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Etiquette & Legal Status of Nude Beaches

Nude Beach Do's and Dont's


Contrary to what one might think, having a dark tan or a buffed body have never been pre-requisites for visiting a clothing optional beach...but having good manners and a respectful disposition will always make one look good. These are the same considerations and common sense that can be used when going to any beach or in any outdoor social situation. So whether you're a neophyte naturist or a veteran of the "clothing optional" seaside, or even just curious, here are some general guidelines to follow when visiting a nude beach...and remember that people with good manners and social skills tend to get more invitations and make more friends.

Secret Nude Beach in California

  • Don't gawk
  • Don't take pictures (unless given permission)
  • Leave the binoculars behind for bird watching
  • Don't engage in sex
  • Don't litter
  • Don't play loud music
  • Keep the dogs at home...or at least on a very short leash
  • Before you go topless, bottomless, or both...know the legal status of the beach. Not all beaches are "clothing optional."
  • Treat people with mutual respect and common courtesy
  • Do bring plenty of sunscreen ( you never know when you'll be asked to share)
  • Do clean up before you leave and take your trash with you
  • Leave it like you found it...a pristine and unspoiled "clothing optional" beach experience for all to enjoy



The legal status of going nude on California beaches depends on any number of factors including State or Federal jurisdiction, and most importantly- discretion of the ranger. Also the remoteness of the beach, type of behavior and political climate are considerations as well.
Most nude beaches are on state property, and as such, fall loosely under the Cahill Policy, a piece of documentation dictating that state rangers only take action against nudity if there is a complaint. Technically speaking, California park officials now have the option to enforce a ban on nudity at any state beach. (See this recent San Francisco Chronicle article on nude beach court ruling for more info.)
However, like the shifting beach line in the oncoming tides, the legality of nude beaches is constantly changing. Until the prevailing puritan attitudes towards nudity change in America, as always it's best to use common sense and discretion when going "au natural" on any California beach.

For further research- the latest issue of San Francisco's Bay Guardian often has information on the legal status of several nude beaches in Northern California. Check it out at Bay Guardian Nude Beach Issue.