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Rating: A

America's only nude beach with its own street address (it's across from 2222 West Cliff Drive) is also its smallest. It's not an exaggeration to say you can explore every inch of this beautiful little cove in less than an hour. After all, it's only the size of an average California backyard. You'll usually find fewer than 20 visitors on the sand, which might hold a dozen more. What 2222 lacks in size it more than makes up for in attributes: the beach is a great place to enjoy a little solitude or even watch a mime or other performer. Neal the Juggler sometimes practices on the sand with his juggling balls, pins, and beanbags. But don't visit this site unless you're capable of handling a steep climb down and up a cliff. Hikers must climb over some concrete blocks on the way down to the sand (so leave kids and heavy gear at home). The beach can be seen from above, but tourists walking on a path above the cliffs almost never look down.

 

Santa Cruz city property.

 

How to find it:

The beach is a few blocks west of Natural Bridges State park beach and about 2.5 miles north of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. From either north or south of Santa Cruz, take Highway 1 to Swift Street. Drive .8 miles to the sea, then turn right on West Cliff Drive. 2222 is five blocks away. Past Auburn Avenue, look for 2222 West Cliff on the inland side of the street. Park in the nine-car lot next to the cliff. If it's full, continue straight and park along Chico Avenue. Bay Area Naturists leader Rich Pasco suggests visitors use care and then follow the path on the side of the beach closest to downtown Santa Cruz and the Municipal Wharf.

 

The beach:

As Pasco puts it, "It's a small, delicate, baby beach."

 

The crowd:

On a warm Sunday, we counted five nudists. Pasco found "maybe 10-to-15 people" at the beach. Almost everyone goes nude.

 

Problems:

Parking; proximity to residences; lack of privacy; cold water; flies; steep trail with concrete blocks.

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