although it's open year-round, this park is actually a wonderful place to visit in the off seasons of winter and spring. Because of its location on the North Shore, it gets a lot of sun and is a great place for a picnic. Children can take advantage of playground equipment, and families and groups relish the opportunity to spend time together laughing, eating, and basking in the beauty of the lake. Kings Beach is a great spot to go on a parasail ride or rent a kayak or paddleboard. During the summer several companies have huts on the beach where you can book a day trip. There are a ton of restaurants and bars near the beach as well as a small theater and many hotels and lodges to choose from.

Recommended for Beaches because: Kings Beach is located just steps away from the community of Kings Beach with its many restaurants and shops.

Christina's expert tip: There is a small parking lot at the park for a fee, but you may be able to find parking on the street as well.

Read more about Kings Beach State Recreation Area →


D.L. Bliss State Park is located just a few miles past Emerald Bay on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe. It consists of several hundred acres of granite hillside and pine forests and a large and family-friendly campground. The bottom of the park is Lester Beach, one of the prettiest beaches on the Lake. The campground has private and semi-private spots, firepits, plenty of tent spots and hot pay showers. From Lester Beach, you can paddle past Rubicon Point towards Emerald Bay as you glide through the the clear blue-green waters. You an also access the beautiful Rubicon Trail that runs about three miles along the shoreline to Emerald Bay.

Recommended for Beaches because: Lester Beach is beautiful and popularâ€"get here early in the morning for the best parking.

Christina's expert tip: Camping is popular here, you may need to book several months in advance.

Read more about D.L. Bliss State Park →

Zephyr Cove is one of the nicest beaches on the East Side of Lake Tahoe. It has various options for enjoying the lake including a restaurant and snack bar, boat and jet ski rentals and a dock for the MS Dixie II paddlewheel boat that has daily cruises across the lake to Emerald Bay. The beach itself has a roped-off swim area, several volleyball courts, picnic tables and plenty of sand for fun in the sun. The north side of the beach is dog-friendly. Parking is fee only, but if you get to the cove early enough you can get parking along the side of Hwy. 50. You can also stay the night at Zephyr Cove. There are several cabins available for rent and a larger campground across the highway.

Recommended for Beaches because: Zephyr Cove has a large, white sand beach and amazing views of the West Shore.

Christina's expert tip: The 4th of July is notoriously busy at Zephyr Cove. It is best to avoid the area during this time of year.

Read more about Zephyr Cove Resort and Marina →

Tahoe East Shore Trail
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann

One of Tahoe's newest and most beautiful attractions will give you access to not just one beach, but several. Dubbed as "America's Most Beautiful Bikeway", the three-mile Tahoe East Shore Trail allows both bikes and pedestrians access to various spots along the East Shore. The free trail connects Incline Village south to Sand Harbor State Park, but there are stairs and trails down to several other hidden beach areas along the water. There is parking available at the Tunnel Creek Cafe on the north end of the trail. A small fee is required to park to go to trail maintenance.

Recommended for Beaches because: The Tahoe East Shore Trail offers several access points to Sand Harbor and other smaller beaches north of the park.

Christina's expert tip: The Tahoe East Shore Trail is a great way to explore the East Shore without having to worry about parking.

Read more about Tahoe East Shore Trail →

If you're planning a family vacation, a reunion, or just a weekend getaway, Camp Richardson has it all. On a long sandy beach on the southwest shore, this woodsy retreat offers a wide array of activities and several lodging and dining options. Its two restaurants offer lakeside dining, but there are also more informal dining options, plus a general store, a candy store, and an ice-cream parlor. The full-service marina rents ski boats, jet skis, kayaks, and paddleboats, and offers guided tours, cruises, and chartered fishing trips. Lodging options are also available including a hotel, cabins, a beachside inn, a marina duplex, tent campgrounds, and an RV park.

Recommended for Beaches because: Camp Richardson's restaurant, The Beacon Bar and Grill, is located right on the beach.

Christina's expert tip: Every summer, Camp Richardson becomes the home of the Valhalla Renaissance Faire.

Read more about Camp Richardson Historic Resort and Marina →

Sand Harbor
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann

Sand Harbor is considered the most beautiful beach in Lake Tahoe. It is located on the Nevada side of the lake and is part of the state parks system. Plenty of paid parking is available, but it's good to get there early on summer weekends. The beach has a small museum and store, bar and grill, bathrooms, showers, parking, a boat launch, picnic tables and BBQs and plenty of golden sand to put down a blanket and umbrella. Some areas around the beach have rocks that you can jump off of. Sand Harbor is also home to the famous Lake Tahoe Shakespeare festival. The performances are held right on the beach.

Recommended for Beaches because: Sand Harbor offers several miles of golden sand and several secluded bays for spending an entire day.

Christina's expert tip: The rule of thumb for Sand Harbor is to get there before 10 a.m. on summer weekends. Parking fills up fast.

Read more about Sand Harbor →


Meet Christina Nellemann

Christina has lived in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area since she was a baby. A first-generation Nevadan, her Danish parents instilled in her an intense love of travel and the wild, rugged outdoors...  More About Christina