At this writing, I’m sitting on the veranda of my apartment in a lovely little naturist resort on Phuket – Lemon Tree Resort – one of but a few places where it’s legal to get naked in Thailand. Well worth the trouble to get here, but it is, indeed a bit of trouble to get here, which inspired the name of this post. As it happens, I love to explore and find places that I wouldn’t stumble into without some sort of incentive. For a naturist, that incentive is finding a new naked destination; good enough reason to spend a bit of time on internet finding a way to get naked at the ends of the earth. The main criteria for making this list is: 1) I doubt I would have come here had it not been for the opportunity to discover a new naturist destination, and 2) it has to be someplace I would consider visiting again.
#1 – Lemon Tree Naturist Resort near Nai Harn Beach, Phuket, Thailand
This is my second visit to this fabulous little place, and if you look it up on Trip Advisor, you will see that the young couple that runs the place, Patty and Golf, have developed quite a following in their first 18 months of business. (If you keep reading the reviews, you’ll also see there are some interesting challenges in running a naturist business in Thailand!) But as reported, they are gracious hosts, and have found a niche market in naturism, despite the fact that they are not naturist themselves.
It’s a smallish resort, but the rooms are among the nicest we’ve seen at any naturist venue, anyplace. Well appointed, clean and complete with kitchenettes. The pools are also relatively small, but the water temperature is perfect for floating and lodging yourself – mostly submersed – in a corner with a good book. Getting naked outside the resort is tricky, though they do run boat excursions during high season to smaller nearby islands, secluded enough to make a naked picnic on the beach. My timing was right during my last visit to take advantage of that, and it was truly a perfect naturist day.
Patty tells me she is encouraged that they are already seeing a pattern of repeat guests, which is a good omen for the long-term prospects of this business venture, and good news for people who are looking for a naturist destination when it’s icy cold in Europe and the US.
#2 – BB at Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
I was pretty consistent about blogging about our naturist trek that took us down the east coast of Australia over New Years 2017, but I lost footing about the time we got to Byron Bay, where we stayed in what I guess you would call a naturist B&B there, named simply, BB at Byron Bay. Debra and Michael are an intriguing couple who purchased this gorgeous home on a hilltop surrounded by green rolling hills just inland from the hippie haven that is Byron Bay. Our room was simply lovely, with a veranda looking out toward the sea, and we found an interesting mix of guests there that, like us, seemed to think “If I’m going to pay for a place to stay, all the better if it’s a place I can be naked.”
While adhering to European naturist values, (Deb had a few interesting stories to tell about various booking inquiries) this is hardly your typical naturist place, and it took us a couple days to figure out the routine of simply coming and going. (I think we actually set off the burglar alarm one evening!) Our hosts were truly gracious in sharing their home, but as is often the case when staying at a B&B, it took a while to figure out what was ours and what was theirs, especially during the morning breakfast routine.
But all that aside, the location was fantastic for exploring the beach towns near Byron Bay, while affording us a visit to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to bulk up our photo collection of Koalas. I hear there’s some controversy regarding the continued naturist status of Byron Beach. Would be a shame should that become non-naturist as it was truly one of the finest naturist beaches we’ve visited with miles of walking to be had au naturel. Don’t know when or if we’ll get back to that part of the world, but if we do, I hope BB at Byron Bay, and the nearby naturist beach, are still alive and well.
#3 – Harmony Nature Farm near Rustenberg, South Africa
It’s been a few years since our visit to Harmony Nature Farm, and I think a lot has happened for Piet and his crew since that time, so I was delighted to see the recent update to their website, suggesting that naturism is booming in this unique hillside retreat about two hours north of Johannesburg. We stayed for a week in December of 2013 and were literally welcomed like family.
A stay in the local Hilton this is not! Accommodations are in little stone cabins that Piet and his father built one by one over years of developing their little naturist nirvana. As indicated on their new website, most of their naturist business is on the weekend, and we had to remain attuned to the sensitivities of the staff during the week, as social nudity is far from the norm in this part of the world. Piet took us along on his grocery run one day so we were able to lay in provisions to cook for ourselves during most of our stay.
While requiring clothing, the highlight of the week was most definitely Piet’s personal safari for us and one other couple who frequent the resort. It was a full-day affair as Piet forged the innumerable dirt roads of the Pilansburg Game Reserve outsmarting giraffes and elephants en route to the best watering holes. This is our only genuine safari experience to date, so we don’t have much to compare it too, but it’s difficult to believe it gets better that Piet’s version.
As a naturist destination, it’s a long ways to go to get naked, and even in the early South African summer (the week before Christmas) it was a bit chilly much of the time for total nudity, but a stay at Harmony most definitely provided a unique spin for our African adventure.
#4 – Panorama Naturist Hotel on Zakynthos, Greece
There are a few excellent opportunities for naturism in Greece, including nearly any secluded beach on a Greek island if the timing is right, but our visit to the Panorama Naturist Hotel on Zakynthos was particularly memorable, largely due to the people who run it. Natasha, her parents, and their little white dog Poochi won our hearts immediately upon arrival – once again, a case where a non-naturist family opened a naturist operation in hopes of finding a niche clientele. With so many repeat guests during our stay, it seems that was an excellent business decision.
While not quite so far off the beaten track as Thailand or South Africa, what most surprised us about Panorama was how subtly it blended into the neighborhood, marked only by a simple sign that indicated Panorama Café and Swimming Pool. We would have never found it had we not know exactly what we were looking for.
As you will find in online reviews, the rooms and the food are basic, but Natasha’s cheerful personality made it pleasant and enticing for guests to hang out near the bar. And even though this is the quiet end of Zakynthos, we found several tavernas within walking distance with great food and lovely ambiance – worth getting dressed for.
As opposed to the vast possibilities on Crete, we found naturist beach combing on Zakynthos a bit disappointing, particularly by late September, though hanging by the pool proved a worthy endeavor, which is where we spent most of our naked time chatting up a few regulars from The Netherlands. For that alone, Panorama is most definitely on our “get back to one day” list.
#5 – Colina do Sol near Porto Alegre, Brazil
Many of our naturist quests have been spawned by the desire to find someplace dependably warm in the month of January, particularly challenging with the loss of some of the tried and true Caribbean locations. Since January is the height of summer in South America, naturism in Brazil seemed like the perfect answer.
As it happens, there are several naturist enclaves scattered throughout Brazil, though perhaps none as renowned as Colina do Sol in the rolling hills above Porto Alegre. The last time I mentioned this place in my blog was during our initial inquiries about the naturist scene in Brazil, which kept leading me back to this once vibrant naturist community. The whole place was the dream-child of one Celso Rossi; an entrepreneur of sorts who laid out the original plans for a community of cabins, shops with the basic amenities, and finally, a lakeside restaurant and hotel.
That post elicited a fiery response from an angry American who was part of a cohort of folks that sought to make Colina do Sol an American nudist destination. Despite hearing the stories from the Celso himself, it’s still difficult to figure out just what happened, but today, Colina do Sol remains a picturesque naturist community nestled in a lush valley of Brazil. The hotel and restaurant are now under new management and a new name – Hotel do Lago – and you can actually rent a couple of the cabins on Booking.com.
Our stay there was nothing short of pleasant and nostalgic, if not a bit moist with a good bit of rain and humidity. At the time, the hotel was still unfinished, but our simple room on the ground floor was adequate, and the makeshift restaurant-nightclub on the top floor afforded gorgeous sunset views over the lake. Were we to return, I think I would try one of the rental cabins, as many of them seemed well appointed with covered terraces and screened-in porches. It seems that in it’s heyday, naturism was a booming business in this little valley, and while most of the houses and cabins – perhaps 100-200 of them – seemed inhabited, it was very quiet during our stay. Not quite the mid-summer French naturist resort vibe we had been hoping for.
I’ll be eager to see what becomes of the new Hotel do Lago, and it appears there’s a new effort to make subletting the cabins a bit easier than it has been in the past. The place was an incredible dream, and alas, most definitely does offer a place to get naked in the dead of North American winter!
Watch for Part II about our travels to Corsica, the Canary Islands, Mexico, Honduras, and a very different naturist place in Thailand.