These are 12 of our favorite Lake Tahoe public beaches.

Caribbean blue water, white rocks, long stretches of sand, sunny days, snow-capped mountains in the distance – Lake Tahoe is an idyllic place to whip out a towel, stretch out in a chair and spend the day at the beach. Especially this year, with such low lake levels, the beaches are all the greater.

But did you know that less than half of Lake Tahoe’s 72 miles of shoreline is public land? Getting to the beach, navigating private property and public rights of way can be much more difficult if you don’t know where to go or how to access Lake Tahoe’s public shoreline.

The good news is that more than 40 public beaches are listed and mapped—along with information on access and logistics—on a relatively new website:

It’s an amazing resource for locals and visitors alike, with details of each beach, including hours of operation, whether or not dogs are allowed, parking information, and descriptions of facilities – picnic tables picnics, playgrounds, paddle board or kayak rental and more. Whether you’ve been going to Tahoe Beach for decades or you’re a new visitor, the website is a helpful and handy resource for discovering new places to lay under that high alpine sun and cool off on hot days – just don’t forget the sunscreen. At 6,200 feet, the sun’s rays are much stronger in Tahoe than they are at sea level.

Tahoe Beaches is a joint project between a number of government agencies and nonprofit organizations in the Tahoe Basin, including the Tahoe Fund, California Tahoe Conservancy, Nevada State Parks, State Parks of California, the US Forest Service, etc. But we thought it would be helpful to narrow down this list of 40 beaches to a handful of our favorites on each side of the Tahoe Basin. Whether you’re looking for a hike and a place to jump after, a place to hang out with your dog, a big, sandy spot with a playground, or a quieter stretch of sand, there really is something for everyone at Lake Tahoe.

Just be sure to return some love to the lake and practice stewardship. Take Care Tahoe is another great resource for visitors and locals to learn more about being a good steward of Lake Tahoe and helping keep beaches clean and litter-free.

From the north side of Lake Tahoe to Commons Beach, the area has been turned into a park.

San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst N/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Imag

the north coast

Common Beach, City of Tahoe

Centrally located, Commons Beach lives up to its name as a gathering place for the Tahoe City community. A bike path winds through the grassy park, which has one of the best lakeside playgrounds. Next to the grass, a wide sandy beach gives way to shallow waters. Commons Beach is also host to many community events, including the Farmer’s Market, free movies every Wednesday night, and free concerts every Sunday night, all summer long.

Sandy Beach, Tahoe Vista

This is where Mark Twain is said to have camped when he visited Lake Tahoe in the late 1800s – and accidentally started a forest fire. Today, it’s a haven on the North Shore, in the heart of Tahoe Vista and across the street from a local cafe. A shaded picnic table in the trees is a good spot for lunch. The water is very shallow here thanks to large sandbanks. Parking is on the highway.

Speedboat Beach, Crystal Bay

Two blocks from the neighborhood, Speedboat Beach is an oasis with those iconic granite boulders sticking out of Tahoe’s clear water. Depending on the height of the lake, Speedboat Beach can be very small or, like this year, have a lot of space. Parking is the real challenge, so get there early.

The rocks and clear water on the eastern shore are an iconic image of Lake Tahoe.

The rocks and clear water on the eastern shore are an iconic image of Lake Tahoe.

rmbarricarte/Getty Images/iStockphoto

East shore

Hidden Beach, Tilted Village

Nevada’s shoreline of Lake Tahoe is complicated, with stricter private property laws than California that make Incline Village’s beaches some of the most exclusive in the entire basin. However, just south of Incline Village, where the view from the highway opens up, the beaches also become public. We can thank an eccentric San Francisco tycoon for his accidental conservation and public donation of this very famous stretch of Lake Tahoe shoreline. Parking for Hidden Beach is very limited, but if you can find a space (make sure your car is entirely on the other side of that white line or else face an expensive parking ticket) there is so much nooks and crannies on this beach. Find a cove, a sun-drenched rock, and watch the sun set over the western horizon.

Sand Harbor State Park

Sand Harbor is hands down my favorite Lake Tahoe beach. It is the epitome of white sand, granite boulders, emerald water experience. The larger of Sand Harbor’s two beaches is 2,500 feet long. It’s also a lot of other people’s favorite beach, so it’s a struggle to get in. Run by Nevada State Parks, entry to Sand Harbor is restricted daily and it’s no exaggeration to say that cars start waiting outside the gate an hour before the beach opens at 8am. Pack a cooler, prepare to stay for the day, and savor that sunshine. Sand Harbor also has a boat launch, as well as kayak and paddle board rentals.

Chimney Beach

If Sand Harbor is full, continue down the east coast and try your luck with a parking caster at Chimney Beach. If the main car park is full, there is limited freeway parking, but be very careful parking here. The grade is steep and drops just past the highway, and remember this road is a highway. So please don’t block traffic when parking – you will get a parking ticket anyway. But let’s say you’ve marked a parking spot, well, dear reader, you’re in for a treat. Chimney Beach is a short hike from the road to the shore, so wear comfortable and appropriate footwear. Once at the water’s edge, there are many more coves and stretches of sand to explore. The beach is named after an old stone fireplace that sits in the woods, all that remains of a caretaker’s cabin.

A file photo at Nevada Beach, Lake Tahoe.

A file photo at Nevada Beach, Lake Tahoe.

George Rose/Getty Images

South Shore

Nevada Beach, Stateline

South Lake Tahoe’s well-known secret is that it offers the best views in the basin, as it looks toward the Sierra Crest running down the western shore. The views from Nevada Beach are simply stunning. And the beach is huge, too: half a mile of sand on national forest land. There are also plenty of concessions on this beach, including a pavilion for large parties. Pets are allowed on a leash in the adjacent campsite.

Baldwin Beach, South Lake Tahoe

Located between the town of South Lake Tahoe and the mouth of Emerald Bay, Baldwin Beach is a popular spot, for good reason. Another half mile stretch of sand, plenty of concessions and easy water access make this a win. Parking is available for a small daily charge.

Emerald Bay State Park

Across the lake from Sand Harbor is Lake Tahoe’s other iconic and wildly popular destination: Emerald Bay. For anyone looking for a gentle hike down to the lake, this is a great spot. Parking can be a nightmare so we recommend going early in the morning or mid-week or out of season. Set back from the beach is the Scandinavian castle known as Vikingsholm, which is occasionally open for tours.

An image of DL Bliss State Park Cove, where recreational boats and paddlers can enjoy secluded coves and sunny beaches.

An image of DL Bliss State Park Cove, where recreational boats and paddlers can enjoy secluded coves and sunny beaches.

Michael Marfell/Getty Images

West Shore

Lester Beach, DL Bliss State Park

Another much sought after beach, arrive early and be prepared to spend the day. Parking is capped by DL Bliss State Park and requires a daily use fee, but once you’re inside the gate, down the rolling road to the shore, there’s no shortage of things to do. for a day here. After claiming your beach, stroll the Rubicon Trail and take in the views above the rocky cliffs that plunge into the water. Some of the deepest water in Lake Tahoe is found just offshore from Bliss. The water is also very cold, which on a hot day can be very pleasant.

Chambers Landing, Homewood

Chambers Landing beach is smaller, but if you’re looking for a summer scene, walk down. Parking is on a side street leading to the beach and along the highway. The party begins at Chambers Landing Bar & Grill, Lake Tahoe’s oldest waterfront bar. You must order the famous hallmark, and we advise you to appoint a sober driver. Enjoy!

Kaspian Picnic Area and Hurricane Bay, Homewood

The only beach on this list that doesn’t have sand, Kaspian Picnic Area and Hurricane Bay might seem like an odd choice for a favorite Lake Tahoe beach. However, it is the beach where I often find myself. It’s convenient – just park on the side of the highway and the beach is right there. It’s also dog-friendly, so bring your four-legged best friend, on a leash, and have a great time. Picnic tables are located in the Kaspian area, just across from Blackwood Canyon. Shade tends to creep in in the late afternoon on this beach, which means mornings here are prime time. The lake is also deep, just offshore and calm in a protected cove, making it popular for motorboats and waterskiing.

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