So what if the county's only nude beach goes mainstream

Pirate’s Cove is one of the prettiest spots on San Luis Obispo County’s southern coast, but by virtue of its alternate use as a nude beach, it’s always been a quiet, undeveloped spot passed over by the masses who head to Avila and Pismo.

That may all change in the next couple years as the county converts the area to a public park, complete with a paved parking lot, improved trails and restrooms.

I’m sure some visitors will be sad to see Pirate’s Cove lose some its eclectic nature, but I for one am fully in favor of the upgrade.

It’s simply too valuable a treasure to not enjoy wider use.

And while the county isn’t specifically trying to run off the clothing-optional crowd, I wonder whether this tradition will hold once the general public discovers the spot.

I haven’t been to Pirate’s Cove in decades.

When I first arrived in San Luis Obispo in the fall of 1988, I drove up to the bluffs there a couple of times to take sunset pictures of Avila Beach.

I was just strolling along minding my own business, snapping photos of the ocean, when some guy sidled up and started making small talk.

Next thing I know, he’s offering me a Lowenbrau out of the trunk of his car and asking if I wanted to meet up at a bar sometime.

Oops, sorry. No thanks.

I haven’t been back since, which is a shame, because it truly is a stunning location.

There’s a tunnel through the outcropping at the point, and the protected ribbon of sand below offers the kind of calm waters that families would enjoy.

So I will not be surprised if this becomes a more popular spot, despite the fact that it’s now more known for adults lounging au naturel than children building sand castles.

I will be curious to see how the county handles this mixed use.

Will they post signs at the trailhead warning of possible nudies frolicking below?

If they do, will that preserve the historic use of the beach and scare off new mainstream visitors? Or will enough people go anyway, ending the beach’s status as a hideaway?

Guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I applaud the county for this acquisition.

It might get me back to Pirate’s Cove for the first time in years.

Joe Tarica is the presentation editor for The Tribune. Reach him at or on Twitter @joetarica.