The Crater

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Rating: C

Tourists are sometimes surprised when they come across completely naked people sunbathing just across the street a popular mall in Monterey County.The location: a crater-like depression of sand about a block from Edgewater Mall, in the town of Seaside.Used by a few naturists for nude sunbathing, the bowl-like formation has high walls that keep it nearly hidden from view.

Legal status:

Unknown, but may be part of Fort Ord Dunes State Park.

How to find it:

Take Highway 1 to Seaside (south of Marina and just north of Monterey). Then follow the California Street exit. Park in the mall across the street from the beach. Landmarks include Fremont Boulevard, which dead-ends across from the Crater, and a gas station, which is in front of the Crater. You can't see the Crater from the ocean side of Highway 1, so walk up to what appears to be a giant sand dune, and you will come to it on the other side.

The beach:

A big "valley" of sand smack-dab in the middle of five miles of dunes.

The crowd:

Skinny-dippers who sunbathe at the Crater prefer weekdays. Usage is highest in early and late summer and fall. Both suited and nude visitors use the dunes, which remain uncrowded.

Problems:

More clothed visitors reported; unknown legal status; some broken glass on dune closest to Fremont Boulevard.

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