West Bonita Beach

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Rating: D

A nude beach where you can usually safely swim? West Bonita Beach is just such a rare find, as long as there's no wind or undertow. However, please keep in mind that there are no lifeguards present. Naked sunbathing is another common activity here. However, the beach trail remains "officially" closed because it's slippery and dangerous.

Legal status:

Part of the GGNRA.

How to find it:

Follow directions to Central Bonita (see above) and park in the lot with the chemical toilet. The park service has erected a wood-and-cable fence across the trail near the lot, along with a warning sign. There are no other safe trails to the beach. When it reopens, take the trail, which is a dirt fire road, eventually looping uphill. At the bottom of the loop, go left along a narrow side path that leads into the brush. Keep following the forks in the path that point you back toward the Golden Gate. You'll come to railroad-tie steps leading much of the way down, but, at last report, the final 20 feet were crumbling and muddy. "Wear sturdy shoes for this part," a visitor suggests. "Small children can usually make it if kept on a tight rein." Do not veer off the path, even if you see a shortcut; it could lead to a fall to the rocks or water below.

The beach:

The beach is so small that it disappears in high tide.

The crowd:

"If there were 20 people here, it would be real crowded," says Scott Marovich. Expect a mixed crowd of singles and families, with more than 50 percent nude or topless.

Problems:

Trail has been closed for years (effectively blocking access); directions could be improved; swimming hazardous when undertow exists; loss of beach during high tide.

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