Boating at Lake Tahoe is something many visitors look forward to. Keep in mind though, that boating comes in many forms. It can involve renting a boat, riding on a commercial boat or maneuvering yourself on a paddle board or kayak.
The better you’re prepared, the more delightful and less stressful the experience will be.
Here are some things to consider when boating in Lake Tahoe, which has 72 miles (116 km) of shoreline and numerous marinas.
CONSIDER A PACKAGE DEAL
If you’re planning to boat at Lake Tahoe, consider staying at a resort that offers deals on boat rentals instead of doing things a la carte. (I rearranged the words in this line if that’s okay)
Tahoe Chaparral and North Lake Lodges in Incline Village on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore have teamed up with Action Water Sports to offer resort guests $100 off boat rentals. Boats hold between eight and 13 passengers and range from 19 to 27 feet (5.8 to 8.2 meters). They include the Chaparral, Cobalt, Crownline, Formula and Sea Ray.
Action Water Sports equips its boats with fuel, towels, ice, operating instructions and map of Lake Tahoe. Safety briefings are required and given prior to sailing.
For those who prefer not to operate a large boat, consider Jet Ski rentals. Action Water Sports offers rental packages for guests at the Tahoe Chaparral and Northlakes Lodges & Villas resorts. The SeaDoo GTX jet skis hold up to three passengers each but those operating one must be 18 or older and 21 or older if carrying passengers younger than 18. Prices include gas, a safety briefing and tips on how to maximize riding time.
Also available for rent are single kayaks, double kayaks and paddle boards. For up-to-date information on rentals, visit www.awsoincline.com.
WHEN BRINGING YOUR OWN BOAT
Check in advance to be sure the boat ramp you plan to use is open. When water levels get low, ramps are likely to close. Also, before hauling your own boat to the lake, be sure you’ve got a place to park it.
Because boat inspection hours vary by location and season, and inspection fees are subject to change, visit http://tahoeboatinspections.com for the latest information.
DINE LOCALLY, PARK CAREFULLY
Lake Tahoe has a host of one-of-a-kind restaurant-side marinas — too many to mention.
If sailing out of Incline Village, head west to Carnelian Bay to Gar Woods Grill & Pier, which is open daily. Chow down on a barbecued chicken quesadilla or Dungeness crab sandwich for lunch or try some steamed clams, beer-battered coconut prawns or zucchini sticks if you’re only up for a snack. Another favorite boat-up spot is Sunnyside Restaurant in Tahoe City. Those with a hearty appetite might enjoy the grilled wagyu angus burger or a sesame crusted salmon rice bowl. Tasty appetizers include all-natural chicken wings and West Coast corn and crab chowder. Both places also have children’s menus.
In South Lake Tahoe, dock up at Tahoe Keys Marina & Yacht Club and dine at Fresh Ketch. Try some oysters on the half shell or oysters Rockefeller, then order some fish tacos or steak ’n shrimp.
Regardless of where you decide to go, contact restaurants and marinas ahead of time to see if there’s boat parking or if a slip can be reserved. Some larger marinas offer daily, monthly and seasonal slip rentals.
If riding on a motorized boat sounds more appealing than driving one yourself, consider a trip on the Sierra Cloud out of Incline Village if staying on the North Shore.
The Sierra Cloud is a 55-foot (16.8 meter) Catamaran that offers 2-hour cruises along the northern and eastern shores of Lake Tahoe. While sailing, relax on webbed mesh netting and listen to your tour guide discuss the historical and ecological aspects of the lake. Cruises offer assorted beverages and lots d’oeuvres.
Guests at Tahoe Chaparral and North Lake Lodges & Villas resorts are eligible for a package deal that includes tickets on the Sierra Cloud. Tahoe Chaparral is about 2 miles (3.2 km) from Sierra Cloud’s launch site and Northlake Lodges is about 1 mile (1.6 km) away.
People staying on the South Shore can ride the M.S. Dixie II, which is climate controlled and carries up to 500 passengers. It sails out of Zephyr Cove, which is about 9 miles (14.5 km) from Ridge Sierra resort in nearby Stateline. It offers daytime and dinner cruises.
The Tahoe Gal is on the West Shore. It sails from Tahoe City and cruises to the lake’s northern and western shores, including Emerald Bay. This 120-passenger paddle wheeler offers cruise options that include music and dinner, a magician, sunset, full moon, brunch and happy hour.
Regardless of how you plan to spend time on the water, check the forecast in advance, which can vary widely. Water can be choppy, especially to those accustomed to smaller lakes.
Daily air temperatures for Lake Tahoe in June average between 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19° Celsius) and 43 (6°C). Average temperatures are between 75 (24°C) and 50 (10°C) in July and August. In case you want to hop in the water for a swim, average water temperature during summer is between 65 and 70 degrees (18-21°C), but can be warmer in coves.
Another thing to note is Lake Tahoe is up to 1,644 feet (502 meters) deep and contains underwater cliffs. The average clarity level in 2015 was 73.1 feet (22.3 meters). Water transparency is measured with a 10-inch (25.4 cm) white Secchi disk.
When considering weather, remember to bring a hat and wear sunscreen. Chances of a sunburn increases at higher altitudes, regardless of how cool temperatures might seem. Lake Tahoe is an Alpine lake at 6,225 feet (1,897 meters) above sea level. Another thing to note is that exposure from ultraviolet rays increase approximately 4 percent for every 1,000 ft (305 meter) gain in elevation.