If anything, 80s pop music taught us “we don't have to take our clothes off - to have a good time.” But if you're looking to avoid those pesky tan lines, taking your clothes off is pretty much your only option. If sunning sans suits is what you're into, La Jolla's Black's is your best bet.
La Jolla has a number of tourist attractions but few are as widely talked about as Black's Beach. This clothing optional stretch of coast is hidden deep beneath the cliffs of Torrey Pines and provides sun, fun and most importantly, privacy, for those who prefer to do their sunbathing in the buff.
That's not to say the secluded shoreline is without those who are more comfortable donning swimsuits. Ask any local surfer where to go for San Diego's best breaks; Black's Beach will be named time and time again.
How to get there: Black's isn't the easiest beach to access. You'll either need to endure one of two steep trails leading down from the Torrey Pines gliderport, down a paved path at La Jolla Farms Road and Blackgold Road (behind the gate), or if you're adventurous, you can walk there by traveling northbound on the sand from Scripps Pier. The challenge with that route is making sure to plan it with the tide. If you head down by foot and the tide comes in, you're either stuck there until it goes out or you'll have a very long walk (or about a $7 cab ride) back to where you began.
Driving directions to the gliderport are simple. Take the Genesee Avenue exit off Interstate-5 and head west. You will want to turn left on Torrey Pines Road and then make a right onto Torrey Pines Scenic Drive. Drive toward the end and park in the dirt cul de sac. The trails are located beyond the gate, to the left. Those wishing to access Black's Beach via the sand trails may consider packing sneakers for the walk.
The people who go there: Once you reach the bottom of the trail you'll likely see several camps of surfers and “clothed locals” who are taking advantage of the less-populated beach space.
The "nude locals" can be found by walking north along the beach and can typically be spotted playing volleyball, Frisbee or even participating in the occasional barbeque. Black's Beach attracts married and unmarried men and women of all ages, although gay men are also known to frequent the area.
Why they go to Black's Beach: One East County couple who spoke with La Jolla Patch on the condition of anonymity said they've been coming to Blacks every weekend since the 70s. For them, the beach offers privacy, camaraderie and can be enjoyed without the chaos seen in some of the beach communities to the south.
What you can expect: One nude beachgoer from Carlsbad said he's seen as many as 4,000 people at Blacks during a busy holiday weekend and as few as several dozen during less crowded summer days. The nice thing about Blacks, he said, is that you don't need to get there by sunrise in order to get a spot on the sand. That can't necessarily be said for places in Mission Beach or Pacific Beach.
The male to female ratio: The ratio of men to women is approximately 70 percent to 30 percent, said a man from East County. He speculates that women are less inclined to bear it all for one of two reasons: They are either insecure and embarrassed about the way they look or they have great figures, know it, and don't want to be stared at.
What is the appropriate Black's Beach etiquette: The East County gal was quick to answer this query. "Practice good social skills," she said. "You would think that would be a given, but that's not always the case."
Proper etiquette, she said, also includes the following:
- “Don't try to be the beach Romeo.” Just because people are naked that's not to say it's open season when it comes to hitting on people.
- Give people their space.
- Don't take photographs of people without first getting permission to do so. (This also means photos on your iPhone.)
- Don't bring glass to the beach.
Fun fact: A clothing-optional advocacy group called the Black's Beach Bares; not the city, is the group that maintains the stairways leading from the gliderport to the beach. They make repairs to the pathway in the early morning or late evening hours or during the off season. Installing or modifying pedestrian-friendly augmentations to the trail violates San Diego Municipal Code, so the Bares do their best to help keep trail-walkers safe while avoiding being cited.
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