Nude Beaches California - Clothing Optional Sunbathing

Nude beaches are not advertised by those who enjoy naturist activities. We stepped onto a nude beach and broke ranks in an effort to document the low-key scene we observed. In an attempt to educate, rather than flaunt activities, we hope that the nude beach photos we took will exemplify a tasteful method for allowing the public the freedom of getting a tan without restriction or tan lines.


Where do nude sunbathers go on vacation?  In California, the good news is that Palm Desert communities actually offers a nudist hotel resort. Sea Mountain Resort advertises that you come to undress, de-stress and relax at this Nudist Resort offering a beautiful clothes-free setting perfect for the discerning naturist. The Resort has been featured on the Travel Channel, E! Channel and MTV and in the USA Today, Self and Vogue magazines. Home to "The Baxandall Bridge" - the world's first nudist bridge, there are five acres of meticulously landscaped grounds behind secluded gates, panoramic views, full service restaurant & bar, spa offering facials, manicures & massages, tennis court, putting green, exercise room, three heated pools, two outdoor spas and exquisite waterfalls, fountains, lagoons and streams. Accommodations include two-story town homes, one-story villas (both have fully equipped kitchens, fireplaces, and Jacuzzi tubs) or our luxury hotel rooms equipped with microwave, refrigerator and coffee maker. Close to major entertainment venues like the McCallum Theater, as well as special events including professional golf, championship tennis and more.


Back to the Beach: In San Diego County, the southernmost and warmest beaches in California, you may find some privacy and relaxation in places such as Black's Beach.  San Diego - Black's Beach Directions - Go north from San Diego on I-5. Take the La Jolla Village Drive exit. Travel west about 1/2 mile and turn right on Torrey Pines Road. Just past the Salk Institute you'll see a sign for the Gliderport. Turn left there and park in the lot. Take the stairs down to the beach. The nude beach is to the right of the trail when you get to the beach.


San Onofre Beach in San Diego County not for from Oceanside and San Clemente enjoys a tucked away location you must hike to. Lifeguards do patrol and may ask people to put their clothes on, it is reported. From Orange County to Los Angeles, there is absolutely no beach you'll be able to run free or go au natural. As you head north to Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, there also are no places that you can count on to let your clothing down for a swimsuit-free tan line.


San Clemente - San Onofre State Beach. Nude sunbathing proponents recently lost a ruling to allow nude sunbathing to exist at this beach. State Beach officials may now ticket sunbathers.

Here is how the coverage has played out:


California beaches Nude Sunbathing Ban Coverage  23 Oct, 2009

Nude Protest at San Onofre’s Former Nude Beach  11 Sep, 2009

America’s Fascination with California Beaches  19 Aug, 2009

California Nude Beach Updates  16 Aug, 2009

> California Beach Update- Nude Proponents will Appeal  21 Jul, 2009

California’s No Nudity Beach Patrol  29 Jun, 2009


An hour north of San Diego and 90 minutes south of Los Angeles. Many would say this is the finest nude beach in California. Directions: Go past San Clemente on the I-5. Take the San Onofre exit. Go into the State Beach. Drive about two miles to Beach Trail #6. Park past the area designated for camping. There are three trails named Trail #6. They all lead down to the beach you want. Go past the last Trail #6, park near the restrooms, and walk down. It's an easy path. In fact, the trail becomes a road used for official vehicles. When you get to the beach go left. The nude beach begins 300 yards south of the last lifeguard tower.


Unfortunate for tourists and sun lovers, you have to go where the climate's cooler to enjoy nude sunbathing on a limited basis. When you arrive in San Luis Obispo County, there are a couple neighborhood beaches such as Pirate's Cove, Avila Beach, frequented mostly by college students from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Locals also enjoy this private location. It's really very interesting that Hispanic fishermen go on the weekends to fish off the cliffs next to nude sunbathers perched on rocks above them or the beach below. It's really very grown-up in its approach to live-and-let live. Each seems to do his or her own thing, not paying much attention to the other. Even the sea lions dozing on rocks jutting out of the ocean keep a mindful eye on the people at the beach or kayaking past nude with no discrimination about attire as they guard themselves and their young. What's fortunate about this location is a reported warm zone where air currents seem to keep it warmer than the windswept beaches nearby in Guadalupe, Oceano and Morro Bay. San Luis Obispo - Pirates Beach at Avila Directions: - take the Avila road exit off Hwy 101. Head west for about two miles. Look for an uphill road named Cave Landing. Take that road. There is a sign that say's Not a Through Road - No Overnight Camping. Follow the road to the parking lot and take the trail down to this beautiful cove.


Santa Cruz beaches are as free spirited as Santa Cruz, itself. In Santa Cruz, home to the Banana Slug-loving UC Santa Cruz students, the beaches are low-key places where you can pretty much do your own thing as long as you don't bother anyone else or offend. Santa Cruz has always enjoyed a spirited individualism that promotes cutting edge ideas outside the box. Many of San Jose's silicon-savvy thinkers who made their fortunes in the city escaped the one million population and went over the mountain to the beaches at Santa Cruz where they now can work from home. Some of the beaches get a bit chilly and in the winter, you need to seek the protected coves for sunbathing opportunities. But you'll enjoy more than the beaches in Santa Cruz County, a beautiful landscape with beaches next to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Santa Cruz - Red, White and Blue Beach Directions - 4.1 miles north of Santa Cruz. Look for a sign or mailbox on the ocean side of the road. If the mailbox is still there it is painted red white and blue. Turn there and follow Scaroni Road to the entrance gate for the beach.


Moving north toward the San Francisco bay area, Gray Whale Cove State Beach near Pacifica, Half Moon Bay and Moss Beach is one of the few beaches in California officially recognized as a naturist or clothing optional beach. While the summer weather can be perfect, winter days are a mix of some warm, peak hours and cool, breezy afternoons that can chill the skin.  The wonderful aspects of this location are the rules. Nobody can rightfully hassle you and tell you to put your clothes on. It's your right to do what you want. The beaches of San Mateo County, south of San Francisco, are generally very accepting. Pacifica - Gray Whale Cove State Park - AKA: Devil's Slide Directions: Go south through Pacifica and then about 3 miles south of Denny's in Linda Mar - in the past the road has been unmarked but now look for signs to Gray Whale Cove State Park.

As you go north to San Francisco, the beaches are smaller, more crowded and full of tourists. There are, however, a few tucked away neighborhood treasures such as  North Baker's Beach. Directions - off Lincoln Blvd, near the Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge.

North of San Francisco there are several nude beaches in this area, the most popular is Red Rock Beach. Directions: Park 1/2 mile south of Stinson Beach and then follow the trail down to the ocean. It will take you about 10 minutes.


Lake Tahoe is an inland location not near the coast but it does enjoy beaches with summer sunbathing opportunities. Secret Cove Beach on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe is small due to high water line. Arrive by 10 a.m. to find one of the best sunbathing spots. Besides the beach area there are many large boulders that surround the cove. The water in the cove is shallow so it stays fairly warm and is great for swimming, or just floating on an air mattress. The beach is recognized as a nude beach and nearly everyone is nude.

Directions: - I 80 east to Sacramento; Highway 50 exit east to Lake Tahoe. From Stateline, take Highway 50 north to Highway 28. Go north on 28 about five miles until you see a parking lot on the west (lake) side of the highway. Park there. Walk south on the fire road that begins there. Follow the trail down to the beach. Expect a 10- to 15-minute walk. If the lot is full, you can park on the shoulder of 28, south of the last No Parking sign (cars on the asphalt itself will be cited). On the west side of the road, follow signs that say Trail to the beach path. The trail also leads to Chimney Beach which is sometimes used by nudists, The boulders between Chimney and Secret Cove are recognized as clothing optional.


Entering the Sonoma County coast, you are back in open territory. Private little beaches and coves not directly on the ocean are enjoyed au natural. Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties in the northern portion of California experience cooler climate and lots of fog. Sunbathing, let alone nude sunbathing, is not one of the most popular recreational activities because of the cooler climate. This area is quite popular for hiking, fishing and kayaking. The further north you go, the less sunbathing you'll see. There's a joke amongst locals in places like Sea Ranch on the northern Sonoma coast. They see tourists come in their swimsuits, bringing a blanket or towel to sunbathe at the beach. They usually don't stay long when they discover how cool it can be.


While most the public beaches require clothing be worn, you'll often see girls untie their bikini bra sashes to remove the tan lines from the back. That can be done at most any beach you like.

california nude beaches
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