Thanks to the scantiness of modern swimwear, many beaches in the U.S. seem only a small step away from a nudist colony, but the experience for first-time nude beachgoers is often still shocking.
If you're looking to ease your way into the naturist lifestyle, nudist resorts and topless beaches are available that offer a slightly less adventurous experience. However, our top five best nude beaches are the "Full Monty," so proceed with caution!
While many of the world's best nude beaches are located outside the United States, there are several beaches across the nation that encourage visitors to bare all. However, not all of these nudist havens are created equal.
Whether you're looking to get an even tan, meet people who share your naturalist values, or just let it all hang out, these are America's top five best nude beaches ...
No. 5: Black's Beach - San Diego
Who says size doesn't matter? Located between La Jolla and Torrey Pines, Black's Beach is the largest nude beach in North America and a popular destination for surfers and naturalists.
Whether you're looking to ride a big wave or just even out your tan, this nude beach is known for being safe and clean.
Nestled against high rock cliffs on the San Diego coastline, Black's Beach is deceptively intimate. However, nude newbies beware, the massive waves and relaxed atmosphere draw large crowds, so be prepared to have an audience.
Also be careful to watch for signs at Black's Beach, because not all areas of this sandy hot spot are nudist-friendly.
Our next selection is just about the best little beach in the nation ...
No. 4: Little Beach - Maui, Hawaii
If you're looking for a place to bare all in America's 50th state, Little Beach at Makena is the place to go.
While nudity is not generally allowed on Hawaiian beaches, the courts have agreed to look the other way in the case of Little Beach, making it Maui's unofficial clothing-optional destination. This beautiful strip of sand was a favorite of the hippie population during the 1960s and remains a popular destination for naturalists from all over the United States.
The swimming and snorkeling are reported to be sensational at this popular sunbathing spot. However, Little Beach is inaccessible by car, so be prepared to park at Makena (Big) Beach, and hoof it from there.
Another insider tip: Take your valuables with you or leave them at home, as theft from cars is common at Big Beach.
Next up, go clothing optional -- military style ...
No. 3: Gunnison Beach - Sandy Hook, N.J.
New Jersey might not seem like the ideal place to drop your drawers, but the nude beach at Sandy Hook draws up to 5,000 sunbathers on any given summer weekend.
The beach takes its name from Gunnison Battery, a military fortress built by the government in the 1800s. The remains of the battery are still seen today, overlooking the beach. Army soldiers stationed near the battery used the beach for skinny-dipping, and when the beach eventually opened to the public, clothing remained optional.
Because Gunnison Beach remains governed by federal law, it is the only legal nude beach in the state, where nudity on state beaches was banned in 1999.
As an added bonus, if you need a little liquid courage in order to drop trou in front of thousands of strangers, alcohol is also allowed at Gunnison Beach.
Our next destination is the original nude beach ...