Naked Meandering Takes Time…

The last two years have been pretty intense, with a couple big projects that have required a lot of travel, and as a friend put it this morning, many instances where I could say “I worked two days yesterday!” That’s tricky for a blogger, given that the very nature of blogging is organized around a chronological sense of time and space. Challenging when neither is available.

I write this post from Skinny Dippers Naturist Retreat on Mallorca, which has the unusual feature of encouraging a sense of community as many (most?) of the guests gather around the dinner table each evening; where, of course, the lead-out topic of conversation is almost always, “Where have you been, and what did you think?” If that conversation takes hold, perhaps I will disclose that I am a naturist blogger, and the most enthusiastic among them will run off to grab his or her iPad to put – shall we say – a face to the name.

“So, you’ve written about this place in Hawaii? Or Greece? Or Brazil?”

“Well…” I say sheepishly, “I intended to get that done, but you know how those things go.”

But as of this writing, we are looking ahead to three more weeks of nakation, and there are few things sweeter in life than sitting naked on the veranda with a glass of wine and sharing your musings about past travel experiences. So whether you are a loyal fan of my blog, or you just stumbled in from the frustration of a web search where the term “nudist” pulled up all the images you weren’t looking for, here’s what lies ahead on the blogging agenda for the Meandering Naturist.

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On the edge of the big island, Hawaii

I wrote a couple posts about our visit two summers ago to Hawaii, but never quite got around to writing about the sweet little resort called Hangin’ Loose where we lived for a week in a yurt during monsoon season – or at least, so it seemed.

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The serenity of Playa Sonrisa, Mexico

And it seems that I’ve never shared much about our two visits to Playa Sonrisa, a quiet little resort so far down the Yucatan peninsula that you can (and we recommend that you do) take a daytrip by boat to Belize.

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Celso. The guy from Brazil with a naturist dream

And for that matter, I was surprised to find out that I’ve left virtually no trace of our visit to naturist Brazil whatsoever, despite the drama of the story of Colina do Sol, where we met the guitar playin’ naturist Celso to learn of the perils of the naturism business in 21st-century South America. So many stories to tell about that!

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Oriental Village, Thailand
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Near Lemon Tree Resort, Thailand

When asked if I’ve blogged about our visits to two naturist resorts in Thailand, (Oriental Village and Lemon Tree Resort) I had to search my own archives to realize that, “Nope! Those trips are pretty much missing from our travelogue.” Which is a shame, as I’m particularly eager to promote naturism in this part of the world most suitable for naturism 365 days a year. Thailand is most definitely that place!

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Walking to Tahiti Beach on Corsica

I knocked out a few posts about some of our travels last summer, but never really mused much about free-hiking on Corsica or our stay at the naturist resort Bagheera, let alone the subsequent visit to Vritomartis and a stunningly naked day on the tiny island of Gavdos – the most southerly point in Europe.

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At the end of the world, on Gavdos, Greece

I did, however, do a pretty good job in keeping up with the blog during our time last winter (summer, there!) in Australia. At least, that is, until we got to the last two stops near Brisbane at BB at Byron Bay and a local legend known as BoBrene. But that often happens at the end of a long trip, when you start gearing up for reality at home, and the diary business goes out the window.

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The view from the top! A naturist villa near Byron Bay, Australia

And finally, it seems I only gave a cursory glance to our long weekend at Paya Bay in Honduras, which I’ve taken to calling my new Caribbean Branch Office. Another case where we’re eager to simply get the word out about this little gem that has been flying below the radar of much of the international naturist community.

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My branch office at Paya Bay, Honduras

So that’s quite a lot of catching up to do, and as I reflect, quite a lot of miles we’ve accrued in getting naked on six continents over the past two years. Seems that our pacing may slow down over the course of the next year or two as life reinvents itself, but as any blogger will tell you, the best part of the process is living the trip over through the mind’s eye. If a confirmed or would-be naturist finds the motivation in these pictures and words to book his or her own nakation, all the better for the cause, quietly hoping for the day when clothing-optional vacations are as normal as a trip to Disney World. For this meandering naturist, they are most certainly a lot more fun.

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The idyllic little naturist beach on the Island of Rab, Croatia

Individual trip reports to follow in a quasi-chronological order. In the meantime, I always enjoy conversing with other naturists, so if you can’t find it in the search bar of my blog, don’t hesitate to ask Naturist Dan.

Happy naked wanderings to you!

 

Nakation for Dummies

So I have made repeated mention in recent posts of my daughter and 20-something friends – mutual friends, I might add – who have become increasingly naturist-curious; a true bonanza for a long time naturist blogger who throws a small party every time he gets a new follower on his blog. This, in an age where nudism is frequently dismissed by Millennials as something my slightly deranged, post-modern hippie parents threaten to tell us about…

“Anyway, your father and I just booked on a nudist cruise to Aruba.”

“NOOOO!!!!! MOM, don’t tell me THAT stuff! Just STOP”

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Day-dreaming in Croatia

It’s strange to me, really. I was a late bloomer, who wasn’t even old enough to bloom during the Summer of Love. By the time I came of age, we were in the Reagan era, California was cracking down on nude beaches, free love was under fire from the emerging religious right, and the AIDS crisis was just about to erupt on the horizon. But the bizarre part of it all to me is the dichotomy of the strange relationship 20-somethings have with immodesty. I know quite a lot of people in this age bracket, most of whom are not especially religious, don’t think twice about a one-night stand (Do we still call this casual sex?), are as likely as not to make out with a new acquaintance at a party, frequently wear seductive clothing in casual settings, but would never consider going to a nude beach or resort. What’s up with that?

What’s up with that, says this humble blogger, is that we’ve made the whole thing seem damn weird and unmanageable! Try visiting a nudist resort in the United States and it costs a fortune (Like $50 for a day visit), and only that after you submit a full FBI check to prove you’re not a sex offender or puritanical ax murderer! Go to the wrong place in Europe, and you inadvertently end up at a naked geriatric center pondering your mortality in disbelief that skin could possibly have that kind of elasticity. Turn the other direction in France, and you might find yourself in Cap d’Agde, the most infamous of naked places in the world, where your inhibitions and misconceptions about naturism will turn into a nightmarish collage of men in studded collars and lesbian sex on the beach. (I know, Cap d’Agde fans – the place can be great for naturism, but send an unsuspecting newbie there? Yikes!)

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Family nakation at La Jenny

And thus, a few thoughts for the newbie naturist who finds the idea of no tan lines and swimming without wet nylon a least at bit alluring.

  • Leave the country! Assuming you’re reading this in the US of A, (or even in Great Britain,) you need to go someplace where people aren’t freaked out by nudity. The family naturist resorts on the southwest coast of France (La Jenny, Montalivet) are by far the most normal in terms of demographics, but they are difficult to get to, and the weather can be iffy. Croatia would be a good alternative, but the time and place means everything. If you go before school holidays, you’re back to the geriatric thing. Do your research before you go.
  • Go to a spa in Germany or Holland. Check out the website for information about FKK or Texteil Frei days, which for many of them is everyday. Elysium near Rotterdam or Therme Erding near Munich are particularly impressive, and draw huge numbers of young couples and singles who don’t consider themselves nudists, but don’t think twice about getting naked with others. It just feels normal.
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The view over Origan naturist camping in France

  • Search the blogosphere for things written by naturists. A lot of it is rubbish, and you’ll know right away this is not going to be helpful. But now and again, you’ll find a blogger who gets it, knows where to go, and when to go there. Send them a message and see if they answer. I’ve found many of our favorite places that way, on the basis of personal recommendations, greatly reducing the chances that you’ll waste your time and money, while irreversibly damaging your psyche!
  • Read Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews before you go – not just a few, but drill down. Many people adore Gunnison Beach in New Jersey, as it’s one of the only substantial and recognized nude beaches in the entire country, but if you read enough reviews, you’ll also learn about some of the oddities of the place as well. In fact, American nude beaches have big issues with gawkers, which is pretty much a sure-fire way to get your girlfriend to say, “Never again.”
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Therme Erding near Munich

  • Decide if you’re an “all in” or “ease in” person. “All in” means you’ll be more comfortable if everyone around you is naked, and you just need to follow suit. “Ease in” means you’re seeking a mixed crowd where nudity is permitted by not required, but also means you put it out there while others around you may not. You can usually figure that out from the aforementioned trip review sites, but it’s an important distinction.
  • Go high-end, or go low-end, but beware of the middle. Though a bit counter-intuitive, you either want to stay at a nice naturist hotel like Vritomartis in Greece or Heliotel in France, or find a place with lots of tent camping –  not miles of trailer camping – but tent camping. Why? The places in the middle tend to attract the folks who parked their travel trailer on a plot in 1967 and haven’t budged since. Lovely people, they may be, but if you’re looking for a youthful vibe, seek out the tent campers. Check out Camp Full Monte in Montenegro, or Belezy in France. Valalta in Croatia seems to have struck a nice balance, but not so much before schools let out in early July.
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Naturist camping on Corisca

  • Beware of naturist/nudist message boards if you want to feel normal about the whole thing. Like the blogosphere, there are some very cool people out there who have a lot of helpful information, but receiving a nude pic from a lonely guy in Atlanta is probably not the introduction to social nudity you’re looking for.
  • Seek out resources geared to people in your demographic. Perhaps the best one out there right now is The Young Naturists Association (YNA) run by Felicity and Jordan out of New York. They have done more to promote a positive image for social nudity than anything I’ve seen on the web for quite a long time. I have yet to attend one of their events (I’m told I’m welcome, despite the fact that I’m not quite a young naturist anymore) but from everything I’ve seen, they’ve got it right, including a blog that is thoughtful, intelligent, and informative. My guess is the people they have attracted to the cause have similar traits.
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Naked feeding time in South Africa

Dunno! Perhaps there’s no rocket science to be found in this post, accept to say that a bad first foray into naturism is more often than not the last foray into naturism. We started young – just months after we were married (remember, our kids are in their 20s now!) so we’ve been at this for a while. To a large degree, our naturist travels have defined our relationship; when our naked travels have taken us to places we would never thought to have visited, where we have met people we would have never had reason to talk to.

Start young. Before you have children. Before life bogs you down. Have more questions? Ask Naturist Dan! We naturists love to advocate for our cause.

 

 

 

 

Nakation Chronicles I: The Pre-digital Age

This gallery contains 13 photos.

I’ve taken on the project of organizing my photo library – a huge undertaking in the digital age. In doing so, I thought it would be fun to chronicle our nakation adventures since we got serious about naturist travel back in the late 1990s. This is the first installment, mainly digitized prints from our first […]

Naturist Odyssey: NAKED CROATIA!

Should you be foolish enough to pick an argument with an acquaintance at a cocktail party about the birth time and place of European naturism, you’re likely to find three viable contenders in the final round for this illustrious title; Germany, France, and… CROATIA! The last of which, by the way, owes much of its naturist reputation to its proximity to Germany, but I’ll get to that in a while.

Regulars on my blog are already well acquainted with my infatuation with French naturism, and the various resorts that have come to define our own personal sense of family naturist nirvana. But as I kept digging deeper into the adverts and propaganda directed at those suffering from chronic-sun-addiction-disorder, names like Koversada and Valalta kept resurfacing in naturist guides and pre-Google-era web searches! Strangely enough, I had a vague awareness of this eastern European phenomena, as my first trip to Europe was in 1985 when I was in college; a trip that included a wide swing through (what was then) Yugoslavia, which generated a fair number of wise-cracks on the bus, “Hey, we should go to the beach and see the naked Germans!”

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Valalta

At twenty-two years of age, I had not yet ‘come out’ as a naturist, but at the time, I thought the whole thing sounded pretty intriguing. Given our two-day stopover in Zagreb, I hadn’t the vaguest idea as to where we were in relation to the nearest naturist beach or nudist resort. Turns out that beach would have been at least four hours away, on the Istrian peninsula on the Adriatic Sea.

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Beachcombing on Hvar

Before I continue, I should proclaim that with this post, I am making a decisive departure from the documentary style of our Naturist Odyssey across Europe that I had intended to post – blow-by-blow – last summer as we actually forged our way some 10,000 kilometers from Spain to Greece. (You can read about that here.) My journalistic ambitions were thwarted by poor Internet connections and a limited skill-set in navigating the blogosphere, so I finally gave up. That’s a particularly important point, as I have decided to use this post to encapsulate five different visits to naturist Croatia over a period of the last ten years, amalgamating trip reports from 2005, 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2013. The consequence is a series dated photos and details that may well be lacking in the realm of immediacy and accuracy, but my desire here is to capture the prevailing sense and atmosphere of naturism in Croatia.

That said, during the 2013 Naturist Odyssey, we made an early departure from Origan Village (in the foothills above Nice) with the objective of blasting straight across the admittedly prudish region of northern Italy (more about that in a future post) to reach naked Croatia by nightfall at the end of the day. Remarkably, our mission was accomplished, despite an aggravating, bumper-to-bumper, final approach down the narrow highway that leads to Istria, where 90% of Croatian naturist activity takes place. This particular time, our destination was the naturist apartment complex at Koversada; a sprawling property self-proclaimed as the largest naturist resort in all of Europe!

Modest apartment at Valalta

Modest apartment at Valalta

This would be our second visit to Koversada, our fourth visit to Istria, and in all, our fifth visit to Croatia. At the risk of being redundant and/or patronizing, it is worth reiterating the fact that Croatia is a part of former Yugoslavia, which was a ‘nation’ created in the wake of WWII, held together for nearly four decades with bailing wire, a charismatic dictator, and a good deal of imagination when it came to creating reasonably attractive seaside resorts with little in the way of external (or internal) capital investment. As one might imagine, the result of all this can be found in hotels and seaside apartment complexes that are… almost… luxurious! Things have improved, significantly, since our first visit in 2005, but suffice it to say, if you’re accustomed to traveling in Western Europe, once in Croatia, you will know that you’re in Eastern Europe.

Gazing at Koversada

Gazing at Koversada

Our first venture in 2005 included a mid-June visit to Valalta, near the Lim Fjord on the Istrian Penninsula, where you can see Koversada on the facing shore. I have recounted elsewhere in these pages the deep affections my children held for a place called La Jenny in the southwest of France, but to put it bluntly, the weather on the Cote d’Argent (southwest France) can be unpredictable at best. Seasoned travelers in the know suggested that we would have a better chance at winning the New York lottery than experiencing a rainy day on the Adriatic, so we took the bait, and as it happened, had a week of postcard-perfect weather in this Croatian naturist resort during the summer of 2005.

By this time, our kids were in their late teens, and I have vivid recollections of our youngest daughter trying to recreate the French naturist experience at the dance party near the Valalta pool. “A+ for effort,” but it simply wasn’t the same. Of course not, we were 1000 kilometers, and a million miles away from France. Sadly, that was the last time our entire family embarked on a naturist adventure to Europe. It wasn’t bad – it just wasn’t French!

Nice apartment at Koversada

Nice apartment at Koversada

But wait! Before you dismiss Croatia as a viable family naturist destination, I need to mention the calm, warm-water inlets, the deep blue skies, and the local eateries with lamb or roast pig on the spit; or the fact that especially in the northern region, almost any beach is a naturist beach! While traditionally Catholic Croatians aren’t so keen on naked sunbathing, they are quick to realize the value of the tourist revenue to be had from the good (naked) people of nearby Italy and Germany.

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Bashful nudist sculpture at Koversada

That, along with the weather, was enough to inspire us to venture back to Croatia four more times, with a penchant for more adventurous explorations to the islands of Rab and Hvar, the historical cities of Dubrovnik and Split, and two additional visits to the Istrian peninsula, with extended stays in the lovely, remodeled apartments at naturist Koversada that afford the luxuries of modern living (thinking dishwashers and air conditioning here) along with a stunning view of the Adriatic Sea.

To date, we have stayed once at Valalta (2005), twice at Koversada (2012 and 2013), made a day visit to a third major resort called Solaris (2012), and have worked our way down through the Dalmatian Islands with stops on the island of Rab (supposedly the birthplace of Croatian naturism), the large island of Hvar (including the lovely little naturist islet of Jerolim), and even paid a visit to a small naturist beach on an island near Dubrovnik, which as it turns out, proved to illustrate a very important point…

Croatia is a stunningly beautiful region! In fact, I dare say, with the dissolution of the Yugoslavian state, the Croatians ended up with the lion’s share of magnificent beachfront property! But typical tourist Croatia – Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar – is a significant distance from the “bazillion naked Germans” Croatia, where you may, indeed, find Europe’s largest naturist resorts with loads of naked Europeans during the months of July and August. But all those naked people are a long day or two of travel from Hvar and Dubrovnik.

In fact, one of the most startling moments during our journey down the Adriatic coast was our visit to the island of Rab, renowned for her remote and exquisitely beautiful naturist beaches. We set out one day on foot to find said beaches when finally, upon discovery, overheated and dehydrated, I doffed my shorts underneath the sign that indicated we were on an FKK (naturist) beach. I waded out into the tranquil shallows, only to realize that I was the only naked guy on the entire beach! Nobody seemed to care, but I had clearly failed the ‘blend in with the locals’ test. Never had I been so cognizant of the fact that guidebooks, even naturist guidebooks, are outdated the day they are printed! Naturism may have been allowed on this beach, but it most certainly wasn’t the common practice on the day of our visit.

Beach day on Jerolim

Beach day on Jerolim

Once this post is up, I will go to work on a new photo gallery that should provide a good sense of naturist life in Croatia. We will go back one day, but as it turns out, the Adriatic weather can be temperamental as well as we have learned that Croatia is not a slam-dunk guarantee for uninterrupted sunshine. But swimming in the Adriatic is hard to beat, and for those who enjoy exploring the rocky coastline, there are an infinite number of places where jumping naked into the sea is completely acceptable.

In the meantime, the Istrian peninsula remains the principal naturist region, near the quasi-Italian villages of Rovinj and Poreč. Friends tell me Valalta is reaching out to make naturism more relevant to the modern naturist, which I take to mean they are updating accommodations and working to create dining and entertainment options that will keep your tourist dollars in the resort. I would rent our sweet little apartment at Koversada again in a heartbeat, as a naked afternoon at the fish restaurant on the adjoining naturist island there constitutes an indescribably delicious slice of nirvana. And even though we have only made a perfunctory visit to Solaris, I would stay there without hesitation as well – a smaller resort with newer apartments, and a great little pool area overlooking the sea. Given that these incredible naturist places are roughly a six-hour drive south from Munich, (ironically, much closer than driving from Dubrovnik!) it seems you could hardly go wrong if your main objectives are sun, swimming, and the sensuality that is a nakation.

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Baywatch on the Lim Fjord

In my humble opinion, there are two Croatias; one that caters to westerners who are willing and able to pay the price to stay in five-star hotels, and another that is a bit more earthy, where people go to lay out on innumerable and expansive rocky slabs for an all-over tan. We are quite enamored with each, but have come to realize that you can’t do it all in a week!

You may also be interested in our other Naturist Odyssey installments:

One-hundred Naked Places… FRANCE!

100 places to get naked before you die

PART THREE: FRANCE

France is special!

To us, France is synonymous with family naturism.  It all began back in the early 90s when we were 20-something, had three small children, and had decided that we’d like them to grow up feeling comfortable in their own skin.  (A luxury we had not been afforded during our own adolescence or early adulthood.)  We had just begun exploring naturism for ourselves, but every time we sought out a place where it might be appropriate to take the kids along, we would stumble into a bizarre, sexual undercurrent, or – and I’m truly reticent to say this – a retirement community.

I began corresponding with a guy named Don, who was married to a French woman, who had been raised with the tradition of naturist vacations.  Don simply called it out… “I understand what you’re looking for, and you’re not going to find it on American soil.  You need to take your family to France!”

We were a double income, no discretionary spending, family of five.  Taking the kids to France for a naturist vacation was simply out of the question.  But in 1997, my wife and I scraped together enough money (and goodwill from the grandparents to watch the kids) to escape to France for two weeks, during which time we explored the famous Côte d’Azur (French Riviera), stopped by for a day visit to the legendary Cap d’Agde, and spent four nights at a naturist village called La Jenny.

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On the La Jenny beach

La Jenny was exactly that place we had imagined.  By the time we got home, I had lost contact with my cyber-friend Don, and I never had the opportunity to say, “Thanks for the tip – you were spot on!”

But in the meantime, we have been back to La Jenny about a dozen times; several times with young children, and more recently, with those same children who are now adults.  And, in fact, it turns out that La Jenny is a particularly fine and well established reflection of the naturist ideal in France.  Naturism is facing challenges in France as well; the greatest of which is preserving naturist ideals in an era when Europe has fallen victim to the perils of American culture and the prudery that comes with!  But we have yet to find so many options for recreation sans clothing as we have found in France.  An thus, this list – ever evolving – serves as the centerpiece of the 100 best places to get naked before you die.


The list for France… in alpha order

Last updated: 19 October 2016
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Aphrodite Village, Port Leucate

Southern France near Narbonne

Took an apartment here for a week back in 2007 and had a very nice stay there in a well appointed apartment near a sprawling naturist beach. The place is a bit remote, and our teenage kids were a bit lonely in that, at least during our stay, most of the other inhabitants of the village were older, and sans enfants.
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Bagheera

Corsica

We were looking for a new option on the long naturist beach near Aleria on the east coast of Corsica. This turned out to be a quirky, but excellent option. Our apartment had been recently remodeled, and faced the sea, albeit through the scrubby brush in that cover the dunes over the beach. A few peculiar rules about not being nude near the restaurant – and in fact, it seemed many staying there to the option to stay clothed. But the beach is amazing, with several naturist resorts nearby. A great place for a family naturist vacation.
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Belezy

Provence

Perhaps the largest naturist resort in Provence, nicely situated near the village of Bédoin, amidst the old Roman ruins and famous landmarks.  We stayed in one of the small apartments, (Our unit was in need of some attention, but I think that was the exception) and came to make some good friends who have invited us back for day visits over the years.  I think this place would be closer to our top shelf had our accommodations been a bit nicer during our initial stay.
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Bonnieu Plage

near Marseille

Have only had a chance to visit this beach once, early in the season when it wasn’t quite as warm outside as it looked!  The beach is in something of a desolate location, essentially in the shadow of a huge power plant; not nearly as attractive as SO many non-naturist beaches in the region.  But the French Federation for Naturism (FFN) has successfully lobbied to make this an official naturist beach where a naturist license is required for admission.  I’m guessing this has made this an excellent location for family naturism during high season, free of some of the typical hassles that have become the norm at other public naturist beaches.
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On the jetty near Cap d’Adge

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Cap d’Agde – Quartier Naturisme

near Montpellier

Where does one begin in describing what is perhaps the world’s most famous naturist place, though just what that means is open to wide interpretation.  Whatever you might be looking for, (and for many, exactly what you are not looking for!) can be found at Cap d’Adge.  We have visited twice, the second time staying for a couple nights at Hotel Eve (listed below).  With so many naturist options in France, we simply found ourselves asking, “Why?”  All a matter of preference!
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CHM Monta Camping Naturiste

Côte d’Argent, South Atlantic

Known to most by the historical name, Montalivet, this expansive naturist site on the Gironde peninsula (west and north of Bordeaux) seems to have an important role in the evolution of French naturism.  It is also the site where most of the Jock Sturges photographs were taken, which epitomize the art form of naturist photography.  A quick glance at the CHM Monta website suggests a lot of recent improvements, including a water park and new chalets. And naturist friends have sent me raves about the place that make us want to stop in and check it out in the near future.
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Domaine de la Sabliere

Provence

Inspired by a day visit years ago, we spent a week here in July of 2013.  I had always been intrigued by the story of this family-owned resort on the steep walls of the Cèze river gorge.  We had a good stay, in a simple chalet near the top of the mountain.  The campsites under the trees near the river are particularly peaceful, and the pool complex is laid out in the middle of the resort as a central meeting point for the whole community.  Many opportunities for swimming and canoeing in the river as well.   A beautiful place.   You can find our more detailed report on La Sabliere here.
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Morning explorations on Ile du Levant

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Domaine Laborde

Dordogne Valley

A very sweet little resort run by a Netherlander couple near the Dordogne Valley, one of the most remarkable regions in all of France.  The location is remote, but we enjoyed exploring the local villages and wineries of the Bergerac region during our stay.  The simple chalets provide a viable option if you are seeking naturist accommodations while exploring the Dordogne.
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Domaine Naturiste Arnaoutchat

Côte d’Argent, South Atlantic

Have been reading about this place for years, and have always been intrigued by the indoor-outdoor pool complex, as the weather can be unpredictable on the south Atlantic even at the height of summer.  Perhaps we can manage a day visit this summer (2014). It is known as one of the four big naturist resorts on the Côte d’Argent on the west coast of southern France.  Well situated for a day trip to the northern coast of Spain.
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Euronat

Côte d’Argent, South Atlantic

I’m thinking Euronat is the largest (in terms of capacity) of the four major naturist resorts on the south Atlantic coast of France.  We made a day visit years ago during a stay at La Jenny.  Many options for camping, and various possibilities for rented chalets, and we were drawn to the little village square with all the amenities one could hope for.   As we didn’t have overnight accommodations, there was an extra fee to use the pool complex, which was set off a bit from the central part of the village.  That, along the sheer expanse of the place, resulted in a different ambiance than we’ve enjoyed at some other naturist centers, but we know that for many, the place is Eden in perfection.

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Heliotel, Ile du Levant

Côte d’Azur – South of France

Our first stay at Heliotel was in 2006, and then again in 2013 when the property was under new management.  Given the amenities, the attentive management team, and the location, it is difficult to imagine there is a better option to be had on this naturist island off the Côte d’Azur of Provence.  Recent renovations included the installation of air conditioning units, which is a serious upgrade given the still air and abundance of mosquitoes on hot summer nights.  It you want to do it right on Ile du Levant, this is the place!  You can read our trip report from 2013 here.
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Hotel Eve – Cap d’Agde

near Montpellier

If you read my previous review of the naturist village known as Cap d’Agde, you already know we have mixed feelings about the naked city of France, but that said, we had a very nice visit (many years ago) at Hotel Eve.  The rooms were simple and small, but the ambiance was quiet and peaceful in a town that is renowned for its party atmosphere.  They have a new website now, and a bit more competition, so things could have changed in recent years, but our stay was very pleasant.
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On La Jenny beach

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La Brise Marine Hotel, Ile du Levant

Côte d’Azur – South of France

We have only stayed once at La Brise Marine Hotel, in 2011 with our two young adult daughters.  Had I been a bit more meticulous in reading reviews and such, I would have learned before our arrival that the property has something of a reputation among the “libertines.”  (Look it up!)  While that activity was fairly subtle during our stay, it was certainly noticeable; and that, along with the mosquito infestation caused us to forfeit the last night of our stay at our own cost.  Maybe we simply fell victim to bad timing, but in this case…  no.

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La Chiappa Naturist Village

Corsica

A stunning location on the southern end of Corsica, with simple bungalows and many options for camping.  There have been several upgrades since our last visit in 2006, but even then, we thought it was a wonderful resort in a perfect location, with a beautiful seaside pool and opportunities for beach-combing au natural.  Seems to me to be the best option for naturism on Corsica as of this writing.

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La Jenny Naturist Resort

Côte d’Argent – South Atlantic

For many years, La Jenny has been our ‘gold standard’ for family naturism.  (See our most recent trip report here.)  As with all the Atlantic coast resorts, the main variable is the weather, as an entire week in the middle of July can disintegrate into monsoon season, at which point, the otherwise comfortable chalets begin feeling a bit cramped.  That said, we love the ambiance in the village, at the pool, and the various options for self-catering cabins in the pine forest near the sea.  Were it not for La Jenny, I suspect our children (now adults) would have dismissed the virtues of naturism long ago!  Merci beaucoup, La Jenny!

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La Layet Plage

Côte d’Azur – South of France

Have only visited once quite a few years ago, but of all the naturist beaches we’ve visited within driving distance of central Provence, this one gets our vote!  Convivial crowd, sandy beach, and as I recall, even a small concession to cater to the local naturists.
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Natural beauty at U-Furu

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Le Bau Rouge

Côte d’Azur – South of France

This was our first stop during one of our exploratory expeditions of naturist France in 2004.  We arrived late in the day, feeling a bit vulnerable in this remote location while two other male naturists lingered nearby.  That said, it is a remarkable spot for a picnic on the Calanques between Toulon and Marseille.  Probably better not to go alone…
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Le Couderc Naturiste Camping

Dordogne

Another naturist option near the Dordogne that has been on my list for a long time, but we’ve never quite made our way there!  Their website suggests a warm, family environment, and there are several options for self-catering rentals.  We will eventually add this to our “been there, done that” list, if only for its proximity to the Dordogne.
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La Gecko, Ile du Levant

Côte d’Azur – South of France

Enjoyed a excellent naked lunch on their veranda one day, which led us back to inquire for a brief stay in one of their simple – but air-conditioned (!) – rooms.  That, along with the small pool are necessities in the heat of the Levantine summers. Our room was very small, but more than adequate for our needs, with a small fridge and some basic utensils.  It was also evident they had redone the bathroom in recent years.  The whole place has a decidedly rustic feel, but it is an excellent option for the price.  And again, we thought the restaurant was worth a return visit simply on it’s own merit.
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Exploring near La Chiappa in Corsica

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Mas de la Balma

near Perpignan

Just a short distance from the Spanish border near Perpignan, this looks like a great place for a naked walk in the woods, or skinny-dipping in the nearby waterfalls.  They are only open during the summer months, and I think the options are limited beyond camping, but it looks like a beautiful place.
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MessidOr

Provence

A naturist campground located about half way between Avignon and Aix-en-Provence.  During our visit in June, they had a lot of campers from the Netherdlands, mostly in caravans, along with a few in rented “mobile home type” chalets.  There’s a fairly new clubhouse with a restaurant and a bar that had a very pleasant vibe.  The pool area is showing age, that would give the term rustic a run for it’s money.  But if you’re looking for a naturist place to stay in the heart of Provence, you could hardly do better.  Location, location, location!  It’s worth noting that it’s a family run place, and we felt immediately welcome and at ease, despite my marginal ability in speaking French.

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Origan Village Naturiste

Côte d’Azur – South of France

We have stayed twice at Origan Village; once in 2004, then again in 2013.  We think it’s a remarkable place, with various options for lodging, and a stunning naturist trail that provides a morning workout, walking naked along the mountain ridges of the lower Alps above Nice.  The restaurant and pool complex are lovely as well.  You can find our additional musings from our experience at Origan Village here.
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Oz’Inn, Cap d’Agde

near Montpellier

Apparently, it’s quite difficult to find the space and resources to open a naturist hotel in the famous French village of Cap d’Agde.  And it’s at least as difficult to determine what clientele a particular hotel is catering to!  This appears to be a luxury property (priced accordingly) in a village where there are few options available for less than a week at a time.  Given the price, I don’t know that we’ll ever get there, but the website is intriguing, nonetheless.
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Palieter Camping Naturiste

Normandy

We were determined to be naturists while exploring Normandy, which predictably enough – even in June – proved to be something of a lost cause as the weather was rainy and cold during our stay, and we opted for the protection of textile living during our stay at Palieter.  At the time, around 2006, the site was run by a Netherlander family.  They were incredibly welcoming, and most apologetic about the fact that in the north of France, it rains…  a lot!
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Plage des Grottes, Ile du Levant

Côte d’Azur – South of France

A small beach that is a bit removed from the neighboring village on Ile du Levant.  Ironically, you can walk from the village without clothing, and once past the port, you are “required” to be naked on the path to the beach, but you have to cover up as you cross the port as you might be seen by somebody on the ferry bound for the next island.  The beach is small, and a bit rocky, but peaceful and lovely.  Not worth a trip to the island for the beach by itself, but if you stay a couple nights and enjoy the local cuisine, it’s well worth the trouble!
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Walking the trail above Origan Village

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Residence L’escapade, Ile du Levant

Côte d’Azur – South of France

We have walked past L’escapade many times.  It appears to be a simple place with a nice pool, and reasonably priced.  Their website is not so accommodating for those who don’t speak French, but given the price, the location, and the pool, it seems like a good risk.  We will eventually get there one day.
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Riva Bella Naturiste

Corsica

Riva Bella is something of an anomaly in the France4Naturisme consortium.  We stayed there in 2006, in a small beach-side cabin with a water heater only a bit larger than a beer can, and an indoor/outdoor kitchen that sometimes felt luxurious, and at other times, felt like an expensive alternative to camping.  The beach connects to several other naturist properties, providing the opportunity for long, naked walks in the surf.  But it all feels a bit rustic and remote, even for a naturist resort on a remote Mediterranean island.
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Freedom on Ile du Levant

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Tahiti Plage

Corsica

As far as I can tell, there are only two ways to get to Tahiti Plage; rent a boat, or go to La Chiappa Naturist Resort, drop your clothes, and walk the thirty minute seaside path to the idyllic little beach with turquoise waters. We found a great mix of people there, including textiles – but nobody seemed to mind the others. The water was gorgeous, calm, and clear, and the near by snack bar was great for lunch – though they did require a minimal amount of clothing. If I lived on Corsica, I’d be there every weekend!

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U-Furu espace naturel préservé

Corsica

We have been to U-Furu twice; both times, for day visits.  There are little stone cottages available to rent (in addition to camping) which seem to be quite well appointed, but given the location, I don’t know that I would spend a week there.  But the best part of U-Furu is the trail that leads up a small gorge with a series of significant waterfalls – depending, of course, on recent rainfall and runoff.  Our first visit there was absolutely magical, which generated several of the photos for this blog.  It’s off the beaten track, but well worth the journey if you enjoy naturism in a truly natural setting!

As in the previous two installments of the 100 Places project, I offer once more….

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

GALLERY: Naturism in France, Volume ONE

GALLERY: Naturism in France, Volume TWO

SEE ALSO:

Naked Places in North America

Naked Places in Africa, Asia, and Australia

 COMING SOON: Naked Places in the Caribbean and Naked Places (everywhere else) in Europe

 

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!
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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

 

RETROSPECTIVE: An Ode to Club Orient

Running around naked... on Tintemarre

Running around naked… on Tintemarre

OUR LAST VISIT: January 2013

Quite a lot has changed at Club Orient since our first visit to St. Maarten (Dutch)/St. Martin (French).  For those of you who frequently skipped class when you took Caribbean History 101, the confusion about what this tiny island is actually called could be a whole course in colonialism by itself!  America, Europe, and Great Britain (for the sake of this argument, GB gets their own category) seemed to do a pretty good job dividing up the spoils of the south Atlantic, island by island, but apparently this conundrum was just too complicated.  So like that episode on The Brady Bunch, they apparently took a roll of masking tape and simply divided the island in half.

Peter Brady divides the room…

The pier on the Dutch side of the Island

The pier on the Dutch side of the Island

It’s all a little easier now that at least the French side is on the Euro, (apparently the Dutch side is still using the former Netherlands currency, despite the fact that Holland is on the Euro… go figure!)  though we’ve not had much trouble using American dollars pretty much any place, at the exchange rate du jour.  But since this blog is about finding places to get naked, the first thing that you should know is that the famous Club Orient Beach is essentially at the farthest possible distance from the (new and greatly improved) Princess Juliana Airport – which means about 45 minutes by taxi; or who knows how long (?) if the Simpson Bay drawbridge is up.

Having visited so many top notch naturist places in Europe, it’s difficult not to get a little snarky about Club O, beginning with the relatively steep price tag for a self-catering cottage, to the fact that some of them are looking pretty well worn.  A particular pet peeve of mine is poorly lit bathrooms that give you the impression that if you could see better, you might notice how badly the remodel is overdue.  In this case, a single florescent tube over the sink makes even the toned and the tanned look washed out and hung-over every morning, and leaves the reality of mold mostly to your imagination.

But really, the chalets are fine, and you’re not going so spend much time inside anyway unless you happen to hit monsoon season (which we sorta did one year).  The attraction is the long sandy beach with a bazillion orange loungers and the emblematic yellow umbrellas.  Since there’s a restaurant at one end, and a beach bar at the other, and a little store near the registration office where you can buy basic groceries and sundries, you really can make it through your entire stay and never wear a stitch of clothing – and in fact, I believe many do just that!

Pedro's - the defining line between naked, and not naked!

Pedro’s – the defining line between naked, and not naked!

The old-timers tell of the days when you could wander past the rocks near Pedro’s restaurant and be naked most any time of the day.  (Only the beach in front of Club O is officially naturist, but the shore stretches perhaps another mile to Mt. Vernon, with various concessions for renting jet skis, buying swimwear, and any number of restaurants and boutiques if you look back in the nooks and crannies.)  When we first start going, there was an unspoken rule that you could walk to Mt. Vernon until 8:00 am, but after that, “beware of the gendarmes!”  Apparently, the early bird grace period is no more, so on our last visit, we brought along our pareos in an intentionally feeble attempt to cover our midsections, (topless is apparently still OK, any time of day, for boys or girls!) enjoying a bit of gleeful vindication when a sudden gust of wind would cause a sudden ‘Marilyn Monroe’ photo op!  This time, we only saw one other totally naked person on the main beach; an employee setting out lounge chairs for a neighboring resort.  While contemplating the irony, it would be worth noting that the in-the-buff beach employee would actually (and might well be) a local tourist attraction, possessing the type of physique that would justify all the cruise people from the Dutch side hiring cabs to come ogle and gaze upon his… significant assets.  Which leads me to an entirely new perspective as to why the locals of Orient Beach have become so deeply concerned about meandering naturists… Because, more often than not, the sight-seeing is a little, shall we say, lack luster!

Early morning walk on Orient Beach... in the good ol' days

Early morning walk on Orient Beach… in the good ol’ days

Now before I spawn the ire of those who may accuse me of reducing naturism to an over-simplified excuse for free-for-all voyeurism, let me go on record that this is not my position on such matters.  (Though, when my blog has matured a bit more, I think I will finally summon up the nerve to talk about the biological inevitability that naked humans are actually hard-wired to look at other naked humans, but most of the time we simply do it with our clothes on!  But that’s another post!)  But if there is one thing I’m not so keen on about Club Orient, it would have to be the fact that this father of three grown children still feels like one of the youngest people in the entire place!  Perhaps less so than during our first visit back in 2005, but it seems that might not be true either, since a majority of the guests appear to be from the US, and there is no question that the demographics related to the age of US naturists seem to be creeping up at a steady, death-defying rate.

I know this is a problem throughout Europe as well, and I will also muse –  at some point –  about all the stunning swimsuits I’ve seen on young and not-so-young adults inhabiting the (supposed) naturist beaches of France.  But Club Orient definitely gives you that feeling that this is the place you go once your children are grown and gone so you don’t have to tell them where you are.  It’s that particular spin that changes the whole dynamic a bit – and not so much for the better.

The TIko Tiko - a quintessential part of the Club Orient experience

The TIko Tiko – a quintessential part of the Club Orient experience

Eventually, I’ll re-launch my naturist travel website and talk a bit more about karaoke night in the restaurant (thinking older women singing even older songs, bedecked in body jewelry that you could never explain to your daughter or your mother.)  Or the fabulous Tiko Tiko Cruise that takes you out to see what a desert island really must feel like, sans a soccer ball named Wilson; but with value added commodities like unlimited rum punch and filet mignon cooked to order.  And I could start an entire blog about the countless excellent restaurants, many of which are in the neighboring town of Grand Case, where for the price of a two-door Kia, you can have a life-changing meal and a bottle of wine… or two!  (Call a cab!)

Tiko Tiko's first mate Flo, and a nice guy enjoying the day!

Tiko Tiko’s first mate Flo, and a nice guy enjoying the day!

In short, we really do like the place a lot.  Not like we like France, Greece, or Croatia; but you don’t go to those places in January or February, and given the other options like Mexico, Dominican Republic or Jamaica, I think this remains the best naked value for the dollar.  Recent changes in management have definitely resulted in a friendlier environment, and the be naked all day (until the taxi comes to take you to Grand Case) bit is very, very good – especially when you start drinking at 10:00 am, and now at 3:00 pm, you’re standing in the naked queue at the Perch Bar for Happy Hour 2-for-1.  Who wants to put pants on for that?

It’s a good place.  And we’ve met some really fine people there.  I just hope the next generation steps up pretty soon here.  Us empty nesters aren’t getting any younger!

GALLERY: St. Maarten: Vol 1