Clearly Tahoe offers new perspective of Lake Tahoe with clear kayaks
Lake Tahoe’s clarity is one of its hallmark features and something locals strive to preserve. Geoff Miller and Kelsey Weist, proprietors of local kayak rental service, Clearly Tahoe, developed a way to combine fun, appreciating the lake’s clarity and aiding in preservation.
Since last year, the couple has been renting polycarbonate kayaks that are completely transparent, allowing for some unique viewing of the lake. Clearly Tahoe also equips each kayak with a book of flash cards that help identify invasive species, encouraging their customers to use and log anything they see.
Miller and Weist say they’ve been spending time on the water most of their lives, doing anything from kayaking to scuba diving and snorkeling, but wanted to bring something to Lake Tahoe that would allow for cool views, without having to be submerged in the chilly water.
“This allows for people to be able to see the depth and the clarity through a different perspective,” Weist said. “Sometimes you can see a little deeper that you would off the side of a boat. [The kayaks] are clear so they break the surface reflection and enables you to see down a little further than you normally would with the naked eye.”
As of now, Clearly Tahoe doesn’t offer rentals from a centralized, beachside location, but does schedule private rentals and guided tours through its website.
“If you have lakefront property or your own access point, odds are we can bring them to you,” Weist said. “Or better yet, we can put them in the lake for you and provide a guide. That’s been a pretty good route for us so far. It’s a lot more pre-organized and personalized.”
Miller said when he first thought about what it would be like to paddle a clear kayak, he didn’t even know if they existed.
“The idea actually came to me one day while we were kayaking,” Miller said. “There were some places where I thought it would be nice to see more clearly, and wondered if there actually was a clear kayak. I started looking into it and I saw that there was a company that actually makes them. Why does no one do this on Lake Tahoe? This place is known for its depths, its clarity, so I thought why not bring it here?”
According to Weist and Miller, the kayaks aren’t designed for speed and maneuvering, like a typical sit-in kayak, but use is mostly meant for slower-placed, scenic touring.
There is a significant amount of work that comes with keeping the kayaks in top shape, but having a crystal clear kayak in the end is the payoff.
“We have to buff them out every two weeks,” Weist said. “They get sanded down, polished — it’s a lot of maintenance, but it’s worth it, which is why we provide the type of service that we do.”
Weist also explained there are certain areas the kayaks wouldn’t be ideal due to varying levels of clarity.
“With the water levels changing, season changing, the current, different areas tend to be a little more appropriate for them,” she said. “We take them to certain areas that are appropriate for them at that given time.”
Weist and Miller have also been using their business as a tool to keep the lake clear.
“We’re both passionate about the water and keeping Tahoe clear,” Weist said. “We saw this a great opportunity to educate people on things like the clarity of the water and invasive species.”
Miller said they’ve been pretty successful in educating a lot of their customers and several have come back in after kayaking to report some things they saw.
“We’ve partnered with the [League To Save Lake Tahoe] to help out with what they’re doing with invasive species and clarity levels,” he said. “We try to inform people on that just so they’re aware of it.”
Clearly Tahoe usually operates during the warm months and say they will probably wrap up operations by September or October. Their rentals start at $85 for two hours and discounts are available for additional kayaks added to a group. For information on kayaks, rentals and guided tours, visit clearlytahoe.com or call (530) 554-4664.