Laguna Creek

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Rating: A

If you're searching for the perfect beach for tanning, reading, or some other quiet activity, then you'll probably love Laguna Creek, which is located just off Highway 1 between mileposts 25.96 and 26.01. Other pluses include coves that are good for beachcombing, and a lagoon that attracts both birds and birdwatchers. To find this delightful clothing-optional spot, drive 9.8 miles north of Santa Cruz to Laguna Road, which is adjacent to the beach.

 

Privately owned but publicly used.

 

How to find it:

About 9.8 miles north of the junction of Highways 1 and 17 in Santa Cruz and 41.5 miles south of the Highway 1 and 92 junction in Half Moon Bay, look for either Laguna's dirt parking lot on the inland side of Highway 1 or the unmarked side road (Laguna Road) next to the lot. Park there and head for a road on the west side of the highway that faces the lot, where Laguna Road and Highway 1 join up. Just north of that road, follow a narrow path through the bushes, while keeping an eye out for poison oak. It will become a jeep path. Take it to the north end of the beach, where you may see some skinny-dippers. Or walk along the water's edge to the south end, which gets both suited and nude use.

 

The beach:

The half-mile beach widens to the south, but the north end is warmest, according to Bill, a regular visitor who likes Laguna's small, protected coves. Birds are usually seen in the lagoon include grebes, gulls, and song sparrows.

 

The crowd:

Even on warm days, fewer than 50 people, and sometimes just one or two. "It had nudists and non-nudists on both ends of the beach," says Bill. The beach has become something of a gay hangout, especially in the middle.

 

Problems:

Cold water; fog; erosion; occasional gawkers; wind; poison oak on trail; wind on south end.

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