- This Week
07.16.13 - 3:13 pm | Gary Hanauer |
Below you'll find our annual update on the state of nude beaches in Northern California, along with detailed guides and directions to some of our favorites. For details on dozens more, please see our complete Nude Beach Guide at www.sfbg.com/nudebeaches, which we are in the process of updating.
While researching clothing-optional beaches in Jamaica in November, my girlfriend and I noticed that native Jamaicans don't think anything of stripping down to their underwear to take a dip in a waterfall on a hot day — our driver did just that near one of the nation's biggest cities, Ocho Rios — while visiting tourists can go topless or nude with hardly a complaint on Negril's seven-mile long shoreline of shimmering white sand, at the west end of the country.
It made me wonder, what if the same tolerance existed here, where each beach has its own traditions and its own set of rules? Sometimes, it takes as little as a person moving some sand or staying after sunset to annoy our cops. In Jamaica and many other parts of the world, that would never happen.
For example, law enforcement actions recently hit two Bay Area nude beaches — Marin's Red Rock and Steep Ravine — while most access to a third site, fan favorite Muir, near Stinson Beach, has been closed by authorities until November.
The good news: visits by rangers to both skinny dipping coves mentioned above have died back, while anti-nudity patrols at Monterey's Garrapata Beach, which erupted in 2011, have been discontinued. And the Guardian is publishing three "secret" alternate ways that die-hard visitors can use to reach the nude section of gorgeous Muir Beach.
Red Rock was rocked by a ranger who reportedly used a crowbar to remove part of a sunbathing "terrace" that beach regulars had built by moving sand to create more "towel space." He also cited two male beachgoers for violating Title 14, Section 4307, of the California Code Of Regulations, which bans removal of "earth" or "sand" from state parks.
The men are appealing their penalties, while their friends at the beach are asking for donations to pay for their legal fees. "We're going to take up a collection," says Stinson Beach attorney-teacher Fred Jaggi.
The ranger's boss, Bill Lutton, a state parks superintendent for the Marin area who visited the beach after the busts, told us that "altering" and "changing the features" of the beach is a serious offense. "We consider ourselves the guardians of seven generations of users of California's park system," he says, "so we must protect the parks' cultural and natural resources."
Meanwhile, instead of being charged with destroying park property, several people at nearby Steep Ravine Beach, which is open from 7am until dusk, were cited last fall for soaking in its dangerous-to-reach nude hot springs after sunset by the same ranger who raided Red Rock. "A guy was handcuffed after mouthing off to the ranger, so he really deserved it," says former springs frequent visitor Michael Velkoff, of Lucas Valley. "He almost took a girl away too."
Citing "safety and lack of lighting" concerns, Lutton says the after-dark curfew at rock-strewn Steep Ravine, where numerous users have slipped and sustained cuts, bruises, and other injuries, "will be strictly enforced."
And at Muir Beach, which is used by nudists as a gateway to a nude beach that begins on its north end, visiting hours have been officially eliminated until November 15, while crews improve its parking, toilets, and watershed.