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Kayaking on Lake Tahoe, Nevada – Everything You Need To Know

This article will be covering the experience of kayaking on the northeastern Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States, and is the largest alpine lake in all of North America! Lake Tahoe is split between two states, California, and Nevada, and is 22 miles (35km)[1] in length. While there are amazing things to do on all ends of this natural beauty, this article will focus on kayak rentals in the northeastern Nevada region of the lake. 

Tip of an orange kayak on the lake water with blue skies and trees and cliffside of tahoe in the background

Where can you rent a kayak on Lake Tahoe?

There are literally over a dozen locations where you can rent a kayak on Lake Tahoe, both in California and Nevada, but we decided to rent from Action Water Sports located at the Lone Eagle Lakeside Lodge in Incline Village, Nevada. Action Water Sports offers not just kayak rentals, but paddle boards, jet skis, and even parasailing and boat rentals. We rented a tandem 2-seater kayak for a half day, which equates to 4 hours. 

Is it expensive to rent a kayak?

Depending on where you rent from, you will see a variety of prices. Another factor is the length of time you plan to rent, as well as if you are renting individual or tandem kayaks. We rented a tandem kayak for a half day, or 4 hours, which cost us $120 USD in total. This price is quite typical for the area, as well as the season. Prices for rentals tend to go up during high tourist seasons. This price proved to be in accordance with the average of other local businesses. You can rent a single kayak from Action Water Sports for just $30 per hour, so depending on how much time you want to spend on the water you can adjust your budget accordingly.

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Orange and yellow kayak on the sand of hidden beach in lake tahoe

What can you expect when kayaking on Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular summer tourist destinations in the United States, so you can expect the water to be busy. If you rent a kayak in the summer you can expect to come across lots of boaters, paddle boarders, jet skiers, and other kayakers all enjoying the water. Because there is quite a significant shelf to Lake Tahoe, the boats typically remain closer to the center of the lake, as the depth is greater. If you don’t stray too far from the shore you won’t find yourself in any sticky situations. However because there is a lot of boat activity, you can expect some waves to slightly rock your boat every once in a while.  

View of the shore of hidden beach on lake tahoe

Is kayaking on Lake Tahoe difficult?

While Lake Tahoe is much calmer than the ocean for kayakers, there are still strong currents. In combination with possible high winds, this can make for a difficult paddle. If you are inexperienced, don’t stray too far from your rental location. Kayaking can be strenuous, especially in strong currents. While kayaking one way can be a breeze, you may have difficulty getting back, so know your limits before taking off on an epic adventure, and wear a life preserver. If you are an experienced or intermediate kayaker or are generally physically fit, you won’t be faced with too much difficulty. However, regardless of your experience level, you should stick relatively close to the shore to avoid strong currents. 

Kayak on the sand of hidden beach on lake tahoe with shirts and hats laying on the bow

What should I bring to go kayaking?

No matter how hard you try to stay dry when kayaking, you’re more than likely going to get wet. Therefore you should wear clothes and footwear that you don’t mind getting wet. Additionally, you should avoid bringing any non-essentials, like electronics or valuables. However, if you do feel more comfortable bringing a cellphone for a photo opportunity, or for your own safety, keep it wrapped up in a waterproof bag, or even a Ziploc bag. We brought our phones and wallets in Ziploc bags inside of our backpacks, and they stayed completely dry while our bags got pretty soaked. 

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What you should definitely bring is a hat to protect you from the sun, as well as sunglasses as the reflection on the water can be quite harsh in the high afternoon. Bring plenty of water, and snacks if you plan on taking a break, and definitely lots of sunscreen so you can reapply if you get wet, or take a dip in the water. We also brought a beach blanket and our books (which we packed in our Ziploc bags) as we planned on resting on the beach for a while. 

View of the water of lake tahoe from hidden beach in nevada

Where should I go when kayaking on Lake Tahoe?

If you’re kayaking on northeastern Lake Tahoe there are plenty of beautiful beaches and natural boulders along the coast. For our kayaking trip, we headed down from our rental location at Crystal Bay and headed south along the coast. It took us about 45 minutes to paddle south along the coast to Hidden Beach, which proved to be not so hidden during tourist season. As we worked our way down to Hidden Beach we paddled past beautiful lakefront properties, and views of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. We paddled to shore at Hidden Beach and stopped for some photos, and snacks before heading back out on the kayak. 

Hidden beach nevada on lake tahoe with beachgoers

Just a 15-minute paddle south past Hidden Beach we made our second stop on a peninsula of boulders. There are many spots like this along the perimeter of Lake Tahoe and they make for a great picnic spot. We found a spot to relax and loaded our packs up onto the boulder. I then paddled to shore and docked our kayak on the rocky beach and then swam back out to relax on the boulder in the sun. 

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View of the rocky shore and clear blue water of lake tahoe with forest in the background

These natural boulders are a great spot to take photos, and the water is shallow enough for children to swim safely, though diving is not advised due to the shallowness of the water. We rested here and enjoyed some snacks and water before taking the hour-long paddle back to the rental location. 

Big boulder in the middle of lake Tahoe with a blanket and bags on it

Is kayaking on Lake Tahoe safe for kids?

Before you take your kids out on the water you should contact your kayak rental company to inquire about their rental permissions for kids. More than likely you will be able to rent a tandem kayak, seating a parent in the back, and a child in the front. Kayaking on Lake Tahoe is incredibly common, and safe for kids as long as they are paddling with a parent, and are wearing a life jacket. Additionally, the beaches are very kid-friendly, and the natural shelf of Lake Tahoe makes for safe and shallow swimming many feet from the shoreline. If you paddle out to the natural boulders they can also make for some good short jumping spots, as long as a parent is of course keeping an eye, and the depth of the water has been analyzed. Diving however is not recommended due to how shallow the water is. Be sure to bring lots of sun protection, water, and snacks for the kids to keep them safe and happy. 

Related: Hiking the Mt. Rose Trail at Lake Tahoe

Article Sources:

Wikipedia. “Lake Tahoe