Summertime in Lake Tahoe: Time to hit the water |

Summertime in Lake Tahoe: Time to hit the water

Autumn Whitney
Contributed Photo: South Tahoe Standup Paddle
Contributed Photo: South Tahoe Standup Paddle |

Summer in Lake Tahoe means it’s time to get out on the water — after all, if you didn’t come to the basin to spend time on the lake, what are you really doing here?

From paddleboarding and kayaking to water skiing, wakeboarding and more, there is no lack of opportunities to get active on Lake Tahoe — no matter if you’re on the North or South Shore.

Paddleboarding and kayaking

The popularity of paddle sports such as standup paddleboarding (SUP) and kayaking has dramatically increased in recent years. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, there’s a way for you to get out and get paddling.

On the North Shore, check out Tahoe Paddle & Oar in Kings Beach, which offers kayaks, canoes and paddleboards for rental, as well as guided tours of Crystal Bay and Sand Harbor. Paddle near natural hot springs and Brockway Point’s boulder fields as you journey into Crystal Bay, or take in the secret coves and beaches of the East Shore as you paddle through Sand Harbor.

Tours begin at $110 per person and are available for booking online via

For those spending time on the South Shore, Kayak Tahoe and South Tahoe Standup Paddle are among the seemingly endless list of places you can get the gear necessary to spend time on the water.

Kayak Tahoe has five locations: Timber Cove Marina, Vikingsholm at Emerald Bay, Nevada Beach, Pope Beach and Baldwin Beach — so no matter where you’re located, a rental shop is in proximity. At each location a variety of boards are available, servicing both the novice and pro. The company also offers tours of Emerald Bay, the Upper Truckee River, East Shore and a sunset tour from Timber Cove Marina. Few things are better than experiencing the beauty of the lake up close and personal. Tours begin at $40 per person. Learn more online at

South Tahoe Standup Paddle, located near El Dorado Beach, specializes in paddleboarding. The family owned business offers board brands including Tahoe SUP, Flatwater Paddle Company, 404 and more, in addition to rentals and a variety of lessons and tours. One-hour rentals begin at $25, lessons start at $15 and tours — which all take place around El Dorado Beach — start at $85. Learn more online at

Behind the boat

Looking for something more high-speed? Approximately 10 shops are situated around the lake that offer boat rentals to fulfill your need for speed, and a selection offer waterski and wakeboard lessons as well.

Tahoe City’s Tahoe Water Adventures offers boat rentals, lessons and tours. Learn to waterski, wakeboard or wakesurf with all equipment — and an instructor — provided. Not looking to be active? No worries. Boat tours are offered as well.

High Sierra Water Ski School, found on the West Shore, has locations at both Sunnyside Lodge & Marina and Homewood High & Dry Marina. The company teaches participants to waterski, wakeboard, wakesurf, kneeboard or wakeskate, and also offers tubing, boat rentals and tours, and personal watercraft rentals. You can also rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard here for a more leisurely experience.

Full Throttle Tahoe is another spot to check out while on the north side of the lake.

South Shore is a mecca for watersports. Borges Water Ski and Wakeboard School and Birkholm’s Waterski School Lake Tahoe, based out of Round Hill Pines Beach Resort and Tahoe Keys Marina, respectively, are among the forefront of South Shore water instructors.

The former is entering its 21st season in business, but owner Dan Borges has lived in the basin since 1965, and brings his experience growing up on the water to the company.

“You go to where there’s smooth water and the other thing is, I ask people, ‘Do you want to ski in front of a beautiful golf course, or do you want to go toward Emerald Bay?’ Where you want to go is where we’ll go,” Borges said.

His business specializes in water skiing and wakeboarding (but it also offers tubing and boat tours), and it doesn’t matter if you’re brand new or looking to add some tricks to your repertoire: the school teaches it all. Rates go by the hour — learn more online at

Borges often works alongside Birkholm’s Water Ski School (another family-owned business) when the influx of summer crowds begins pouring in. Like the former’s company, Birkholm’s teaches water skiing, wakeboarding and wakesurfing in addition to offering boat tours and tubing. At both locations, wetsuits and fuel costs are included in the price. Learn more about Birkholm’s online at

Both Borges Water Ski and Wakeboard School and Birkholm’s Water Ski School cater to children and families and charge by the hour, rather than by the lesson.


The best time to be on the water, especially in Tahoe, is in the morning — get your skiing, boarding and paddling in before the wind picks up and those infamous whitecaps wreck havoc (and make perfect tubing conditions in the afternoon). According to Borges, 8-10 a.m. consistently provides ideal conditions for being behind the boat.

“Most of my lessons are at that time. It’s a little bit cooler air temperature, but with wetsuits and smooth water and less boats out there, the better chances are of being successful and skiing on the water,” Borges noted.

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