North Marina

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Rating: C

A series of sand dunes just over the state property line -- about 100 yards north of Marina State Beach, which leaves them out of the range of park rangers -- are being used by nude sunbathers to shield them from view."People have been going here for more than two decades," says Tom, of Monterey.The main spot used by nudies is between two large dunes close to shore."It's warm and secluded," says Debbie, a frequent visitor and local business owner.

Legal status:

Unknown, believed to be private property.

How to find it:

From San Jose, take Highway 101 south to Prunedale, then Highway 146 west to join Highway 1 south at Castroville. Approaching Marina, exit at Reservation Road, turning left (east). At the first signal, turn right on Reservation and follow it to the little parking lot at the end. Walk back along Reservation to Dunes Drive and follow Dunes about 300 feet north, passing Marina Dunes Resort, located at 3295 Dunes Drive, and a sand-processing plant, until you see a yellow vehicle gate on the west (ocean) side of Dunes Drive, across from two motels. Limited parking is also available in front of the gate. The gate blocks traffic, not people, from a beach path; follow it up and down five dunes until just before the beach. The nude area is between the last two dunes, just to the right of the trail.

The beach:

"It's warm and secluded," says Debbie. "People have been going here for 25 years." Veteran users say the best time to visit is June or autumn.

The crowd:

"The beach is never crowded because only local residents know about it," says Tom.

Problems:

Unknown legal status; fog; cold water; proximity to path; limited street parking.

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