NUDE BEACHES 2014

Hurrah! Here's our 40th annual survey of Northern California naked fun in the sun.

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culture@sfbg.com

NUDE BEACHES 2014 Well, it's been 40 years since I turned over on my side and asked a totally naked woman at Red Rock nude beach, near Stinson Beach, if she knew of any other clothing-optional beaches in Northern California.

Don't worry, she didn't slap me. Jane and I were on our third date — we'd met at a bus stop in downtown Berkeley — which she had casually suggested take place at the beach. "Sure, where'd you like to go?" I asked. "How about Red Rock?" she replied. "Red Rock?" I asked. "I've never heard of it." "It's a nude beach," responded Jane.

I didn't want to sound like a wuss, so, I immediately agreed — and about an hour later, we were walking down a long, moderately steep trail that led us to a beautiful cove. When we arrived, I couldn't believe what I saw: dozens of people clothed only in their birthday suits. They acted as if being stark naked was no big deal. And so did Jane. She threw down a towel, immediately stripped down, and asked if I would put some sun tan lotion on her back. 

It was a beautiful summer day. People were enjoying themselves. Some were reading, while others were sunning, walking, wading in the chilly but invigorating surf, playing Frisbee, or socializing with friends. Pretty soon, I took off my swimsuit too. Around 30 minutes later, when my eyeballs began to recede back into their sockets, I started wondering how many other nude beaches were in the Bay Area. Jane knew of a half dozen and suggested I speak with her roommates. "They probably know about four or five more," she said.

And that's how the annual Bay Guardian Nude Beach Guide was born. From covering a dozen or so beaches, lakes, ponds, skinny-dipping holes, and other clothing-optional spots in 1975, we've soared to 130 today, when you include our complete online listings. They include places where you can camp nude (North Garberville, in Humboldt County), take off your clothes at a waterfall (Alamere Falls, near Bolinas), soak in hot springs (Sykes, near Big Sur, and Steep Ravine, in Marin County), play bare-bottom volleyball (San Francisco's North Baker Beach), or sunbathe naked at a state park (Gray Whale Cove, in San Mateo County).

Who knows, maybe someday we'll be able to get everything from sundaes to massages on a nude beach, like those offered at sprawling Haulover Nude Beach, just north of Miami, Fla., which I checked out in June. It draws up to 7,000 visitors a day. The site is part of a park that also has a non-nude beach and even a separate dog play area.

In the meantime, we've got plenty of clothing-optional recreation choices right here, especially with the reopening of the nude section of Muir Beach, which, along with the main part of the beach, was closed most of last summer and part of the fall. Want to hike naked through the East Bay hills, guided by a member of the Bay Area Naturists group? America's only "Full Moon Hikes" will continue this season with a walk starting in Castro Valley on Aug. 10 (see our listing below for Las Trampas under Contra Costa County for details). In Lake Tahoe, at Secret Harbor Creek Beach (also in the Internet version of our guide), you can take part in an "only wear a hat" day Aug. 17. And on Sept. 20, fans of Santa Cruz's popular Bonny Doon Beach will be getting together to help remove trash from the sand.

Speaking of help, to help beachgoers and naturists, please send me your new beach discoveries, trip reports, and improved directions (especially road milepost numbers), along with your phone number to garhan@aol.com or Gary Hanauer, c/o San Francisco Bay Guardian, 835 Market, Suite 550, San Francisco, CA 94103.

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