Best Lake Tahoe boat tours and cruises

9 Best Lake Tahoe Boat Tours and Cruises – Get on the Lake! (2024)

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Being from Northern California, I live only 3 hours away from Lake Tahoe. I spend a lot of time in Lake Tahoe every summer with family and friends and find that the best way to experience the beauty of this majestic lake is to get out onto the water in a boat!

Lake Tahoe is known for being the second deepest Lake in the United States and the largest alpine lake in North America.

What makes it so impressive, besides the abundance of natural beauty, is that the water is so clear that you can see down to the bottom of the lake in most spots.

Getting out onto the water to experience the vastness of the clear, turquoise-colored water with surrounding snow-topped mountains is an experience you will not regret while you’re in Lake Tahoe. We once did a boat tour on Lake Tahoe with parasailing. It was the most memorable experience ever!

Between sailboats, yachts, and power boats, there are plenty of chartered boat tours and cruises in Lake Tahoe, and we have the most updated info on the nine best ones to choose from.

So, let’s jump in – here are the nine best Lake Tahoe boat tours and boat cruises.

My Top 3 Picks: Best Lake Tahoe Boat Tours

There are several great Lake Tahoe boat tours, but these are the three that I’d recommend. Spaces on Tahoe boat cruises fill up quickly, so make sure you book your Tahoe boat tour ASAP for your expected dates.

#1 Top Pick

Red powerboat on lake

Half-day Private Boat Charter with Captain
✔️ Stylish boat, Customizable
✔️ Private, 4 hours
✔️drink and snacks

#2 Top Pick

powerboat in lake at sunset

Sunset Wine and Cheese Emerald Bay Boat Charter
✔️ Private for your group of 6
✔️ Sunset Tour, 2 hours
✔️Wine and cheese platter

#3 Top Pick

sailboat on lake

2-hour Sailing Cruise on Lake Tahoe
✔️ Group tour,14 people max
✔️sailboat, 2 hours
✔️Complimentary drinks

9 Best Boat tours and boat cruises in Lake Tahoe

Here is the list of the best boat cruises and boat tours in Lake Tahoe that we recommend and what makes them great.

1. Half-day Private Boat Charter with Captain

Rating: 5/5 | ⏳ Duration: 4 hours | ✅ Book it!

Red powerboat on lake

Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy Lake Tahoe with a half-day chartered tour of the lake with a private captain.

This 4-hour Private Lake Tahoe boat tour, exclusively for your party of up to six, gives you enough time to see all the highlights on the lake – many of which are missed by most tourists.

Sit back and take in the natural beauty while admiring the main tourist spots on the lake without feeling rushed. 

With a stylish boat equipped with life jackets, snacks and soft drinks, and restrooms, you have everything you need on board to enjoy Lake Tahoe at your leisure.

After meeting your captain at Tahoe Keys, you’ll first pass by a lakeside resort with the option to grab a “Rum Rummer” from the Beacon restaurant.

Afterward, head to Emerald Bay to observe its shallow, crystal-clear water and stunning forested granite cliffs by the lake.

You’ll be given a chance to get out of the boat to explore Vikingsholm, Lake Tahoe’s historic Scandinavian-inspired castle.

Later, enjoy more time on the boat while passing by areas of beautiful scenery, such as D.L. Bliss State Park, Sugar Pine State Park, and Homewood, a mansion featured in the 1974 film Godfather 2. 

➡ Check rates and availability of
Half-day Private Boat Charter with Captain

2. Sunset Wine and Cheese Emerald Bay Boat Charter

Rating: 5/5 | ⏳ Duration: 2 hours | ✅ Book it!

powerboat in lake at sunset

On this 2-hour Lake Tahoe sunset boat cruise, you’ll be on a smooth riding stylish boat equipped with a cheese platter, white wine, snacks, and sunset views of the beautiful Emerald Bay!

Enjoy the changing colors of the sky at sunset over the lake with a delicious assortment of fresh fruits and fancy cheeses for your group.

Meet your captain at the designated time, and embark on a chartered tour catered to your group’s interests.

Possible points to stop at in the lake include Sugar Pine State Park, Secret Harbor, and the Sand Harbour shoreline.

Later, continue to Emerald Bay to explore the forestry cliffs, beach, and the majestic Vikingsholm Castle. A stop in Emerald Bay can be included to explore the beach and the castle.

This is a special cruise to enjoy with family or friends and watch the sunset over the majestic Emerald Bay!

➡ Check rates and availability of
Sunset Wine and Cheese Emerald Bay Boat Charter

3. 2-hour Sailing Cruise on Lake Tahoe

Rating: 5/5 | ⏳ Duration: 2 hours | ✅ Book it!

sailboat on lake

Enjoy this affordable, family-friendly Lake Tahoe sailing cruise that allows a maximum of 14 people.

Great for family and friend groups looking for a peaceful way to enjoy natural sailing on Lake Tahoe. Look forward to the exhilarating experience of your boat being guided naturally by the wind on the lake.

The route will depend on the direction of the wind. Please note that this tour does not go to Emerald Bay as it is too far for a 2-hour sailboat cruise, but you will enjoy magnificent views of Lake Tahoe around you.

Float blissfully around the lake while enjoying the complimentary beer, wine, and soft drinks included in the tour.

This 40-foot vessel will offer you stunning sights around the lake and the chance to enjoy a magical experience with your loved ones.

➡ Check rates and availability of
2-hour Sailing Cruise on Lake Tahoe

4. Luxury Private Boat Charter

Rating: 5/5 | ⏳ Duration: 4 hours | ✅ Book it!

Boats in Lake Tahoe

For an upscale boating experience on Lake Tahoe, consider this 4-hour private Lake Tahoe cruise on a power boat for up to 6 people that will take you to see all the highlights on the lake.

Perfect for a romantic surprise, birthday party, or just a special experience with those you love – all ages are welcome.

This luxury boat will first take you to Vikingsholm, followed by the gorgeous cliffs of D.L. Bliss State Park.

After that, sail to the scenic Sugar Pine State Park and Rubicon Peak for more breathtaking sights. Catch a glimpse of The Godfather II house before heading back to shore.

This half-day luxury yacht cruise provides a relaxing time on the lake and a chance to see all the special attractions that go unseen by most tourists.

➡ Check rates and availability of
Luxury Private Boat Charter on Lake Tahoe

5. Two-hour Private Charter with a Captain
(includes water sports)

Rating: 5/5 | ⏳ Duration: 2 hours | ✅ Book it!

Boats in Lake Tahoe

This tour Two-hour Private Charter tour with water sports option is for all ages; perfect for families or a group of adults for up to six people.

Meet your US Coast Guard certified captain right at the boat conveniently in South Lake Tahoe, and embark on your customized Lake Tahoe private boat tour with up to six people in your party.

With your own private captain, you can sit back and enjoy being brought to the locations on the lake that interest you the most – some suggestions include Emerald Bay, D.L Bliss State Park, Vikingsholm Castle, and Fannette Island. The captain can make recommendations specific to your interests.

If anyone in your group is interested in water sports, this is the tour for you. The captain can find a safe area in the lake for water tubing, swimming, water skiing, or wakeboarding. Equipment for these sports is available on board and included in the price.

In addition to customizing an amazing experience that suits your interests, Captain Zach will share interesting facts about Lake Tahoe, allowing you to gain an even richer experience from your vacation.

➡ Check rates and availability of
2-hour Private Boat Charter with Captain and water sports

6. Two-hour Sunset Private Charter with Captain
(includes water sports)

Rating: 5/5 | ⏳ Duration: 2 hours | ✅ Book it!

Boats in Lake Tahoe

This evening private Lake Tahoe boat tour offers a rare opportunity to experience Lake Tahoe in a boat at sunset. Watch the sky turn shades of oranges, yellows, and pinks as you relax in this cruise boat that fits up a party of up to 6 people. 

This sunset cruise is customizable to your party’s interests. Your captain can take you to Emerald Bay, Fannett Island, Vikingsholm Castle, or D.L. Bliss State Park, and you can spend as much or as little time at each destination, depending on your preference. 

Additionally, the boat is equipped with watersports equipment – water tubing, waterskiing, and wakeboarding, for your added enjoyment. There are also soft drinks and water so you can stay hydrated on board.

Make special memories on the lake at dusk with this unique sunset cruise on Lake Tahoe.

➡ Check rates and availability of
Two-hour Sunset Private Charter with Captain (includes water sports)

7. Private Yacht Class Boat Tour on Lake Tahoe

Rating: 5/5 | ⏳ Duration: 4 hours | ✅ Book it!

Boats in Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe

This Private Yacht Class Boat Tour on Lake Tahoe for up to six people will take you to the most scenic sights of Lake Tahoe, such as Emerald Bay, D.L.Bliss State Park, and several beaches around the lake, which can only be reached by boat.

The US Coast Guard-certified captain will expertly steer the Yatch class vessel to the most scenic areas of the lake as you admire the granite rocks, cliffs, and sand against the water.

Emerald Bay is one of the most beautiful sights on the lake. See the Vikingsholm Castle and the tea house on Fanette Island. Stop at the beach and take in the surrounding views.

Pass through the Rubicon Peak and see the famous Rubicon Estates homes from your stylish and spacious yacht.

➡ Check rates and availability of
Private Yacht Class Boat Tour on Lake Tahoe

8. Private Boat Tour of Lake Tahoe

Rating: 5/5 | ⏳ Duration: 2 hours | ✅ Book it!

Fannette Island In Emerald Bay

On this private boat tour of Lake Tahoe, see the highlights of Lake Tahoe, along with one special bonus attraction that tourists rarely see. Sail aboard a brand new, 27-foot long XR7 Bayliner with a USCG-certified captain with your party of up to 6 people. 

Begin the cruise by heading to Emerald Bay State Park to get a glimpse of Vikingsholm Castle, followed by a trip to the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, which hosts a celebrity golf championship every July.

The golf course framed by the alpine mountains is a scenic sight. After that, sail on to D.L. Bliss State Park to admire the shallow turquoise-colored water and the rocky, white-sanded beach.

Complimentary beverages and snacks are on board for your convenience as you enjoy the scenic view of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline.

➡ Check rates and availability of
2-hour Private boat tour of Lake Tahoe

9. Emerald Bay Private Boat Charter

Rating: 5/5 | ⏳ Duration: 2 hours | ✅ Book it!

Boats in Lake Tahoe

This Emerald Bay Private Boat Charter tour is the best way to exclusively explore Emerald Bay, the most picturesque area of Lake Tahoe, in the comfort of a boat driven by a USCG-certified captain. 

For up to 5 people of all ages, this tour takes you to the most breathtaking locations on Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe, like Sugar Pine State Park, Sand Harbor, Secret Harbor, and more. You can customize your itinerary as per your interests.

At Emerald Bay, admire the Scandinavian-style castle, Vikingsholm, before continuing on to see the charming stone tea house on Fannette Island.

Later, head to Rubicon Point, which offers a stunning view of the crystal clear water, lakeside cliffs, and Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance. 

➡ Check rates and availability of
2-hour Emerald Bay Private Boat Charter

FAQs about boating in Lake Tahoe

Here are the most frequently asked questions about Lake Tahoe boat cruises:

Can you go boating in Lake Tahoe?

You can absolutely go boating in Lake Tahoe; in fact, it is the most recommended activity to do here. While skiing and snowboarding are the most popular outdoor activity in Lake Tahoe during the winter months, boating is the most popular of the summer months. There are several marinas and boat launches on the lake’s California and Nevada sides.

South Lake Tahoe, in particular, offers a variety of chartered boat tours and cruises, so you can sit back and enjoy the view with your favorite people while a private captain steers you to see the most picturesque areas on the lake.

What is the best time to go boating on Lake Tahoe?

The best time to go boating in Lake Tahoe is in the morning, as the waters are much calmer with fewer waves to navigate. It allows for a more peaceful, smooth ride. Lake Tahoe boat tours typically only run during the summer and fall seasons.

Lake Tahoe is very touristy in the summer, so it’s best to grab your spot on tours as soon as you can.

How long does it take to boat around Lake Tahoe?

It can take roughly seven hours to do a complete tour in a circle of the entire lake. This time frame can be shortened by going at a quicker speed.

The best way to see the highlights on the lake in a shorter amount of time is by taking a cruise or chartered boat tour with a certified captain who is familiar with the most scenic areas on the lake and can show them to you in a set amount of time.

What do you wear on a boat in Lake Tahoe?

It is highly recommended to bring layers on the boat on Lake Tahoe for sun protection and in case the weather is chillier than you anticipate – mainly due to the wind from sailing over the water.

In addition to that, be sure to pack sunscreen. Lake Tahoe is at a higher elevation, so the UV rays are stronger than average.

Is alcohol allowed on boats on Lake Tahoe?

You can drink alcohol while on a boat in Lake Tahoe, but it is highly illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol in Lake Tahoe.

Often, the safest and most enjoyable way to enjoy a glass of wine or beer on Lake Tahoe is to schedule a chartered tour with a USCG-certified captain who will take you around the lake safely.

This allows you to enjoy the time in the company of your favorite people, without compromising the safety of the journey.

Vikingsholm Castle at Emerald Bay can be reached by Lake Tahoe hikes
Vikingsholm Castle at Emerald Bay

Where to stay in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a great destination for weekend getaways from Bay Area and is teeming with lodging options, from hotels to vacation rentals, suited for every group size and budget. Most places to stay are concentrated around North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe regions.

Top picks for hotels in South Lake Tahoe:

Marriott Timber Lodge – An upscale resort conveniently located next to the Heavenly Gondola, amidst the central hub for dining and shopping.

Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel– A mid-range resort right at the Stateline, within walking distance to casinos and restaurants in Heavenly Village.

Hilton Vacation Club Lake Tahoe Resort – Offers multi-room condos with full kitchens, a pool, and other resort amenities near Heavenly Village.

Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge & Spa – A popular mid-range to affordable hotel situated right by the beach, particularly favored by families.

Top picks for hotels in North Lake Tahoe:

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort – An upscale resort in Incline Village with features like a spa, casino, restaurants, and a pool. Close to Incline Beach and the golf course.

Cedar Glen Lodge – A charming beachside resort with rustic decor, offering family rooms equipped with kitchens. Just a quick drive from Kings Beach in North Lake Tahoe.

Vacation Rentals in Lake Tahoe:

Vacation rentals in South Lake Tahoe are plentiful, making them an excellent choice for large families or groups of friends. We often opt for vacation rentals when visiting Tahoe with extended family. These homes often come with multiple bedrooms and full kitchens, with some offering lake views, pool access, or proximity to hiking trails.

More things to do in Lake Tahoe

Hiking – After boating, hiking is the second most popular activity in Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe hiking trails are plentiful and for all ages and abilities. Some of the most popular trails here are the Eagle Lake Trail, Rubicon Trail, and Emerald Bay Trail.

Emerald Bay Helicopter Tour of Lake Tahoe – In this helicopter view of Lake Tahoe, enjoy panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, and surrounding mountains.

Tahoe Coastal Self-Guided E-Bike Tour on East Shore Trail – Ride an electric bike and explore the famous East Shore Trail at your own pace. This is a family-friendly activity, and you can stop at beaches on the way and enjoy the scenic views.

Final Takeaways: Best Lake Tahoe Boat Tours

Between yachts, power boats, and sailboats, there are a number of ways to enjoy Lake Tahoe boat rides.

There are a variety of chartered tours and cruises with private captains to suit a range of interests, whether you’re hoping to do watersports, get off the boat to see special coastline attractions like the Vikingsholm Castle, or simply sit back and enjoy the ride. 

Whether you’re looking for a romantic evening on the lake, a special family outing, or simply want to experience the best of Lake Tahoe, there are a variety of boat tours in Lake Tahoe that are customizable to the adventure you want.

We hope this guide has been helpful in assisting you in choosing the Lake Tahoe boat tour that helps you make special memories aboard Lake Tahoe cruises.

Still can’t decide which Lake Tahoe boat tour to pick?

Below are my top picks!

Sunset Wine and Cheese Emerald Bay Boat Charter – 2-hour private tour at sunset. Enjoy sunset views with a wine and cheese platter

2-hour Sailing Cruise on Lake Tahoe – 2-hour group tour on a wind-powered sailboat, small group size of 14 people max.

Half-day Private Boat Charter with Captain – 4- hour private tour on a stylish power boat with drinks and snacks. Customize your lake itinerary!

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