Our 38th annual survey of Northern California naked fun in the sun
Directions: The beach is a few blocks west of Natural Bridges State Beach and about 2.5 miles north of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. From either north or south of Santa Cruz, take Highway 1 to Swift Street. Drive .8 miles to the sea, then turn right on West Cliff Drive. 2222 is five blocks away. Past Auburn Avenue, look for 2222 West Cliff on the inland side of the street. Park in the nine-car lot next to the cliff. If it's full, continue straight and park along Chico Avenue. Bay Area Naturists leader Rich Pasco suggests visitors use care and then follow the path on the side of the beach closest to downtown Santa Cruz and the Municipal Wharf.
PRIVATES BEACH, SANTA CRUZ
"Privates is one of my favorite beaches," says Brittney Barrios, manager-buyer of Freeline Design Surf Shop, which is located nearby and sells keys to unlock the gate leading to the clean, beautiful cove. "It's always very peaceful." Visitors include nudists, surfers, families, and local residents. "Everyone gets along," adds Barrios. "And it's never crowded."
Barrios says many of the naturists, who often visit in groups, like to play Paddle Ball on the sand. As for Barrios, she prefers to "lay out," as she calls it, in the sun.
There's almost no litter, wind, noise, or troublemakers — security guards plus a locked gate keep the latter out — and world class surfers, such as those who starred in Endless Summer II, regularly put on a free show for the naked people who share the warm, clean sand with surfers.
"It's really nice," says Hunter Young, a former worker at Freeline, which sells up to 600 beach passes a year. "Surfers love it because it has good waves. It's 100 percent standup surfing, with paddling. Anytime I go to Privates, I can expect a long ride on my longboard."
"The beach is also very family oriented," explains Barrios. "And it's OK for dogs too."
"There are two different coves on the beach," says Young. "Clothed families who use the beach know which cove is nude and stay away from it. If you want to play naked Frisbee, at the bottom of the beach stairs you just walk to the left."
Directions: 1) Some visitors walk north from Capitola Pier in low tide (not a good idea since at least four people have needed to be rescued). 2) Others reach it in low tide via the stairs at the end of 41st Avenue, which lead to a surf spot called the Hook at the south end of a rocky shore known as Pleasure Point. 3) Surfers paddle on boards for a few minutes to Privates from Capitola or the Hook. 4) Most visitors buy a key to the beach gate for $100 a year at Freeline (821 41st Ave., Santa Cruz, 831-476-2950) 1.5 blocks west of the beach. Others go with someone with a key or wait outside the gate until a person with a key goes in, provided a security guard is not present (they often are there). "Most people will gladly hold the gate open for someone behind them whose hands are full," says Bay Area Naturists leader Rich Pasco. The nude area starts to the left of the bottom of the stairs.
MUIR NUDE BEACH, MUIR BEACH