Nude beaches have a bad reputation among many travelers, who see them as dens of lascivious behavior. Truth is, nude beaches are rarely the sexually charged places they seem to be. Proponents of nude beaches often refer to them as "clothing optional" beaches to erase the (unfortunately) negative image the word "nude" connotes.
While nude beaches aren't as common in the United States as they are in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, they do exist and are popular among beach-goers who want to experience the full freedom of sunbathing and swimming in the buff. The American Association of Nude Recreation (link contains nudity) lists approximately 260 clothing optional resorts, beaches, and RV campgrounds across North America, with several notable spots in the U.S., listed below.
AANR suggests following these 10 nude beach etiquette rules for those who are considering a trip to a nude beach for the first time. Of most importance: use a lot of sunscreen and don't gawk... at others.
01 of 07Of all the nude beaches in the world, San Francisco's Baker Beach probably has the best view. Set below the Presidio and shielded by rocky crags, Baker Beach offers -- on a clear day -- a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Only the northernmost end of the half-mile long beach is reserved for clothing optional sunbathers.
02 of 07While nude beaches are illegal in San Diego, authorities tend to turn a blind eye to clothing optional recreation at Black's Beach as it is fairly secluded and hard to access. Located about half an hour northwest of San Diego in La Jolla, Black's Beach is the top nude beach destination in southern California.
03 of 07
"One of the greatest success stories in North American nudism," according to AANR, Haulover Beach is as fine a beach as any in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area. This clothing optional strand attracts nearly 1.4 million visitors thanks to its white sands, warm waters, and festive atmosphere.
04 of 07
A clothing optional hideaway since the 1960s, Moshup's Beach provides a bit of bohemian flavor to tony Martha's Vineyard. Visitors to Moshup's, which is located on the Massachusetts island's southwestern tip, must pay a $15 parking fee then walk a trail to get to the beach.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07Accessible via a short hike from Makena State Park's Big Beach, Little Beach is popular with Hawaiians and tourists, the latter of whom serendipitously stumble upon the relatively secluded beach. On Sundays prior to sun set, a drum circle breaks out, giving the strand a lively, hippie vibe. Nude surfing is not uncommon here.
06 of 07Nude beaches don't have to be near the ocean--lakes work just fine, too. Near Austin, Texas, that lake is Lake Travis and the clothing optional beach is called Hippie Hollow. The 109-acre recreation area about a half-hour northwest from downtown is a relaxing place to escape from the hustle and heat of Texas's funky capital.
07 of 07
A former Army proving ground and now part of Gateway National Recreation Area, Gunnison Beach is the only legal nude beach in New Jersey. This clothing optional beach is also within easy reach of New York City. During the summer, round-trip ferry service to Gunnison Beach is available from Manhattan from Pier 11/Wall Street or East 35th St./FDF to Sandy Hook, so it can be quite packed on weekends.