Nude Beach. The very mention of these two words often arouses feelings of titillation, embarrassment, outrage or even a combination of the three. For the thousands of people involved in the naturist movement worldwide, however, the idea of a nude beach seems, well, natural. After all, we all come into this world wearing only our birthday suits. Below is a list of some of the best:
Officially known as Maui’s “unofficial clothing-optional beach,” Little Beach is an isolated strand surrounded by high shrubs, craggy volcanic rocks and driftwood. Although nude sunbathing is illegal in Hawaii, the law has not been enforced here for years. As a result, Little Beach has become a favorite hangout for naturists as well as artists like Dr. Leisure, who has been painting colorful scenes from nude beaches for more than a decade. Activities at Little Beach are plentiful, including swimming, body surfing and whale watching.
Just north of Miami lies one of the few county-run and government-sanctioned clothing-optional beaches in the United States. For years Haulover Beach, part of the city of Sunny Isles, has been a haven for naturists from South Florida as well as snowbirds from Canada and Europe. Thanks to the efforts of the South Florida Free Beach Association, this beach has certified lifeguards and organized group activities, such as swimming and volleyball.
With its cobalt blue waters, sun-bleached cottages, ancient ruins and red sandstone cliffs, Crete’s Red Beach is picturesque to say the least. Made famous in 1968 when hippies from across Europe flocked to its shores, the resort at Red Beach has remained a naturist favorite for its rustic charm and its tolerance (nudity is allowed everywhere except the dining room). Visitors to Red Beach will find the area’s ancient caves interesting, as well as sunken bits of history that wash ashore from time to time.
Praia do Pinho
Although the barely-there, dental-floss bikini debuted here, nude beaches in Brazil are somewhat rare. However, naturism has caught on in some parts of the country, including Praia do Pinho (a.k.a. Pinho Beach), located in the southern state of Santa Catarina. Pinho opened in 1987 as the first sanctioned au naturel beach, and nudists who frequent this area make a point of saying “clothing is not an option” despite the strand’s official description as clothing-optional. Balneario Camboria, the chic city home to Pinho Beach, is very popular with beachgoers from Argentina, Uruguay and elsewhere, and its population is said to increase ten-fold from December through February.
Unlike most other nude beaches, Hedonism II promotes a freewheeling and indulgent naturist experience for playful singles and couples. Located in Negril, Jamaica’s famous 7-mile white sand beach, the all-inclusive resort is divided into “nude” and “prude” sections, with separate facilities for swimming, sunbathing, volleyball and more. Clothing is optional, however, throughout the entire complex. Visitors can expect to find vast spreads of food and drink, a thumping party scene and, quoting the resort, a “lush garden of playful passion.”
Relaxed and lively is the only way to describe Samurai Beach. On this half-mile stretch of white sand, nudists let it all hang out while taking part in volleyball, tug-of-war and Frisbee.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Named for a hulking, wrecked vessel that once sat on the sand, Wreck Beach is the shore of choice for Vancouver students. Just several hundred steps below the University of British Columbia, the 3-mile-long beach is a wildlife and nesting area for both bald eagles and bald bodies. Other sections of the beach assume a more carnival-like atmosphere. One stretch on the beach known as Vendors’ Row is a 1-stop shop for souvenirs, refreshments and the ever-important sunscreen.
The site for nude novices is the Couples Resort in Ocho Rios, a popular Jamaican port-of-call. A unique feature at the romantic, all-inclusive spot is a private, au naturel island approximately 200 yards offshore where playful pairs can enjoy a day of nudity. Located on the island is a pool, cozy nooks for lounging, a cabana bar and, of course, a pristine beach. Although the rest of the complex has a dress code, Couples is the ideal resort for letting loose year-round.
Travelers looking for an authentic nude beach experience should go to Centre Helio Montalivet, the birthplace of the international naturist movement. Established in 1950, this nude beach resort on France’s Atlantic Coast provides a safe and legal wilderness setting for nudists and their families. Within the complex are more than 1,800 camp sites, 172 bungalows, shops and facilities for art classes, yoga, soccer and more. No other nude beach or camp on earth rivals Montalivet’s family-friendly environment.