North Lake Tahoe: Sand Harbor + SUP at Kings Beach

It’s kind of ridiculous but I’ve been a little giddy about writing this post. Maybe it’s because I saved it for last or because the pictures are from one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Either way, I’m excited to share it with you and relive our time there.

Sand Harbor (73)

If you’ve ever been to Tahoe or are familiar with the area then you’ve probably heard of Sand Harbor.

Sand Harbor (2)

If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a highly coveted state park along the coast of Lake Tahoe known for its sandy beaches and breathtaking views.

Sand Harbor (23)

Sand Harbor (31)

Sand Harbor (21)

I purposely reserved the trip to Sand Harbor for the last full day we were there which was a Monday, hoping that we could avoid the notorious large summer crowds.

But that didn’t do us any good. In fact, the only reason my shots of the beach aren’t full of people is because it was before noon {side note: if you go to Sand Harbor, get there before 10am} and we chose the side of the beach that was rockier than the rest.

Sand Harbor (36)

We also had Coco with us and dogs aren’t allowed in the park at all so we had to be incognito while we were there.

Luckily, she blends right in the with the sand…

Sand Harbor (49)

Doesn’t she look so wise in this picture?

Even with the incredible surroundings, it was hard for me to relax knowing we were breaking the rules so after an hour or so, we decided to leave and go get lunch before searching for a dog friendly beach.

At some point along highway 28 (in Nevada), we saw a group of cars and a hiking path that looked like it led to an unnamed beach so we decided to stop off and check it out. The hike down was about a half mile and offered little peaks through the trees at the lake.

Sand Harbor (89)

Sand Harbor (107)

Sand Harbor (60)

Sand Harbor (70)

Really, I couldn’t have dreamt up a prettier site if I tried. We never figured out the actual name of the beach but there were plenty of other people and dogs there so we just assumed it was dog friendly.

Sand Harbor (63)

Coco was brave enough to follow us into the water at first but she kept trying to balance on the rocks and trees to avoid having to actually touch the water.


Eventually, she gave up and sat on the beach while letting out small cries here and there.

Brandon was sun burnt from  paddleboarding the day before so he stayed with her while I went swimming and tried to balance on a few rocks myself.


I was slowly falling down in that picture.

We forgot to bring chairs and Coco was completely out of her element {read: not in a soft, fluffy bed with a treat-filled Kong} so we decided to pack up and head back to the hotel.

Sand Harbor (66)

After all of that time swimming and hanging out in the sun, I got a major craving for some soft serve so we stopped at Susie Scoops in Incline Village for a cone.


Pure perfection, my friends.

On a final and quick note, I wanted to share one last experience we had in North Lake Tahoe which was trying standup paddleboarding (SUP) for the first time. The first morning of our trip, which was a Sunday, we made it to the beach by 9am and rented a couple of boards from Tahoe Paddle & Oar in Kings Beach.


I know that sweatpants on the beach looks completely ridiculous but, in my defense, the temperatures drop to 40°F overnight and we were at the beach fairly early so it was still chilly from the night before. However, I don’t have an excuse for my cheesy pose.

We rented the boards for about three hours and paddled about 4 miles round trip to Crystal Bay which is a private section of Lake Tahoe with multi-million dollar houses nestled along the coast. I can’t even.


Unfortunately, I failed to get a waterproof cover for my phone in time for our trip so all I had was an old school disposable camera to take pictures with which explains the crapola shot you see above. That was the only decent picture from the entire 27 pictures we took and it still doesn’t come close to doing the real thing any justice.

We did manage to get a few good pictures with my phone in the shallow water at the end, including this one of Brandon losing his balance.


Ha! He probably won’t be thrilled that I shared that one. We both were a little shaky at times but neither of us fell once the entire time.

Standup paddleboarding was so much fun and I think everyone should give it a try at least once. We didn’t have any sort of lessons before hand; the guy at the rental stand briefly explained how to paddle and keep your balance and that was it. The most important tips I took from it was knowing when to bend your knees to stay balanced and to use your core to help you paddle so you don’t overwork your shoulders. Overall, I found it to be pretty easy and thought it was a total blast.

Alright, I’m done with Tahoe for now but hopefully not for good. I hope some of you found the recaps to be helpful and that I didn’t overload you with pictures and unnecessary blabber. I’m not an expert on the area by any means but I’m more than willing to answer any questions you have if you are planning a trip there.


Have you ever tried SUP?

Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been to?

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{ 46 comments… add one }

  • Nicole August 27, 2013, 7:00 pm

    I’ve never tried SUP before but I definitely want to! I always think it looks like fun and a good workout.

    I’ve also never been to Tahoe before, but I hope to get there sometime soon. I’ll definitely be referencing your posts about this vacay when I do!
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    • Sarah August 28, 2013, 2:25 pm

      You need to take a road trip to Tahoe one day! It’s such an incredible place and a perfect spot to try SUP for the first time.

  • Alex @ Kenzie Life August 27, 2013, 7:12 pm

    Oh. My. Gosh.

    Those pictures are absolutely breathtaking! In the words of Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there!” Holy wow.

    I’ve never tried SUP but I see a lot of people doing it at lakes here in Colorado and in Hawaii. I’d like to try it! The most beautiful place I’ve ever been? The Peloponnese in Greece, particularly Epidaurus. I spent a semester in Athens and did a lot of traveling. I loved the P and Santorini, though next time I’m going with a lover not a roommate! Santorini is very depressing if you go with a roommate!
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    • Sarah August 27, 2013, 7:43 pm

      Greece is at the top of my list! How awesome that you studied abroad there. Haha, I can imagine Santorini wouldn’t be as much fun with a roommate. It looks so romantic.

  • Lisa August 27, 2013, 9:05 pm

    Holy gorgeous photos! It looks absolutely stunning there.
    I would very much like to be there right now, considering it’s pouring rain here!
    I’ve never tried standup paddle boarding before, but I always think it looks like such a blast. I’d love to try it out one day.

  • Amy @ The Little Honey Bee August 28, 2013, 2:02 am

    Wow! What an absolutely gorgeous place. I have never heard of it before but these pictures make me want to jump on a plane to Nevada. Glad the day ended up working out (I totally understand being stressed about breaking the rules!) I have never tried stand up paddleboarding but it is on my life to do list :) excuse me while I look through this pics again haha
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  • Christine @ Gotta Eat Green August 28, 2013, 2:46 am

    Wow those views are unreal. Looks like you guys had an awesome time – and bonus for finding a beach you could bring Coco (even if she didn’t love it as much as you guys). I haven’t tried SUP yet but we see people doing it all the time on the lake where our cottage is. It looks like a great workout!
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  • Kelly @ hidden fruits and veggies August 28, 2013, 3:23 am

    I think you have the only dog in the world that doesnt like swimming! These pictures are seriously gorgeous, even the one you took with a disposable camera! Way to go and make me extra jealous :)
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    • Sarah August 28, 2013, 2:30 pm

      I know! She is part labrador too. I just don’t get it.

  • Davida @ The Healthy Maven August 28, 2013, 3:36 am

    Ahhhh once again your pictures are glorious! And Coco in the picture looks like the wisest dog there ever was!

    I tried SUP in Hawaii last year and it was fantastic! The views there helped too :) I’m thinking my next trip may need to be Tahoe!
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    • Sarah August 28, 2013, 2:31 pm

      Haha…looks are deceiving!

      Ohhh, I would love to try SUP in Hawaii. That’s awesome.

      Tahoe is definitely worth the trip!

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles August 28, 2013, 5:13 am

    You definitely had a gorgeous vacation – those are some beautiful pictures! And Coco is so cute – I’m glad she got to experience the beach, even if she wasn’t supposed to ;-) And I’ve never tried SUP, but I think I’d give it a shot sometime!
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  • Kelly @ Kelly Runs For Food August 28, 2013, 5:21 am

    That place looks unbelievable! I definitely want to go now. Coco seems a lot like my dog, she’s not very good at outings and she hates water. Too cute!
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  • Sharon August 28, 2013, 5:46 am

    How beautiful! That water looks crystal clear. Was it warm?
    If I were to paddleboard I would be worse than Brandon with the losing of balance … sometimes I have trouble just walking from A to B without tripping or stumbling. I think I need to work my core a little more;)
    I loved reading about your adventures and I also loved how Coco was included. It’s so cool how well dogs travel. Louis cries bloody murder if we have to take him out of the apartment:)
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    • Sarah August 28, 2013, 2:33 pm

      The water is not warm but I didn’t think it was too cold. There were warm spots but I got cold after I got out. I just brought a long sleeve rash guard to keep me warm.

      I bet you would be fine on the paddleboard! You could always try it in shallow water until you feel confident. It’s so much fun!

  • FitBritt@MyOwnBalance August 28, 2013, 7:45 am

    I absolutely love SUP! I think it’s so much fun! I want to own one! I love that photo of you doing yoga in the water! So cool. Also, I wouldn’t call that photo crapola just vintage! :)
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    • Sarah August 28, 2013, 2:34 pm

      We looked into buying a couple after our trip and they’re super expensive! Ugh. Maybe one day.

      If you saw the view in person, you would agree that picture really is crapola! :)

  • Meghan @ fitnesscrEATures August 28, 2013, 7:54 am

    I could never imagine such a beautiful spot either! Seriously, this is a stunning stream of pictures and I know without doubt that being there in real life was way more breath taking. I had no idea that the water was clear like that – I’m so used to nasty man made GA lakes that are virtually orange and filled with nasty mud. I’d be with you on not being able to relax while breaking the rules, but Coco did a great job blending in, sort of! :)
    That second spot looks incredible and paddle boarding is on my bucket list of things to try! Thank you for sharing – per usual, these pictures are stunning and simply amazing.
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    • Sarah August 28, 2013, 2:36 pm

      Thanks Meghan! I hope you get to try SUP; it’s a blast! I grew up in Florida so I know there are a ton of great beaches within driving distance from GA to try SUP. You should plan a trip!

  • Tara August 28, 2013, 8:15 am

    I didn’t realize how clear the water is in Tahoe! I also never tried SUP, I don’t know how to swim and the thought of being in open water gives me a little bit of anxiety. (Don’t tell anyone!)

    I would love to travel the Greek Islands or somewhere exotic like Tahiti. :)
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    • Sarah August 28, 2013, 2:38 pm

      You poor thing; you really are a city girl! ;) You would have to wear a life jacket for sure.

      Yes, I dream of Greece. Mostly because of hummus.

  • Alisha @ Alisha's Appetite August 28, 2013, 9:10 am

    I can totally see why you were excited for this post- the pictures are seriously breathtaking! You are also a very talented photographer :) I haven’t ever had the opportunity to try SUP but I would LOVE to! It looks like a blast.
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    • Sarah August 28, 2013, 2:39 pm

      Thank you Alisha! It’s so much fun; definitely mark it down on your list of things to try!

  • Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat August 28, 2013, 9:18 am

    Oh my goodness…you weren’t lying…these pics are simply spectacular!!! The views are gorgeous!!! I can just imagine how they must be in person! So glad you guys had a good time!
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  • Jan @ Sprouts n Squats August 28, 2013, 12:33 pm

    Those pictures all look so beautiful!! Those beach pictures instantly make me want a holiday yet at the same time just looking at them makes me more relaxed.

    I’ve never tried SUP but have always wanted to it looks like a lot if fun!

    Coco is too cute crying for you to come back out of the water.
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    • Sarah August 28, 2013, 2:39 pm

      She’s such a big baby. We know to leave her at home next time! :)

  • Maria@TheBrooklynFig August 28, 2013, 12:59 pm

    Wow, when I first saw your pics I thought you were in the Caribbean- that water is sooo crystal clear. It’s sad, but I didn’t really know places like that existed in the US.
    I have tried SUP and ended up drifting out into the open sea hahaha haven’t tried it since!
    Oh, and I love the picture of you doing the yoga pose in the water!
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    • Sarah August 28, 2013, 2:40 pm

      Oh no, that’s sounds scary! I liked doing it in the lake because the water is more gentle and there are less creatures to worry about! At least in Lake Tahoe.

  • Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen August 28, 2013, 1:07 pm

    Oh wow, it’s seriously gorgeous there! It reminds me a bit of Northern Ontario, where I used to spend my summers at camp and doing canoe trips. The lakes, rocky cliffs, and evergreen forests were so beautiful!

    I’ve been really wanting to try SUP, but I haven’t found anywhere nearby that does lessons.
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    • Sarah August 28, 2013, 2:41 pm

      From what I have seen, Canada looks amazing! I’d love to go there. Plus, the people seem really friendly. :)

  • dishing up the dirt August 28, 2013, 2:57 pm

    I loved reading this post because I felt like I was on vacation! lovely photos my friend. We SUP in the summertime a lot. I love it!
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  • Mike August 28, 2013, 5:09 pm

    What a small world it is sometimes, Sarah! I had just commented on a blog on a completely other side of the universe about 10 minutes ago that Tahoe was our (an ex of mine) favorite date place to go for years. And wham I come across the post. I love Coco too :) I own a Golden Retriever named, Phoenix, that I write about frequently :)
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  • Jillienne @ ChasingRaspberries August 28, 2013, 8:17 pm

    I’ve been to Lake Tahoe once and your pictures definitely do it justice! So beautiful there!
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  • Melanie @ Beautifuly Nutty August 29, 2013, 3:56 am

    That pic of photo on the rock is hilarious! She looks so uncomfortable! Adorable.
    Lake Tahoe is definitely on my list of places to go visit–my husband has been there a number of times and says it is just awesome.
    I tried SUP this year for the first time when we were visiting Turks and Caicos and I fell in love with it. We were a little shaky at first too but it didn’t take too long to get the hang of it! I wish I could do it more often.

  • Nicole @ FrutnFitness August 29, 2013, 6:04 am

    Wow, what beautiful pictures! The water looks so clean and clear.
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  • Sara @ Fit.Fun.Femme August 29, 2013, 10:52 am

    Absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. You guys are so awesome – taking fun weekend trips and bringing sweet Coco along. She was a trooper, too!

    Ben and I tried SUP in Maui…it was really hard but a lot of fun and a great arm/ab workout. Thanks for sharing more beautiful pictures!

    • Sarah August 29, 2013, 8:20 pm

      I hope to get to try it in Maui. Did you go there for your honeymoon? You should do a recap of your trip on your blog!

  • Sarah @ Sweet Miles August 29, 2013, 11:28 am

    We have Sand Harbor pictures from our honeymoon as decoration in our guest bathroom :) We call it the Tahoe bathroom, ha! Beautiful pictures, bet you can’t wait to go back!!!
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  • Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) August 29, 2013, 7:53 pm

    Th pictures are beautiful! I’ve never been to Sand Harbor bc we always have our dog with us, and I never want to leave him home. Looks like I should though because it’s so beautiful! How cool that you found a more secluded beach though.
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    • Sarah August 29, 2013, 7:58 pm

      Sand Harbor was nice but it was so crowded. I would rather try to find a beach like we did (which I thought was just as pretty) and you can still bring your dog. Assuming your dog likes water, unlike Coco. :)

  • Luv What You Do September 1, 2013, 6:21 am

    I’ve never been to Lake Tahoe but it is more beautiful than I would have thought! I really want to try SUP. I need to put that on my bucket list!
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  • Lisa September 1, 2013, 12:35 pm

    These pictures are absolutely gorgeous! :-)
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  • Christie Anderson November 19, 2013, 6:05 pm

    New to your blog and I love it. I actually live about 30 minutes away from Tahoe so I’ve been spoiled spending every summer there since I was little. Sand Harbor is definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been too, I love it.
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    • Sarah November 19, 2013, 6:30 pm

      Hi Christie! I’m jealous that you live so close to Tahoe. You are definitely spoiled! ;)

  • Tracey@whatsfordinnerdoc April 6, 2014, 10:46 am

    I just found your blog through Dishing up the Dirt and decided to wander by. Sand Harbor was our go to beach in high school and I have the sun damage wrinkles to prove it. :-(
    Tahoe is truly a gem and we love to share it with the world. Be well and wear your sunscreen, Tracey

    • Sarah April 15, 2014, 5:26 pm

      Hi Tracey! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. :)
      Luckily, I learned to wear sunscreen daily in my late teens but I appreciate the advice! Take care.


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