Black’s Beach is one of the largest nude beaches in the United States. Located below and just to the north of the Torrey Pines Gliderport, it is also one of the most secluded beaches in San Diego. There are two reasons to come to Black’s Beach, to either play in the sun, sand, and surf in the nude on the state-run north end of the beach, or to surf the most dangerous swells in San Diego on the city-run south end of the beach. If you don’t fit into one of those two categories, this beach won’t hold much appeal for you, which is the idea, if you do fit into one of those two categories.
Black’s Beach Life
The north part of the beach that is clothing optional is what makes this beach a popular attraction. The boundaries for the nude beach are between the Torrey Pines Glider Port trailhead and Flatrock Point just over a mile north. If you are a nudist, naturist, or just want to throw caution to the wind for once in your life and feel what it’s like to wear only your birthday suit outdoors, you will appreciate the seclusion of this beach.
Of course there are all the usual beach activities at the nude beach like surfing, body boarding, tossing a football or Frisbee, or strolling the shoreline. However, this is also an excellent spot to watch for dolphins in the waves, or lie back and watch the colorful paragliders and hang gliders soaring above the beach. You’re also less likely to be bothered by anyone here, so it’s a good place to read or catch up on some alone time. If you’re female, set up near other females on the beach; couples set up near other couples. Isolating yourself draws negative attention. Black’s Beach Bares often hold events at the beach, so you may see a naked beach volleyball tournament, or a rousing game of naked horseshoes.
At the south end of Black’s Beach expert surfers of San Diego gather to surf the colossal breaks that result from Scripp’s Canyon, and underwater submarine canyon. This is one of Southern California’s most powerful surf breaks, and is surfed aggressively by advanced surfers. The fast-breaking waves and large surf cause dangerous conditions that should be avoided by thrill seekers with intermediate surf skills. The hollow, A-frame waves have immense power that demand respect. Most surfers access the south end of the beach via dangerous, and sometimes steep and slippery dirt trails, or the winding paved road that descends from Black Gold Road. If you aren’t a surfer, it may be worthwhile to come to the south end of the beach just to watch.
Near to the Beach
There is nothing near to Black’s Beach, not even bathrooms. The secluded nature of the beach keeps the gawkers at bay, but also causes beachgoers inconvenience. The nearest bathrooms are far away walking the beach in either direction. In the direction of Torrey Pines State Beach parking lot where the bathrooms and showers are, your reward is simply that. Concessions or meals will require getting in your car and going somewhere close by. The same is true if you go the opposite direction to La Jolla Shores, a three-mile walk. You’ll find bathrooms there, but little else. You’ll again need to get in the car or be willing to walk even farther to a neighborhood restaurant.
One hundred yards south of the nude beach, and up the 300-foot cliff above the beach, Torrey Pines Glider Port has both port-a-potties and also a restaurant – the Cliffhanger Café. The trail from the glider port to the beach is maintained by nudists who frequent the beach, so its status is unpredictable. The sandstone cliffs are unstable and not everyone is adept at navigating the precarious nature of the trail; many people have fallen or gotten stuck. There are signs at either end of the trail that prohibit its use, but that is not enforced. The Cliffhanger Café has reasonably priced, tasty food and a killer view; you could also take your food “to go” on your way down to the beach.
The other dining option is carrying food to the beach with you, but the long hauls from the two neighboring beaches or the treacherous Glider Port Trail make bringing large coolers or a lot of beach gear impractical. A light meal, snacks, plenty of water, sunscreen, and a towel in a backpack would be your best bet, although on busy summer days you’ll see a lot of people under beach umbrellas, a cooler at their side. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Black’s Beach Essentials
There are four ways to access Black’s Beach. You can park at Torrey Pines State Park and walk south along the beach. When you get to Flatrock Point you’ve arrived. You can park at La Jolla Shores Beach and walk north along the beach. When you get to the trailhead for Torrey Pines Glider Port, you’ve arrived. You can take the Torrey Pines Glider Port trail from the glider port down to the beach, or you can take the windy paved road from Black Gold Road to the beach. None of the first three options are safe, but with the last option your car will be parked on a street with 2-hour parking. The paved trail is long (seemingly longer on the way back up), and won’t leave a lot of beach time.
There are strong rip currents at this beach, so swim with caution and keep an eye on children. There are often stingrays just below the sand’s surface along the shoreline on this beach, so do the “San Diego shuffle” when entering the water to avoid getting accidentally stung. Purple jelly fish frequent this beach when the water temperature is over 50 degrees – so all summer, they are not aggressive, but if you brush up against one being carried by a wave, you’ll get a poison ivy type reaction. Don’t linger at the base of the 300-foot sandstone cliffs; falling rocks and small landslides can occur causing injury or death. Be aware of the tide tables if you walk to Black’s Beach via either Torrey Pines Beach or La Jolla Shores Beach. Give yourself plenty of time to return before high tide, which makes these two access points impassible.
Black’s Beach – It’s a Wrap
The inaccessible nature of Black’s Beach is the very thing that protects its users and gives them the privacy and seclusion they are seeking to enjoy their lifestyles. If you want to join in the fun, use some basic etiquette and don’t start snapping photos with your iPhone. Taking photographs at the nude beach may get you a negative and harsh reaction. If you want a photo of/with someone, ask. You will be welcomed if you join in like a local, but if you just sit and gawk fully clothed, you will probably be treated with suspicion. Tourists unfamiliar with the southern end of Black’s Beach who want to surf should go and watch the first time and talk with some of the surfers. If you think you may not be up to the challenge, don’t try it. The unique experiences of Black’s Beach are not for everyone, but if this sounds like you then come on down!