Gunnison Beach on New Jersey’s Sandy Hook Peninsula is one of the few New Jersey beaches where nude sunbathing is allowed. It’s also one of the best places in the Garden State to get away from the fast pace of Manhattan and still enjoy the views of the city skyline.
The six-mile-long peninsula where the beach is located juts out into New York Harbor across from Lower Manhattan. If you’re ready to feel the sun on your shoulders—and then some—a visit to one of the few clothing-optional beaches along the East Coast will be in order.
Like the beaches in Sandy Hook, Gunnison Beach New Jersey is part of a national park—the Gateway National Recreation Area. This sprawling natural wonder has units in three of New York City’s boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens. In the New Jersey part of the park, there are plenty of great beaches as well as a lighthouse and a fort from the Revolutionary War era. It’s also a popular place for biking and birdwatching in all four seasons.
The state of New Jersey passed a law in 1999 prohibiting nude beaches, but since Gunnison Beach is on federal land, it’s not subject to the same laws. Once a part of an Army base and a Nike Missile instillation, Gunnison Beach has an interesting history. It is named after the Gunnison Battery, which protected the harbor throughout the nineteenth century. After the base closed in the 1970s, the beach became part of the recreation area.
In the summer, Gunnison Beach draws up to 5,000 people of day—some with clothes and some without. There’s no charge to enter the beach and no passes are required, but a parking fee is collected in the high season. Discounts are available for seniors and the disabled, just like at any other national park. The parking lots can fill up quickly on summer weekends, so the park rangers will direct you to one of the parking lots at a nearby beach. Parking is available for RVs, and these spots fill up the quickest on busy days. Weekdays aren’t as busy, so parking is more readily available between Monday and Friday.
While nudity is allowed at the beach—about a half mile from the parking lot—it is not allowed anywhere else. The sand can get hot, especially when the temperatures rise, so you should plan to wear sandals or socks as you’re heading to Gunnison Beach New Jersey. Once you make to the beach, you’ll find a lovely stretch of sand with views of the NYC skyline. A small snack shop serves traditional beach fare along with cold drinks and beer. There’s also a pavilion with restrooms and showers near the entrance to the beach.
Nudity is only permitted on the actual two miles of the beach, past the signs. As for other rules, picnics are allowed, as is alcohol in cans, but no glass can be brought in. Floatation devices, including rafts and surfboards must be used in other parts of the Gateway National Recreation Area or other Jersey beaches, like Poverty Beach in Cape May. Lifeguards and park rangers are available to help out and keep everyone safe and happy.
The list of activities is not as long here as some other beaches along the Jersey shore. Gunnison is typically a quiet beach where people typically enjoy sunbathing, swimming, and strolling on the gold-sand beaches. The general atmosphere is usually pretty pleasant, with friendly beach-goers reader to talk or offer the chance to join a game of volleyball. It’s just like any of the other Monmouth County beaches, except this one is favored by naturalists and nudists.