Q: What is the best time of day to go paddling?
A: Lake Tahoe is usually fairly windy and wavy from 2:00pm to 5:00pm. Although the West Shore of Lake Tahoe is somewhat sheltered from the wind most days, it’s usually best to paddle in the morning/early afternoon, or at sunset. For a multi-sport day, we recommend planning a morning paddle and hiking or biking for the afternoon. Our “Sunset Kayak Tour” and “Get Up Stand Up” programs are a good way to get on the water outside our normal business hours.
Q: How long is your paddling season at Sand Harbor State Park?
A: We typically open in early-mid May, and close in early-mid October. Spring and fall hours and offerings are very weather-dependent. Call ahead.
Q: What do I wear to go kayaking or paddle boarding?
A: You should wear clothing and footwear that will dry quickly. Synthetic (usually polyester) clothing is usually the best. Cotton clothing dries the slowest, and therefore will make you feel colder. Sandals or water shoes are better than sneakers. Bringing a waterproof, windbreaker jacket is a good idea. Sun protection is a must because of the reflection off the water.
Q: Shouldn’t I be wearing a wetsuit?
A: Neoprene wetsuits are designed to work best when you are actually wet or immersed in water. They are appropriate for whitewater river paddling, open ocean paddling, or winter paddling in Lake Tahoe. While there’s nothing wrong with wearing a wetsuit to paddle in Lake Tahoe, most people find them to be too hot, clammy (they don’t breathe), and uncomfortable for summer-time lake paddling. It’s usually better to bring a change of clothes in a dry bag for the rare event that you capsize.
Q: Do people fall in the water often?
A: No. The wider, more recreational kayaks and SUPs are very difficult to tip over. Staying relaxed and not fighting the rocking of the boat (or board) is usually the best strategy. For large boat wakes, point your paddle-craft directly into the wake instead of taking the wave broadside. Sit-on-top kayaks and paddleboards generally don’t fill with water, so it’s fairly easy to get back on board and continue paddling.
Q: How long will it take me to paddle across Lake Tahoe?
A: Lake Tahoe is about 12 miles across and most recreational paddlers paddle at about 3 mph. It takes most people a minimum of 4 hours to cross. We do not recommend this!! There are large power boats moving at full speed out in the middle of the lake, as well as the possibility of high winds and very large waves. Moreover, you won’t be able to make it across and back in time to return your rental…at which point we will have to send out a rescue party.
Q: Is it best to go in a two-person (tandem) kayak?
A: There are pros and cons. The advantage of tandem kayaking is having two motors (people) on board. If there is a significantly weaker paddler, then this can be the way to go. A possible disadvantage of tandem kayaking is that it takes much more communication and synchronization to paddle straight and steer. This presents a problem for some pairs. New paddlers often have an easier time in a single kayak, where they only have to worry coordinating themselves. Paddling side-by-side with your fellow paddlers can be a more social experience as well. Either way, we’ve got you covered.
Q: What is the minimum age for paddlers?
A: Children 5 yrs old and up can be in a tandem kayak with an adult. Children 10 years and up can participate in our guided tours and/or paddle their own kayak while under adult supervision.
Q: Do I have to wear a lifejacket?
A: We ask that you do. Legally, adults just have to have the PFD on the kayak (or board). Children (14 and younger) need to wear their life jackets.
Q: I see paddleboarders without life jackets (PFD) all the time. Is a PFD required on a SUP?
A: Absolutely. The Coast Guard and police boats will be checking this summer. Fines will be issued to those paddleboarders without life jackets on board. Unlike surfers at the ocean’s coast, an ankle leash on your board does not make the board count as your PFD at Lake Tahoe. This may change in the future, but that doesn’t excuse you from breaking the law now.
Q: Will I get wet while kayaking or paddleboarding at Lake Tahoe?
A: YES! You are doing a watersport. You will definitely get splashed and dripped on. You are unlikely to get soaked. Your feet and rear end will almost definitely get a little wet. We do have a limited number of drybags to loan out with our rentals for those who bring a towel or a change of clothes.
Q: Which way is the most scenic/best direction to paddle?
A: Everywhere in Lake Tahoe is very scenic. We recommend paddling south from either of our locations, since the wind frequently blows out of the southwest, and you won’t have to paddle into it on the way home. (our beach/dock staff will point you in the right direction based on the day’s conditions).