Private Beach (NSFW)

Diary , Gallery , NSFW Sep 28, 2014 1 Comment

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I’ve had mixed feelings about the battle for public access at Martin’s Beach, on the San Mateo County coast south of San Francisco (read the New York Times article here). On the one hand it is a classic battle between the privileged few and the common masses, with all that kind of conflict entails. Wealthy man buys beachfront property, closes beach to public access – property rights versus public welfare, California Coastal Commission versus Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Euclid versus Ambler, and on and on. Being a guy who is generally left-of-center, my first reaction was reflective indignation towards the new property owner and his locked gate. But something was gnawing at me.

I’d been to Martin’s Beach years ago, when anyone could visit by paying a small entrance fee. Technically private, yes, but open to the public. It was a nice enough place, charming in an old-time kind of way, but not really my scene. Down the highway, on the other hand, lies another beach, one that I have a long and deep affection for, and which is also private. And while this other beach has and still can be accessed by the public by paying a small entrance fee, not just anyone goes there… and that’s its appeal. This is a private nude beach.

The San Gregorio Nude Beach, as it is known (of alternatively the San Gregorio Private Beach) has been a clothing-optional beach at least since 1966 and is purportedly the country’s oldest. According to the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the beach gained renown when a group of San Francisco State University students formed a “Committee For Free Beaches” and leafleted college campuses in San Francisco and Berkeley about the “free beach” in San Gregorio. Word spread rapidly, and before long there were 500 nudists swarming onto the shore nearly every Sunday.

clipping_947598-300x171As the nude beach gained popularity, problems cropped up. Gawkers began taking up positions, while small planes buzzed the beach to grab peaks at the sunbathers. AP and UPI syndicated stories that appeared in local newspapers across the country, bringing more attention and more nudists to the beach. In one article, there was a prediction that by 1980 beaches all over the country would have designated areas for nudists.

Times changed; the crowds faded away, and today the beach feels like a special secret place for those in the know. The beach itself is beautiful, with two miles of soft clean sand, caves, cliffs, and driftwood structures.

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San Gregorio, 2010

 

The driftwood structures are either an amenity or bane, depending on your point of view. With the fort-like seclusion they offer, one thing leads to another and they lend themselves to sexcapades (common practice is to hang a t-shirt over a pole to indicate a structure is occupied). I recall years ago reading news articles about complaints from a property owner who had recently constructed a new home on the cliffs above the beach and was objecting to the sexual goings-on in the driftwood structures below. Doing an article search I couldn’t find anything written on the matter, but given that it’s not in the news anymore some kind of truce must have been arranged.

So reading about Martin’s Beach, I’m torn because I appreciate the value of a private beach. I love and appreciate the state beaches, including the San Gregorio State Beach located just around a cliff to the south of the nude beach. But San Gregorio Nude Beach is special because of its private status, and I’m happy to pay the admission fee to enjoy it. But I’ll be really upset if one day the gate to the entrance road is locked there too.

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San Gregorio, 2012

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Nate

Writer, performer, public speaker, wing guy, gym buddy, sympathetic ear, naked chef, and all-around good-natured exhibitionist. Say hello at nate@natebeck.us.

One Comments

  1. Robby from the UK

    Hello Nate,,,,Once again you have written a lovely piece which is straight from the heart and so genuinely warming to read….
    I can well understand the sentiments carried within…especially striking that balance between open access for all ages and privacy….here in the UK there is little access to clothes free bathing except for certain public beaches, these attract ‘gawpers’ too and it is not a place for the faint-hearted (or those with small ‘tackle’)! Anyone just ‘skinny dipping’ outside designated areas runs the risk of arrest and being placed on the sex offenders register. It is possibly just as well the UK weather precludes many chances for nude swimming, sadly for me the main problem is that I live some 120 miles from the sea!
    Love to all in the USA. Robby x

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