Nude Beach combing in Mallorca

So I suppose the first thing the geographically challenged naturist would want to know about Mallorca is that it is one of the Balearic Islands, which happily enough for naked people, is part of Spain. Despite the explosion of expansive naturist centers in France, and the mass exodus of naked Germans each summer to the Istrian peninsula in Croatia, Spain has been moving into the lead as the place where it’s essentially “legal to get naked anywhere,” as long as it’s not offensive to the general public. Apparently, this policy gained such widespread publicity that the good people of Barcelona finally had to make their own policy, forbidding people to walk around Las Ramblas in the buff, as it seems too many were exercising their rights while frightening the tourists. (Mainly American tourists, I dare say!) I suppose that’s where naturism ends and exhibitionism begins, but alas, that’s a different post.

2016-07-19 11.18.00-2In the meantime, one’s license to make any beach a nude beach seems to be the common doctrine, especially in the more remote places found on say… the Balearic Islands. We were staying on the southern corner of Mallorca near the town of Campos at the exquisite Skinny Dippers Naturist Retreat, (That blog post is coming soon!) where we had the expertise of our lovely host Grant, who knew all the best spots to bathe naked in the shimmering turquoise waters of Mallorca. Our enthusiasm for the world famous Es Trenc beach was a bit more fervent than that of our host, though he was kind enough to guide us to the best parking lot that would provide the easiest access to where we’d be likely to find other naturists.

2016-07-18 11.22.18An early arrival at the parking lot was well worth the effort; (early, meaning before 10:00 am) then a fifteen-minute trek past all the beach bars with locals and tourists packed in on top of each other. But then, near the old bunkers left over from WWII, the naked people began to appear. With shallow waters that allow one to wade 100 meters into the sea, it truly is a remarkable place, and there were plenty of constituents in the naturist cohort, and as many again who were happy to go topless. We were there with another couple from the naturist retreat, and indeed, nobody seemed to notice that some people had swimsuits and other did not. So much so, one couldn’t help but wonder “WHY ARE YOU PEOPLE WRAPPING YOURSELVES IN POLY-PETROLEUM-NYLON WHEN WHAT YOU’RE WEARING IS, IN SO MANY WAYS, MORE REVEALING THAN WHAT I’M NOT WEARING?” But most importantly, Es Trenc is a place where naturists and textiles can easily co-exist – and, in fact, do so every day!

2016-07-18 11.49.20But the real find was the seaside path to the south and west of Es Trenc. Once again, at the advice of our host, we left the car near the lighthouse at Cap de Ses Salines, walked 50 meters out toward the sea, doffed our clothes and headed north. We made this walk twice along the seaside – once in the morning, then a few days later at sunset – each time finding a few other walkers along the way. The first beach we came to was broad and sandy, with a shallow shelf and more turquoise water; the second consisting of a rocky shore around a stunning bay where boats like to drop anchor and while away the day. Few of the people we encountered along the way were naked, but again, nobody seemed to care. According to our friend Grant, tourism is the heartbeat of the Balearic Islands, known for a laid back attitude to begin with. If the tourists are happy getting naked, and that means they’ll stay longer and do more for the local economy, bring on the naked people!

2016-07-19 17.30.06Though we were on Mallorca for about nine days, we found the “pool gravity” at Skinny Dippers Retreat to be incredibly dissuasive from getting our naked asses out of the resort and off to the seaside. And it occurs to me that we have only scratched the surface as to where one might commune with the Vitamin D gods on this beautiful little island. So to that end, we have already booked our return visit for next summer at which point, I’m hopeful additional “research” will lead to the discovery of a few new places to bask in the sun.

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Naked in Thailand? Why YES!

I’ve always thought it a pity that regions of the world with perfect beaches and ideal climates are pretty much out of the running in the category of world class naturist destinations. When we travel, we do all we can to maintain a low profile as American tourists. (e.g., Observing local customs about nudity on the beach.) And thus, when a sanctioned naturist place does appear on the scene, we are eager to support such entrepreneurial efforts while finding an excuse to explore a corner of the planet we might not have found otherwise.

IMG_1887Don’t know that I would have ever found my way to Chiang Mai, Thailand had it not been for the allure of a little resort in a neighboring village called Oriental Village. As you will find on TripAdvisor, it’s located out amidst the rice fields – the spring burning of which contributes quite a lot to the hazy conditions that make it difficult at times to tell if the sun is shining. As that has been our experience throughout much of Asia, we found that neither surprising nor off putting, though I did find myself longing for the deep blue skies that appear in some of the photos.

IMG_7297The place is run by a quirky French fellow who apparently took over the property from the previous management that ran a textile resort there. The chalets are simple and well appointed, and we very much enjoyed the little restaurant on the premises that served simple local cuisine. We even booked a massage one day from a woman they bring in for their guests who was a bit more thorough (though not inappropriate) than I am accustomed to. Maybe the most enjoyable massage, ever…

IMG_1874The pool area is the centerpiece of the property, and while quite small, it was completely adequate for the ritual of sunbathing and soaking. In addition to a few Europeans, we were pleased to meet a couple Malaysian travelers who try to frequent this resort two or three times a year. As this was our midyear break, we found lounging by the pool to be our favorite activity, but we did manage to make it to the elephant reserve (a good distance away) and do a bit of exploring in the old city of Chiang Mai, which I find much more interesting and accessible than Bangkok.

IMG_7319I have been following the Naturist Association of Thailand for some time now, which lists several resorts scattered about this vast country, each of which emphasizes in one way or another that nudity must be confined to the space within the barriers of the resort – once again, not surprising given the very strict laws about nudity on beaches and such. That said, I was delighted to discover a new resort that has recently popped up near Phuket that appears (by their website, and the first round of Trip Advisor reports) to be a lovely facility. Had we known The Lemon Tree had existed during our recent visit last April we would have stopped in for sure. Another reason to go back.

Lemon Tree - New resort in Phuket

Lemon Tree – New resort in Phuket

Would I return to Oriental Village near Chiang Mai? You bet. We find the perfect naturist vacation is one that provides an opportunity to explore and experience another corner of the planet, while affording a place to get naked at the end of the day. I can only hope that these trend setting proprietors of naturist resorts in Thailand will open the gates for other creative naturist solutions in Southeast Asia, where the sun is shining while much of the northern hemisphere lies under a blanket of snow.

IMG_7304One more thing… next time we go, we will rent a car, though that requires driving on what we consider to be the wrong side of the road. I was even more concerned about the prospect of road signs written with indecipherable diacritical markings that would leave me “unnaked and afraid.” But alas, nearly all the important road signs are in English as well, and my phone GPS worked like a charm.

So there it is. Go to Asia and get naked. These little places need our naked support, and we naked people need nice places to stay. This is a trend that I hope to see pick up momentum in the coming months and years.

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Hard Times at Cap d’Agde

When we tell people we like to go on “nakation in France,” if they know anything about French naturism, the first thing they will ask is whether we go to “that naked city… Cap Dog… or something like that.”

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Hotel Eve

Of course, at this point, they’re probably already confused as to why somebody would want to be naked in France in the first place, and that’s before you try to explain the surreal atmosphere that is – arguably – the international capital of naturism. As many have observed, it’s not a resort, but a city, where neither clothing – nor a good deal of discretion about anything else – is required.

We have been to Cap d’Agde several times since 1997 when we made our first pilgrimage to the high holy place among the naked. At that time, I would say that this naturist utopia had most certainly fallen upon hard times, as many of the apartment buildings had deteriorated into disrepair and neglect, the landscaping consisted largely of grass growing IMG_0157through cracks in the concrete, and there was clearly a sense of growing tension between the naturists and the libertines (aka, the more sexually adventurous, or if you will, the swingers). One of our subsequent visits was shortly after the most famous of sex clubs had been gutted by fire, allegedly at the hand of a naturist who wished to reclaim the city for the “true naturists,” a term that has defied any viable definition since people started taking their clothes off in public about 100 years ago.

This time, we stayed only one night at Hotel Eve, a somewhat modest establishment on the edge of the naked city that seems to be the only hotel in town that caters to people who only wish to change towels on a daily basis. (wink, wink)  But before you pack up the kids and schedule the next family reunion, I should mention the suggestive artwork adorning the hallways, the beautiful art book on the reception counter that thoroughly documents your options for leather and lace, and the general acceptance around the pool with men who have no qualms about displaying their current state of arousal. Hard times indeed!

IMG_0156All that said, it seems that Cap d’Agde is coming to terms with itself as a place where the naked and the scantily clothed actually can coexist without so much angst and allegation of wrong doing. To my naked eye, it seemed that the sex clubs were much more public this time, as opposed to simply donning clever names that served as cues to those in the know. (A personal favorite is Jeux de Mains… “Hand Games”) Somehow, it all seems so much less apologetic than before. Even at the hotel pool there seemed to be little or no concern about the ominous and omnipotent male erection, nor did the appearance of such present itself (during our brief visit) as a prelude to public sexual interludes.

In the meantime, however, the 1970s concrete apartment blocks have been painted, the landscaping has been replanted, and the public pool in the center of the complex that once looked like a dilapidated city plunge has been renovated and re-framed in a most inviting way. Somebody decided to invest some major cash into the infrastructure of this place – and not a minute too soon.

Would I take my young family there now if I had one? Probably not. Though many do, and I suspect they have a lovely vacation in one of the many self-catering apartments on offer. I have tried to imagine how I would explain all the lingerie and leather shops to my adolescent offspring, not to mention the pole dancing club on a main walkway that has no walls, or the constant stream of humans finding total abandon as they literally dance in the streets. (A beautiful transgender person with breasts and a penis had the stamina and determination to dance the entire day away during our stay.)

IMG_0158To reiterate, in case you are just encountering my blog for the first time, among my most pronounced intentions of blogging has been helping people find a place to find great naturist places – or at the very least, make sure they know what they are getting into before they arrive. That said, while my wife and I do not subscribe to libertine ideals, Cap d’Agde does seems to have found a certain maturity under the banner of live and let live.

There is something there for everybody. If you find that offensive, it’s probably best you go someplace else. And to be sure, France provides an unmatched number of possibilities.