Everything you need to know to drop trou waterside
A few snippets from the year in nude beaches: TV installer Paul Jung enjoyed playing nude volleyball on the north end of Baker Beach. Stinson Beach local and attorney-teacher Fred Jaggi preferred to be naked while tossing a Frisbee on Red Rock Beach in the North Bay. And when he wasn't busy representing an area that stretches from Tomales south to Muir Beach and as far east as Novato, Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey could sometimes be found without a stitch of clothing at a beach in Point Reyes National Seashore.
They'll be able to continue enjoying their favorite clothing-optional spots. Unfortunately, that's not the case for all Californians.
BUDGET CUTS TO NAKED SPACE
As you may have heard, our state government plans to close 70 state parks and beaches, including at least three places in Northern California that have traditionally attracted naturists: Montara's Gray Whale Cove State Beach in San Mateo County, Garrapata State Park near Carmel, and Zmudowski State Beach in northern Monterey County. All three sites have seen declines in nude use recently.
But there's good news too: After a July 8 meeting of the California State Park & Recreation Commission, Allen Baylis, a board member of the Naturist Action Committee, was hopeful that the state will soon officially designate some beaches as clothing-optional — and said that progress is being made behind the scenes. "We're going to get there sooner or later," he predicted. Plus, we've learned that none of the spots slated for closure will be fully shuttered before July 2012.
Roy Stearns, deputy director of communications of the California State Parks, says that until then "there may be service reductions and closures on non-peak days, such as Monday through Thursday," but nothing firm has been decided yet.
"And how do you really close a beach?" asks a state official who wants to remain anonymous. "It's never been done before in California, so it's new territory to us. Sure, we can close the bathrooms and the doors, turn off the electricity, and stop the garbage pickup, but you probably can't keep people out."
To prevent them from being broken or vandalized, authorities may even decide to keep some gates open at closed beaches.
Thankfully, Kinsey won't have to worry about those concerns in Marin County, although he has had his hands full trying to broker an agreement between homeowners and nudists at Muir Beach in 2009 and 2010. In the end, county officials ordered a sign to be erected on the sand, warning visitors not to engage in lewd behavior and encouraging them to report violations to law enforcers.
"My favorite ongoing spot for going au natural is Limantour Beach, in the dunes heading toward Drakes Estero," Kinsey says. In fact, while others were mowing their lawns or having barbecues with their families, Kinsey spent part of his Fourth of July weekend sunbathing in the nude area of Limantour.
Limantour isn't the only clothing-optional place in Marin where Kinsey likes to relax. He was at Bass Lake, also in the Point Reyes National Seashore last year. "And I make it a point to check Red Rock once a year to make sure things are steady and stable," Kinsey says.
THE NEW BEACH ON THE BLOCK
Even while some nude beaches face closure, we're proud to add North Garberville Nude Beach in Humboldt County to our online guide this year.
Its discovery comes as a surprise to us, even though it has been known to locals for years. If there's one thing we've learned about covering — and uncovering — nude beaches over the years, it's to expect the unexpected.
For instance, at North Garberville some visitors even camp naked. "I've done it, but so have others," says reader Dave.