Anyone willing to brave an icy plunge is in store for an unforgettable experience when they snorkel in Lake Tahoe. The blissfully blue water offers up a myriad of wonders: fallen trees, boulder formations, and stretches of wooded shoreline. Boatsetter has narrowed down the 192 square miles to our top 7 Lake Tahoe snorkeling spots to anchor down at:
- Emerald Bay
- Rubicon Bay
- Kings Beach & Speedboat Beach
- Skylandia Beach
- Sand Harbor
- Thunderbird Lodge
- Secret Cove
1. Emerald Bay
Emerald Bay is a pocket jewel tucked off the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe. The shoreline of Emerald Bay State Park hosts California’s first underwater trail, sprinkled with sunken boats and barges for snorkelers to explore. These historic artifacts make Emerald Bay an ideal Lake Tahoe snorkeling spot if you’re looking for something more than natural underwater scenery.
2. Rubicon Bay
For the longest stretch of Lake Tahoe’s characteristic clear waters, cruise on over to Rubicon Bay. Snorkelers love this spot for its calm waters, sparkling scenery, and underwater rock formations. This is a great place to take your time and take in the view. If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon a school of fish!
3. Kings Beach & Speedboat Beach
Kings Beach is a great Lake Tahoe snorkeling spot for families with young children. The shallow entry and gradual slope provide peace of mind, as they’re much safer for the little ones. Plus, the gradual slope makes the water temperature a little higher than other areas along the shoreline.
Less than 2 miles south of Kings Beach is Speedboat Beach. Since it’s not easily accessible by car, you’ll likely run into fewer people here. What makes Speedboat Beach an excellent snorkeling location is its extremely large boulder formations. There’s much to explore above and below the surface.
4. Skylandia Beach
Skylandia Beach is one of the lesser-known Lake Tahoe snorkeling spots. It’s a 24-acre, dog-friendly state park full of outdoor activities, including hiking and biking trails, a pier, some overlooks, and dedicated swimming areas. Snorkelers have solid luck finding crawfish and schools of minnows here!
5. Sand Harbor
Sand Harbor is perhaps the number one Lake Tahoe snorkeling spot. Since Sand Harbor Beach is a popular area, there are plenty of access points to enter the water – whether you’re coming from the shore or from a boat. Available amenities can provide comfort and peace of mind for snorkelers not yet ready to go off the beaten path, and you can make the most of your time out of the water while you take in one of Lake Tahoe’s signature views.
Sand Harbor has two primary coves. Large boulder formations create more private pools, but if you’re interested in getting away from the crowds, take a short trek down to Bonsai Rock. Bonsai Rock isn’t the most family-friendly location, so while you might run into other snorkelers and hikers, you should find room to spread out and explore uninterrupted.
6. Thunderbird Lodge
Thunderbird Lodge is a mansion built in 1936 that has since been turned into a museum. A mixture of rock formations and fallen tree trunks along the property’s edge leaves a lot to be explored by snorkelers. The best way to access the water at Thunderbird is to boat down from Sand Harbor or up from Secret Cove and just dive right in.
Turn your Lake Tahoe trip into a boating adventure! We hope this guide gives you some inspiration to make the most of your time on and in the water.
7. Secret Cove
About eight miles south of Sand Harbor, you’ll stumble upon Secret Cove. Its reputation as an “unofficial” nude spring makes this a more mature Lake Tahoe snorkeling spot. Swimsuit or not, locals recommend getting out here early and bringing anything you might need for a full day since there aren’t any on-site amenities.
After a workout in the water, Secret Cove has a variety of boulders above the surface where you can lay out, warm up, and get kissed by the sun.
To see available boat rentals in Lake Tahoe, click here!
Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone — whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat, book a boat, or make money as a captain.