Sunday, October 9, 2016

Best Kayaking In Tahoe - Fannette Island

Look carefully, there's an island hiding in front of that wall of rock! And if you look very close at the top of the island, you can see the square tea house that was built in 1929.

Fannette Island, the only island in Tahoe, is in Emerald Bay. It is where Captain Dick Barter, Tahoe's first year-round resident, spent time back in the 1860s. It is also where the heiress Lora Knight - after she built the Vikingsholm Castle on the shore of Emerald Bay - built a stone tea house back in 1929. She lived in the castle during the summers. During the day, she had her butler row her and her house guests out to the island to take tea. When you see the pictures below, you'll see why.

In the middle of September, while the weather was still glorious but the tourist rush was over, we kayaked out to Emerald Bay and visited Fannette Island. (See my previous blog post.)

While you can get to Fannette Island on most any boat, a kayak or canoe allows you to paddle right up to the rocky shore and step out onto dry land.

Here are the pics:

Like us, the paddlers in the red kayak are looking for a place on the island to make landfall.

There are lots of perfect coves in which to find shelter.

We found a perfect little Kayak Garage/Boathouse.

Once on the island, you can look out toward the mainland shore. Vikingsholm Castle is hidden in the trees.

A view of the mainland, framed by an ancient tree.

Zoom your camera in on the M.S. Dixie sternwheeler as it arrives at the Vikingsholm Castle. If you look close, you can see the castle in the trees just off the bow of the boat.

Fannette Island is about 150 feet tall. If you turn around to the east, you'll see the tea house at the top of the island.

Lora Knight's workers carved steps into the natural rock, making them look timeless and like something out of an epic ancient fantasy.

As you get close, the tea house dominates the island. Although it no longer has a roof, the stone walls are just as they were 90 years ago.

This view is looking down from just outside the tea house. The rock on the north side of the island is near-vertical, and you can see far down into the water.

Step inside the tea house and look out the picture windows. Have you ever seen a more perfect view with which to enjoy your tea?!

As we leave the island on our kayak, the Dixie cruises on past us.

Visiting Fannette Island by kayak or canoe is a singular experience you will never forget. I think it belongs near the top of the list of things to do in Tahoe.


  1. Always looking for something new and different to do in Tahoe! This will be on the 2017 list for sure!
    Thanks Todd!

  2. Beautiful. My maiden name is Knight, so I always thought of it as "my" island. Thanks for sharing the wonderful pictures.

    1. Glad you like it, Joann! Lora Knight would be happy that other Knights enjoy it.

  3. Do you think the island would be accessible this time of the year?