Summer is nearly here—time to catch some rays and ride waves. And LGBT sun worshippers have always staked their towels on the best beachfront real estate.
Below, check out our picks for North America’s best gay beaches.
Herring Cove | Provincetown, MassachusettsProvincetown Tourism Office
If Provincetown is the gay Promised Land, then Herring Cove is our Red Sea, perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway, with whale-watching and sunsets that seem to melt into the ocean. Just stay to the left for the gay-friendly and clothing-optional side of the beach.
After you soak up some sun, enjoy galleries, restaurants and campy cabaret back in town. Stay at one of the upscale inns in the West End—peak season is July through August, so plan early.
Little Beach | Maui, HawaiiHawaii Tourism Authority
Straights, gays, locals and tourists happily mix on Little Beach in Makena State Park, about a mile past the Makena Beach and Golf Resort. It’s so secluded that you have to hike up a lava-flow trail to get to it.
The first clue you’ve made it: The guys letting it all hang out in the Hawaiian sun. Avoid tan lines this summer and join them by basking au natural. (Just come prepared: The tropical sun is strong so pack extra sunscreen to protect your assets.)
Will Rogers State Beach | Santa Monica, California
L.A.’s unofficial gay beach, lovingly referred to as “Ginger Rogers Beach,” is right off the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s the closest gay beach to DTLA so expect to bump into familiar faces (or other body parts). Will Rogers also has a place in Hollywood history:, Creature From the Black Lagoon and Baywatch were both filmed here.
Sebastian Street | Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Known as the “Venice of America,” Ft. Lauderdale has eclipsed Miami to become Florida’s go-to LGBT travel destination. Located near the gay resorts, Sebastian Street Beach is popular with (mostly male_ locals and tourists alike.
It’s a Who’s Who of otters, cubs, and bears that still has that wonderfully low-key Lauderdale vibe.
Wreck Beach | Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver has several beaches for queer travelers, but the most secluded (and only clothing-optional one) is Wreck Beach, a short hike from civilization. Take the path marked Trail No. 7 and drop trou on the the south side of the North Arm Breakwater.
Black’s Beach | San Diego, California
Probably the most famous nude beach in America, Black’s is also one of the oldest—this stretch of sand attracts muscled surfers who tend to lay out naked after an exhausting surf.
Soak up some sun, but make sure you save a little energy for the hike home. The climb up and down the mountain is a challenging one.
Poodle Beach | Rehoboth, Delaware
With more than 50,000 visitors a day in peak season, Rehoboth has long been a draw for LGBT travelers from Baltimore, D.C. and Philadelphia.
During the day, Poodle Beach is where muscle queens, diesel dykes, and everyone in between goes to frolic. Find it by heading south down to the end of the boardwalk at Queen Street (that can’t be a coincidence) and turning toward the ocean. Get there by noon to claim a prime spot. By 2pm, it’s jammed towel-to-towel.
Playa Los Muertos | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Despite it’s creepy name (which translates to “beach of the dead”), Los Muertos offers a beautiful and pristine shoreline just a few steps from Puerta Vallarta’s gayborhood, Zona Romantica. You know you’ve hit the right spot when you see dozens of blue deck chairs.
If it gets to be a bit much, wander over to Old Town, the city’s historic district, and take in the galleries, shops and restaurants that line quaint cobblestone streets.
Fire Island Pines | Fire Island, New York
Beach, booze, and boys abound on Fire Island, home to two gay enclaves, the Pines and Cherry Grove, which are divided by a no man’s land referred to as the Meat Rack. (I wonder why.)
Both offer great sun and sand, but Cherry Grove is more developed and draws a more mixed crowd (lesbians, gay men, straight families). The Friday-night underwear party at the Ice Palace still draws tons of gay boys, though, as do the Sunday drag shows by the pool.
Much less developed, and attracting a tony crowd, the Pines offers a somewhat more unique experience, where old and young, rich and poor (well, less rich) frolic. You might see Andy Cohen dancing alongside shot boys from Bushwick, or Cheyenne Jackson getting coconut water at the Pantry.
Playa Delfines | Cancun, Mexico
Cancun may be popular among spring breakers, but it’s also where all the boys are: Queer tourists gravitate toward Playa Delfines. Though the water is generally too treacherous to swim in, it has pristine white sand, water that’s 50 shades of beautiful blue, and views to make you weep. And if you simply must get in the water, you can even take a surf lesson from a pro.
Baker Beach | San Francisco, California
The Travel Channel listed Baker Beach in chilly San Francisco as one of the best nude beaches in the world. Surprising, right?
Head to the northernmost section for sunbathing sans clothing set against sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge. But only dip your toes in the water: Swimming is discouraged due to the dangerous surf.