Taking full advantage of the California coastline means that you become one with the sand and beach, taking advantage of the best nude beaches in California. For many, these beaches sound taboo, and maybe even something that may make them uncomfortable.
For those who are comfortable in their bodies and want a judgment-free zone, though, nude beaches in California are ideal places to enjoy the best turquoise water and light-colored sand. Not all beaches are the same, and some are more popular than others.
It is also important to mention that if you are comfortable with topless or clothing-optional beaches, you will have a secluded beach experience and much less crowded than the popular beaches requiring full swimsuits for all guests. As long as everyone visiting the beach remains respectful and adheres to the laid-back and welcoming culture, some of your best beach experiences can be found on the best nude beaches in California.
If you are ready to visit one of these beaches, review the list below for either topless, clothing-optional, or full-nude beaches. They all have some perks and depending on what you are looking for, one or more of these beaches are for you.
List of 15 Nude Beaches in California
Below are the best nude beaches in California that will give you the best experience of a different culture you did not know you needed. These 15 beaches offer some of the most exclusive views and privacy you will find while enjoying the freedom that comes with a nudist beach.
1. Pirate's Cove, Avila Beach
When you take on Pirate's Cove, you are sure to find the booty, but it's not gold and treasure. This nude beach has been one of the leading nude beaches in California for decades, dating back to the late 1960s.
This beach is active all year, even at night when it cools down, and groups make small fires on the sand. This is a great place to party and have a great time without causing a large disturbance to neighbors and other families who may be visiting the area.
Pirate's Cove is located right off Cave Landing Road, which is easily accessible by car or just a couple of blocks away with public transportation. There are no restroom amenities, but there are caves, and trails, and dogs are allowed as long as they are leashed.
2. Secret Cove Nude Beach, Lake Tahoe
While this beach isn't actually on the shoreline, the Secret Cove Nude Beach of Lake Tahoe is also a popular spot, especially for those vacationing in the area for the weekend. There is a small stretch of sand on the California/Nevada border frequented by nudists who want to take advantage of sunbathing bare.
Feel free to bring your pet with you, as long as it is leashed and you clean up any bathroom usage after. There is lots of natural shade at the beach and there are public facilities to use. It is accessible by car, but not by public transportation. Parking for this beach is located at the Secret Harbor Parking Lot with gated access by those who are staying in the area.
3. Bonny Doon Beach
If you are looking for one of the most esteemed nude beaches in California, look no further than Bonny Doon Beach. This tucked-away oasis gives a border of beautiful green trees and boulders so you can sunbathe and relax while in the water.
You can easily access this beach on a short drive from Santa Cruz right off Highway 1 on Bonny Doon Road. There are no public facilities available.
While you are in the area, you have access to a couple of trails and a pretty tough trail heading up to the Shark Fin Cove. Many natural rock formations call this area home, and you can explore while out on your beach day or get some alone time away from the group.
4. More Mesa Beach
Located in the beautiful Santa Barbara is More Mesa Beach. This town is one of the more upscale areas, and the More Mesa Beach is a great reflection of that lifestyle. This small, secluded beach is located just below the Santa Barbara Buffs and is a quiet pedestrian walkway that will take you to this location.
When you see the private property sign, keep down the pedestrian access and follow the shallow path through the eucalyptus trees. You can drive to this location, or take advantage of public transportation dropping you off at a bus stop just a couple of blocks over.
This beach is not very big, and it does butt right up to a family beach, so you always want to stay ahead of the trail. You also will not have all day to visit since the sand is covered during high tide. This beach is just minutes from the college campus and can get crowded on the best days, so you want to get your spot early.
5. Devil's Slide Beach
Some nude beaches are maintained so that you have everything you need while enjoying your day out on the beach, and Devil's Slide Beach is one of these beaches. This beach is also located off Highway 1 and is a hike down the Devil's Slide trail to the ocean. There are restrooms and parking facilities available, but you do need to be clothed when traveling in these areas and using them.
There are lots of whale sightings to enjoy while you lay out and enjoy your day in the water. Natural landslides over time have forced erosion on this beach and allowed there to be cliff borders for seclusion. It is one of the most sought-after nude beaches in California and the West Coast because it has an abundance of privacy, wildlife, and great experiences. It is best to visit this beach during the middle of the day to gain the most wildlife experience and beautiful views.
6. San Gregorio Beach
If you want to visit San Gregorio Beach, you will have your parking place and pay for your nudist pleasure while on the sand. This is not a public beach but open to those who accept a judgment-free and comfortable area for this environment.
The state park access to this beach does require clothing, so you must be mindful of where you start disrobing. It is also important to note that dogs are not allowed on this beach, but it is handicap accessible.
This topless beach California also has lots of driftwood structures and privacy places if you need even more seclusion. This area can sometimes be inaccessible because it is being used for private events, and if it is booked, you will see a sign posted along the path.
7. Black's Beach
For several decades, Black's Beach, right in the San Diego city limits, has been one of the leading nude beaches in the city that has the best weather and lots of surfing. It is considered one of the best beaches in the country along the West Coast and compared to the East Coast beaches.
If you plan to visit Black's Beach in San Diego, you must park or be dropped off at Torrey Pines Gliderport. Public transportation is available if you don't have a car. Take your main trail straight to the trailhead and continue north, where most nudist beach goers have set up camp.
It is implied by those who frequent the beach regularly that this is where they can enjoy a safe nudist colony. It can get pretty busy because of the weather and the view, and the best time to visit is midday, between 10 am and 2 pm.
8. Red Rock Beach
In Marin County, the Bay Area has a few nudist beaches that they enjoy, and Red Rock Beach may be the most popular. This is a great place for those new to nude beaches to start, as the parking is free and the crowds are pretty slim.
There is some hiking to access this point once you leave the parking lot. Once you get down to the beach, you can access different activities like bouldering and rock climbing. There are no public facilities, but there is a Hot Spring and Sea Stacks nearby that you can enjoy.
There are some pretty rough currents in this area, so if you plan to swim in the ocean, keep that in mind and stay close to the sand if you are not a strong swimmer. The high tide will cover the sand, so you want to make sure you are visiting when it is low so that you have time to enjoy.
9. Hearst Beach
Hearst Beach in San Simeon is another nice and secluded nude beach in California. It is just around the corner from Hearst Castle and has been a known nudist beach colony for several decades.
This is easy to access from the parking lot off Highway 1. Since it is out of town, you will need to drive there or have a drive-share company drop you off at the parking lot. The public transportation in the area does not stop at this parking lot.
Ensure you disrobe once you reach the beach cove and enjoy the sun and sand. There are lots of amenities, such as picnic tables, grills, and public restrooms around the Hearst Castle. You can easily enjoy this beach from May to mid-October.
10. Land's End Beach
Accessing Land's End Beach will require a hike from the parking lot, and you can expect to work up a sweat, but the views at the end are worth it. There are a handful of amenities, such as public facilities and areas designated for whale and bird watching.
In the parking lot, make sure you hit the trail and take it all the way to the beach. When you come to the cliff, you will start to see some of the best views on the California coast, but you need to descend to the bottom and take a right.
When you get to the beach, you will have access to lots of sand and seclusion. Many visitors are usually partaking in a friendly game of beach volleyball. This area is known for being friendly and the views you will get of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Area wildlife are unmatched from any other beach in the area.
11. Boneyard Beach
Down low in Southern California, there is a place where you can get complete seclusion for your day on the water while in the nude, and that's Boneyard Beach. It is small and not very easy to access, making it one of the most secluded in California.
Those with difficulty traveling down steep trails may not find this a great spot. There is also a lack of public amenities to use, making it one of the least accessible options on the list.
There is no parking lot or trail for this beach. Instead, it is a long walk from either D Street Beach or Swami's Beach to access this secluded area and start to disrobe.
The sand is clean, and the water is clear in this area, making it a nice oasis getaway for a few couples or small groups daily. If you head over and see that it is starting to fill up, you may want to try a different beach for the day and come back tomorrow a little earlier.
This beach is great to enjoy from May to mid-October while the temperatures are mild and not too chilly.
12. Laguna Creek Beach
Some nudist beach goers are looking for a location that is gay-friendly as well as nudist-friendly and Laguna Creek offers that option. For years, this spot has been known to be a safe haven for these residents, and there is a long half-mild stretch of sand and lagoon for them to access.
This location also has lots of access to wildlife, as many birds find this place to be a sanctuary. There is a parking lot accessible at Laguna Road and Highway 1 that you can access by car or ride share services.
As you head down to the beach, take the trail through some local vegetation and cross the railroad tracks. Once you access the beach, Stay to the north-end and make your way to the unofficial clothing-optional area.
While this area is frequently policed, you can be cited for nudity. There are also no public facilities available, although you can access the lagoon, tide pools and dunes from the beach.
13. Four Mile Beach
If you plan to take on surfing and hitting the waters in the nude, then Four Mile Beach is where you want to be. This is a great surfing spot and is accessible four miles outside of Santa Cruz and it has public amenities to enjoy on your day out.
There is a parking lot available right on Highway 1 that accesses Wilder Ranch State Park. Once you access the beach, head to the north side to comfortably undress and avoid any families or Park Rangers who may be walking the beach.
It is usually very quiet, and your group could easily be the only group on the beach for several hours, giving you complete nudity freedom while there. This is a great spot to visit in the mid-day, and also throughout the Spring and Summer months.
14. Carmel Meadows Beach
If you are staying in the Monterey area and want to visit a local nudist beach, Carmel Meadows Beach tucks around a corner and offers a nice, shady spot for beach goers to enjoy regularly.
Parking for this beach is right on the street, and you can use public transportation to access the ocean. The beach is open year-round and is a great stop at any time of the day.
The weather is usually pretty amazing at this beach, and there are many natural rock formations, making it one of the more picturesque beaches. You will usually find at least topless swimmers since most of the beach is clothing-optional.
The sand is white on this beach, and the water is clear, but don't let that fool you. This beach is great for sunbathing but not any intense swimming. Some of the strongest tides are found at this beach, and it is not ideal for beginner swimmers to jump in the water.
15. Baker Beach
If you are visiting the San Francisco area and want to take a dip in the buff, then the north end of Baker's Beach may be the right location for you and your friends. The view at this beach alone is why many visit its waters.
You can access it by car or by taking the Muni System in San Francisco, which will drop you off directly at the parking area. The local shuttles are also available for access.
You can see the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge from the sand. The main parking lot for this beach is on the south end, where clothing is required, and families are all around. There are public facilities available and lots of different activities to enjoy while you are visiting.
Many hikers frequent this beach after climbing the Golden Gate Bridge or one of the many trails nearby. This beach offers a great spot to dip in the ocean and cool off after a long workout.
This is a pretty populated beach in the summer months, but it is a great spot to visit any time throughout the year.
Nude Beach Etiquette for Visitors
Before you visit a nude beach for the first time, there is some etiquette that you must keep in mind. Being respectful of others on the beach is always required, no matter if it is a topless beach California, or one of the clothing optional beaches in California. Your do's and don't are listed below.
Be Sure You Are in the Right Section
Because the best nude beaches in California are secluded, you need to ensure that you are in the right place before removing your clothes. You want to avoid removing your clothes in an area where they are required, and you make other guests uncomfortable.
Be Respectful and Body Positive
Not everyone's body will look the same, so if you are attempting to embrace the all-inclusive culture that comes with nude beaches in California, then you need to practice that positive behavior with others on the beach. This is not the place to make fun of other's bodies or point out their imperfections. This is a judgment-free zone, and staring is prohibited in these areas.
In terms of respect, it is also important to not hit on other visitors at the beach or even make sexual advances because they are nude or partially clothed. The nude beach does not give you a license to be inappropriate, and you may be asked to leave by other guests if you start to make them feel uncomfortable.
At no point should you be photographing another person on a nude beach. This can be considered pornography and also a huge invasion of privacy. Whether you like someone's body or want to make fun of it, there is no good reason to photograph them while out at a nude beach. This will disrupt the respectful atmosphere that is put into place at these different beaches.
Bring a Book
Everyone has to experience the first time at clothing optional beaches in California. If you've never been that exposed around others before, it is a good chance that you may be nervous and feel as though everyone is looking at you.
This is a good time to bring a book or some headphones with music so that you can relax and get out of your head while you are enjoying the sun on your bare skin. These will help you get distracted after a few minutes; before long, it will be like any other day out at the beach.
Give Others Space
One of the great things about nude beaches is the unwritten rule to give others space out on the sand. Because these beaches are less crowded than others, you can have your own space and avoid crowding other guests on the beach. It is considered rude to put yourself down right on top of another group when there is lots of space available on the beach.
Your Basic Beach Needs Are Important
The only thing different about clothing optional beaches are how many clothes you are wearing, so you will still need to bring your usual beach items. Pack your chair, cooler, towel, and sunscreen like you would normally because you will still need these items.
Do What Makes You Comfortable
If you are not comfortable getting completely nude but want to enjoy being topless on the beach, that is completely up to you and okay to do. Just because you have the option at some of these beaches to be completely nude, doesn't mean you have to be if you choose not to. You may have friends coming with you who want to keep their clothes on, which is fine as long as you and your group are comfortable.
Make This Experience Your Own
Being out on one of the best nude beaches in California is a great experience for those who live there or are traveling to the West Coast for vacation. Most of these beaches have a great atmosphere and most visitors on these beaches will not give you any trouble.
Not all of these beaches are a great place to start, especially if you are putting your toe in the water for nudist beaches. Make sure you start small and secluded before advanced to the larger ones that are more well-known and busier on a beautiful summer day.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson