Everything you need to know to drop trou waterside
SAN GREGORIO NUDE BEACH, SAN GREGORIO
Now in its 45th year of operation, San Gregorio continues its reign as the USA's longest continually used nude beach. The beach, adjacent to the no-nudity-allowed San Gregorio State Beach, usually attracts a large gay crowd, along with some nude and suited straight couples, singles, and families. First-timers should be wary of the driftwood structures on the sandy slope leading down to the beach, which are used by some visitors as "sex condos." (If you see one with a t-shirt on a pole, it means it's occupied.) However, fans of the beach savor San Gregorio's stunning scenery. It has "awesome natural beauty," says regular visitor Bob Wood. Attractions at this 120-acre site include two miles of great sand and intriguing tide pools to explore, as well as a lagoon and lava tube.
Directions: From San Francisco, drive south on Highway 1 past Half Moon Bay. Between mileposts 18 and 19, look on the right side of the road for telephone call box number SM 001 0195 at the Stage Road intersection. From there, continue 1.1 miles to the entrance, ABOUT 0.1 MILES from Junction 84. Turn into a gravel driveway, passing through an iron gate with 19429 on the gatepost. Drive past a grassy field to the parking lot, where you'll be asked to pay an entrance fee. Take the long path from the lot to the sand; everything north of the trail's end is clothing-optional (families and swimsuit-using visitors tend to stay on the south end of the beach). The beach is also accessible from the San Gregorio State Beach parking area to the south; from there, hike about a half mile north. Take the dirt road past the big white gate with the toll road sign to the parking lot.
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
BONNY DOON NUDE BEACH, BONNY DOON
At Bonny Doon, "free bathers" head for the northernmost of two coves, where Santa Cruz County's best-looking nude beach usually has a friendly, social crowd. In recent years, its delightful scenery and peaceful vibes have attracted more women and couples than most clothing-optional sites. However, the Doon's reputation has been tarnished recently by reports of increased visits by law enforcers and comments left on message boards by men and women alike about some men on the sand making unwanted advances. Jill from Santa Cruz visited the beach in March and wrote that, even after she and her boyfriend left, "one of the men actually got up and followed us." But after a June visit, Elizabeth from San Jose said, "I gave them the get-away-from-me look and things were cool after that."
Directions: Go south on Highway 1 to the Bonny Doon parking lot at milepost 27.6 on the west side of the road, about 11 miles north of Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz, head north on Highway 1 until you see Bonny Doon Road, which veers sharply to the right just south of Davenport. The beach is right off the intersection. Park in the paved lot to the west of Highway 1; don't park on Bonny Doon Road or the shoulder of Highway 1. If the lot is full, drive north on Highway 1, park at the next beach lot and walk back to the first lot. To get to the beach, climb the berm next to the railroad tracks adjacent to the Bonny Doon lot, cross the tracks, descend, and take the trail to the sand. Walk north past most of the beach to the cove on the north end.
2222, SANTA CRUZ