Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe: an Alpine Lake with a Caribbean Feel

Jocelyn Murray July 28, 2011 No Comments

Sand Harbor - jewel tone crystal waters

Sand Harbor – jewel tone crystal waters

There is a place in the Sierra Nevada mountains with 55 acres of long sandy beaches, rocky coves and crystalline waters that shimmer in sparkling hues of turquoise, emerald and aquamarine: welcome to Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park.

Sand Harbor - scenic self-guided trails

Sand Harbor – scenic self-guided trails

With an elevation of 6,230 feet above sea level, this fresh water paradise is a popular spot for swimming, scuba diving, picnicking, kayaking, boating (there is a boat launch) and sightseeing along the self-guided nature trails that feature informative displays and regional information. A boat rental concession “Sand Harbor Rentals” is located next to the launch ramp where kayaks, stand up paddleboards, sea-doos, wakeboards, and Hobie Mirage Pedal/Paddle Kayaks can be conveniently rented. They are open daily from Memorial weekend through Labor Day and offer guided tours and lessons as well.

Sand Harbor - beautiful rock formations

Sand Harbor – beautiful rock formations

Memorial Point is just a short half-mile trail and provides access to many secluded beach and rock areas.

The rock formations and trees are really quite stunning. Large granite boulders rest in the clear water as though tossed haphazardly from above, and make for great snorkeling. But the color of the water is what most captivates onlookers with its limpid jewel tones so reminiscent of the Caribbean.

During the evenings of the summer months in July and August, visitors can enjoy the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival in Sand Harbor where some of the best plays are showcased.

Sand Harbor - "CharPit Sand Harbor" and Visitor Center

Sand Harbor – “CharPit Sand Harbor” and Visitor Center

This family beach is clean, beautiful and well maintained. There is a visitor center, gift shop, snack bar and grill concession “CharPit Sand Harbor” where beverages, burgers and ice cream can be enjoyed on a shady deck next to the visitor center. A picnic area features barbecues and picnic tables among the shade of the cedars and pines.

Sand Harbor is located three miles south of Incline Village on State Route 28.


Due to its popularity, summer months can get crowded for both parking and finding a spot on the beach. The parking lots tend to be full between 11am-4pm on weekends and weekdays during July and August. It’s best to come early or just wait until the late afternoon. The trail along the beach offers exquisite views of Sand Harbor and is very much worth walking. It is easy to manage and both stroller and handicap-accessible. Although the summer months are warm, the water remains quite brisk, being an alpine lake, yet still worth a refreshing plunge.

Sand Harbor - an alpine lake with a Caribbean feel

Sand Harbor – an alpine lake with a Caribbean feel

avatarAbout the Author:

Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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