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The Best Beach in Lake Tahoe: Whale Beach

Known for its stunning blue water, picturesque rocky shoreline, and beautiful mountains, Lake Tahoe is the perfect destination for a summer weekend getaway spent relaxing by the water! Whale Beach is located in Nevada on the east shore. It is lesser-known than some of the adjacent beaches such as Sand Harbor and Zephyr Cove. Because of Whale Beaches relative seclusion, it is one of the best beaches in Lake Tahoe.

This blog post was written in partnership with Thorntail Hard Agave. Please drink responsibly.

Why Whale Beach is the best beach in Lake Tahoe

If you’re looking for the perfect beach to take a swim or watch the sunset then Whale Beach and its surrounding coves need to be on your summer bucket list! Below are 4 reasons why we think Whale Beach is the best beach in Lake Tahoe.

It’s not too crowded. Unlike other Lake Tahoe beaches like Secret Cove and Sand Harbor, Whale Beach isn’t exactly packed with people (though, don’t get me wrong…. It is popular!). Given that the beach is a bit of a trek from the parking area, most Tahoe visitors opt for the more popular beaches with parking nearby, so expect fewer crowds at Whale Beach.

It’s absolutely gorgeous. In the summer, Whale Beach has perfectly turquoise clear water! Large granite boulders protrude from the shore and out of the water making excellent spots to hop out of the water and sunbathe. The shore is made of sand perfect for laying out beach towels or perching a sun umbrella. In the evening, Whale Beach is also the perfect spot to watch the sunset across the lake to the west. 

Parking is free. Unlike most beaches around Lake Tahoe, parking for Whale Beach is free! There is some parking along Highway 28. Once you park, be prepared for a steep hike from Highway 28 down to the beach. You can also park for free at the Secret Cove parking, but be prepared for a 1.5 mile hike to the beach. 

Secluded alcoves. Due to the massive boulders along the shoreline, there are several secluded alcoves that you might have all to yourself. Almost all of the alcoves have sandy beaches. Some of these alcoves can fit large groups of people, while other alcoves are only large enough for 2-3 people. Even on crowded days, the rocks along the shoreline make it easy to find some privacy.  

How to get to Whale Beach

Parking for Whale Beach is located on the east shore of Lake Tahoe, about 2.5 miles south of Sand Harbor, another very popular summer destination. If you park along Highway 28, note that there isn’t any signage for Whale Beach, so you’ll have to load the directions into your GPS. We recommend using the navigation directions from All Trails.

Once you arrive at the beach, begin looking for a spot to set up for the day! There are several beautiful small coves to the south just past the main beach, so if you’re not seeing a spot you like I recommend walking a bit farther to find the perfect location. You’ll have to navigate through some large rocks and brush, but the trail is usually well-defined. 

The little cove where we went to can be found here, which had a nice sandy beach, and enough room for 2-6 people. It felt very private even though there were other parties on an adjacent beach.

What to pack for a day at the beach in Lake Tahoe

Lots of sunscreen and sun protection. Even though the air can feel cool, the sun (especially at a high elevation) is intense. We would strongly recommend good sun protection such as sunscreen and sun umbrellas. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen every 2 hours (or more often if you’re swimming). 

Some delicious drinks. We brought Thorntail Hard Agave, which was perfect for sipping along the shoreline as we watched the sunset. I love Thorntail because they’re made with organic hard agave and natural ingredients, and are low alcohol by volume. The Passionfruit Guava is my favorite, but their Sea Salt Lime and Peach Strawberry are also fantastic. Thorntail Hard Agave is also naturally gluten free. We didn’t bring a cooler with us, so we chilled our cans in the crystal clear, cold waters of Lake Tahoe!

Your favorite bathing suit. No day at the beach is complete without a dip in the water! Make sure to pack your favorite swimsuit so you can take a plunge in the cool and refreshing waters of the lake.

A chair or blanket for lounging. Comfort is key when you’re spending the day by the water so we recommend bringing a comfortable camp chair or blanket for lounging. 

Leave no trace tips for Lake Tahoe beaches

Pack out your trash. There is no trash fairy! Please make sure to pack all of your trash out with you so we can keep Tahoe beautiful!

Don’t light a fire. Campfires are prohibited on Tahoe’s beaches. Please help reduce the risk of wildfire by respecting fire restrictions.

Watch your step. Be careful not to trample vegetation. Tahoe beaches are home to an endangered plant, the Tahoe Yellow Cress. Make sure not to crush them, and stay on established trails.

Final Thoughts

Having grown up in California and spent many summers at Lake Tahoe I feel confident in saying Whale Beach is the best beach in Lake Tahoe! It is perfect for families, feels nice and secluded, has wonderful beaches and swimming options, and has a spectacular view of sunset. Please remember to respect the environment and leave no trace when you visit.

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