Monday, January 26, 2009
Want to know another good thing about soaring gasoline prices? Clothing-optional coves, lakes, ponds, rivers, waterfalls, meadows, and paths are less crowded than they have been in a decade. Many people, it seems, are cutting back on their driving, even if it's to their friendly nude beach.
Over the first few weeks of this year's beach season, fewer people have showed up at even the most popular nude sites than during the same period just last year. Sure, there are other issues - at Red Rock Beach, for example, greater sand erosion than usual means less beach. But visitors to Northern California's shorelines cite escalating gas prices as the top reason for planning trips more carefully and communing with nature less often. "Every time I go to Limantour [a clothing-optional beach in Point Reyes], it costs me $12 to $15 in gas. So the weather has to be perfect, or I won't go," said North Bay resident Michael Velkoff. Before leaving, he likes to check weather sites: www.stinson-beach-cwd.dst.ca.us/weather/Current_Vantage_Pro.htm or www.littlebeachmaui.com/redrock/elements.htm (click on "satellite photo of fog over Bay Area").
For those who do go, there's more room than ever for visitors interested in a naked daytime or lunar hike, a hunt for jade on the beach while wearing nothing, clothes-free whale-watching, bare-bottom Ultimate Frisbee or Scrabble, a free surfing show while sunbathing in the buff, or skinny-dipping at a site so isolated you have to swing on a rope to get there.
If any of this interests you, we've got the info on how, where, and when to do it all in our updated 34th Nude Beaches Guide. Whether you want to spice up your life with adventure (who knew you could be nude next to a waterfall at Marin's Alamere Falls, or walk naked on two different trails in the East Bay and one in the North Bay?) or just kick back with a good book, towel, and some thongs (the shoe kind, of course), our guide will help you find an array of choices in and around the Bay Area.
Speaking of choices, would you like to help improve our guide? Please send suggestions, new beach finds, better directions (especially road milepost numbers), and trip reports to firstname.lastname@example.org or via snail mail to Gary Hanauer, c/o San Francisco Bay Guardian, 135 Mississippi St., San Francisco, CA 94107. Be sure to include your phone number so we can fact-check.
About the ratings: We awarded an A to places that are large or well-established and where the crowd is mostly nude; B to places where less than 50 percent of the visitors are nude; C to small or emerging nude areas, and D to spots we suggest you avoid.
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