Bright Blue Skies at Vera Playa!

After reading about it for years, we finally made it to Vera Playa on the Andalusia Coast of Spain. I’ll admit it, I had my doubts, assuming that this may well be the Spanish equivalent of Cap d’Agde, the (in)famous “naked city” in the South of France that, in my humble opinion, falls far short of Europe’s best naturist destination.

Turns out that Vera Playa is almost nothing like Cap d’Adge, except for the fact that it is a stand-alone municipality where you can walk down the neighborhood streets in your birthday suit, and to most of the locals, it will seem like business as usual. That is, unless you walk all the way across town and go into the grocery store. Seems that will turn a few heads, and most likely, get you thrown out of the market. (A significant difference from Cap d’Agde where the boundaries of the naked world are well delineated by a gate that separates the quartier naturiste.) No such boundary exists in Vera Playa, where the edges are growing increasingly blurry as the textile world encroaches with new condominiums and commercial centers.

Hotel Vera Playa

Hotel Vera Playa

There is an excellent on-line community dedicated to Vera Playa, with an extensive forum, and a vast array of resources, the most useful of which is a map of the beach and the adjacent residential communities. They have color-coded the map (and apparently updated it as things have continued to evolve) to indicate where nudity is expected, and where it is forbidden, while delineating those confusing areas where I think you can probably be naked and nobody will care.

Nudist beach in front of Vera Playa Club

Nudist beach in front of Vera Playa Club

We stayed in the only full service hotel in the village – the Vera Playa Club – operated as part of a large chain of resort hotels in Spain, and marketed as the only fully naturist hotel in all of Spain. It seems there are places on Mallorca and the Canary Islands that could challenge that statement, but to be sure, there is nothing else on this scale. The place has a Disneyesque air about it, (Thinking older Port Orleans resort Disney, not crazy big water park Disney) including a big amoeba-shaped pool with a couple of modest water slides, and a forest of palm trees to assist with the pacing of your exposure to the intense sunlight of the southern Mediterranean. Nudity is required in the pool area, (and it appeared to be 100% compliance during our stay, except for a few children in swimsuits), but nudity is not allowed in any public area of the hotel after 8:00 pm. Hard-core naturists have been ranting about this for years, but I suspect this policy solves a lot more problems than it creates for a seaside resort hotel with 250 rooms.

Followers of my blog probably know that I rely rather heavily upon (and contribute frequently to) Trip Advisor, acknowledging that while you can’t please all the people all of the time, it’s good to know where to set the bar on the anticipation scale before you get your hopes up. Vera Playa Club has taken a few hits in recent years as the place just celebrated its 25th year, and according to a few self-proclaimed ‘knowledgeable sources’ out there on the web, even though this hotel is only open from April to October, they run at the lowest capacity of any of the Senator Playa Hotels. This statistic was not evidenced during our stay, as nearly every lounge chair was filled around the pool during this particular weekend in late May. In any event, complaints about peeling paint and worn loungers are sad, but true, though I will note in the same breath that they were painting one of the main corridors during our visit. Is it a top flight, four-star hotel like a Hyatt Resort on Maui? Not even close. Is it one of the fancier naturist “resorts” we’ve ever been to, with a nice pool complex and most of the cushy hotel amenities you expect at a beach hotel? You bet! For the record, having read the recent reviews, I was pleasantly surprised by the amenities and condition of the place. My wife – while really enjoying the place, had only my filtered reports for setting her preconceptions, and thus, gave it lower marks on the luxury scale than I.  I confess, I was clearly intoxicated from the over-abundance of sunshine and palm trees!

View from the hotel

View from the hotel

Acknowledging once again that our stay was on the shoulder season, at an excellent rate including breakfast, one couldn’t help but notice that the median age of the guests left us feeling like one of the young couples at the party; a sensation we don’t enjoy very often nowadays since our children have all graduated from college. There were a few young families, and couples in the 30-something arena, but they were by far the minority. But given that it’s another month until European schools let out for vacation, we were surprised to see any families at all.

What was remarkable, however, was to see so many aging naturists, some with significant disabilities, navigating stairways, tiles floors, and other pool area obstacles that can be hazardous to the young and nimbly athletic. In fact, it was heartening to think that this is a place where I could be very comfortable twenty-five years from now, meaning I’ve scarcely hit the midpoint of my naturist life! I met one British woman who had traveled extensively though naturist France with her husband, but now that she is alone, she simply makes a bee-line to Vera Playa. (Easily accomplished with several options for non-stop flights from the UK to nearby Almeria.)  An important step in my own naturist journey is my growing appreciation of the inherent beauty of aging. One’s skin tells a lifetime of stories.

Walking past the condo developments

Walking past the condo developments

Of course, there is much more to Vera Playa than just this hotel. In fact, to read the banter out there on the web, the hotel is merely a distraction to the very heart and soul of the place. With a fair number of year round residents, many of the surrounding condominiums are owned as vacation homes; rented out when not occupied by the owners. On this particular sunny Sunday afternoon, the beach attracted a good crowd, with a more balanced demographic, including several young families with children. We developed a particular fondness for the Cota Zero beach bar, the rustic little shack right in the middle of the playa nudista. Good bar food, friendly employees, cold beer, and endless entertainment in the people-watching department were all on tap here. No shirt? No pants? No problem! We didn’t bother to check out the other eateries on the beach with naked clients, but even during shoulder season, it seems there are more than a few choices.

Meandering toward Cota Zero - our beach bar of choice!

Meandering toward Cota Zero – our beach bar of choice!

We were a bit taken aback by a couple of clubs of a tawdry nature down the street from the hotel, especially since we arrived on a Saturday night, and the fashion show was starting early as guests were assembling for a party across the street. Once again, nothing like the outlandish displays we’ve seen in Cap d’Agde, but it did make me wonder how I would explain the promenade to my 13-year-old daughter had we come here on holiday back when she was that age. But again, I say that knowing full well that we have friends who would say, “What, you took your kids to a nudist hotel?” Simply observing what struck me as an odd juxtaposition, just a few steps from the doors of a family-oriented resort.

So now we have another favorite naturist place, though it’s a long way from the place we typically call home. As beachfront property becomes an increasingly precious commodity, I hope the Vera Playa folks can hold their ground in protecting this naturist haven from those eager to don wet, clingy nylon. As an aside, federal law in Spain dictates that any beach can be a naturist beach as long as you’re not offending the locals. For many years, this proved true anywhere in Spain, until nudity (and perhaps the accompanying less than altruistic behavior) became commonplace on the streets of Barcelona, and legislation was amended to ban nudity in that Bohemian mecca.

I can only hope that’s not the leading edge of a sharper sword. Naturism is a good fit for Spain, and the perfect attire for Playa Vera is nothing at all!

 

Making waves in the naturist pool – sexuality and naturism!

Before launching off into this post, this would be a good time to reiterate a few basic tenants of the meandering naturist’s ideological and philosophical perspectives, which I might add, speaks to that of his wife as well – who has been an enthusiastic “co-conspirator” in the campaign for family naturism and everything we believe that stands for.

We have been naturists since our mid 20s, at which time we were just starting a family and came to embrace the underlying qualities of the honesty and vulnerability of being comfortable in our own skin. Neither of us had a particularly positive body image when we were adolescents, and naturism provided an opportunity to simply be real – with ourselves and with each other. This was a great source of energy in the early years of our marriage, and something we really wanted to instill in our own children. We have always been 100% monogamous and faithful to one another, and while we have a general awareness and understanding of those who are seeking sexual alternatives (Lifestylers, if you will) we typically feel uncomfortable in places where that kind of dynamic is at play. It seems to us that the general public is quite willing to jump to the conclusion that any place that sanctions social nudity implicitly (or explicitly) invites a sexual free-for-all, which makes it very difficult to broadcast a positive message about family naturism in an era when paranoia about all dimensions of child safety is at a feverish pitch. We like to think of ourselves as “live and let live” kind of people, but at the same time, we hope that the right to take a naturist vacation won’t be legislated out of existence, simply because people are just bewildered and confused about what’s going on when the clothes come off, behind the six foot walls of the “nudist colony” down the road.

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Post-war naturism, at its best?

It is from this perspective that my eyebrows went up while reading this excellent trip report by Felicity Jones, who has taken an assertive and enthusiastic role in her leadership of the YNA – Young Naturists America – a group of 20/30-somethings who are eager to revitalize a holistic and body-positive resurgence for the naturist cause! If you don’t know the YNA website, you should click through and explore around a bit before reading the rest of my meanderings here. You will find the writing to be intelligent and reflective of great optimism for the many healthy aspects that could easily be traced back to the original naturist movements of the post WWII era. But at the same time, Felicity and her crew seem well connected to what’s hip within their own demographic. Yoga, meditation, the Arts scene, fitness… you get the drift.

She and her friend Jordan made a tour of several naturist venues in California a few months ago, and again, I think you will find her reviews to be thoughtful and incredibly helpful to anyone who is seriously considering taking the plunge into social nudity. It was her review of Harbin Hot Springs near the Napa Valley that caught my eye. Her review collaborated with many of the inferences (or in some cases, straight out allegations) on social media sites like Trip Advisor that “thar be SEX in them dar pools!”  She is quite ‘matter of fact’ about it all, noting that Harbin Hot Springs does not advertise as a naturist place (It is, in fact, a New Age Retreat with clothing optional pools) but they do, however, have a sign in the dressing room that expressly implores, “Don’t have sex in the pool!”

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… and even better!

I know this to be true because I have seen this sign… on many, many occasions. In fact, Harbin Hot Springs was one of our first introductions to social nudity, as we lived about an hour away when our children were young, and we would escape to Harbin now and again on a Friday night to soak away the weariness of the work week and parental stress. Today, we live three thousand miles away from Harbin, but we do return every couple of years; as a sort of homage to the years that have passed since we “learned how to get naked.” And in fact, there may indeed be amorous people in the warm pool after dark, (as Felicity has observed) and in fact, they may well be pushing the envelope under the guise of meditative breathing, but quite frankly, it’s a difficult to tell… for sure… in the darkness… when people are being discreet.

Which brings to mind another one of our favorite naked places in the world, located in the heart of Bavaria. Therme Erding bills itself as the world’s largest spa, with three distinct areas to guarantee fun for the whole family: the waterslide area (swimsuits required), the therme world (swimsuits required), and the sauna world (swimsuits forbidden!) I will eventually get around to writing a more extensive post about the spa culture in Germany, but to be sure, this place is the mother of all spas, with a huge indoor/outdoor warm pool (36°C), that includes swim-up bars inside and outside, an impressive array of water features that soothe, tickle, and massage, and a lazy river that is magical at night – when steam is rising off the water as people are floating around in perpetual motion, often with fruity drinks in their hands. You have to be at least 16 years of age to be admitted to Sauna World, and as it happens, the crowd you will find there is similar to the people you would sit with at the screening of the latest rom-com movie; a perfect date-night outing with an even distribution of people ranging from 20 years of age to … older.

Here, also, the rules are articulated quite clearly. So clearly, in fact, that the literature actually says that kissing is good, but please do not have sex in the pools! But here again, when the sun goes down, as is the case at Harbin Hot Springs, everyone becomes a duck!   Floating calmly and peacefully enough, but below the surface…?

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The swim-up bar at Therme-Erding

With that, I go back to Felicity’s main point in her review about Harbin Hot Springs, which was essentially, “tell people what is acceptable, and enforce your own rules so people know what to expect!” A timely and valid point that cuts to the core of the marketing mayhem that surrounds clothing-optional recreation. But what about that category one might label as “amorous, but discreet” – is that kind of behavior accepted here? And what about people with latent tendencies toward voyeurism and exhibitionism? Are they allowed too?

According to Phillip Carr-Gomm, who recently authored a book called A Brief History of Nakedness (Reaktion, 2010), it appears that pretty much every human would “FAIL” that last test related to voyeurism and exhibitionism. His research teases out the roots of naturism, or more accurately, how we have been conditioned to fear nakedness as influenced by religion, politics, and ancient pagan rituals. Turns out there are very few straight lines, even to a single or specific religion, that don’t become entangled with Greek gods, witch-hunts, and celebrations of the solstice.

But what really intrigued me was his observation that voyeurism and exhibitionism are essentially hardwired into every human being. It’s part of biology in the cause of perpetuating the human race! Most exhibitionism in today’s society actually takes place when we’re fully clothed, in an effort to say, “Hey! Look at me! Admire my human form and maybe we’ll be friends.” And, of course, an exhibitionist has nothing to show off, if there are no voyeurs looking on.

So there it is… Maybe that motto on every nudist club bulletin board that reads, “Nudity is NOT about SEX” is not – shall we say – in the true spirit of… full disclosure.  Humans are sexual.  Clothing can accentuate or diminish one’s sexual presence, and nudity can do very much the same.  Interestingly, in each case, (clothed or naked) it has much to do with one’s posture and attitude as to what he is or is not wearing.  But I think naturists are doing their own cause a disservice when denying the nakedness-sexuality correlation.  It seems people simply don’t believe that.  The advertising industry most definitely doesn’t believe that.  And I suspect many naturists don’t believe that either, but simply respect the unspoken rules for civil interaction and discretion – when they are naked, and when they are clothed.

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Floating in naturist nirvana…      at the Kristall Therme near Berlin.

So, as I tried to reconcile Felicity’s trip reviews with Mr. Carr-Gomm’s matter-of-fact explanation of why people have such varied and bizarre interpretations of the nakedness thing, I had an epiphany. There’s a big difference between being naked alone, and being naked with other people, even if you call yourself a naturist. Naturism (as best I can understand it) is a social phenomenon that involves seeing other naked people, and being seen by other naked people. And as in the case in any social environment, (clothed, or not) most of us spend a lot of energy trying to figure out the rules, the limits, and if you will, the prerequisites for social acceptance any time we enter a new group, naked or otherwise.

Imagine a summer BBQ on the back porch of your neighbor’s house – a party for a group of middle-aged friends who might earn the badge of frumpy when you see them at the grocery store and it’s pretty easy to say it’s not so much about the looking (voyeurism) part. (Though that spawns another rant about perceptions of beauty and aging!) But invite another dozen people from the 20/30-something age-group, and suddenly there’s a different energy about the place.

“Wow! That’s a good looking couple.”

If that couple sequesters themselves in the evening shadows for a few moments – even for quiet conversation – everyone senses the intimacy. If the party ramps up, and innuendo is crossing the threshold of typical social decorum, some may become aroused, while others are completely incensed.

“Honey, we should go home now!”

Turns out that given enough variables, naked people behave just like clothed people, except there are a finite number of places to go if you are truly comfortable socializing naked. Which also explains to me why naturism is so much more successful in Europe than in the United States.

Europe has SO many choices.

Are you a party person who likes it when things get a little edgy? Go to Cap d’Agde.

Are you going on holiday with the children, hoping your kids will take to naturist ways? Go to one of the big family resorts on the Atlantic coast.

Can you tolerate other people being a little amorous, as long as they’re being discreet, and you don’t have to worry about somebody getting amorous with you? Visit a spa in Germany.

Nakedness at the German spa

Nakedness at the German spa

When it comes down to the simple math of it all, there are more places to get naked in a single district (think county or small state in the US) in France than that in all of the United States combined.

Considering the sheer expanse and diversity of cities like New York and San Francisco, you’ll be hard pressed to find a sauna that allows coed participation like you’d find in any sizable town in Germany or Austria. When the options are so limited, we all try to make the local place into our own personal naked nirvana. Even if naked people are inherently more open-minded, I’m still pretty sure somebody at the party is going to be… uncomfortable…


If you find this topic as intriguing as I do, you might be interested in a few recent developments, like Naked Yoga in New York City or Archimedes Sauna in San Francisco which appears to be modeled after the sans-clothing saunas in Europe. You might also want to check out the aforementioned Young Naturists America and read about their efforts to have regularly scheduled naturist days at a New Jersey Health Club. Maybe there’s hope for naked America yet.

Maybe!

One-hundred Naked Places… Africa, Asia, & Australia


100 places to get naked before you die

PART TWO: Africa, Asia, and Australia

This is the second installment of my 100 Naked Places endeavor.  That said, I should confess that I decided to take on Africa, Asia, and Australia next simply because there really isn’t a great deal to say on the topic!  We have actually made the trek to two naturist venues in South Africa, and we have plans in the works for Thailand, Bali, and Australia as well, but the options on that side of the planet are decidedly limited, and in more cases than not, rustic at best.

Our decision to visit South Africa last winter (summer) was largely driven by the inspiration to visit a resort near Cape Town that is no longer in existence.  Ultimately, we would make alternate arrangements at a naturist B&B in Hout Bay (near Cape Town) and spend the majority of our journey in a unique, but charming “resort” north of Johannesburg called Harmony Nature Farm.  We have many stories to tell from that trip, some of which will eventually show up in this blog.chatu

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A guest feeds the zebras at Harmony Nature Farm

We did make a brief visit to Thailand this year, but failed to make it to the resorts in Chang Mai and the south as listed below, but those remain near the top of our TO DO list.  But the fact is, that despite the influx of European and American tourists, nudity is still very much taboo in Asia.  I doubt that we will see that change much in our lifetime, with the possible exception of Thailand where social and political traditions are very much in flux – for better or worse, it’s too soon to tell!

I threw Australia into the mix as this is most certainly on our list of places to see before we die, but compared to options available in the western hemisphere, there are few choices that don’t require a tent or a camper, even within the most populous region between Brisbane and Sydney.  We are not so keen on tent camping at this stage of our lives, nor are we likely to rent an RV and drive on the left side of the road, so that significantly narrowed the parameters in the composition of this particular list

Of course, the pity of it all (as is the case in South America) is that when it is cold and snowy in the US and Europe, it’s sunny and warm in most of these places.  So many reasons to take off your clothes, but an amazingly limited number of places to do so.

Here again, I had to rely heavily on internet sources for photos in this post as we have yet to visit these places outside of Africa, and even there, we found it difficult to be unobtrusive with a camera in hand.  And I have once again embedded my “rating guide,” in this case, mostly for places that have piqued our interest for future travel itineraries, reminding our readers that my notes (and ratings) are deliberately subjective as to what we find most enticing when it comes to choosing a naturist vacation destination.  Let us know if you know of a place we should add to our wish list!


 OUR UNAPOLOGETIC AND CANDID GUIDE TO 100 NAKED PLACES

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= been there, and we’re dying to go back!

Illustration+of+the+sun+with+clouds= an interesting place, but not on our top shelf

Raincould= been there, bought the postcard, but it’s just not our thing!

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= On our list to get there someday before we die

The list for Africa, Asia, and Australia… in alpha order

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Bali au Naturel

Bali

Seems their marketing target is toward gay tourism, (not intrinsically a problem for us, except for the fact that we’re not gay) but all the reviews I have read report that the hosts are incredibly hospitable (to gay and straight guests alike) and the property is secluded and serene.  In a region with so many beautiful beaches, I find it amazing that this may be the only officially naturist venue in all of Bali.  Looks worth a visit to me!
Bali resort

Bali au naturel

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BoBrene on Tambourine

Australia

Looks to be about two hours south of Brisbane and an easy drive to the Gold Coast, and the accommodations look lovely.   In contrast to the previous listing (above), the website graphics indicate they cater only to heterosexual couples.  That said, it looks like a great stopover between Brisbane and Sydney.
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BoBrene Retreat, near the Australia Gold Coast

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Harmony Nature Farm

near Rustenburg,South Africa

We stayed about ten days at Harmony Nature Farm; had a really wonderful time.  The place is a bit rustic, and if the social aspect of naturism is important to you, that seems to happen mainly on weekends.  It’s most definitely a family-run kind of place, and by the time we left, we felt like family. Truly, an adventure!
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Harmony Nature Farm

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Le Chateau Naturiste

Australia

Another stop – this time almost to Sydney – that looks like a lovely option for luxury naturism in Australia.  The website is particularly well laid out, which makes me want to move our Australia plans up the list a few notches.
Le Chateau

Le Chateau Naturiste, Australia

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Lumra Resort

Southern Thailand

Seems I first found this place listed on the Thailand Naturists Association page, but if that was the case, it’s not there now.  The place is quite remote, but I have found some encouraging reviews in my web crawling.  We’ll see if they’re still in business by the time we make it back to Thailand.
Chaig Mai

Oriental Village near Chang Mai

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Oriental Village

Chiang Mai, Thailand

We had actually made reservations here this past winter, but had to cancel when we cut our Thailand trip short.  They emphasize that they are clothing optional, and thus, it seems the majority of the guests may be naked – or not – depending on the week you are there.  But the Trip Advisor reports are excellent.  We’re eager to get back to Thailand and give it a try.
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Sala Villas

Pattaya, Thailand

At this writing, this “luxury naturist resort” hasn’t opened yet, but the website seems to present a good plan for naked nirvana in Thailand.  We will be eager to see first hand reports as they open their doors to the world.  This is a big step for the naturist movement in Thailand.  I hope it takes!
Sala villa

Sala Villas – Opening soon in Pattaya, Thailand

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Sandy Bay Nudist Beach

Cape Town, South Africa

I’m embarrassed to say we were staying just a short walk away from Sandy Bay during our stay in Hout Bay last December, but the weather was marginal, and by all reports, the atmosphere on this beach can be a bit dicey on just about any day there is not a major “organized naturist event” taking place.  So we skipped it.  Reportedly, it’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet.  Given the surroundings, that part is easy enough to believe.
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Sun Kissed Villa

Hout Bay, South Africa

This is a small, two-room establishment operated by a couple that also provides local tours for textile tourists in the Hout Bay region.  We had a lovely stay there, and the property was well situated for exploring the village and enjoying the local restaurants.  It’s all a bit personal when you stay in a place this small, but our hosts were convivial and accommodating!

Sandy Bay

SEE ALSO:

Naked Places in North America

Naked Places in France

 

One-hundred Naked Places… North America


100 places to get naked before you die

PART ONE: NORTH AMERICA

I have been meaning to create this list for a very long time, but it’s actually a very complex endeavor.  The very things that we may be looking for in a naturist destination are exactly the things the next person will find to be a deal breaker.  And how do you organize the list?  Put all your favorites at the top?  (Nobody will ever click through to the last page!)  Organize by region?  (France has hundreds of possibilities, while the entirety of Asia has two or three.)

It is worth noting that we began our naturist explorations in France at a time when we were wanting to find a comfortable place for a family naturist vacation with three (then) pre-adolescent children.  (You can read more about that here.)  That said, my list of naked places in North America is a bit skewed in the shadow of our experiences with naturism abroad.  And this also represents a period of nearly 25 years of trying places out.  Our first visit to Desert Sun Resort (then Desert Shadows Inn) was in 1994.  A lot has happened with that property since then, but it remains a “top shelf” destination on our list.  And so it is, that many of my one or two line commentaries are significantly dated.  (If we found a place to have a bad vibe back in the late nineties, why bother to go back for another dose of the same!)

I’ll publish these pages as I finish each region.  I suspect the number will turn out to be around 100 naked places, including those we haven’t visited yet, but hope to do so.. before we die!  And unfortunately, there are a few places that would have made our best of the best list (thinking the likes of Grand Lido Braco in Jamaica) that have since gone out of existence.  And I won’t bother to list the places I know to exist, but we simply have no desire to visit. What’s the point?   But… if you know of a place we should add to our “bucket list,” please comment below and we’ll check it out.  You’ll have a pretty good sense of our definition of naturist nirvana after combing through a few pages of my blog.

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And oh… seems we have virtually NO naturist photography from our naked travels in the US.  (Restrictions at naturist places are simply too great – and becoming more so – and many of our visits to US destinations predate digital photography.)   The photos on this page are either from our foreign travels, or in some cases, vintage photos of American naturism that I thought to be simpatico with the ambiance I wish to create here.


The list for North America… in alpha order

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Abbott’s Glen Clothing Optional Inn

Southern Vermont

Have been reading about this place for years, and it looks like a lovely destination with a nice family atmosphere.  Vermont can be tricky when it comes to weather, but they say they’re well equipped for year-round naturist living.
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Avalon Resort

West Virginia

We used to go to Avalon quite regularly, and especially enjoyed their summer folk music festival, which I think still happens.  They were changing management the last time we were there, so not sure how things are going now.  I remember decent (but simple) hotel rooms, and well equipped condo units that can be rented as well.  We’d probably go back more often, but it’s a hefty trip from where we live.
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Baker Beach – San Francisco

Northern California

Visited this iconic beach once, “back in the day!”  (Meaning maybe 20 years ago, or more.)  Lots of controversy in recent times about public nudity in the San Francisco bay area, and of course, if it’s a public beach, you have the inevitable gawkers to deal with.  I’ve linked to this, and other Bay Area locations to the nude beach pages in the Bay Guardian, which seems to be about the best resource out there right now for nude recreation in northern California.
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Vintage naturist photo

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Berkshire Vista Resort

Western Massachusetts

A beautiful little resort in the rolling hills of the Berkshires.  We’ve only visited once – a LONG time ago – but at the time, it had a great vibe with huge grassy hills for sunning and camping.  From the looks of their website, they’re wrestling a bit with “clothing-optional” policies.  But given the location and what I remember of the place, I would gladly visit again.
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Black’s Beach, San Diego

Southern California

We have been to San Diego many times, but never quite managed to make the trek up to La Jolla.  (We have an uncanny knack for arriving in San Diego during “June gloom.”)  But it’s on our list as one of three really famous naturist beaches in the United States, so we’ve got to make it happen, eventually.  The link goes to a webpage run by devotees.  That’s a good sign, I think.
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Bonny Dune, Santa Cruz

Northern California

Another link here to the Bay Guardian reviews, noting that we visited Bonny Dune a few times over two decades ago, and even back then, we were a little unnerved by the onlookers (gawkers!) who seemed a bit less than altruistic.  Beautiful beach, but we found more privacy at nearby Red, White & Blue beach which had a private access road – but today, is no longer accessible to the public.
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Vritomartis, Greece

Raincould

Club Caliente, Tampa

Florida

We have visited this resort once, within the first year of their grand opening.  From our perspective, quite a sad story as I believe the original intent was to create an upscale, holistic naturist resort in an effort to cater to an American crowd with European sensibilities!  Our one visit there was with good friends, and we both had children in tow.  The sexual undercurrent and less-than-family-friendly policies suggested the business model was already beginning to unravel – within months of opening their doors!  Check the recent Trip Advisor reviews, and you will find a significant divide between the people who still adore the place, and those who deliberately stay far, far away.  Sadly, we find ourselves in the latter group.  Too bad.
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Coventry Club and Resort

Northern Vermont

Another intriguing place we’ve been meaning to check out in snowy Vermont!  I still have a problem thinking about traveling north in search of a place to be naked and warm, but this looks like a good bet if there’s one to be had near the Canadian border.  Hoping I can move this from the wish list to a trip report in the coming year!
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Cypress Cove Nudist Resort

Central Florida

Would put this on our top shelf of naturist destinations had it not been for our last visit – quite a few years ago – with our teenage children.  It was clear the management was working hard to make this a family naturist destination, but it was also clear that the locals who owned units there were not too crazy about our kids splashing in the pool.  (I suppose any parent would say this about his own kids, but our kids really were pretty tame in the rowdiness department!)  They’ve made a lot of upgrades to the grounds since our first visit in the 90s, and you really can stay there and do the Disney thing.  Our kids are grown now…  Maybe we should check this place out again.
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DeAnza Springs Resort

Southern California

Made our first visit to DeAnza Springs last year, and I’ve got to say, it is in the middle of nowhere near the Mexican Border!  But I say that in the most encouragingly sort of way, in that the possibilities for nude hiking in the vast desert are, in fact, seemingly limitless?  And the chances are good that when the rest of the country is cold and gray, it may well be sunny and warm at this desert retreat.  The amenities are pretty basic, but the people are friendly enough, and did I mention the nude hiking?  You can read more in our trip report here.

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Desert Sun Resort

Southern California

We made our first visit to this resort in 1994, when it was still called Desert Shadows Inn.  At the time, they only had nine rooms, and were just about to unveil a new area called the Chapparal, with basic hotel rooms and a pool with a volleyball net.  I suspect we’ve been back more than a dozen times since then, having stayed in each type of the various condos and hotel rooms.  Having survived some turbulent management issues, and a resultant name change, the place remains to this day as our #1 naturist destination in the US.  That’s saying a lot, as it’s quite a journey to get there from our current place of residence.  We have plans to return in the coming year, along with blueprints to get a trip report back up online for this little naturist nirvana.
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Vintage naturist photo

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Gray Whale Beach (Devil’s Slide)

Northern California

One of the very first places we went when we were trying to find our naturist sea-legs!  INCREDIBLE location, especially on a clear day when the fog is holding back away from the Pacifica coastline.  But the problem there has always been undesirable spectators who wish to see naked humans.  And recent Trip Advisor reviews express disgust from the clothed patrons who can’t get over the naked old men roaming the beach.  Maybe it’s not that bad, but it sounds like a loosing bet to me.
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Hangin’ Loose Retreat

Big Island, Hawaii

It’s a bummer that Hawaii isn’t the naturist promised land that it apparently was until it became part of the United States.  Seems we convinced the locals that naked is evil, and today, it’s difficult to find a place to swim naked in the 50th state.  Thankfully, the folks who run this little retreat on the big island seem to be on to something.  I’m just hoping we can get there to check it out while they’re still running the place.  From what I can see on the website, it looks like the good life in real time!
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Harbin Hot Springs

Northern California

This one is tricky!  One of the first places we experienced social nudity as a young married couple, but there’s no question that the place has a different vibe!  There are a lot of interesting reviews out there on this place, with a wide range of perspectives.  (I think Felicity from the Young Naturists Association has a particularly well written review that I hope to make the subject of a future blog post.  In any event, we have been back to this place many times over the years, and indeed, it has a few idiosyncrasies.  But if you have the ability to ‘roll with it,’ it’s definitely worth a visit!

EDITOR’S NOTE: The California Valley Fire blew through Harbin in 2015 and burned the entire place to the ground, displacing the entire community that resided there. The hot springs are still intact, but all the structures were destroyed. They are rebuilding! But it will take time. You can follow the progress on their website.

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Laguna del Sol Resort

Northern California

Have been meaning to get here for year, but have never quite made it.  (One day, it started raining when we were ten minutes from the gate, so we turned around and went home!)  They seem to have a devoted following, though it’s located in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley near Sacramento.  Not sure if that’s my ideal vacation destination.  If we ever manage to get there, I’ll post a review.
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Vintage naturist photo

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Lake Como Nudist Resort

Tampa, Florida

In fairness, I have only been here on a day visit years ago, in the middle of the week.  The place was looking tired, the hotel rooms were pretty rustic, and I was a little unnerved by the local lingerie concessions operating from the permanent trailer campsites.  Again, the place seems to have a loyal following, and there’s a lot of competition in the neighborhood, but the place didn’t inspire me enough to book my next holiday there.
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Living Waters Spa

Southern California

We have only visited once, and we felt incredibly welcomed by the owners of this quiet little inn.  The only thing that knocked it off the top shelf is the location.  Palm Desert seems a million miles from Palm Springs, and if you’re in sleuthing out great restaurants and the like, there is a vast difference between the two.  We really need to go back and see what they’ve done in recent years, but we really enjoyed our stay there and they seem eager to capture a slice of this niche market.
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Lupin Lodge

Northern California

Here again, it’s been a long, long time since we’ve visited this sweet little hamlet in the Santa Cruz mountains, and at that, we stayed in a yurt, during the winter, on a cold, drizzly weekend.  At the time, it seemed like they were working hard to find a business model that would address the needs of the modern naturist, but I have no idea what’s happened since then.  But it is a gorgeous place.  We should go back some time.
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Vintage naturist photo

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Meadowlark Country House

Northern California

An intriguing little inn on the northern end of the Napa Valley that seems to be marketing to an upscale crowd with upscale pricing.  If I’m reading the website correctly, it’s the poolside that’s clothing-optional, but given the propensity of warm sunny days in that part of California, poolside would do the trick.  It’s definitely on our “TO-DO” list.

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Mira Vista Resort

Arizona

Finally made it to Mira Vista Resort this past winter – a bit off season and reaching into the midweek.  Seems to be the naked hangout for a lot of Tucson locals, but our room was very nice, and it looks like they will soon have a lot of condo units that will go into the tourist rental pool as well.  Located on the northern edge of Tuscon, there are plenty of opportunities for seeking out nice restaurants, and the February sunshine was a welcome respite from the relentless winter of the Northeast.  We’re eager to go back when the place is running at full tilt!
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Paradise Lakes Resort

Tampa, Florida

I had to ponder this one for a few minutes before deciding if this would go on the second or third tier.  We stayed there once, a long time ago, before that Caliente place opened down that road.  It was good, but at the same time, had some of those peculiar “Florida nudist resort” vibes we’ve experienced elsewhere in the neighborhood.  Was going to take the high road on this one, until I linked this post their website, which evokes an image that simply… isn’t…. us!  😦
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Penn Sylvan Health Society

Eastern Pennsylvania

I think their website pretty much says it all!  From what I have read, this was really an important place in the American nudist movement during the 50s and 60s.  Problem is, I’m not sure much has changed since that time! When we started exploring naturist Europe, we tried convincing our kids this was the American equivalent of a French naturist resort.  They didn’t take the bait, and in fact, they were right.  Maybe one day it was, but today? It’s a beautiful spot, and the people are friendly, (though decidedly on the upper end of the age demographic!)  but for us, a good bit less than a favorite destination.
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Pine Tree Associates

Maryland

Here’s another place, that when you look at their website, you get the sense they are trying to reinvent themselves.  Just a short distance from the stunning town of Annapolis, this place has loads of potential.  We visited once when our kids were quite young, but the place had a complicated and restrictive policy that only allowed a certain number of visits until you had to pay the annual fee, which was well beyond our resources at the time.  They may well have reworked that by now, and to be sure, the property is lovely, but we’ve not ventured back since that first encounter.
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Vintage naturist photo

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Red Rock Beach

Northern California

Another place we haven’t been to for a long, long time.  And when we did go, it was sort of a chilly, foggy day.  But the place had a really nice vibe back then with a crowd of friendly regulars who seemed to be watching out for each other.  You have to work a bit to get there, making your way down the beach around an outcropping of rocks.  Seems that gave the place a level of privacy that other public nude beaches don’t enjoy.
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Rock Lodge Club

New Jersey

I keep reading about this place and its role in the history of the American naturist tradition.  Haven’t actually had the opportunity to visit, but it’s on the short list – if just for the nostalgia of it all.
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Sandy Hook – Gunnison Beach

New Jersey

This place nearly got washed out to sea by Super-Storm Sandy a while back, but it seems they’re back up and running again now.  Here again, one of just a few fully vetted naturist beaches in the entirety of the United States, but quite a different vibe than anyplace we’ve visited abroad.  Eclectic might be a good euphemism for the crowd that gathers there on most weekends, which for us, was always just edgy enough to never go there with the family.  If you like people watching, this place will keep you entertained – dawn to dusk.
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Sequoians

Northern California

One of our very first outings to a traditional nudist camp.  The place is located deep in a beautiful little canyon in the hills above Hayward, California.  Twenty years ago (at the time of our visit) we had the sense the place was struggling, but a quick glance at their website suggests things are pretty much as they were two decades ago.  Seems nude hiking is possible there.  Didn’t know that back then.  Would be worth a visit just for that!
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Solair Family Nudist Resort

Connecticut

We have friends who called this their home base while their kids were growing up.  Have never quite made it there ourselves, but it seems they’ve been pretty aggressive in promoting a positive image for family naturism.  Given what little I know about the place (but my generally positive perception of the place) I’m a little perplexed by the disparity of the reviews on Trip Advisor.  Therein lies the essence of the many contradictions in the American naturist movement todayl  Nobody can quite seem to figure out what it is!

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Terra Cotta Inn

Southern California

Another place we have only visited once, but we had a nice stay there.  It’s not quite as upscale as one of the local competitors, but we have several friends who keep returning for just that reason – that it seems more personal.  What I can say is that the owners, Tom and Mary Clare, have been outspoken advocates for many years for holistic naturism, and have done a great service in getting the naturist resort concept into the mainstream public perception.  In my opinion, it’s one of the few naturist destination places in the entire country that warrants the effort to get there!

OUR UNAPOLOGETIC AND CANDID GUIDE TO 100 NAKED PLACES

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= been there, and we’re dying to go back!

Illustration+of+the+sun+with+clouds= an interesting place, but not on our top shelf

Raincould= been there, bought the postcard, but it’s just not our thing!

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= On our list to get there someday before we die

SEE ALSO:

Naked Places in Africa, Asia, and Australia

Naked Places in France

 

The meandering naturist gets a compass

It’s been about nine months since I’ve posted to my blog. Some of you who have followed for a while know I was attempting to document our naturist journey across Europe; one that would begin in Spain and end up in Greece – over a period of about twelve weeks.

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A sign posted in an Italian resort where, oddly enough, nudity was often forbidden!

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The last naturist in Greece

We made the entire journey, but someplace in central France, I simply fell off the cyber-map. I have several alibis at the ready for my sudden and mysterious disappearance, the most compelling having to do with the lack of WI-FI connectivity in naturist locales that can support the bandwidth requisite of a blog platform, in addition to the fact that we were getting a little road weary near the end. And as the seasons started to turn, and our accommodations morphed into smaller, naturist friendly inns, taking photographs became increasingly problematic. And to be sure, a blog is infinitely more interesting with photos!

Since I wrote last, we did manage to visit two excellent naturist resorts in the Provence region of France. Domaine de la Sabliere lies in a rugged canyon just south of the Ardeche, surrounded by picturesque little villages and lavender fields. Origan Village is perched on a steep mountain in the foothills of the Alps above Nice. Our favorite feature there is a 90 minute walk along the mountain ridge – perfect in the early morning… au naturel.

ImageLazy days in Croatia

From there, we crossed Italy (not especially naturist friendly) to take our apartment at Koversada in northern Croatia, then on to Montenegro where we had to get our naturist fix on the terrace of a rented villa above the Bay of Kotor. A series of ferry crossings would allow a rather bizarre visit to Pizzo Greco on the southern tip of Italy, before visiting two excellent (but quite different) naturist lodgings on the Greek islands of Zakynthos (Panorama Naturist Hotel) and Kefalonia (Vassaliki Resort).

We had designs of experiencing naturism in Brazil and Thailand this past year as well, but neither of those trips came to fruition.

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Morning walk in South Africa

We did, however, find two naturist venues in South Africa, most notably, the rustic but charming Harmony Nature Farm – once again challenging our preconceptions of what we’ve come to know as European-style – or more specifically, French-style – naturisme.  And truth be told, I found it difficult to keep comparing other naturist destinations to those we’ve already identified as Nirvana, and so quite frankly, I stopped trying to do so.

In the meantime, we are still residing in Europe; a year-long adventure that will conclude this summer with one more visit to La Jenny (see previous post), our naturist home-away-from-home.   I think it a worthy cause to keep documenting our naturist travels – past, present, and future – as we have come to appreciate a few words of wisdom from those who have gone before us when we first arrive at a new place to shed our clothes.

As this goes to press, I’m working on a new post called “100 Naked Places.” The list will include 71 places where we’ve been naked ourselves, 44 of which we would gladly recommend to our friends, and another 27 or so which might fall into the category of, “Been there, done that – don’t need to do that again!”  The remaining 29 places on the roster are still on our bucket list, with Thailand and Brazil still near the top of that list, along with resorts on Mallorca and the Canary Islands – and even a few places that hold some intrigue back in the good ol’ US of A.

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Making our own resort, in Montenegro

Thanks to the nearly 90,000 of you (as of May 2014) who have stopped by my blog so far. I’m hoping I can find the time in the coming month to stay on course, in an effort to help other meandering naturists find their way.