Nude Beaches

Monterey County

Zmudowski Beach State Park

Rating: C

Only a few diehard nudies occasionally visit the dunes of the locale formerly known as Hidden Beach, where families now roam the sand and homes dot the surrounding area. Zmudowski is in the north end of the county, just south of the Pajaro River.

State beach property.Read more »

Indian Head Beach

Rating: C

Nudists who have been trying to start a clothing-optional enclave on part of the old Fort Ord federal property for years are finally starting to see a trickle of regular use emerge. "Some locals are going there," says Harold Short, a naturist activist who's been chairman of Santa Cruz County's North Coast Beaches Advisory Committee for more than a decade. "A few walkers and fishermen come by," adds Tiburon lawyer Charles Harris II, who, with Short, has been supporting the project. There have also been a few visits by local naturist groups.Read more »

The Crater

Rating: C

In California, anything is possible, including a crater-like bowl of sand, rimmed by huge dunes, that's just a block from Seaside's Edgewater Mall. Luckily, the nude sunbathers can't be seen by the shoppers.

Unknown, but may be part of the new and as yet undeveloped Fort Ord Dunes State Park.Read more »

Pebble Beach

Rating: C

You won't be able to do any nude golfing at Pebble Beach Nude Cove, but it's located just below the famous greens. The little strip of sand, which gets visits from a few free-beachers, is also a short distance from another public attraction, Carmel Beach City Park. "It's remote, out of the way, and people can't see you from Carmel Beach," says Fred, of Pacific Grove, who, like some of the other visitors, found it by walking along the shore one day.

Believed to be Monterey County land.Read more »

The Bucket

Rating: C

On weekdays when others aren't around, a few nudists still use three of Carmel Valley's swimming holes, including the Bucket, which is off Carmel Valley Road. It was once surrounded by plants that kept it hidden from view, but a flood washed most of them away. Today, the site is visited mostly by suited bathers and sunbathers.

Believed to be private property.Read more »

Elsewhere Near the Bucket

Rating: C

Just upstream from the Bucket are two more swimming holes: Bucket Bend and the Rope Swing. Bucket Bend, the most private and deepest of these pools, is a small, sandy beach some 50 feet from the Bucket. The Rope Swing (named after a rope swing that no longer exists) is a large, shallow, clothing-optional swim spot.

Believed to be private property.Read more »

Los Padres Reservoir

Rating: C

Nudity is not allowed at Los Padres Reservoir, near Carmel, but a few skinny-dippers have been continuing to jump in the water on hot summer days anyway. Rather than risk citations, others like to sunbathe without suits in lakeside areas away from view The swim spots are about 20 miles east of Carmel and some 5 miles east of Carmel Village, off Carmel Valley Road (G-16).Read more »

Carmel Meadows

Rating: C

Movie buffs love visiting Carmel Meadows. The reason? It's just a half-mile away from a famous Monterey cypress tree featured in Play Misty For Me, a Clint Eastwood cult classic. Most visitors go nude at this lovely beach, but local residents seem to prefer a bigger attraction that's also nearby: the clothed, public beach at Carmel River State Park.

Carmel River State Park property.Read more »

Garrapata Beach

With lagoons, caves, coves, a creek, and hills that are ablaze with colorful flowers in the spring, it's little wonder that Garrapata Beach was once the county's most popular clothing-optional beach. But that was before the state moved in and erected anti-nudity signs and sent rangers onto the sand. The law enforcers, who say they only act on complaints, have pushed the nudist enclave of mostly gay males to the northern edge of the shore.Read more »

Coyote Flat

Rating: C

Big Sur's main skinny-dipping hole is located on the Big Sur River, within Andrew Molera State Beach. Rangers tend to leave it alone, even though most locals know it's the "in" place to be on hot summer days. "A lot of people go there, and they do sometimes go naked," says a visitor. The trail to the hole begins across from the state beach's main parking lot.

Part of Andrew Molera State Beach, where rangers discourage clothing-optional sunbathing. However, nobody in recent memory has been cited here.Read more »

Big Sur River

Rating: C

Improved directions! Newbies and veteran visitors intermingle at a riverbank beach on the Big Sur River, which is considered the oldest clothing-optional site on California's Central Coast. The site is clothing-optional, so suited users show up too. The beach is about 25 miles south of Carmel, off Highway 1 at Pheneger Creek, behind the Big Sur River Inn, located at 46840 Highway 1.

Unknown.Read more »


Rating: C

Improved directions!Read more »

Pfeiffer Beach

Rating: A

Improved directions!

Nude sunset watching is a popular activity on the north end of Big Sur's Pfeiffer Beach, a federal beach that should not be confused with a nearby state beach with a similar name. The rangers here usually don't bother the nudists unless someone complains.

Part of the Los Padres National Forest, whose rangers generally ignore nudists unless someone complains.Read more »

Fullers Beach

Rating: B

Surfers and nude sunbathers love little, out-of-the-way Fullers, despite its fairly long, poison-oak-strewn beach trail. George, a state parks aide at nearby Molera, says he doesn't mind having to carry his surfboard up and down the steep, 20-minute path. "It's kind of a secret beach, even to people here in Big Sur," he says. "Just remember to take a shower with liquid soap when you get home, and you shouldn't have a problem from the plants."

Unknown, but not thought to be state property.Read more »

Arroyo Seco

Rating: B

Although Arroyo Seco means "dry canyon" in Spanish, there's nothing dry about the hike that some naturists take to visit some of the county's best swimming holes between Soledad and Greenfield, off Highway 101. But you need to be in top physical condition to make the trek. Nudists walk, wade and swim to get from one end of a dozen swimming holes to the other and past several waterfalls, including one that some naturist groups occasionally climb down. The water is up to 40 feet deep, and the canyon walls form 100 foot towers. Read more »

Sykes Hot Spring

Rating: B

The best thing about Sykes Hot Spring -- it's called a spring, even though there are a whopping six soaking pools there -- is how good you will feel enjoying its soothing waters after completing the 10 mile long hike to get there. Located high in the hills above the Big Sur River area, Sykes gets more visitors in spring than any other season. Other than the length and steepness of the trail, which is fairly open and sun-baked for the first few miles, and complaints about garbage, the main gripe heard at Sykes involves overcrowding. Read more »

Sand Dollar Beach

Rating: C

Some 60 miles south of Carmel and 30 miles north of San Simeon, Sand Dollar is off an isolated stretch of Highway 1 just 5-10 minutes south of Lucia. It draws a few nude sunbathers to its scenic shore on warm days when the wind is down. If you're driving by, you might want to check it out because Sand Dollar is regarded as the longest stretch of sandy beach on the Big Sur coast. Great surfing, exploring, and fishing possibilities are here within walking distance of Plaskett Creek Campground, on the other side of the highway. Read more »