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Arts and Entertainment

Where the Boys Are: the 5 Gayest Beaches in Southern California

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Photo of John Carroll by Loris Guzzetta

Photo of John Carroll by Loris Guzzetta
A guest post by Bill Gordon, an LAist reader who is always on the hunt for the best gay spots.As many Americans are preparing to bid adieu to the season with Labor Day weekend, those of us lucky enough to live in this part of the country have several more weeks of warm weather to frolic in. Even so, there are some of you who have thought, “I should go to the beach this summer” and it’s still not too late. With the holiday weekend around the corner, we at LAist figured that you same-sex loving guys out there would appreciate info on where gaze upon gym-toned bods without fear (Lady-loving ladies, we’re open to a similar post just for you).

Here’s a short list of the gayest beaches in the region. Be sure to take plenty of water and sunscreen (especially for those spots that rarely see the light of day). Add your own opinions or additions in the comment section below.

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).

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Distance from
- The Abbey: 12.6 miles or 20 minutes
- Akbar & The Eagle: 18 miles or 27 minutes

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 (no, I’m not giving away my parking secrets).

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.

Distance from
-The Abbey: 35 miles or 53 minutes
-Akbar & The Eagle: 42.5 miles or 60 minutes

The guys you’ll find there: Who knows? We’ve never seen anyone else there…

What they’re wearing: You tell me.

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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.

Distance from
-The Abbey: 62.7 miles or 1 hour 17 minutes
-Akbar & The Eagle: 57.6 miles or 1 hour 6 minutes

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.

Distance from
-The Abbey: 74 miles or 1 hour 21 minutes
-Akbar & The Eagle: 68.9 miles or 1 hour 10 minutes

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.

Black’s Beach (Part of Torrey Pines State Reserve): La Jolla/San Diego

Whoever named this section of the California coast, “La Jolla” understood Spanish even if they couldn’t spell (La Jolla is a misspelling of the Spanish word for "the jewel".). The sentiment is spot on: The beaches here are spectacular.

Distance from
- The Abbey: 117 miles or 2 hours 1 minute
- Akbar & The Eagle: 112 miles or 1 hour 52 minutes

The guys you’ll find there: Sort of a cross between Will Rogers, Laguna and San Onofre, you will find many fine specimens of the male gender in various stages of undress. But why do the cutest ones insist on covering up? UC San Diego is nearby so students often stop by.

What they’re wearing: There is great variety of attire at Black’s Beach from board shorts, to tiny suits to nothing at all. While the Breeders almost all go naked on the straight side of the beach (at the foot of the stairs), on the gay end it’s about evenly split between the nude and not-so-nude.

Pluses: By far, the most beautiful beach in the region: a long wide flat beach at the foot of cliffs, a gradual sloping ocean floor and perfect waves for boogie-boarding or body surfing. Did we mention that the guys are cute?

Minuses: A LONG sometimes slippery climb down from the parking lot along either a steep gravel path or winding stairs (then again, it could be your day’s worth of cardio). There are no refreshments or food at the bottom so bring your own (which also comes in handy in making new friends). There are no public restrooms down at the beach.

Directions: Take the 5 South and exit at Genessee Ave. Turn right on Genessee, then turn left at Torrey Pines Road and then right onto Torrey Pines Scenic Drive. Follow the street until the end. Enter gravel/dirt parking lot. Options from here:

1. If you want to be civilized and take the stairs, veer to the left and park near the hang gliders. At the end of the parking lot, look for the path and wooden stairs. At the bottom, turn right and walk for half a mile to the gay section.

2. For the most direct route to the gay beach, continue straight through the parking lot with the hang gliders to your left. You’ll see another parking section ahead. At the far end, look for a steep gravel path. Be careful: it can be slippery! At the bottom, continue right along the beach and you’ll quickly be in the gay section.

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