Snorkeling at Sand Harbor - Lake Tahoe, NV
When most people think of snorkeling, they think about snorkeling the salt water of the ocean. Guess what!? There are also places to go freshwater snorkeling. Sand Harbor Beach on the shores of Lake Tahoe is one of those places.
As you may well know, Lake Tahoe is the huge lake that spans the borders of northern California and Nevada (right where the border turns from south to southeast).
This beach is on the northeast side of Lake Tahoe (the Nevada side), about a 30-45 minute drive from Stateline and South Lake Tahoe. The fun of this site is in the rock formations and topography. Even more so than Zephyr Cove. Huge rocks piled up all over the place, crevices to swim in and out of, a lot of fun.
Parking/Fee: Big Parking Lot, Fee to enter ($8-$12)
Water Entry: Long southern beach entry, and a smaller northern cove entry
Facilities: Restrooms, Restaurant, Scenic Walkways, Ampitheater
Lifeguards: Might be some lifeguards along the south beach
Features and Beach Info
The biggest draw of this site are the big rocks/boulders that provide some really cool features to swim around, in top of, and even under. Of course, being a lake and not the ocean, the waves are minimals and the largest swell you'll probably experience will be from the wake of a motorboat. On that note I should mention that there is a boat ramp on the far far north side, but other than that you don't have to worry about boats clipping you or anything because there are buoys that they are not allowed past.
As far as animal life, you'll see a lot of smaller silvery fish that tend to stay together in the shadows and crevices in between the rocks. I have seen some larger trout, or whatever it is that they have in the lake too, but they are very cautious and usually swim away as soon as you try to get more than 10 feet away from them. There are small crawfish all over the place too.
A lot of beachgoes like to have fun jumping off the rocks into the water (see disclaimer at bottom!) so you might want to make sure you don't spend too much time swimming around in their landing zones.
Out from shore you'll have a beautiful view of the lake, and on the shoreside you'll have nice mountain landscapes to look at. It's just a great experience.
Most often tourists are coming from South Lake Tahoe or Stateline when visiting Sand Harbor. Take Lake Tahoe Blvd / Highway 50 north past Zephyr Cove and Cave Rock (tunnel) for about 15-20 minutes. Then take Highway 28 north until you reach Sand Harbor (about another 15-20 minutes). There will be road signs for Sand Harbor State Beach.
Directions via Google Maps:
View Larger Map (Click this link to input your starting address.)
You'll have to pay to gain entry to sand harbor. There is quite a bit of parking in the parking lot, but that being said, they have signs that will be flashing on the main road when the parking lot is full. If that happens you won't be permitted to park, and there is no parking along the highway, so you'll be in a bit of a predicament. I advise getting there before noon to avoid this potential problem.
Lake Tahoe Current Conditions
Other information for the current conditions at Lake Tahoe can be found here:
Note about Lake Tahoe Conditions:
The lake's water temperature in summer generally ranges somewhere in the low-high 60's range. Possibly warmer in the shallows at the beach. The waves and swell are almost always favorable for snorkeling. Water can get choppy when it is windy out on the lake, so if you are vacationing in Tahoe check the weather the day before you intend to go, and if there is a wind advisory just plan to do do something else on that particular day.
Disclaimer: You shall assume all risks associated with snorkeling and/or visiting any of the locations listed on this website. The articles and forecasts that appear on this site are intended to be for informational purposes only. It is up to you and/or the lifeguards present at the snorkeling locations to make the ultimate decisions regarding your safety. Follow all posted rules at any site that you visit.