The Sierra Nevada Mountains are home to Lake Tahoe, the second deepest lake in the U.S. at 1,645 feet. Lake Tahoe is known for its strikingly clear blue waters and small turquoise coves, on par with the ocean colors you'd see in the Caribbean. Resting on the California and Nevada border, the mountain towns surrounding Lake Tahoe are like little slices of heaven (and just a short drive from the Bay Area)!
The number one thing on my to-do list when visiting Lake Tahoe in the Summer was renting clear kayaks. The waters are crystal clear by the shore and there are so many little coves with beautiful boulders to sneak off into and kayak through.
Lake Tahoe Overview
Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, meaning it is the largest lake that sits in high elevation, usually classified around 10,000+ feet over sea level. It's also some of the clearest, bluest water at 99.994% pure. Lake Tahoe is appealing to tourists year-round due to the plethora of activities offered. In Summer, water activities like boating, kayaking, and swimming take the cake along with hiking and camping. In Winter, Lake Tahoe turns into a snowy paradise and the perfect getaway for skiing and snowboarding.
When people talk about Lake Tahoe, they usually specify between North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe. North Lake Tahoe is considered the "quieter" side of the Lake, with a quaint feel yet slightly less dining and accommodation options. South Lake Tahoe, on the other hand, is a lot more lively, with plenty of entertainment and nightlife.
Both times I've been to Lake Tahoe, I've stayed at Camp Richardson, which is about 15 minutes from South Lake Tahoe on the popular Pope Beach. Camp Richardson is very secluded and a bit far from the action that accompanies downtown South Lake, which I preferred, and it was only a 10 minute drive to Emerald Bay.
It was really tough to choose a location to stay in Lake Tahoe because I had things I wanted to do in both North and South Lake Tahoe. Luckily, the drive around the lake is beautiful and there are so many stopping points! I spent time in both North and South Lake Tahoe and didn't mind the driving.
Where to Rent Clear Kayaks in Lake Tahoe
There are a few places you can rent Clear Kayaks in Lake Tahoe! One popular option is Clearly Tahoe, popular for people staying in South Lake Tahoe and known for their guided tours. Another option in South Lake is Tahoe Paddle Sports, but I hadn't heard too much about this company.
I rented with Wild Society located in North Lake Tahoe at King's Beach. The launching area of Wild Society is close to some beautiful coves within kayaking distance and I knew I wanted to be able to witness that picturesque landscape with boulder-filled shores and mountainous backgrounds.
I definitely recommend Wild Society! The employees were nice, accommodating, and even helped explain how to get to the best spots along the shore (and how long it would take to kayak there). It costs around $50/hour for a single kayak, or $80/hour for a double.
Since Wild Society launches their clear kayaks from King's Beach in North Lake Tahoe, it will be about an hour drive if you're staying in South Lake Tahoe. I actually preferred this because I was able to make stops along the way while to see the sunrise!
Know Before You Go
Here are a few things that will be helpful to know before booking your clear kayak adventure.
Book in Advance
During peak season in the Summer, the weekends can fill up pretty fast. Book your kayak reservations as early as you can! Wils Society typically opens up for the season in May and closes in November (weather dependent).
Choose an Early Time Slot
I chose the 8am time slot for my kayak rental and I am so happy I did. The lake is so much calmer in the early morning - it was nice to be the first ones out on the water. It's a little chilly early on, but it warms up extremely quickly.
Another reason to book early is because King's Beach gets SO crowded on weekends in the Summer, and parking can be a hassle past 9am. I wouldn't have wanted to find a parking spot in the afternoon, that's for sure.
Bring Layers & a Bathing Suit
Since I booked the early time slot, I made sure to wear layers. I wore my bathing suit under shorts and a sweatshirt, and although it was cold when we started on the water, we got warm after 10-15 minutes of kayaking in the sun! We even got out to swim and it was so refreshing.
Book at Least 2 Hours
This one is crucial. When I booked online, there were no options left to choose 2 hours, so I had to choose only 1 hour. When I arrived on the morning of my reservation, I asked if I could extend my reservation to 2 hours (since 1 is not enough to kayak to the cove I had in mind) but unfortunately, they were fully booked.
About 5 minutes into kayaking, my Apple Watch started ringing and Wild Society called to tell me I could stay out for 2 hours instead of 1 since they had a cancellation! I was so excited that we would now have extra time and that they remembered I wanted to stay longer.
My best friend and I kayaked to Agate Bay, which is what you'll see in all of my photos. Once you start kayaking on King's Beach, go left and you won't miss it. It took about 40 minutes for us to get to this little cove, then we carefully parked our kayaks and swam around the boulders!
Before we knew it, we had to head back (and we were almost late)! I absolutely could have done the 3 hour kayak rental and spent extra time relaxing and kayaking more leisurely. Just make sure you book at least 2 hours.
Get Ready for a Workout
Seriously - if you don't kayak too often, be prepared for an incredible arm workout! The kayaks are larger than average, so it also felt like a little extra work to paddle. My friend and I also had to hustle on our way back because we totally lost track of time, so that added on an extra element of intensity, lol.
(I also physically cannot do a proper push-up so do with that information what you will)...
Transporting the Kayaks
One last thing to note is that if you book a single kayak (which my friend and I did), you'll have to transport it to the water using foldable wheels that Wild Society will provide. The wheels will slide right under the back of the kayak, then you'll just pull the kayak from the front down to the water. Don't worry! It's about a 2 minute walk from Wild Society's base down to King's Beach, not a big deal at all.
Once you return to the dock after your time is up, you'll take the wheels back out and follow the same process as you pull the kayak back up to the building. (The employees at Wild Society will explain all of this to you before you begin)!
If you book a tandem kayak, you'll be able to carry it together without wheels.