Finding a LGBTQ beach in the United States isn't hard. Most major beach cities have at least one stretch of sand with a rainbow flag. While some are a bit more remote and attract the more adventurous type, others will be packed nearly year round with hot bodies soaking up sun and fun.
Bal Harbour north of Miami Beach, Miami, United States
Haulover Beach Park on Collins Avenue about 10 miles north of South Beach is one of Florida's last remaining wild sections of beachfront. It's a good place to fly a kite rented from Skyward Kites that's been in business for 20 years. The 2.5-mile long stretch of pristine sands is great for swimming and surfing with a half-mile "clothing optional" section at the northern end. The LGBT crowd tends to frequent the most northern reaches. The Bill Bird Marina in the park has the largest charter/drift fishing fleet in South Florida. Route 103A (Max) provides bus service along Collins Avenue. Parking is available on the west side of Collins with walkways to beach.
Rehoboth Beach, DE
At the northern end of the boardwalk in popular gay resort town Rehoboth Beach-about a three hour drive from DC-is North Shores beach, a predominantly lesbian hangout with a classic shabby-chic east coast beach appeal. Poodle Beach near Queen Street is the boy's beach, with lots of eye candy on vacation from nearby cities. There's usually a volleyball game going, and plenty of standard beach activities like boating and fishing.
West End, Provincetown, United States
The most popular beach in Provincetown is Herring Cove, and it has a little something for everyone. Close to the parking lot is the unofficial family section, and as you keep walking south - towards the left - you'll pass through the lesbian section, gay male section and nude section, in that order. The Travel Channel has named this one of America's Best All-Time Beaches, so it does tend to get pretty crowded, but there's a full infrastructure with a snack bar, large bathrooms, changing rooms, showers and lifeguards.
Near Airport, Key West, United States
The biggest public beach in Key West and considered one of the best beaches for gays in the US, Smathers has something for everyone along its 2-mile stretch: sunning, volleyball and ogling on the beach; kayaks, windsurfing and jet-skiing on the water; strolling, roller-blading or biking along the broad sidewalk. And, there are plenty of vendors, food trucks and restrooms to take care of your basic needs.
Presidio, San Francisco, United States
Spread out on the southwest corner of the sunny Presidio, the mile-long Baker Beach is known for its fantastic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin headlands. The northern end of the beach tends to be the cruisy section, and also where the nude bathers camp out; on warmer days it will be crowded with sun worshipers. Hikers can pick up the Coastal Trail on the cliffside, and those who are eagle-eyed should be able to spot porpoises frolicking in the surf. Be aware that the water is cold and currents can be unpredictable, so young children should avoid swimming.
Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, United States
Will Rogers - sometimes known as Ginger Rogers Beach - has been LA's unofficial gay beach since the 1960s. About 15 miles from West Hollywood, the stretch for fun in the sun is near Lifeguard Stand #18 and includes volleyball courts and occasional beachside dance parties. There's parking, a bike path and Santa Monica Blue Bus 9 stops nearby.
La Jolla, San Diego, United States
Black's Beach - at least the northern part of it - is one of the largest public nude beaches in the US. Surfers prefer the challenging swells on the southern end, but the waters with rip tides and often chilly temperatures aren't for inexperienced swimmers. Other dangers are stingrays and landslides from the Torrey Pines bluffs. Best route to the sands is the steep Torrey Pines Gliderport Trail between the Torrey Pines Gliderport and the Salk Institute. At the bottom of the trail, turn right to find the gay section.
Malibu, Los Angeles, United States
El Matador Beach is a hidden rocky cove guys often favor, but the postcard-perfect beach with sea caves is not as isolated as you might think. It's popular for photo shoots, body boarding and bodysurfing, but its reputation as a nudist beach borders on urban legend.
South Beach, Miami Beach, Miami, United States
Just north of Lummus Park at 12th Street and Ocean Drive is the LGBTQ beach where the big Gay Pride events take place. Look for the rainbow flags on the sand and the Palace Restaurant and Bar across the street. Good for volleyball, sunning and people watching.
Fire Island, New York City, United States
Cherry Grove Beach on Fire Island skews slightly older and more sedate than its neighbor the Pines. The ladies tend to prefer this beach and its small town, which has a low-key, artistic vibe, and a number of good seafood restaurants.