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It was summertime when we visited Lake Tahoe several years ago, so I really wanted to get a beach visit into our itinerary. Sand Harbor beach really stood out as a recommended spot on the lake where you can get into the water, so we headed right there.
As the name suggests, Sand Harbor is a popular spot thanks to its sandy beach. While most of the shores along the lake are rocky, this place offers you a convenient way to enter the water for a swim. Mind you, this isn't a tropical sandy beach.
You are at the top of the Sierra Nevada mountains, after all. Huge boulders are all around you - on the sand and in the water too. And across the lake, you have magnificent mountains to behold as well.
The place is very popular and was busy when we got there but we managed to secure a parking spot. My husband went into the water and really enjoyed his swim. The kids and I settled for getting our feet wet and enjoying the amazing scenery and the beach itself.
The Sand Harbor FAQ
If you're thinking about a summer trip to Lake Tahoe and looking for a nice "swimming hole", this is a great choice. With that in mind, I thought I'd wrap up a quick post with some information about Sand Harbor beach.
Where is Sand Harbor beach?
Located near the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Sand Harbor beach can be reached by driving down Nevada state route 28 and is three miles south of Incline Village. It is one of the many beaches that surround the gorgeous Lake Tahoe.
What time of year is the beach open?
Sand Harbor beach is open 365 days a year during the summer and winter. Just keep in mind that this area is super cold during winter time! Lake Tahoe is a ski destination during winter, so you won't be able to do much other than admiring the scenery.
What time does Sand Harbor beach open and close?
The beach is open every day from 8 a.m. until one hour after sunset.
What facilities does the beach offer?
Sand Harbor offers a plethora of facilities for individuals or large groups.
As far as group activities, this location offers a ramada area complete with water, electricity, tables, and a large BBQ for big menus. There is seating for 100, but the venue can hold up to 200 people. The ramada is also available for weddings. This area is by reservation in person or by phone only at 775-831-0494.
If you are coming for lunch, Sand Harbor has a picnic area that is separated from the busyness of the beach. The area is shaded due to the gorgeous pines and cedars, and each individual site comes with a picnic table and barbeque. This area is accessible to those with disabilities and is first come, first served.
What can you do in Sand Harbor Beach
Boating is allowed, and for easier access, Sand Harbor offers the use of a boat launch with two double ramps next to an easy-to-navigate parking lot. As an important notice, all boats must have a watercraft inspection before they can be dropped into the water. The boat launches are open May 1 through September 30, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m, but are closed October 1 through April 30.
During the summer, kayaks, personal sailboats, jet skis, and paddleboards are available for rental along with paddleboard lessons and guided kayak tours. It is suggested that visitors make reservations for this equipment, especially during the busy summer months.
Although the water can be a bit cold, there are plenty of opportunities to swim and do some scuba diving or snorkeling. The beach slopes slightly into the water and many unique rock formations give you plenty to look at and explore.
The Sand Point Nature Trail offers inspiring views of Lake Tahoe. The trail is easy to travel, offers many signs for guidance and direction, and is handicap-accessible.
Sand Harbor has a visitors center where travelers can escape the heat while purchasing merchandise and learning more about the park through self-guided tours. This facility is paired with the Sand Harbor Bar and Grill which offers fried and grilled food along with refreshing beverages. The prices range from $11-30.
There is a parking area for visitors. However, during the peak summer months of July and August between the times of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the parking lot fills quickly. Because of this, some campers may have to park at nearby Incline Village. From there, shuttles are provided that will bring you to the beach.
How much does it cost to visit Sand Harbor beach?
Fees differ based on your form of transportation. For families arriving in cars, trucks, and jeeps, the charge is $10 per vehicle, which covers admission and parking. Those arriving on a bike will only cost $2 each. Visitors hoping to use the boat launch will need to pay $20 per vehicle.
Is Sand Harbor beach dog-friendly?
When you are traveling the beaches of Lake Tahoe, be sure to only use dog-friendly beaches. For Sand Harbor, dogs are allowed during the off-season months. They are not permitted on the beach during the months of April 15th until October 15th because of the large number of visitors on the beach.
During the time that dogs are allowed, they must be on a leash that is no longer than six feet in length.
How cold is the water in Sand Harbor beach?
The water at Sand Harbor beach is relatively cold and can be as chilly as 40 degrees during the spring. Although it warms up a bit in the summer, it is recommended to enter the water slowly so your body can acclimate.
Are there lifeguards available?
Beach Patrol does monitor the beach and the lake, however, they are only available from Memorial Day through Labor Day during park hours.
Are there Cabins Near Sand Harbor?
Sand Harbor does not offer cabins, nor is overnight camping allowed. However, there are some cabin lodgings that are nearby.
Lake View Cabin in the Woods
Located five miles from Sand Harbor, Lake View Cabin in the Woods is a large cabin that sleeps six people with three rooms, two bathrooms, a large dining area, and views of the lake from a wrap-around deck.
The cabin costs $160 per night and it can be reserved at vrbo.com.
Brockway Lakeview Cabin
Brockway Lakeview Cabin is neatly nestled in a gorgeous forest and it is near Sand Harbor. It has one bedroom and sleeps three people and it comes with a pool and internet access.
This cabin costs $130 a night and it can be reserved on vrbo.com.
Where Else Can I Stay Near Sand Harbor beach?
There are also many other hotels and lodgings that are nearby and offer great comfort.
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort
Located just five minutes away from the beach, this comfortable Hyatt Regency resort offers spacious rooms, private bathrooms, a pool, hot tubs, and a bar and grille. It is also famous for its spa and 24-hour casino.
Club Tahoe Resort
Near Sand Harbor and comfortable for the family, Club Tahoe Resort is located in Incline Village and offers large rooms and many amenities. The location also offers BBQ facilities, a bar, Wi-Fi, pools, hot tub, and a fitness center.
Highly rated by families, the Mountain House is a vacation home that comes with four rooms and a fully-equipped kitchen for large parties. The house has an indoor and outdoor pool, an outdoor playground for the kids, and soundproof rooms.
Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort
The Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort is an excellent hotel for the family that offers a handful of amenities including a health and wellness center, outdoor fireplaces and picnic areas, and many activities including movie nights, skiing, and golf courses.
What to take with you?
I have a separate post dedicated to what to pack for visiting Lake Tahoe during summer, so make sure you check that out as well.
Some pictures to get you inspired
Back when we were in Lake Tahoe there were some major forest fires in the Sierra Nevada. Air quality right by the lake was ok but the sky was gray and dull. So, I figured my own photos weren't enough to do justice to this gorgeous spot and decided to share some from Instagram.