Will Rogers State Beach: Santa Monica
Often lovingly referred to as “Ginger Rogers”, this beach is the only gay locale within the city limits (and accessible by public transportation: Santa Monica Blue Bus 9).
The guys you’ll find there: A true cross-section of LA’s various LGBT scenes with a sprinkling of straight families that seem to be clueless to the scene around them.
What they’re wearing: Lycra/ spandex/ you-name-the-stretchy material swimming trunks often a size too small, board shorts, sometimes snazzy underwear.
Pluses: It’s the closest gay beach so you’ll definitely see someone you know (is that a plus?). Nearby snack bar, public restrooms and parking. Marix Tex Mex Playa is just across the PCH for “après-beach” margueritas (118 Entrada Drive, Santa Monica).
Minuses: The water quality is not the best but many of the beachgoers here only dip their toes in. Traffic and parking can sometimes be a pain
Directions: The gay section of Will Rogers is just off the Pacific Coast Highway near the intersection of West Channel Road. Parking is available on the ocean-side of the PCH ($10) or on the street around West Channel. There are two pedestrian tunnels that go under the PCH. The gay section is directly west of the parking lot and volley ball courts, around Lifeguard Station 18.
El Matador (Part of Robert H. Meyer State Beach): Malibu
Purportedly a gay nude beach, this hidden cove is on the western outskirts of Malibu.
Pluses: Beautiful isolated rocky cove with very few people.
Minuses: Beautiful isolated rocky cove with very few people. Sometimes the beach and entrances to it disappear in the high tide.
Directions: To get there, either
1. Take the Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) through Malibu
2. The 101 through the Valley and then Malibu Canyon road down to the beach.
Limited parking is available in a gravel parking lot (pay $8.00 at the kiosk) or park for free along the PCH/Route 1.
West Street Beach: Laguna Beach
With the disturbing reality show of the same name, this beautiful beachside community was done a disservice by MTV. Even so, it still remains a great place to visit. Many LA gay guys make the trek here to see everyone they would otherwise see at the Abbey or Cherry Pop.
The guys you’ll find there: Gym-bound bods from West Hollywood and Industry types.
What they’re wearing: Tight revealing swimsuits that were not truly designed for swimming.
Pluses: Definitely the hottest guys around but the policy here seems to be “look but don’t touch (or talk to).”
Minuses: A bit of an insider scene and not super friendly. Parking can be a feat unto itself. Due to the ocean floor’s sharp drop off, the short pounding waves are not suitable for surfing/boogie-boarding and it’s a bit like swimming in a washing machine (then again, these queens rarely get their hair wet…). There’s not much of a night scene since the closing of the Boom Boom Room, the only gay club in town.
Directions: Take the 405 and 73 or the 5 to Irvine. Exit and take the 133 to Laguna Beach. In the town center, turn left onto the PCH and continue through town to West Street. Park near the intersection and then walk down the stairs to the beach.
San Onofre State Beach: San Clemente
This beach was in the news this year because the State Park wanted to outlaw nude sunbathing. Since it’s been tied up in court with no resolution in sight, the nudists have kept on their merry way. But for our team, the point is moot, since most of the gay boys choose the beach just on the other side of the fence within the boundaries of the Camp Pendleton military base.
The guys you’ll find there: An odd assortment of hipster dudes, enlisted military guys on the down low, naked surfers, older men and guys of many ethnic backgrounds.
What they’re wearing: For the majority, perhaps a hat or flip-flops but little else. But girding your loins is not frowned upon: Not everyone parades up and down the beach au naturel. But why waste an opportunity to swim naked?
Pluses: With lighter traffic in the morning, you can be there in an hour (while Black’s Beach can take 2 hours to reach, see below). Very natural and unspoiled feel. Beautiful clear water and several small canyons to explore. Completely hassle free despite being a military base. Sparsely populated with little nooks and crannies for privacy.
Minuses: If swimming within sight of a nuclear power plant bothers you, this beach is not for you. No lifeguards. It’s a long walk from the State Beach parking lot (day fee was recently raised to $15).
Directions: Take the 5 south and either:
1. Exit at Basilone Rd and follow signs to San Onofre State Park. You''ll pass the San Onofre Nuclear Facility on your right. At the end of the road, you'll reach the park entrance. Pay the $15 entrance fee and drive along park road to the very last parking area. Follow trail from the last restroom down to the beach. Turn left at the beach, walk through the straight nude beach and past the fence that marks the boundary of Camp Pendleton.
2. Two miles past the Basilone Road exit, exit at the Scenic Overlook. You can park here for up to eight hours. Look for the path and follow it down directly to the gay beach.