Another California gem for naturists, Pirate’s Cove is midway between Avila Beach and Shell Beach / Pismo Beach.
This south-facing cove is sheltered which is probably why it is favoured as a nudist beach. Its secluded position and rocky caves would have made the beach a natural hideaway for smugglers when ships heading to Port San Luis Harbour dropped off smuggled liquor.
Despite its name and notoriety, Pirate’s Cove has no known connections with pirates. There were legends of treasure buried long ago by Sir Francis Drake but no evidence has ever been found.
Access to the beach is from Cave Landing Road. There are signs directing you east either down to the beach or to the pirate cave, which has the best views but is a more treacherous route down.
Pirate Cave is a tunnel through the rock which reveals stunning views of the waves and San Luis Bay. Time your visit for low tide as there is very little beach at high tide.
The trail is steep in places but it’s worth the trek as the beach is nice for sunbathing but there are no facilities. Visitors can also go hiking along the trails and bluffs leading from the free car parking area. There are plenty of tidal pools and caves to explore.
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