The Top 10 Best Swimming Spots in Lake Tahoe

Swimming in Lake Tahoe is an exhilarating experience.  Whether you’ve been running amok or lounging around on a warm sunny day in the basin, the crystal blue water is beckoning you to cool off, right?  Just looking at the beauty of Lake Tahoe makes you feel like immersing yourself in it?  Some of the best places to swim in Lake Tahoe on this Top 10 List range from sloping sandy beaches to sheer drop offs suitable for launching from shore.  Wherever you (carefully) dive in, you’ll emerge refreshed!  Now, go jump in the Lake!

Note: Lake Tahoe is so deep, it never really gets hot.  Shallow bays and gentle sloping shorelines will warm fastest.  Also, the clarity of Lake Tahoe can be deceiving when it comes to depth.  Check depth before diving in! 

Photos by Steve Dunleavy, and Edward Wade

 
 

1.  Sand Harbor - North Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor is one of the top 10 beaches in the Tahoe area and is one of the best places to go swimming. The water is shallow toward the beaches and gradually gets deeper, so it's great for smaller children. There are piles of granite boulders along the corners of the beaches where you can practice some cool jumps. The water along the boulders is deeper for it type of activity. Sand Harbor is also a good place to do some snorkeling.

Hot Tip: Sand Harbor has a beach and area specifically for SCUBA divers, so bring your gear if you have it.

Directions: Sand Harbor is located three miles south of Incline Village on State route 28. 


2.  Angora Lakes - South Lake Tahoe

For the more adventurous types who want to do some cliff diving, hike up to Angora Lakes above Fallen Leaf Lake. These two large lakes have a small store that serves snacks and rents out kayaks and canoes. This clear and green swimming hole is known for its tall cliffs where daredevils can practice some mean jumps and dives. The highest ledge is about 60 feet. Please check the water depth and submerged objects before jumping.

Hot Tip: The Angora Lakes resort's lemonade is "world famous".

Directions: To reach Angora Lakes from Highway 89, take the Fallen Leaf Lake Rd. turnoff for approximately 2 miles (3.2 km). Turn left and climb to the top of the one-lane road and look for the dirt road and a sign reading "1214". The steep paved road leads to fantastic vistas and ending in the Angora Lakes parking lot. There is a short 1-mile (1.6 km) uphill hike to Angora Lake.


3.  Fallen Leaf Lake - South Lake Tahoe

Another small lake to jump around in is the beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake on the South Shore. The beach here is rocky, but if you can snag one of the few free public parking spots on the south part of the lake, you might have the beach to yourself. You can go swimming right off the beach in the clear, cold water and get some great views of Mount Tallac and the local Stanford Camp on the south part of the lake.

Hot Tip: Fallen Leaf Lake is also a great place to take your dog swimming.

Directions: From Highway 89 in South Lake Tahoe, head toward Emerald Bay and turn left on Fallen Leaf Road. This twisty and sometimes one lane road will pass by the campground and take you to the far side of Fallen Leaf Lake. There is a small parking area by the resort and marina.


4.  Pope Beach - South Lake Tahoe

Pope Beach is a typical beach that's great for families. It's long and has no rocks or boulders, but the water is great for children and adults who just want to dig in the sand and jump in for a few minutes. There are some shady areas and a bathroom. There are also some great views of the South Shore and Mount Tallac.

Hot Tip: Parking costs about $7 at Pope Beach, but you can ride a bike in for free.

Directions: From South Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Keys, head West on Highway 89 toward Emerald Bay. Turn right on Pope Beach Road to access the parking area.


5.  The Rocks - Glenbrook

Pope Beach is a typical beach that's great for families. It's long and has no rocks or boulders, but the water is great for children and adults who just want to dig in the sand and jump in for a few minutes. There are some shady areas and a bathroom. There are also some great views of the South Shore and Mount Tallac.

Hot Tip: Parking costs about $7 at Pope Beach, but you can ride a bike in for free.

Directions: From South Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Keys, head West on Highway 89 toward Emerald Bay. Turn right on Pope Beach Road to access the parking area.

 

6.  Lester Beach - West Shore

Located in the D.L. Bliss State Park on the West Shore of the lake, Lester Beach is also one of the best beaches on the lake. The water is Caribbean blue and full of soft white sand. Since the bay around Lester Beach is protected from the winds, this is also a great place for kayaking. Lester Beach and the parking lot fill up fast on summer days, so get there early to claim your spot. You can also pick up the Rubicon Trail to Emerald Bay at Lester Beach.

Hot Tip: On the far south side of Lester Beach are some large boulders that offer shade and some more private beach areas.

Directions: From South Lake Tahoe take Highway 89 toward and around Emerald Bay. A few miles after the bay overlook, take a right on Lester Beach Road and drive through the park and the campground. The parking lot for the beach is at the bottom of the hill near the shore.


7.  Rubicon Trail near Emerald Bay - South Lake Tahoe

If you're hiking the Rubicon Trail from either Lester Beach or Emerald Bay, some of the lower parts of the trail have great access to the water—especially closer to the Emerald Bay peninsula. Keep an eye out for private bays surrounded by rocks where you can take a dip.

Hot Tip: You can even swim the green waters inside Emerald Bay, but watch out for boat traffic.

Directions: You can access the Rubicon Trail from Lester Beach or from Emerald Bay.


8.  Secret Cove - Glenbrook

Secret Cove is the lake's unofficial nude beach and is also one of the best places to swim on the lake—with or without clothing. Secret Cove is located on the East Shore and is accessed from a small parking lot via a mile-long hike through the woods. This beautiful little beach has private areas for sunbathing and some large boulders for jumping into the water.

Hot Tip: The Secret Cove parking lot is not so secret. Get there early for a parking spot.

Directions: From Sand Harbor, drive south on Highway 28 about 3.35 miles until you see a small parking lot on the right hand side of the road. The trail to access Secret Cove is on the south side of the parking lot. The hike to the water is about a mile down the trail.


9.  Eagle Lake - South Lake Tahoe

Eagle Lake is a small, but stunning lake accessed via the Eagle Falls trail above Emerald Bay. You do have to hike up a difficult trail for about a mile before you can cool off in this lake, but it's worth it. The lake is cold and gets deep very quickly, but if you are a good swimmer, you can swim out to the lake's small island.

Hot Tip: The area of the lake closes to the trail gets crowded in the summer, but just follow the trail along the edge to find some more secluded areas—and a few small beaches.

Directions: From South Lake Tahoe, drive on Highway 89 to Emerald Bay and the Eagle Falls trailhead. There's some limited parking here—some free, some with a fee. Hike the Eagle Falls trail up about a mile to Eagle Lake.


10.  Meek's Bay Resort - West Shore

If you want a nice swimming area with amenities like restaurants, picnic tables and boating areas, the Meek's Bay Resort on the West Shore has all that. This small resort and campground has a small white sand beach, boat dock and marina. It also has a restaurant that serves burgers, sandwiches, wraps and drinks. Meek's Bay is protected from big winds and is a good place for small children.

Hot Tip: The resort also has a small general store and kayaks and canoes for rent.

Directions: From South Lake Tahoe drive toward Emerald Bay and around the bay. Keep heading north on Highway 89 for about 8 miles until you come to Meek's Bay. The road for the resort is on the right hand side.