First en vogue in France circa the 1950s, nude beaches soon spread around the world. It wasn't long before gays began carving out their own nude nooks and crannies and today a constellation of seductive sandy spots are decidedly gay. These seven are some of the best. But, as we know, nudity laws can change in a flash, so check online to make sure everything's in order before shedding your skivvies.
Haulover Beach, Miami
Miami's only officially sanctioned nude beach is also one of the country's most beautiful. Located off State Route A1A/Collins Avenue, just 10 miles from Miami, Haulover Beach is always bustling with activity, and the gays congregate north of the North Beach Tunnel.
Be sure stake your space on the sand early in the day, because this place gets busy, and keep in mind that there's no shade on the frequently patrolled beach, so an umbrella and definitely sun screen are both suggested.
Baker Beach, San Francisco
Officially part of the Presidio, Baker Beach is directly under the Golden Gate Bridge, and therefore provides some of the city's best views of the landmark. The north side of the beach, nearest the bridge, is the gayest and the most nude. Fun fact: Baker Beach was the location for the first Burning Man festivals, which are now held in Black Rock Desert, Nevada.
Hippie Hollow, Austin
Hot bodies decorate the shores at the gay-popular Hippie Hollow on Lake Travis, a short drive off Interstate 35. The gay section is about 15 minutes walk to the left from the parking lot. For an extraordinary day at the beach, head on down for annual Splash Days, clothing-optional lakeside parties on the rocky limestone shores of the lake.
Hanlan's Point, Toronto
Make the most of a beautiful summer day with a trip to the Toronto Islands, home to the gay friendly Hanlan's Point clothing-optional beach, bike paths, and a small amusement park. It's also a perfect place to escape in a heat wave, for temperatures fall a few degrees cooler than downtown.
As if that's not enough, the round-trip ferry ride provides the best view of the city's waterfront skyline. Life's a beach here, especially at the far end, where you'll find the most gay and lesbian Torontonians catching the rays.
Little Beach, Makena, Maui
The top gay sunning spot on Maui is the peaceful and quaintly-named Little Beach, where nudity is the norm, though technically illegal. You'll find it about one mile south of the Maui Prince Hotel in Makena, on the island's southwest coast.
Take all valuables out of your car and hike north up the rocky trail from 3,000-foot Big Beach to find its smaller sidekick. Gay sunbathers congregate at Little Beach's north end.
Wreck Beach, Vancouver
Wreck Beach, a taxi ride to the west of the city, at the foot of the cliffs that surround the University of British Columbia, is perched on the tip of Point Grey, looking out over the Burrard Inlet to the North Shore Mountains. The gay beach can be found at the famous clothing-optional beach's south end. Naked vendors cruise the beach, offering water, beer, sandwiches, and a surprising array of narcotics. Ask any student how to get to the access paths that lead down to the water. If you're traveling with baggage, leave itin a locker in the Museum of Anthropology near the trailheads above.
Black's Beach, San Diego
One of the largest nude beaches in the United States, Black's Beach runs for more than a mile on the coast north of San Diego, under the Torrey Pines Bluffs. Officially part of Torrey Pines State Beach, Black's is jointly managed by the state and the city. The distinction is important, as the nudity is only allowed on the state side, which starts about 100 yards south of the Torrey Pines Glideport.
Getting here can be tricky, and the quickest route is also the most treacherous—a steep rugged trail down a 300-foot cliff.