Drake's Beach

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Rating: C

Suitless sunbathing occasionally occurs on the Point Reyes shore that "bares" the name of British explorer Francis Drake, who is said to have landed his Golden Hinde there in 1579. The beach is near a memorial named after him. Not everyone, though, agrees where Drake came ashore; some experts think it happened in Bodega Bay, Tomales Bay, way to the south in Santa Barbara, or even considerably north, in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Legal status:

Part of Point Reyes National Seashore.

How to find it:

From San Francisco, follow Highway 101 north to the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard exit. Stay on Sir Francis Drake through San Anselmo and Lagunitas. At the intersection with Highway 1, go north to the Point Reyes National Seashore headquarters in Olema. Pick up a map, then follow Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to Drake's Beach Road and stay on it until you reach the beach. If you wind up at Point Reyes Lighthouse, you've gone too far.

The beach:

Beautiful, untamed, and sandy.

The crowd:

Visited mostly by nonnudists, Drake's also attracts a few discreet skinny-dippers.

Problems:

Cold water; wind; directions could be improved.

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