When will I learn?
I just did another Google image search for “naturist couples” in hopes of locating a few photos from the public domain to illustrate a blog post. If you’ve ever been foolish enough to do that yourself, you already know the result. Just about any search including the words “nude” or “naturist” can take you to some very dark corners of the web very quickly. If you’re lucky, you might at least discover a couple articles about the “best clothing-optional resorts in world,” like the one I just found. Which suddenly brings this movie clip to mind…
The world’s best cup of coffee… indeed!
I actually clicked through another one of these “best nude whatever” lists this morning – something like, the best Clothing-Optional Resorts on the Planet! I can just hear the convo in the newsroom… “Hey Karen! Slow news week. Maybe you can come up with a quick essay with the words naked or nude in it. Our advertisers are getting restless.”
Or maybe Karen is simply a fashion and lifestyle blogger looking to cultivate new followers, so she writes a feature clickbait piece on the world’s best nude beaches. One of those I read recently – featuring what I would consider to be among the world’s worst nude beaches – concluded with the full disclosure that the author had not been to a single one of the destinations on her list, but that she earnestly hopes she might visit one someday. Depending on what beach she chooses, she might have an interesting follow-up post with a title like A Disastrous Day at the Sea or Those Naked People are Nutjobs! I’m tellin’ ya, Karen… location, location, location.
The article I found this morning listed six of the best clothing-optional resorts in the world! The whole world! Imagine that! And only six! Of those six, two are well known for their highly charged sexual environment, (that is, catering to swingers,) two are essentially RV campgrounds with seemingly decent, but otherwise average amenities, one is a very expensive, all-inclusive resort with virtually no beachfront at all, and the lead-out in the feature shows a gorgeous beach that one would believe to not only be clothing-optional, but adjacent to this highly regarded naturist resort. Turns out, however, that this resort is located on a Caribbean island where nudity is very much frowned upon, and despite our best efforts during our visit, we couldn’t find a viable nude beach on the entire island. The resort is lovely, but you’ll likely be in big trouble if you even attempt to go topless on the beach.
Call me old fashioned, but I grew up in the era of Let’s Go, Europe and Rick Steve’s Lonely Planet, where after the third or fourth day of travel you felt like the author was a personal friend and confidant who would never dream of leading you to the second best gelato place in Firenze! They all had short bios in the front of the book that read something like, “Claire is a biology major at Oxford University who is studying to become a neuro-surgeon, but in her spare time she’s hell-bent on locating every referential point to the history of pizza on the Amalfi Coast.” We’re right there with you, Claire. We’re committed to helping you realize your dreams!
But today, even a guy like me can simply start a blog featuring bold pronouncements designating the best place for naked rock climbing, or the place most likely to find a naturist spouse. (Don’t even get me started on nudist dating websites.) Superlatives are cheap in the digital age, and more likely than not, circumspect. And what about when news organizations like CNN or The New York Times lend their credibility to such proclamations, but then you see the very first location on the list is France’s infamous naked city, Cap d’Agde. [SEE: Why the Newbie Naturist Should NOT Visit Cap d’Adge] How could the reporter have actually visited the place without mentioning the sex clubs, extravagant and excessive body jewelry, and the way-more-than-obvious group-sex on the beach? And how is it that same reporter missed the huge naturist centers on the South Atlantic coast, [SEE: CHM Monta or La Jenny] or the sprawling resorts on the Adriatic, [SEE: Valalta or Koversada], or the boutique naturist hotels of Spain [SEE: Finca Johanna, Finca Soñada, or Skinny Dippers]. And if you’re going to post pictures of a clothing-optional beach in Mexico or the Caribbean, shouldn’t you choose a place that actually has one, [SEE: Zipolite in Mexico or Orient Beach in St. Maarten].
For those of us who consider ourselves long-standing advocates for non-sexual nude recreation, this proliferation of misinformation is problematic on several levels, the most obvious of which potentially causes an unsuspecting tourist to drop a boatload of money on a Caribbean vacation where the evening poolside games involve body-shots and other mixers like an adult version of Spin-the-Bottle. If the name of your article was “The Top Ten Places to Have Sex with Other People,” then I say, well done! No judgment intended. Just tell us what it is.
But as seasoned naturists, we’ve found ourselves explaining the social nudity phenomenon again, and again, and again… that there really exists this thing known as non-sexual nudity, where people from all walks of life gather to enjoy the sun, the water, and the breeze all over your body, simply for the pleasure of not wearing clothes (especially a soggy swimsuit). But if your audience has read article after article with references to places that are demonstrably highly sexualized, the process of changing even a single perception will be arduous, at best.
Where does one go then, to find accurate information about the best clothing-optional destinations where the authors have actually been and know what they’re talking about? Well, you’ve already found our blog! And we like to think we tell it like it is, even if it’s not what we are looking for.** (That’s also a problem with listings like AANR – The American Association for Nude Recreation – which has a code of ethics, but the clientele from one property to the next can vary a great deal. Some have a very strong party vibe on the weekends, while others are simply quiet, rural retreats.) Better to go with personal recommendations, like those presented by Nick and Lins from Naked Wanderings, who are on a mission to visit every naturist venue on the planet. And more and more naked places are turning up on mainstream platforms like TripAdvisor and Yelp, with reviews that will often identify the vibe you’re looking for as well as the vibe you’re looking to avoid. And finally, one of my personal favorite resources is Naturisme TV – a series of videos highlighting naturism in France, arguably the premiere destination for clothes-free recreation in the world. (There we ago again, another superlative.) While these video shorts are – not surprisingly – in French, they will also give you a good idea of what non-sexual nude recreation can be, and what a top-ten destination should actually look and feel like. The imagery transcends the language barrier.
In an era where the travel agent has been essentially replaced by the web-search engine, it’s well worth your effort to do the research before you commit your precious vacation resources to an ill-fated visit to someplace that was less (or significantly different) than you had hoped for. And when in doubt, send an inquiry to a confirmed naturist traveler. (SEE: Ask Naturist Dan) Most of us are delighted to tell our story and share our experiences, if only in the spirit of promoting the naturist cause.
**AUTHOR’S NOTE: We have recently been reorganizing our blog to make it easier to find reports about our visits to naked places in the US, [SEE: MEANDERING MONDAYS] as well as those we’ve visited all over the world (SEE: WANDERING WEDNESDAYS]. We’re adding reports to these lists each week, so you might want to bookmark those pages as our lists continue to grow.