First Time Kayaking? 4 Tips To Make It Fun AND Safe

first time kayaking on Lake tahoe Chimney Beach

The sun warms your skin. The water is glinting like sapphire diamonds. From each vantage point, Lake Tahoe provides a totally different perspective unlike any other alpine lake in the world. Along with that beauty, you MUST respect it. If you’re considering shoving off onto the lake, we recommend reading our beginner’s guide to the Lake Tahoe Water Trail and maybe even to take the free online paddle sports safety course. Once you’ve checked that out, here’s four tips to make your first outing fun AND a little bit easier.

Pick A Sandy Beach

The shoreline of Lake Tahoe is variable to say the least. While you may want to experience the rocky coastline segments, for the first-time kayaking, pick a sandy beach to depart and return to. You will already be using a lot of energy to paddle, so help reduce the stress by making the departure and arrival easy. Check out our blog section to learn about beaches that provide a sandy access point like El Dorado Beach.

Tailwind On The Way Home

Kayakers and SUPers enjoying Baldwin Beach
Image appears courtesy: Sierra Business Council

On the surface (get it?) you may think, “Oh, kayaking isn’t THAT hard. You’re just gliding across water.” For starters, an average person burns between 375-475 calories per hour kayaking which is equivalent to going for a big hike. Second, wherever you paddle to, you’ll need to paddle back so why not make the return journey a little bit easier with help from Mother Nature.

Keep Close To Shore

Even if you’re an expert in kayaking, Lake Tahoe’s weather can become turbulent like an ocean especially on summer afternoons. To get your feet wet and a basic understanding of the water, stay close to the shore for your first-time kayaking. No matter how “cool” being out on the water is, we all know the shoreline has lots of wondrous sights to see.

Stick With Your Own Flock

The old saying of “birds of a feather flock together” is a great thing to consider when picking a place to kayak. If something were to go wrong, it’s good to be near other paddlers so they can help if you do get into trouble. On the other side of the paddle, try to avoid areas that are popular with motorboats. Their wakes create a challenge, or better yet, pick a beach that doesn’t have a boat launch site like Commons Beach.

In addition to these tips, be sure to ALWAYS wear a life jacket, submit a Float Plan, and of course, check the weather ahead of time.

The Lake Tahoe Water Trail is a Sierra Business Council sustainable recreation tourism project. Learn more about SBC's innovative social, environmental and economic development projects in the Sierra Nevada at www.sierrabusiness.org.


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Sierra Business Council and the Lake Tahoe Water Trail Committee and their contributors will be in no way responsible for personal injury or damage to personal property arising in conjunction with the use of this website or printed materials. Good judgment and planning are critical to any successful outing. Before heading out on the water, it is recommended that you check with other sources of information for the latest lake conditions.

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