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If I read one more Top 10 List of Nude Beaches that ends with a disclaimer of “I’m a freelance writer and haven’t actually been to any of these places, but I hope to get up the nerve to visit a nude beach one day,” I’m gonna throw my computer out the second-floor window!
In case it’s not evident, I really, really care about naturism and preserving the future of legal, clothing-optional beaches. Please, eager journalists, don’t offer erroneous and misleading advice about something you know little or nothing about!
I’ve seen this statement time and again on self-promoted blogs, in major periodicals like Cosmo and Vanity Fair, and even in mainstream newspapers like The New York Times or the Washington Post. Really? Would you assign a reporter to a story about the January 6th insurrection with the directive, “It doesn’t matter that you weren’t actually there, just Google it and see what turns up. Maybe you can even find a few leads on social media!”
I guess that’s why the typical “best nude beach” lists always turn up with a hodge-podge of inconsistent, if not outright bogus recommendations. An overzealous author may have even picked up a thread about the clothing-optional advocacy campaigns that led to the establishment of a nude zone at Haulover Beach, (a fine place, by the way, that still didn’t make my top ten list), but right after making a point about the local volunteers who patrol the waterfront to make sure people are, ahem… behaving themselves, the next beach on the list will be Hedonism in Jamaica or the infamous Cap d’Agde in France — each of which is more renowned for open sex than social nudity.*
*For the record, I don’t wish to pass judgment on those looking for an environment of total sexual liberation, but those of us who fight for the simple right to bare all while swimming in the sea have fought diligently to assuage the public perception that nude beaches are simply a thinly veiled guise for authorized orgies and wandering creepers. Nothing kills a campaign for an authorized nude beach faster than allegations of illicit sexual behavior.
With that, I offer up our personal Top 10 List of the world’s best places to work on your all-over tan, with the following criteria in mind:
1. Nudity should be the norm, not the exception. There are several fine beaches I left off the list where nudity is permitted, but especially in the summer months, they often become overwhelmed by textiles. (The naturist nomenclature for those who insist on wrapping in expensive Lycra while relaxing on the beach.) Especially if you’re trying out the naturist thing for the first time, you don’t want to be surrounded by people in swimsuits. It’s just awkward.
2. The beach should be at a destination that has more on offer than just nudity and sand. As the mantra goes, any beach could be a nude beach. That is, if you get far enough away from civilization, and there are no other humans in sight, what’s to stop you from getting naked? As we’re not the type to haul our ice chest out to a remote location and park our chairs for eight hours in the surf, we want to make sure there are amenities not too far away should we wish to grab something for lunch or do a bit of sightseeing en route.
3. It shouldn’t be someplace you’d need to apologize about to your children… or your mother. We have a lot of friends who are crazy about Gunnison Beach, NJ across the harbor from New York City. As it’s the only recognized nude beach in the NY metropolitan area, it has become the catch-all for anyone who… well, just pretty much — everyone! We’ve seen a few young families there over the years, but we never took our children, nor would we now, even though they’re full grown. To be fair, the crowd does a reasonable job of policing itself, but every time we’ve gone, we’ve seen things that simply push the boundaries on any number of fronts. (No pun intended.) If I have to apologize in advance to the other people in the car about what they may or may not see on the beach, it’s probably better just not to go. An unpleasant first experience at a nude beach will probably be one’s last experience at a nude beach.
4. And oh… we’ve actually been there! The accounts offered here are first-hand. Perhaps the next post will be the Top 10 nude beaches we’re not likely to ever visit again. Now that would be a useful list!
With that, here’s our list:
La Jenny plage on the Cote d’Argent: (One hour west of Bordeaux, France) We simply can’t think of another place where family naturism feels so normal and so right. It’s just a short walk or bike ride from La Jenny Naturist Resort, where you’ll find a small commercial village near the sprawling pool complex, and about 700 chalets tucked away amidst the pine forest. The naturist zone on the beach is supposedly only 1000 meters or so, but we’ve walked naked for hours in either direction and have never felt the need to cover up. (Accommodations: Domaine Naturiste La Jenny
Linguizzetta plage on the east coast of Corsica: (About an hour south of Bastia, France) Flanked by several naturist resorts on the east coast of Corsica, Linguizzetta plage (sometimes referred to as Bravone plage) stretches for about five kilometers available to, and typically crowded with…naturists! Especially popular with German tourists, there’s typically a great family vibe here as well. (Accommodations: Check out Bagheera Naturist Resort)
Valalta Naturist Resort on the Istrian peninsula: (Just a ten-minute drive from the charming seaside village of Rovinj) Beaches in Croatia typically refer to an outcropping of rocks suitable for sunning and jumping into the sea. Valalta stretches for several kilometers along the Adriatic sea where they’ve created a couple of sandy beaches as well, making it a particularly nice destination for families with children. (Accommodations: Valalta FKK Apartments and Camping)
Black’s Beach below the cliffs of La Jolla near UC San Diego: (About a half-hour drive from San Diego, California) In our humble opinion, this is the nicest naturist beach in the United States, in the breathtaking shadows of the steep cliffs where the local hang-gliders will keep you entertained for hours. I’ve heard the crowd can be a bit unpredictable here and that deviant behavior has been problematic at times, but during our visit, we found a convivial and diverse crowd, including a lot of people in the “younger than retired” set.
Blind Creek Beach north of Port St. Lucie, Florida: (About 75 minutes north of West Palm Beach) There are several recognized naturist beaches in Florida now, including the famed Haulover Beach near Miami, but we much prefer the tranquil setting at Blind Creek Beach, a project of the grassroots Treasure Coast Naturists who fought for legal authorization, along with a team of volunteers that look after the beach to make sure it remains a family-friendly environment, making this one of the best options for family naturism in the entire country.
[Click on individual photos to reveal the location]
Zipolite playa nudista: (An hour northwest of Huatulco airport on the Pacific coast of Mexico) Originally a haven for hippies and surfers, Zipolite has become something of a boom town, especially among naturists. The entire beachfront of this quaint Mexican village is clothing-optional where naturists and textiles simply live and let live with one another. There are several accommodations that cater specifically to naturists and several restaurants that allow nude dining at the tables closest to the ocean. It’s a very eclectic crowd, especially now with the addition of a few higher-end restaurants and inns. (Casablanca Guest House is our go-to place to stay.)
Tyagarah Beach near Byron Bay, Australia: (About two hours south of Brisbane) While I’ve been to Sydney a few times (visiting a couple of fine naturist beaches there) we’ve only been to Byron Bay once back in 2016. At that time, Tyagarah Beach was thriving — a beautiful stretch of wide sandy beach, wonderful for walking in the surf. I understand there have been legal issues in recent years, but it seems the naturist area is still alive and kicking. For general ambience, the proximity to Byron Bay, (cool town!) and the quality of the beach itself, this is our top choice down under. (Check out BB at Byron Bay for naturist accommodations. A bit quirky, but luxurious.)
Playa des Esquinzo, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain: (On the southeast corner of the island near the town of Morro Jable) Actually, this is one of a long chain of beaches that runs up the southeast shores of Fuerteventura, where one can walk naked for hours, especially if you’re a bit discreet when near the textile camping areas. The wide beaches are soft and shallow, and with so much space, you never feel crowded. We visited naturist beaches on Gran Canaria and Lanzarote as well, but this was far and away our favorite. (Check out the nearby Monte Marina Naturist Hotel if you want to keep working on that all-over tan near the pool.)
Chihuahua Playa (near the resort town of Punta del Este, about 90 minutes south of Montevideo) A stunningly gorgeous beach with a vibrant crowd of all ages. (Naturism seems to be taking off in South America — no pun intended!) If you watch the tides, you can wade across the stream at the south end of the beach and keep walking naked for quite a long time. And the weather in January is perfect while Europe and North America are freezing. (We had a lovely stay at naturist Hotel el Refugio during our stay; an easy walk from the naturist beach.)
Gavdos near Crete, Greece: (reached by ferry from the Chora Sfakia on the southern coast of Crete) This last entry is for the adventurous at heart who really wanna get there. Heralded as the most southerly point in Europe, Gavdos is a small island with a long-standing reputation as a hippie haven, though that’s been evolving in recent years as more tourists have discovered the place. Nudity is common on every beach on the island, several of which are quite remote and stunningly beautiful. Our favorites were Pyrgos beach (requiring a significant trek to get there) and Ayios Ioannis, where you’ll still find remnants of the bohemian community living in tents along the shore. (There are several small inns on the island, though none of them is specifically naturist. During our stay at Gavdos Princess, naturism was possible on our private veranda.)
Honorable Mention: My wife wanted to add Little Beach on Maui as she had a particularly great day swimming in the huge waves there. We thought there was a nice cross-section of people during our stay and it’s well worth the trek across Big Beach and over the outcropping of rocks. All that said, I still find it appalling that this is one of the few places even acknowledged as a nude beach in all of the Hawaiian Islands, and even with that, the local authorities continue to post signs stating that nudity isn’t allowed, sometimes harassing the visitors there. But it is, indeed, an idyllic spot.
I should also mention that I’m writing this piece from the veranda of an AirBNB on Formentera as we’re searching for the best naturist beach on the Balearic Islands. Hordes of Italians bedecked in those expensive swimsuits are interfering a good bit with that quest, but we’re holding out hopes for Llevant Platja on the north end of the island this morning. (Turned out to be a beautiful beach, but not much nudity.) Our beach combing efforts over these remote Spanish islands will likely generate another story all to itself.
Just to reiterate, if visiting a nude beach is on your bucket list, make sure you choose a good one. If you get it right, you’re likely to join the “I hate my swimsuit” club. Once you’re in, you’ll never look back.
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