Lake Tahoe is a pretty place wherever you are on the shore (assuming you exclude the casino resort area on the south end). It is easy to get blasé about the great views as you drive around the lake. However, get to Emerald Bay and you will definitely notice the beauty of the place. The highway winds around the bay high up on the hills so you have a view down to the water below you. We approached from the south and there is a viewing overlook as you round the headland into the bay. This was absolutely packed with people so stopping was not really an option.
We continued down to the trailhead and got amazingly lucky to find a parking space opening up as we arrived. People were parked all over the place and along the road in both directions but we were exactly where we wanted to be! Outstanding! The view down to the bay is lovely. There is a small island in the middle of the bay which makes it look evening more inviting. The idea of staying on the shore, swimming out in the bay and across to the island sounds great. Of course, this is snow run-off so I imagine the water temperature as a bit on the chilly side.
The place was hugely popular. Not only were people on the beaches along the shore but there was a steady stream of boats pulling in to the bay from elsewhere on Lake Tahoe. I have no idea how busy this place gets in the summer but I imagine it is absolutely crazy.