Gaviota Beach

  • 01 of 03

    Gaviota Nude Beach

    Gaviota Nude Beach Parking Area
    ••• Gaviota Nude Beach Parking Area. ©Betsy Malloy Photography

    Gaviota Beach is a solitary beach protected by high cliffs. It is in a state park and the nude beach section is a couple of miles from the main park.

    The website Friends of Bates Beach keeps a current status of park ranger contacts on their website.

    This is the alliance's recommendation if a ranger happens to show up and ask you to get dressed: "...please comply without argument. The matter cannot be resolved on the beach, but will be handled in appropriate and productive meetings with state personnel. The more we argue and fuss on the beach, the more difficulty we cause for ourselves."


    30 miles west of Santa Barbara on US 101. Get a map and directions on the last page of this guide.


    Long stretch of sand with cliffs. You can walk all the way to the State Park Beach, but it's best to stop at the railroad trestle. Oil slicks and tar balls sometimes appear on the beach - wear shoes. This stretch of coast can also be very windy, making a warm coat a...MORE necessity, no matter what you intended to wear (or not) when you left home.

    Who's at Gaviota Beach

    Mixed crowd

    Gaviota Beach Facilities


    Gaviota Beach Activities

    Whale watching in season

    More Nude Beaches Within 25 Miles of Gaviota

    • More Mesa: Approximately 20 miles east (south on US Hwy 101)

    Nudity Laws and Gaviota Beach

    In the past, complaints of nudity at Gaviota Beach have resulted in a minimum a citation of violating CCR 4322, and at most to arrests for PC 314 Indecent Exposure. PC 314 (Indecent Exposure) is listed as a sex crime in California, and carries with it upon conviction lifetime registration in their community as a sex offender.

    We try to report the most current information, but ultimately, the responsibility for knowing the law enforcement status at Gaviota Beach is yours.

    Nude or naturist beach neophytes, please be respectful of others and read the Nude Beach and Topless Beach Etiquette guidelines before you go to a nude beach.

    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    Gaviota Beach Reviews and Rating

    View of Garrapata Beach
    ••• View of Garrapata Beach. Don Barrett/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    What Our Readers Have to Say

    gaviota - hit or miss

    Gaviota Beach has no predictable schedule. The weather is unpredictable. sometimes windy, sometimes cold, sometimes foggy...If you're looking for a big crowd, this is not the place. The best time to go is on weekends, but even then it's hit or miss. Some days are sunny and warm and the place is deserted. Other days are cold and foggy and the place is packed.

    —Guest getmenaked

    No Nudes

    I stopped by Gaviota Beach yesterday. There were several cars parked and so I thought there would be several nude guys on the beach. Not a one! Some fully clothed guys on the paths and on the beach. Very steep path down to the beach. Not for the faint hearted. I finally made it to the beach, stripped down, and I was the only naked on on the beach.

    —Guest dwcable


    The rangers and lifeguards are actively ticketing. Go somewhere else!

    —Guest Joe B

    Rating Gaviota Beach for Clothing Optional Recreation

    In a poll that got more than 11,000 votes, our...MORE readers rated Gaviota Beach as their favorite Santa Barbara County nude beach. 

    When readers were asked to rate Gaviota Beach, 43% said it was excellent and 12% said it's good with a few flaws.

    Continue to 3 of 3 below.
  • 03 of 03

    Getting to Gaviota Beach

    Santa Barbara County Nude Beach Map
    ••• Santa Barbara County Nude Beach Map. Adapted from Google Maps

    If you want an interactive version of the map, would like to convert to a close-up satellite map that shows the beaches and trails or need driving directions, use our Santa Barbara County Beach map at Google.

    Driving Directions

    Near Santa Barbara, the California coastline runs east-west. It's one of the reasons for Santa Barbara's "banana belt" climate, but it can make giving directions confusing. According to the compass, Gaviota Beach is about 30 miles west of Santa Barbara, but according to the signs along the highway, you take US Hwy 101 north from Santa Barbara to get there.

    If you're going north on US Hwy 101, it's a divided highway with no left turn to the parking area. You'll have to drive a few miles past it and make a u-turn. Exit at Mariposa Reina (exit #128) which is at the old refinery, follow the frontage road past the plant entrance, then turn left at the stop sign and left again to get back onto 101 going south.

    About 3/4 mile after you get back...MORE on the highway, look for an informal, gravel-paved parking area. It's very shortly after you pass emergency call box 101 443 and mile marker 44. If you don't know how to read one, find out how to interpret a California milepost marker.

    The parking area is on the ocean side of the highway, next to the railroad tracks. There's a picture of the parking area on the first page of this guide.

    Walk across the railroad and down one of the paths. This is an active railroad, so it's a good idea to keep an eye out for trains.

    The Nude Beach Alliance suggests another way to get to the clothing optional section of Gaviota Beach. Exit US Hwy 101 when you see signs for Gaviota State Park, which is between the highway and the ocean. You'll find a paved parking lot which you have to pay to get into. From there, go under the railroad trestle and walk east - but it's a more than 2-mile hike if you go that way.


    In either location, avoid theft - don't leave your valuables in the car and stay on the paths to avoid poison oak.