I dared to bare so you can, too.
Hi, there! I’m Mathew Jedeikin, and I recently dedicated a day to visiting five nude beaches in my hometown of San Francisco.
Why, you ask?
Well, I’ve come across numerous articles over the years that talk about how many clothing-optional beaches there are in or near San Francisco. But they’re often ambiguous about where exactly the nude sections of these beaches are, and I know how much it can suck to plan your day around something, only to discover that it’s nothing like the random article said it was going to be. So, I decided to visit all of these so-called “clothing-optional” beaches to find out exactly which ones are worth visiting.
Consider this your insider’s guide to San Francisco nude beaches!
The plan of attack:
I chose my five destinations after consulting with as many articles on Bay Area nude beaches as I could find. Technically we only have three clothing-optional beaches in the city of San Francisco, so I also planned to visit one a little north of the city, and another south of SF. You know, just to get a well-rounded experience.
I’d initially decided that I wouldn’t go naked myself unless I saw another nude sunbather. Why? Well, I was sort of looking for permission to be naked. Since this would be my first time visiting most of these beaches, I felt a little uncomfortable with the thought of being the only person not wearing anything. It just seemed too awkward, especially given the chance that I might not have found the correct clothing-optional area.
1. Land’s End Beach
I started with Land’s End because it was the closest beach to my house. I found contradictory information about where exactly I should go in order to get my naked beach time on, so I arrived with a little extra anxiety.
I parked my car, and found signs directing me towards a scenic hike, which I assumed would lead me to the beach? Seems reasonable enough, right? Wrong!
First of all, the hike was more challenging than I had expected. Stairs going up and down hilly dirt roads, and it never seemed to end. But like my grandmother said, patience is a virtue. So I marched forward.
But after hiking for a good half hour, I looked up from my phone to discover I was already at the end of the trail!
Although I had been able to see the water and beaches from the trail, they were all at a significantly lower elevation, and I didn’t see any giant signs saying “nude beach this way,” like I’d been expecting.
On the lengthy hike back, I kept my eyes peeled for any indicators of a path to a beach.
Luckily, this time I saw a very small, super easy-to-miss sign directing me to Mile Rock Beach. Now, the name didn’t seem familiar to me, so I worried that it might not technically be the nude beach I was looking for, but I followed the path nonetheless.
I felt triumphant when I finally came across the sandy waterfront!
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much going on besides one dude who was bundled up in a coat fishing. Maybe it was because it was a Monday morning, I’m not sure, but it didn’t really feel like a nude beach to me.
After hanging out for about half an hour while I ate my breakfast I bailed on this beach and climbed the stairs back to the trail feeling pretty unsuccessful.
2. North Baker Beach
Baker Beach is actually one of the larger and more popular beaches in San Francisco, so I arrived feeling optimistic about my chances of being able to sunbathe in the nude.
Baker Beach is super simple to find, with signs leading you directly to parking near a pathway that takes you right into the sand. Definitely a lot more convenient than Land’s End.
The northern section of Baker Beach is the clothing-optional area, although there isn’t really much of a barrier or anything. Oh, and for those of you like myself who are directionally challenged, the northern section is the area closer to the bridge.
Now, I’ve actually been to Baker Beach before, and have seen people hanging around in the nude, but this Monday at around eleven in the morning…nothing.
The weather wasn’t so great, sure, but I definitely wasn’t expecting the beach to be so empty. Sort of a buzzkill, and I didn’t want to be the only person sans clothing with tourists and dog walkers wandering around. So, I sat on a log and read on my Kindle for a while before continuing on to my next location.
3. Marshall’s Beach
It was just a short drive to where Google Maps told me Marshall’s Beach was located. I found parking easy enough, but at first didn’t see any signs telling me how to get down to the beach. After wandering around for a little I found a path and decided to head down it. Why not?
As luck would have it, I quickly stumbled across a sign saying I was a half mile from the beach. Score!
It was pretty much steep stairs all the way down, but I could see beach, which kept me motivated.
I was totally the only person there, but even so, I felt victorious. The views of the Golden Gate Bridge were incredible, despite the fog, and the beach was super concealed by rock walls in every direction.
Feeling confident, I decided to break my own rules, and stripped down to enjoy some nude time by the beach.
One of the things I’d read about Marshall’s Beach was that it was known to be a hookup spot for gay men. Being happily married, and in a non-open relationship, I was a little concerned about having to avoid guys who might approach me, but there was nothing for me to have been worried about. I was literally the only person there. As I was leaving I did pass by a mother and her teenage daughter, but other than that, I didn’t see anyone.
4. Muir Beach
I won’t sugarcoat it: Driving up to Muir Beach was a pain. The roads were crazy curvy and the speed limits were low. It took forever.
The beach was super busy. I’m not sure if it’s a big tourist destination or what, but there were families everywhere, and not a nudist in sight. Online guides had said there was a rock barrier that separated the clothing-optional area from the main beach, but I couldn’t find any such area. Although clearly a gorgeous beach, as far as nude sunbathing, Muir Beach was a total bust.
So many children. No way I was going to get naked.
5. Gray Whale Beach
After the letdown that was Muir Beach, I made the hour-long journey south to Gray Whale.
There was signage on the road, so it was totally easy to find despite Google Maps getting me a little turned around on the way. Parking was conveen, and after just a short walk down some stairs (super easy compared to Marshall’s Beach) I was at the beach!
I saw a big rock formation to the right as I entered the beach, which I figured was the “rock wall” concealing the clothing-optional section that I’d learned about from my research. I went around it, and within seconds I saw a fully-nude gentleman heading towards the waves.
Though I’d previously gotten over not wanting to get undressed unless I saw other nude sunbathers, I found it reassuring to know that yes, I was in fact at a beach where people went without clothing.
So, I removed my own shirt, shorts and underwear to enjoy some naked time in the sun.
Thankfully the sun had finally come out by now, and you know what, it really was freeing to be outdoors in the buff. Now I get why people enjoy nude sunbathing, and I’ll totally be back to Gray Whale Beach in the near future.
1. Land’s End is a good place to go if you’re in the mood for a nature hike. But I wouldn’t really recommend it if you’re lazy (like me), and to be honest, I’m not even sure if what I found was actually a nude beach or not.
2. North Baker Beach is a popular and convenient spot. I imagine on the weekends there are probably clothes-free sunbathers.
3. In order to visit Marshall’s Beach you will need to hike down a shit ton of stairs, but once you’ve done so, you’ll find a super-secluded beach that I imagine (like Baker) is probably poppin’ on weekends.
4. Muir Beach is a beautiful, family-friendly beach. Maybe there’s a clothing-optional area hidden somewhere, but it definitely didn’t seem like there was one. But then again, I can be super oblivious at times. If you know where to find the nude section, please leave a comment and let me know.
5. Gray Whale Beach is legit! It’s a few miles south of San Francisco, but it was an easy drive, and accessing the beach was a breeze. Plus, locating the the clothing-optional area was totally obvi, and even on a random Monday afternoon, there were other nude sunbathers. I’ll definitely be recommending Gray Whale to anyone looking for a relaxing nude beach in the Bay Area.