This past summer, while I was taking time to travel and visit friends all across the country, I ended up in San Diego for Pride weekend. While I was there, I saw San Diego’s incredible Pride Parade for the first time ever, had loads of fun partying in the San Diego Zoo late at night, was able to see Kesha perform at Balboa Park, and most importantly I was swept up into an intense and passionate romance with a boy which led to me changing my plans and calling SoCal home for a few months. Our tryst ended as heavily and passionately as it began, and I shortly made my way to Key West to start my new adventures here.
Though my time with this boy reaffirmed my belief that every moment can be beautiful, and you should never stop letting your breath be taken away by the world around you. We went on many adventures in the short time we were together, and I’ll never forget the moments that we shared.
Many of these moments were burned into our memory at Black’s Beach, and it made me think about how many other life changing moments I’ve had at other beaches. SoCal is beach culture, it’s ingrained in the way people who live there think, the way they plan their days even. So it’s no shock to imagine how important the gay beaches are to the LGBT community. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting quite a few beaches over the years, and I wanted to share my favorites, and why I think you should check them out also!
No. 5 – Venice Beach, Venice, CA
Pros – Plenty of attractions, bars, restaurants, and shopping nearby, and by far the best people watching
Cons– Not exactly a “gay beach”, but very gay friendly
Crowd – everyone from roller skaters, to teenagers hanging out at the pier, to lovers embracing. Regardless, there will be lots of male eye candy!
Distance from WeHo – 13 miles (30 minutes without traffic), public transport options are also available
Favorite Memory – Attempting to rollerblade and getting knocked over by a giant, fluffy puppy with an extremely handsome owner (who later confessed the dog belonged to his sister) whom I met for drinks later that day.
While Venice isn’t a gay-only beach, it attracts such a mix of people that it’s worth checking out. It’s also close to the gay bars of Santa Monica and very easy to get to from West Hollywood. If you’ve never been to Venice Beach in your life, it’s worth checking out if for no other reason than to get the full effect of the SoCal surfer lifestyle!
No. 4 – San Onofre State Beach, San Clemente, CA
Pros – Clear, peaceful water, smaller crowds than Black’s Beach, good hiking nearby
Cons – far from both LA and San Diego, long walk from parking lot
Crowd – Military boys from the nearby base! With its equidistance, San Onofre attracts men from both LA and San Diego
Clothing – currently optional, though the state park has tried outlawing nudity for many years, fortunately to no avail
Distance from Hillcrest – 55 miles (1 ½ hour drive)
Favorite Memory – Watching a gaggle of Army boys have pushup and sit-up contests in the nude
San Onofre is a state park located next to both a military base and a nuclear power plant. In fact, the sight of the power plant in the distance offers very unique scenery to beachgoers. This beach is more popular among resident hipsters and military boys, but you’ll get lots of naked surfers passing through as well. Check out some of the hiking trails if you need a break from posing in the buff.
No. 3 – Will Rogers Beach, Santa Monica, CA
Pros – Truly epic parties on the weekend, convenient food and drink options
Cons – Water isn’t that great, parking is a nightmare!
Crowd – On certain weekends, it seems like every single gay man from LA is there!
Clothing – mandatory (though the skimpier, the better)
Distance from WeHo – 15 miles (40 minutes) – or take Santa Monica Bus # 9
Favorite Memory – Dancing and partying all day to excellent DJ’s with one very good friend whom I later stole a kiss (or two) from after we hiked far away from the crowds to watch the sunset.
Will Rogers, or as it’s affectionately called by the locals “Ginger Rogers”, is Los Angeles’ only gay beach, so it’s no shock that on beautiful weekends, you’re bound to see more gays here than in WeHo. Will Rogers is heaven for volleyball enthusiasts, and even hosts several competitions and tournaments during the summer. The Friendship, a popular near-by gay bar closed down years ago and led to a migration to nearby West Street Beach in Laguna by some gays, but this beach seems to still be home to LA’s pretty, powerful, and popular
No. 2 – West Street Beach, Laguna Beach, CA
Pros – quick access from downtown Laguna, excellent people watching
Cons – not very clean at times, ‘gay section’ not as nice as ‘straight section’
Crowd – Chiseled OC gay boys and their pretty girlfriends, surfer boys
Clothing – Mandatory
Distance from DT Laguna – 2.7 miles (6 minutes without traffic)
Favorite Memory – Meeting Andrew Christian himself, accompanied by a few of his most gorgeous models!
West Street Beach is OC’s gay beach, and it’s got all you’ve ever wanted…as long as all you’ve ever wanted is to gawk at sexy surfer boys while they pose for Snapchat photos in the sun. What irks me about this beach (apart from having to wear clothing, which always loses points with me), is that both times I’ve visited, it wasn’t very clean, and it seemed like the area most frequented by gay men wasn’t as pleasant as the rest of the beach. It’s saving grace is that it has easy parking, is a short walk, and is a very short drive to all of Laguna’s two (three?) gay bars!
No. 1 – Black’s Beach, San Diego, CA
Pros – Warm, sunny days year-round. Beautiful, black sand beach. Get to watch hang gliders all day!
Cons – Far from town and a difficult hike
Crowd – Eye candy of all ages!
Clothing – Optional
Distance from Hillcrest – 14 miles (20 minutes without traffic)
Favorite Memory – The countless hours spent with previously-mentioned San Diego boy where we soaked in every drop of each other we could.
Black’s Beach is arguably one of the best gay beaches on the planet. Pick just about any weekend out of the year and San Diego’s weather will most likely permit for a perfect day to take it all off and head to Black’s! My only complaint is that it is quite a hike out of town (a car is necessary if you’re visiting), and an even more daunting hike down to the beach. From the parking lot, plan for either a 20 minute hike down the makeshift steps, followed by another 15 minutes to walk north to the ‘gay section’, or if you’re adventurous enough you can go straight down the cliff (follow the even-more-makeshift trail) which is faster and puts you down right in the gayborhood of Black’s. Just remember, park rangers are not standing by to assist you should you tumble!
These are just a few of my favorite places in SoCal. Don’t even get me started on the beaches further up the West Coast (Pfeiffer Beach alone in Monterey is worth its own article!). If you find yourself at any of these or other gay beaches in Southern California, don’t be put off by the beauty of the men around you. SoCal guys can be some of the warmest and nicest men around! Who knows, you may end up changing your travel plans just like I did!