Travel

The Best Clothing-Optional Hippie Beaches in America

Published On 09/23/2016 Published On 09/23/2016

You can find a great hippie town in every state in America, but even in the hippiest of cities, there are few opportunities to shed the pesky encumbrance of clothing and strip down to your most natural state. Nude beaches in the rest of the world are far more common than in the prudish USA, but there are a number of under-the-radar nude and clothing-optional beaches around our fair country where the freest of spirits gather to cast off any judgements or inhibitions, and frolic au naturel among like-minded characters. Just don’t forget your sunscreen!

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Lake Willoughby

Westmore, Vermont
As the home of Ben & Jerry's and Bernie Sanders, Vermont is a famously liberal place. And the Green Mountain State’s attitude towards nudity is equally laid-back at places like the southwest cove of the beautiful Lake Willoughby in northern Vermont’s Willoughby State Forest. With gin-clear shallow water and a secluded sandy beach, the clothing-optional southwest cove is the perfect spot to drop trou as you admire New Zealand-like fjords and 1,000ft cliffs that drop into a glacier-sculpted lake surrounded by two mountains. Skinny dipping was invented for places like this.

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Playalinda Beach

Titusville, Florida
While Miami’s Haulover Beach gets all the attention in nudist circles, this equally beautiful stretch of sand located within Canaveral National Seashore about 30 minutes from Daniel Tosh’s hometown of Titusville makes your family trip to the Kennedy Space Center a bit more interesting. Parking lots 1-11 are more family friendly, but a quick stroll along the beach’s north end around lots 12 and 13 quickly reveals the fact that you ain’t in at Disney anymore. Explore the sand dunes, swim nude, or crack open a beach read for a nude scan in the sand.

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Kehena Beach

Pahoa, Hawaii
The stunning black sand of this Big Island hippie oasis not far from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the first thing you’ll notice. OK, the second thing, after taking in expansive views of free spirits dancing to drum circles, sparking up joints, doing yoga, or bodysurfing maybe with and maybe without clothing. Be sure to stop by for the weekly Sunday party, do some nighttime nude swimming, or just relax in the buff with some of the most beautiful people you’ll ever encounter.

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Hippie Hollow

Austin, Texas
While not exactly a “beach,” this popular clothing-optional park on Lake Travis has been a Free Love-loving haven to the free spirit vibes since the late ‘60s. As the only clothing-optional public park in Texas, this adults-only nudist playground of rocky shores and bluffs spread out across 109 acres will have you spotting “wildlife” such as naked hikers, naked fishermen, naked joggers... and more than a few party barges fully stocked with naked people having the time of their lives. Only a couple rules here: wear shoes, and don’t get nude in the parking lot.

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San Gregorio Private Beach

San Gregorio, California
With around 20 nude beaches stretching from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, the Bay Area is undisputedly the nude beach capital of America. And while Baker Beach is the region’s most famous clothing-optional go-to, San Gregorio Private Beach is reputed to be the oldest nude beach in America. Dating back to 1967, this privately owned beach sits right next to the state-owned San Gregorio State Beach, which you should definitely NOT visit nude, because you won’t have any pockets to store the ticket you’ll probably get from rangers. The nude section north of the “hazardous surf” sign, however, is a nudie’s oasis with two miles of soft sand, caves, cliffs, and driftwood forts for “privacy.”

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Gay Head Beach

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
When you think of Martha’s Vineyard, you think of stuffy people in white Dockers who you’re not sure even get nude to shower. But the island’s bohemian vibes remain alive and well, tucked in the southwest corner near the town of Aquinnah at Gay Head Beach, so named for its location beneath the glorious brown and orange-hued Gay Head Cliffs. Also called Moshup Beach due to the Moshup Trail that leads down to the beach, this cliffy area is about half-nude, half-clothed, boasting nice sand and picture-perfect clay cliffs where you’ll find some of New England’s finest hippies whiling the day away meditating on the rocks.

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Secret (Kauapea) Beach

Kilauea, Hawaii
Popularly known as Secret Beach (or “Secrets” by locals), this expansive 3,000ft long north shore Kauai beach sets itself apart from the typically cramped nude beach by unfurling a vast strip of sand where the further down you walk, the more likely you are to stumble across sunbathers sans skivvies. Most of the folk along this 75ft-wide beach, however, remain clothed and, while nudity is not technically legal here, the beach is rarely patrolled (you’re more likely to see whales or dolphins than a ranger). But even if you do get busted, the worst punishment you’re likely to endure is a polite suggestion to cover up.

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Secret Cove

Incline Village, Nevada
Lake Tahoe is dotted with several clandestine spots for getting nude in nature, but few can match the beauty of North Tahoe’s epic clothing-optional Secret Cove. On the far north end of the beach accessible by a fairly easy downhill hike (forewarned: it’s not quite as easy on the way back up), you will find a mostly nude crowd congregating around a gorgeous, picture-perfect beach of white sand and crystal clear water surrounded by serene alpine trees. So if you lose your shirt (and pants) at the nearby casino, you know where to go.

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Collins Beach

Sauvie Island, Oregon
While nude beaches like Black’s Beach are the most well known along the West Coast, that doesn’t mean you can’t also get naked by the river. Such is the case at Collins Beach on Sauvie Island, located 25 miles north of Portland on the Columbia River. The laid-back, one-mile nude beach is frequented by a friendly cast of goofballs that bring the Portland Weird. Don’t leave without checking out the spaceship-like, graffiti-covered abandoned boat locals call the UFO.

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Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach

Hana, Hawaii
It may require a dodgy 10 minute hike on slippery red dirt to get there, but the reward is well worth it as soon as you lay eyes on this stunning stretch of dark red sand set against dark blue water, cliffs, and red rocks. Its otherworldly hue is not the only thing unique about this clothing-optional paradise, where you’ll find about a quarter of the folks playing around in the buff skinny dipping, smoking weed, or strutting their stuff on the laid-back beach. Nude Frisbee is not unheard of.

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Jay Gentile is a Thrillist contributor and thankfully he remembered to wear sunscreen while researching this article. Follow @innerviewmag

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