Here's a few ideas for a great human-powered day on the lake, whether you're looking for a race, a mellow cruise or a hidden cove.
Well known as one of the most beautiful beaches on the lake, Sand Harbor is also a great place to get out on the kayak or standup paddle board. The north cove, near the boat launch, is typically protected from afternoon winds and rentals are available. From here, you can cruise up into the amazing waters of Crystal Bay or down along the rocky East Shore and past the historic Thunderbird Mansion.
On calm days, Cave Rock is undoubtedly one of Lake Tahoe's best places to paddle. The boat launch and nearby parking allows very easy access to the water. The sandy cove just to the south is a great spot to make base camp. From here, you can paddle north past the lake's most recognizable monolith and into the old logging town of Glenbrook. Or head south and watch the massive sternwheeler, Tahoe Dixie II, roll out of Zephyr Cove on its daily trips to Emerald Bay.
Home of Race the Lake of the Sky, El Dorado Beach is the South Shore's premier paddling spot. With rentals and lessons available at a kiosk operated by South Tahoe Standup Paddle, many have learned the sport here. The water is shallow, which makes it particularly good for beginners. For more advanced paddlers, this is a great launching point for trips to the Upper Truckee Marsh or all the way to the Tahoe Keys.
The West Shore has some of the most secluded sites on the lake. A kayak or paddleboard is usually the only way to access many of the small hidden coves around Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss. Camp Richardson offers easy access to the water and a safe place to park, if you're heading out on the Lake Tahoe Water Trail. For a shorter trip, aim for Kiva Beach, where you can paddle into a lagoon formed by Taylor Creek. Or, Pope Beach to the east is a wonderful place to spend a day on the sand.
Paddling on Lake Tahoe is almost always best in the morning. Want a place you can grab a board and a cup of coffee? Waterman's Landing has got you covered. The shop has established Carnelian Bay as one of the best Lake Tahoe paddling locales. When the wind is up, surfers often wander over to Agate Bay for some of the lake's best (and biggest) waves. On calm days, cruise around Dollar Point and down to Tahoe City for lunch.