‘4 mile beach’ full of sea life

Next day after visiting Big Basin Redwoods, we mostly stayed on the road heading south, but we had a nice memorable stop at Four Mile beach next to Santa Cruz. This is an official clothing-optional beach, as was designated on our bike map. It was recommended to us by Dan, the masseur from Burning Man who you might remember from my blogpost about acro-yoga in San Francisco. The beach looked beautiful already on our approach to it, and we could see just a couple of surfers there.

naturist 0005 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

As we came down, the beach looked even more impressive, though we were not sure if it was 4 miles long… or where did the name come from?

naturist 0007 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

Besides those few surfers, there were only some fishermen quite far out…

fishermen 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

and lots of birds!

seabirds 0008 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

When we arrived, most birds moved from the sand onto the water, and we could see all beach covered in their footprints.

naturist 0001 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

Then we noticed there also was an airplane! No, just cliffs that look like one 😉 The cliffs were full of birds too.

gulls 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

Gulls were the most numerous,

gulls 0001 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

but there were many kinds of other sea- and shorebirds too, mostly grouped together. The photo below illustrates that indeed birds of a feather flock together.

gulls and cormorants 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

Cormorants were probably the second largest group,

cormorant 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

but there were many pelicans too.

pelicans 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

This was a clear indicator of richness of the ocean waters by this beach. To a large extent, it was probably thanks to the kelp forests, of which we could literally only scratch the surface.

giant kelp 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

Low tide revealed the rocks covered with the densest mussel colony I had ever seen.

seashells 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

That’s a lot of seafood!

seafood 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

In just few minutes, Niko created this seafood bouquet. We didn’t feel adventurous to actually eat any of that, but it looked tasty 🙂

To make this place even more ecologically diverse, there was a freshwater pond too.

sandpiper 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

A sandpiper and a group of ducks were hanging out there away from the seabirds.

ducks 0001 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

And aside from all these water birds, ravens apparently called this place their home too.

raven 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

So as this young snake, whose species I couldn’t identify – any serpentologist among my readers?

snake 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

With all this biodiversity, I thought that we only missed dolphins but Niko said it would be too much to ask from just a couple of hours at the beach… We played some frisbee, which went very well, probably because the beach is protected from wind by the cliffs.

naturist frisbee 0003 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

And then we saw them! 4 dolphins were passing along the beach showing their back fins. I was happy and ran with my camera to the cliffs that went farther into the ocean to take a better picture, but they disappeared.

dolphin 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

And then I saw something that I didn’t even expect to see – a sea otter!

sea otter 0000 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

It even showed me its cute swim on the back while opening a mussel with claws.

sea otter 0001 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

Then I felt like we could leave the place with enough memories…

naturist 0004 4 Mile Beach, CA, USA

And my boys were already checking out the map to see how we would get to the next campground… and we had to get dressed too.

anti-naturist 0000 cafe, CA, USA

beaches of Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve, natural and naturist?

Unfortunately, I have to start from bad news: just one month after I posted about eco-resort Papaya Playa and its clothing-optional beach, upon my second visit there I found out it was no longer clothing-optional. There was a warning on the beach that read: ‘Welcome to Papaya Playa. Clothing is mandatory!’ Unfortunately, Papaya Playa also bought neighbouring resort Copal that was known to be clothing-optional. So, now there is no nudist beach in Tulum’s eco-hotel zone to my knowledge. I’ve read about a couple of luxurious nudist hotels in the area – Hidden Beach Resort, Dolce Vita B& B, and Desire Resort, but they seem to be very expensive and do not offer day passes to the beach. However , if you don’t mind staying away from the hotels, you could go to biosphere reserver Sian-Ka’an or Xcacel-Xcacelito for some more secluded beaches where you can sunbathe and swim ‘as nature intended’.

I’d recommend renting a bicycle to move around Tulum, but make sure to find a good one – most of the rented bikes are in terrible, really terrible conditions (you feel like something is about to fall off as soon as you take off). iBike seemed to be the only bike rental that offered mountain bikes. We rented cruiser bikes from them because they were much cheaper and the road seemed to be pretty smooth, but now my advice is to go for their mountain bikes, because they seemed to be in much better state, and not so much because you’ll need suspension, although that helps too, once you leave the asphalted road and enter Sian-Ka’an. The closest open access beach in Sian-Ka’an is about 15-20 min by bike from the hotel zone (about 35min from the town). After you enter Sian-Ka’an through ‘the arch’, continue further and look for mark “3” on the right side. There is a  trail opposite of it,

naturist 0011 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

and it leads to this idyllic beach.

naturist 0002 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Shortly after our arrival, we saw the rain was approaching, but as the sun was still shining, the colour of the sea got only more intense juxtaposed with dark clouds.

naturist  0001 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

When the rain started, we followed advice of the pelicans not to be bothered

pelicans in the rain  0002 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

and ran into the sea.

naturist 0001 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Soon the rain stopped, and we were rewarded with a rainbow.

naturist 0004 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

I felt like doing some stretching and a coconut palm tree seemed perfect for practicing ‘bridges’.

naturist 0003 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

That’s when I noticed two ripe coconuts hanging at the top. Maybe it was the influence of videos of Indian pole gymnastics, that I had impressed me so much shortly before the trip, but I decided to climb the coconut tree.

naturist 0006 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

My first attempt, though, appeared more appropriate for the tree-hugging day 😀

naturist 0005 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

I tried to remember techniques for that but mostly had to improvise. Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen this video of free climbing a 100ft coconut palm tree, so my way up wasn’t as efficient, but I did manage to reach the coconuts (granted my tree was much shorter, but on the other hand, I didn’t have any equipment at all, so my climb was truly ‘free’).

naturist 0007 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

I hope my fascination of coconut palm trees can be forgiven, given that they represent an ultimate tropical beach icon and I came there after some chilly New York spring days… But sometimes they also form some interesting structures… this one was somewhat ‘alienesque’…

naturist  0000 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Next time we came to the same place with my local friend, and we were up for a treat. We made ceviche from freshly caught bought fish. It would be cool to catch our own fish for lunch, but fishing is understandably forbidden in Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve.

naturist ceviche 0000 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

So, we chopped half an onion and squeezed about 10 limes onto the fish filet of about a kilo and left it to marinate for 20min.

naturist ceviche 0002 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Then we diced a tomato,

naturist ceviche 0003 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

and added some cilantro too.

naturist ceviche 0005 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Our ceviche turned out just perfect (at lest for our hungry stomachs).

naturist ceviche 0006 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Maybe it’s time to start a new section on this website, something like ‘cooking with active naturists’?

naturist 0013 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Later in the afternoon we continued cycling further south; we were aiming to reach the point that I saw on the satellite view map where coral reef came closer to the beach. Surprisingly, most of the shore was actually privately owned or on sale – not sure how that works on the territory that is a biosphere reserve – so we had no choice but go until we’d find free access beach. We almost gave up, and Will’s bike got a flat tire, but then there was a sign for a public beach, playa publica. We decided to deal with the tire next day, and settled down on that beautiful beach.

naturist 0009 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

There was just one other group of 3 guys on the beach and someone jogging, so we felt the place was pretty much ours. We found a nice spot under coconut palm trees (of course!) to set up our tent, and there were some pretty bushes with orange flowers.

naturist 0012 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

It’s hard to imagine a better place for beach camping!

When we walked around, we noticed that one of the guys in the other group was skinny-dipping too. We were a good influence 🙂 At night, we went for a walk by the water again in hope to see bioluminescent plankton. There was almost none in the water, but surprisingly we noticed that we had many of those sparkling dots in our hair! Probably the previous beach had more of bioluminescent plankton and it got stuck in our hair. Then we saw two men wearing some kind of military outfit approaching. We just behaved as if our outfit was as natural as theirs (and in fact it was, but you know what I mean), but they didn’t seem to be bemused at all; they just asked where we stayed and where we were from…

naturist 0008 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

As the sun was rising, it was a good time to get out of the tent

naturist 0010 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

and take photos of the shorebirds.

frigatebird 0011 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico.jpg

Frigatebirds and pelicans were the most numerous.

pelican 0002 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

We saw some successful catches,

pelican 0000 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

but they also seemed to enjoy the dives.

pelican 0001 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Synchronised diving of pelicans was particularly impressive. Too bad I didn’t manage to get a photo of three of them plunging simultaneously.

pelican 0003 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

By the way, where you see the waves breaking in the sea in the background goes the barrier reef. It’s not very close to the beach, but we decided to swim towards it. It was a nice long swim (it took us about half an hour one way), but we didn’t see anything particularly interesting at the reef like I did previously at Akumal beach (turtles) or in front of Tulum ruins (squids).

naturist snorkel 0000 Sian Kaan beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

After that, we had a fruit snack, pumped the tube at the nearest ‘rancho’ (looked more like some kind of small boat maintenance place) and headed back to Tulum.

Another beach in vicinity of Tulum is Xcacel-Xcacelito. It’s really pretty and not crowded at all. We figured that at the far left side we could be naked as there was hardly anyone, and we saw some topless women too. That is also where the reef comes close to the beach, but again it wasn’t particularly vivid, as you’d expect from the most prolific type of marine ecosystem.

naturist 0000 Xcacel-Xcacelito beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico