NUDE BEACHES 2012 - Page 5

Our 38th annual survey of Northern California naked fun in the sun

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GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MATTHEW REAMER

DEVIL'S SLIDE, MONTARA

RATING: A

Although Devil's Slide, also known as Gray Whale Cove, was scheduled to be closed this month by the state due to budget shortfalls, officials plan to keep it open while they negotiate with what Paul Keel, San Mateo coast state parks sector superintendent, calls a prospective "donor to keep it in operation for the coming year." At press time, Keel told us that although "nothing's been signed or inked, it's fair to say we are optimistic, so hopefully we will know more in the next month." Access to the site, though, is changing: after a long-awaited, voter-approved Devil's Slide tunnel is completed this fall, Keel and others expect a possible increase in traffic to the beach, as more pedestrians and bicyclists use a nearby section of Highway 1 that is being closed. Meanwhile, rangers say they will allow a long-standing tradition of nudity to continue on the sand unless visitors complain.

Directions: Driving from San Francisco, take Highway 1 south through Pacifica. Three miles south of the Denny's restaurant in Linda Mar, turn left (inland or east) on an unmarked road, which takes you to the beach's parking lot and to a 146-step staircase that leads to the sand. Coming from the south on Highway 1, look for a road on the right (east), 1.2 miles north of the Chart House restaurant in Montara. Starting this fall, from the north, take Highway 1 through the Devil's Slide tunnel and then turn left onto the road described above. From the south, continue using the above directions. Most naturists use the north end of the beach, which is separated by rocks from the rest of the shore.

SAN GREGORIO NUDE BEACH, SAN GREGORIO

RATING: A

Still the USA's longest continually used nude beach, San Gregorio even has its own web site and live web cam at www.freewebs.com/sangregoriobeach. The privately run operation, which is located next to San Gregorio State Beach, recently began its 46th year of serving the clothing-optional community.

The beach often draws a large gay crowd, along with some nude and suited straight couples, singles, and families. "It's a really romantic spot," says a single woman. However, first-timers are sometimes annoyed (as I was, years ago) by the driftwood structures on the sandy slope leading down to the beach, which are used by some visitors as "sex condos." However, fans of the beach savor San Gregorio's stunning scenery. It has "awesome natural beauty," says regular visitor Bob Wood. Attractions of the 120-acre site include two miles of soft sand and tide pools to explore, as well as a lagoon, lava tube, and, if you look closely enough on the cliffs, the remains of an old railroad line.

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