South Lake Tahoe paddleboard and kayak rental companies preparing for busy season |

South Lake Tahoe paddleboard and kayak rental companies preparing for busy season

J.P. Kelsey
Paddleboarding on Lake Tahoe, while wearing life jackets.
File photo |

With Lake Tahoe’s water level at the highest it’s been in recent years and ski season concluding, now is the perfect time to get ready for stand-up paddleboard season.

The sport, which has gained a lot of popularity over the past several years, has something to offer just about anyone.
Some South Shore businesses specializing in rentals and sales of paddleboards are getting ready for the influx of patrons the warmer weather will undoubtedly bring. According to South Shore’s SUP Tahoe, they are looking to get more people out on the lake somewhere around the first week of May.

“We haven’t fully opened yet,” said SUP Tahoe store manager Scott Campbell. “It does look like we will be on track for opening on May 1 or right around then.”

SUP Tahoe offers a few different packages to get you started. They have a $50 day pass and a $275 season pass, both of which include all the gear needed for your paddleboard journey. Both passes allow users to take boards out from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. “The advantage of renting through us is that it’s kind of like a choose your own adventure situation,” said Campbell. “People can grab the boards from our shop and then take them wherever they want.”

Although already operating in a limited capacity through appointments, May is when business picks up for SUP Tahoe, as more people look to get on the water. SUP Tahoe also has passes for shorter duration and kayak rentals. Campbell said they try to limit rentals in the winter since there’s a safety issue involved due to cold water, but he said winter business has been steady.

“Once the air temperature reaches somewhere around the seventies, or even sixties, that’s when [conditions] get a little more ideal,”said Campbell. “The water doesn’t fluctuate too much year round so it’s really the ambient air temperature that makes a difference.”

According to Campbell, if you know where to go, you can work around cooler water temperatures. “The shallow areas where the shelves are, like El Dorado Beach and Kiva Beach, those areas of water typically warm up,“ he said.

One of the good things about stand-up paddleboarding is that you don’t necessarily have to be an athlete to enjoy it. If you have a little coordination and adequate upper body strength, you should have a nice outing on the lake. “I’ve seen so many different people from all different walks, shapes and sizes do it,” said Campbell. “It’s been such a positive thing for people.”

If you haven’t had much boarding experience, there are a few spots to try out until you get your sea legs. According to Campbell, the beaches near Camp Richardson tend to stay relatively calm. A jaunt over to the Tahoe Keys also would be a good place to start. He said more of an intermediate trip would be to head toward Emerald Bay.

Campbell said he’s noticed most people who come to the shop, even as a beginner, will want to go above and beyond. “Generally, in this town, it’s not uncommon for people to have an adventurous spirit and take things on right off the bat,” said Campbell. “They’ll want to do something that would be considered something more of an intermediate paddle.”

Whether you’re experienced or not, there are several things to keep in mind before going out for a paddle. Campbell said that he still typically starts out with a slow paddle from his knees, before popping up and gaining more momentum, which is a good way to observe water conditions and get a feel for what you are doing.

There’s also stance and weight distribution, which can alter balance and performance. Paddlers will need to keep their feet about hip-width apart and stay pointed forward without standing too close to the edges. When paddling, it’s recommended to keep strokes short and close to the board as to avoid picking up too much speed. Campbell explained that keeping a relaxed attitude and just letting your body act naturally can go a long way when out adventuring around the lake.

“It really is such a simple sport,” he said. “And I think that’s why it’s got such a mass appeal is because it’s so easy to do. The trick to it is literally just standing.”

SUP Tahoe is located at 871 Emerald Bay Road. For information about rentals and services, visit

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