DNA Magazine - - TRAVEL -

Na­ture spot­ting was al­ways a treat in San Fran­cisco in the days when nud­ists could be found in the Cas­tro let­ting it all hang out. That changed last year af­ter City Su­per­vi­sor, Scott Weiner, banned pub­lic nu­dity. More ironic than his sur­name is the fact that the nu­dity-pho­bic Weiner is openly gay. De­pend­ing on whom you talk to, the nud­ists were tak­ing it too far or the Sil­i­con Val­ley techie in­vaders are im­pos­ing val­ues that con­tra­dict the leg­endary per­mis­sive­ness of the city by the bay. You can still get your naked on in pub­lic at Fol­som Street Fair and cer­tain other events and San Fran­cisco, a city not at all known for its balmy beach weather, does still of­fer a num­ber of nude beaches.

With iconic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and be­low the cliffs of the Pre­sidio is Amer­ica’s largest nude stretch of sand, Baker Beach. Na­tur­ists can be found with their gui­tars, drums, fris­bees and creat­ing art in a scene rem­i­nis­cent of Burn­ing Man – in fact, Baker is where that art fes­ti­val phe­nom­e­non be­gan. For the boys, head north and if you walk farther around the rocks (be care­ful not to get trapped by the tide – a bet­ter op­tion is to drive fur­ther north), you’ll ar­rive at Mar­shall, the city’s un­of­fi­cial gay beach. Mar­shall Beach has plenty of nu­dity, cruis­ing and rocks to shield sun­bathers. Con­sid­er­ing the brac­ingly cold waters, swim­ming isn’t the pri­mary ap­peal, but on sunny days the boys are out there soak­ing up more than just vi­ta­min D. Also known as Nasty Boys Beach, a re­cent re­fur­bish­ment project com­pleted an ac­ces­si­ble trail which is a mixed bless­ing – like a scene out of Ver­tigo, un­sus­pect­ing tourists now stum­ble upon it.

A smaller nude beach, with spec­tac­u­lar views but not much sand, can be found fur­ther south at Lands End.

With sparkling clear wa­ter and peb­ble-free sands, you might mis­take Lake Michi­gan’s la­goon for the Caribbean, if it weren’t for the chill fac­tor. Oval is known for its de­cep­tively strong rips and the al­lur­ing charms of lo­cal Chicago daytrip­pers. Cloth­ing is re­quired on the beach, but up in the ever-shift­ing, largely un­de­vel­oped dunes there are plenty of se­cluded ar­eas to go buff on the bluff.

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