Gunnison Beach – New Jersey Shore’s Nude Beach
Gunnison Beach NJ - When New Jersey Senate Bill 1912 effectively outlawed nudity on the state’s public beaches in 1999, nude beach fans in the tri-state area were dealt a significant blow.
One notable exception to the law, however, was Gunnison Beach. Located on the Sandy Hook peninsula just a few miles south of New York City, Gunnison Beach is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area – which is owned and operated by the National Park Service. Since it is generally legal to be nude on federal land, Gunnison was spared from S.B. 1912’s effects.
Gunnison Beach is officially divided into two areas – clothed on the northern half and clothing-optional on the southern half (it’s probably a surprise to no one that the clothing-optional side is far more popular). The clothing-optional side is further subdivided (unofficially) into a straight area and a gay area (at the southernmost end of the beach). On any given sunny summer weekend, 3,000 or more bathers can be found on Gunnison Beach.
The history of nude bathing at Gunnison goes back to the 1950s, when Sandy Hook was home to the Fort Hancock military installation (large concrete gun placements are still clearly visible at the entrance to Gunnison). Servicemen would routinely skinny dip there, and when the base was decommissioned and turned over to the National Park Service in 1972, members of the general public continued the tradition.
The atmosphere on Gunnison is lively and enjoyable. The regulars say the level of behavior is better than most clothed beaches. Part of the reason could be that Gunnison (as well as the rest of Sandy Hook) is constantly patrolled by Park Service Rangers. While harassment of nudists by textiles or even fellow nudists is a rare occurrence, the Rangers have little tolerance for it and quickly respond to any reports of problems. There is an active group on the beach as well called Ranger World, whose leaders monitor the area for unwelcome behavior. Also, even with several thousand people in attendance, there is still a tremendous amount of open beach. This allows everyone to spread out and minimize any disruption to fellow beachgoers. Those who wish to drink and/or listen to music in groups can set up camp away from the bulk of the crowd.
The under-40 age group is also well-represented, easily making up between one-third and one-half of the weekend crowd on average. There is also a noticeable presence of younger children and families. As far as ethnicity, on a strictly percentage basis, the majority of those who come to Gunnison are Caucasian. But people from other ethnic backgrounds also make a good show of force. Recently, on Gunnison’s online forum, an African-American woman asked whether or not she should consider coming to the beach. She was worried that she would be the only African-American there, but nothing could be further from the truth. African-Americans probably make up the second-largest ethnic group at Gunnison, but the Asian and Hispanic communities are clearly represented as well.
While public nude beaches can often be the Wild West of nudism, I recommend Gunnison to anyone who is thinking about going, regardless of age, race or background. If your impression of the Jersey shore comes from the television show of the same name, you’re really missing out on one of the pearls of nudism on the east coast. The water is clean, the people are great, and with the New York City skyline visible in the distance – what more could you ask for?
IF YOU GO: The beach is easily accessible from New York City either by car or the aptly-named Seastreak ferry. There is no admission fee to the Gateway National Recreation Area, but there is a $15-per-vehicle daily parking fee. An unlimited-visit season parking pass can be purchased for $75. The parking fee is collected from 7AM to 5PM. Vehicles arriving outside of those hours do not have to pay (the area is open from 5AM to 10PM). The Park Service will close the entrance to the park once the lots fill up, which they do. On weekends during the summer, it is best to arrive at the park by 11AM. On nice days, the entrance is often closed from 11AM to 3PM or later. Lifeguards are on duty from 10AM to 6PM. At 6PM, everyone is required to get out of the water before the lifeguards go off duty. But once the lifeguards leave, everyone is welcome to return to swimming (at their own risk, of course).
Alcohol is allowed, but not in glass containers. There is a snack stand on the beach that sells a limited selection of hot dogs, chips and non-alcoholic drinks. There is a similar snack stand at the entrance to Gunnison. If you want a sit-down meal, there is one restaurant on Sandy Hook – The Sea Gull’s Nest. They serve good standard beach/pub fare. They’re often full during peak hours, though, so a late afternoon/early evening visit is recommended. There are other restaurants very close to the entrance of the park if you want to dine before entering or after leaving.
It’s a bit of a walk from the Gunnison parking lot out to the beach (about 350 yards or so). If you are bringing quite a bit of stuff (coolers, bags, etc.), you should consider bringing a proper beach cart with wide wheels to haul things. The walkway out to the beach is only about 50 yards long – it’s loose sand the rest of the way. Standard carts with narrow wheels will quickly get stuck. Tents and umbrellas are allowed, and since there is no other shelter on the beach it is highly recommended that you bring something other than just sunscreen!
Category: Naked Nude Beach Nudist Beaches
About the Author (Author Profile)I'm Felicity, author of Felicity's Blog and co-founder of Young Naturists America. I write about nudism and naturism in today's world along with issues like top-freedom and body acceptance, and various naked topics. Enjoy, and leave a comment when you've got something to say! :)
We have a serious problem with the following statement:
"There is an active group on the beach as well called Ranger World, whose leaders monitor the area for unwelcome behavior."
Oh, they're definitely active! Ranger World has a well-known reputation on Gunnison for ITS unwelcome behavior! THEY need to be monitored!
I'm disappointed by the article. First, it never states that the so-called nude beach is actually clothing-optional. Second, there's much analysis of ethnicity, but no mention of the gender ratio. Third, the author takes a cheap shot at other beaches by saying that other "public nude beaches can often be the Wild West of nudism." One doubts that the author has any personal knowledge to base that statement on.
Jennifer - it clearly states in the second paragraph that the beach has a clothing-optional section and a clothed section. The gender ratio is somewhat tricky - on the "gay" section of the beach, it's nearly 100% male. On the "straight" section, it's more like 60% male/40% female on average. Lastly, the article doesn't say that OTHER beaches are the Wild West of nudism. The sentence reads: "While public nude beaches can often be the Wild West of nudism..." - Gunnison is not excluded. While Gunnison is well-patrolled from a law-enforcement stanpoint, it does not have the kind of code of conduct rules that are typically present at nudist resorts.
Erik: Sorry about my error re c-o. The article does use the term clothing-optional, although it doesn't explain its meaning or indicate how many choose to remain fully covered. A textile date or spouse want to know how badly he/she will stand out.
Thank you for adding the m/f ratios. That's necessary data for most readers.
As for the cheap shot I alleged, I won't back off on that. Although the text doesn't explicitly say "other" beaches, the "other" is clearly implied. Like if someone says, "While restaurant kitchens can often be filthy, I recommend Joe's Eatery" the implication is clear that Joe's kitchen is OK. And it's equally bad to use an undefined term such as "Wild West" which can mean just about anything. What exactly is "the Wild West of nudism" supposed to mean?
As for your last sentence, the article was solely about one particular c-o beach, with no mention of resorts. No reader would take the Wild West comment as a comparison to resorts or cruise ships or anything else.
I lived in the area four decades ago. I am so glad this beach exists, I still carry the New Jersey spirit within me and am proud of this beach. I can't wait to go there someday.