Everyone’s at least thought about it. The gentle kiss of the summer sun on bare flesh, the grainy tickle of sand in secret places, the delightful caress of an afternoon breeze across your buttocks.

Chances are, if you have been to a nude beach, you’ve at least considered the idea.

Last weekend, a friend called me, ecstatic and raring for a game of 20 questions.

“Guess where I am?”

The sound of waves tipped me off.

“OK, but what kind of beach?”

It wasn’t the thought of my friend nude on the beach that seemed so amusing, but he just seemed so gosh-darned excited to be there. In his words, he was “sitting naked, smoking a cigarette and loving it!”

The chance to dangle your parts is quite tempting, and Santa Barbara County offers a variety of unofficial places to do it. It just takes a quick Google search to find the best spots, and some websites rate the beaches and offer handy directions.

The beaches here stretch from Summerland up the Gaviota coast but are unofficial in the sense that it’s still against the law to be naked on them. Those who dare to bare run the risk of citations, fines and possibly even arrest.

Plainclothes police officers patrol the beaches in fits and spurts, and more frequently during warm summer days when the temptation to greet the sun with your paler portions grows strong. Officers – fully clothed but not in uniform – casually stroll up and down the beach, passing out fines to those subverting the apparel paradigm. Not to mention the penalties for nudity can be, well, stiff.

Under Santa Barbara County laws – thank you, board of supervisors – the fine for a first offense ranges around $50. A second offense within a year of the first comes with a price tag of $100. For every bare-butt move within a year of the second violation, the cost goes up to $250. Some of the nude beaches in the area are part of the state park system, where penalties, at maximum, can come out to a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

Even with the harsher penalties, state parks seem like a better bet for the nude-inclined. Many state park rangers use the Cahill policy, where they won’t bust someone showing too much skin unless another person makes a formal complaint.

Thanks to a 1972 court case, the state decreed that abandoning clothing on the beach is not a crime in and of itself. However, it remains left up to individual counties and cities to set their own laws and regulations concerning nudity.

Of course, no matter where you go, you always run the risk of socially challenged individuals spying on you. A friend of mine told me an amusing story where one of his old girlfriends and her friend went sunbathing nude at More Mesa, and he tagged along as protection. Sure enough, a pervert appeared on the cliff and my friend snuck up behind him and started blasting Peeping Tom with his paintball gun.

On a note of baring it all, next week will mark my final column after two and half years of writing. I figure I should go out in a fantastic, self-fellating fashion, because, well, I can. But I need your help, dear, constant reader. E-mail me at (it’s working now) with any questions you want to ask me. I’ll try to answer as many of your questions as I can in my final column.

As an added bonus, I’ll drink a cocktail for every question I answer while I write. It should make things more interesting.

Steven Ruszczycky is the Daily Nexus Opinion editor. He’s always wanted to be toped by Beth Van Dyke.