Long ago the canoe was the preferred mode of transportation on Big Blue, and then the kayak was king. Now the hottest thing going is the standup paddleboard. With a sleek, streamlined board and a simple paddle, the SUP allows riders to navigate Lake Tahoe’s waters with ease while offering an incomparable view.
The sport, which has its roots in Hawaii, is easily accessible to first-timers. This makes it a natural fit for the Lake of the Sky and for Adrift Tahoe, Tahoe’s original surf shop. This isn’t to say that the Kings Beach business doesn’t also offer canoe and kayak rentals, but it’s with the sales and rentals of standup paddleboards that Adrift Tahoe celebrates the Aloha spirit and the connection between the Hawaiian Islands and the High Sierra.
In addition to being a Malibu-area surfer, Adrift owner and founder Marcus Tingle is a Tahoe native. He grew up in Incline Village, spending his winters skiing and summers water-skiing, living the Tahoe lifestyle to the fullest. And he was also an early observer of the SUP.
“In the summer of 2007, after Laird Hamilton had introduced the world to beach-boy-style standup surfing, I realized that Tahoe might just be the perfect summer environment for standup paddleboarding,” Tingle says. “Because standing on a board gives you a view into the depths that you don’t get with kayaking, I thought Lake Tahoe would be a perfect environment for SUP.”
Taking a leap of faith, Tingle started Adrift Tahoe in the summer of 2008. He quickly realized that this unique water sport was not going to be just a fad. Thirteen years later, SUP is one of the most popular activities on the lake.
Adrift has a wide selection of water equipment for sale or rent to help you enjoy your Tahoe time to the fullest. The standup paddleboards, kayaks (one-person, two-person or pedal-operated) and canoes can be rented by the hour or by the day.
At Adrift they know just how addictive this lifestyle can be, so they also offer a frequent rental card; as a bonus, sometimes that investment can even be applied toward the purchase of a new board. They sell all the top brands, and you can demo one to see if it’s a good fit.
When you’re ready to get on the water, Adrift has everything you’ll need. The shop also sells bathing suits, boardshorts, rash guards and waterproof sandals, along with sunglasses, hats, sunscreen, water and snacks. In fact, you could head over to the shop straight from a corporate suit-and-tie job and be able to outfit yourself for the Tahoe beach life just from the great selection of gear, clothing and accessories that Adrift has on hand.
The shop’s hours fluctuate with the seasons. The location is easy to find, right alongside the lake in Kings Beach, practically as near to the middle of the North Shore as you can get, next to Kings Beach State Park and just a stone’s throw from the California/
Nevada state line.
Even if you haven’t yet been to the Adrift site in person, chances are you have noticed their trademark vehicle, affectionately dubbed “Huckleberry,” driving around the area. With its bright boards stacked on the roof and extended out the back window, it’s hard to miss. Although it has the appearance of a camouflaged SUV, it’s actually an M1009 Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle (complete with personalized ADRIFT license plate) that they use to shuttle their SUP equipment to and fro. In line with Adrift’s business philosophy, the vehicle has been converted to operate on waste vegetable oil instead of diesel to reduce the fossil-fuel impact on the environment.
While we all have Hawaii on our list of places we’d like to visit, you don’t have to travel that far to catch some of those island vibes. That spirit of outdoor fun and relaxation is as close as Kings Beach, where you can stop by Adrift, grab a board and stake your claim on the Pacific lifestyle in the High Sierra.