Pamponio State Beach

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Rating: C

If you've ever visited Pomponio State Beach, you'll understand why naturists treasure its pristine shores and solitude-inducing cove that's sheltered from the wind. It's also a great spot for tanning tune-ups. And once you arrive, you may be one of the only nudists here. But getting there almost ruins the experience. The path to the sand is long and, in places, almost worn away. And the waves are so rough they've been known to sweep some visitors out to sea. However, if you're looking for a quiet nook to read a book or relax, Pomponio can be worth the trudge. Tips: the weather can be changeable, so bring layered clothing.

State beach property.

How to find it:

Pomponio is about two miles north of Pescadero State Beach on Highway 1, some 12 miles south of Half Moon Bay. To find the nude area at the south end of the 1.5-mile long beach, walk south in low tide along the water from the Pomponio entrance. Or from the old Pomponio parking turn-out (marked with pole-like barriers) on Highway 1, follow a trail that starts there until it enters a ravine with a creek. Visitors used to cross the canyon on a board, but it's gone. At last report, some regulars were hopping on a pallet to cross part of the chasm, and then crawling the rest of the way.

The beach:

There's a mile and a half of partially sheltered sand that varies from being flat to gently sloping. To avoid falling rocks, stay away from the edge of the high sandstone bluffs above the beach. For photos, visit http://www.californiacoastline.org/cgi-bin/image.cgi?image=6239&mode=seq...

The crowd:

In its heyday, up to 25 nudists a day were frequenting the beach.

Problems:

Long walk, riptides, cliff erosion, cold air, wind, gawkers, and reports of car burglaries in the past. Swimming while au naturel is not permitted.

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