Contributor Review – Charlee Peterson
Local Expert. Visited 2023
Hitting up Gunnison Beach, we’ve stepped into what’s known as the largest nude beach on the East Coast, nestled in the Sandy Hook area of New Jersey. This place has character! It’s not just about shedding clothes; it’s about shedding inhibitions, embracing diversity, and just being. You pay $25 to enter, but once you’re in, it feels like a different world, where everyone’s accepted, no matter who you are.
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Now, getting to the beach is a bit of a trek from the parking lot – we’re talking a 10-15 minute walk. But they’ve laid down these mats, making the journey easier. The beach itself is incredibly vast, stretching wide from shore to dune. They’ve recently limited the official nudist area, but that doesn’t stop beachgoers from spreading out and enjoying the expansive sandy shores. There is plenty of parking and it is included in your $25 entry fee. Just a heads-up, the beach gets super busy on gorgeous summer days, so finding a good spot can be a bit of a scramble but not impossible. Sometimes entering Sandy Hook thru Shrewsbury bridge is faster! Give it a try if traffic is bad!
Gunnison has this super laid-back, chill vibe during the day. You’ll see all sorts of people – families, groups, solo visitors – just soaking up the sun and the freedom. But let me tell you, after 5 pm, the scene shifts a bit. It gets rowdier, more party-like. So, if you’re not into that, maybe plan to head out earlier. The beach has this awesome view of the New York skyline, Brooklyn, and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, but it’s still pretty remote. If you’re lucky you’ll spot dolphins but unfortunately we didn’t see any on our visit.
If you’re into exploring nude beaches in the US, Gunnison is definitely a must. But keep in mind, there’s a no-alcohol rule (rangers might check your coolers), and they’re strict about not setting up tents or windscreens that block views. See more of the official rules + regulations from the National Park Service HERE. Most amenities are seasonal, including restrooms, showers, and food trucks. And, oh, it’s a carry-in, carry-out beach, so bring a trash bag. While we think Gunnison could really use something like an ambassador program, like Haulover Beach or Blind Creek Beach in Florida, it’s still an amazing place to visit. Just be aware of what to expect, especially if you plan to stick around after hours!
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Gunnison Beach, located within the Sandy Hook area of New Jersey, is a popular destination, especially on sunny weekends when the car park can get busy quite early. To access the beach, be prepared for a 10-15 minute walk from the parking lot. Be aware there is a mandatory $25 entry fee, which includes parking, to avoid any hefty fines. On days when traffic is heavy, consider entering Sandy Hook through the Shrewsbury Bridge for a potentially faster route.
Directions by Car:
- From New York City:
- Take the Garden State Parkway South.
- Exit onto Route 36 East towards Sandy Hook.
- Follow the signs for Gateway National Recreation Area - Sandy Hook Unit.
- Pay the $25 entry fee at the park entrance (includes parking).
- Follow the signs to Gunnison Beach. Remember, the parking lot is a 10-15 minute walk from the beach.
- Alternate Route on Busy Days:
- Consider entering through the Shrewsbury Bridge if traffic on Route 36 is heavy.
- This can be accessed by taking NJ-35 North and then following signs for Sandy Hook.
Directions by Public Transport:
- From New York City:
- Take a New Jersey Transit train to Red Bank, NJ.
- From Red Bank, take a taxi or a ride-sharing service to Gunnison Beach, Gateway National Recreation Area.
- Keep in mind that public transport options might not take you directly to the beach, and there may still be a walk involved from the nearest drop-off point.
Remember, on hot summer weekends, it's best to get an early start. Long weekends here are particularly busy and much more rowdier. Find your vibe and enjoy the largest nude beach this side of North America!