I ❤️ Naked Walks: Naturist Treks on European Islands (Part Two)

It’s one thing to find a place for nakation that allows for a leisurely afternoon of nude sunbathing by the pool, but what if you are the restless type who needs to get up and stretch your legs now and again? Such was the topic of my previous installment called I ❤️ Naked Walks, focusing on a few of our favorite places in Croatia and France where naked trekking is possible.

Fuerteventura, near Morro de Jable

The second installment in this series takes us hopping to the island of Crete, and even farther south to the incredibly remote island of Gavdos. Later, a few musings about the Spanish territories of Mallorca and the Canary Islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura – all of which afford fabulous naked walks along the sea.

GREECE: Southern Crete

We first visited Crete in 2008, flying into Chania with a good helping of fear and trepidation about renting a car to drive over the rugged mountains to the southern coast, where one will find Naturist Resort Vritomartis perched on the cliffs overlooking the Libyan Sea. Turns out the drive isn’t really that scary if you simply keep your eyes on the road, and even better now that they’ve reworked the tunnels that take you over the mountain pass with a few less encounters with wandering goats.

Just a short walk down the hill from Vritomartis is Filaki Beach, one of the only fully authorized naturist beaches in Greece. It’s actually a decent walk down to the road to the beach, and in recent years, the message has been to cover up when en route, though we find compliance with that rule to be hit and miss, and we have yet to be admonished when risking the right to bare all.

From the nearby village of Chora Sfakia, you can hire an early morning water taxi for a 15 minute clothing-optional boat ride to Sweetwater beach where you’ll find a nice mix of naturists and textiles, and even a snack bar that requires you to at least make an effort to wrap in a pareo should you wish to have a beverage or a sandwich. After a morning snooze under the scrubby trees, you can follow the coastal path to the east that will eventually bring you to the stunningly beautiful village of Loutro. I’ve made a habit of making the trek au naturel, though you most definitely need to cover up before entering the village, as there is even signage that forbids topless sunbathing near the hotels. You’ll get a good hour of naked trekking before you arrive, and there are plenty of spots to jump in the sea along the way if you’re feeling overheated. Once in Loutro, enjoy a frosty beer and some calamari along the marina before boarding the ferry back tho Chora Sfakia, thereby completing the loop!

The Vritomartis animation team organizes a wide variety of excursions each week, and we make it a point to plan our stay around the guided hike down a remote gorge that’s well off the beaten track of the more heavily touristy treks. After an exhilarating open air ride (in the back of a pick-up truck) up the hill to the trail head, the walk itself is typically about 90 minutes, followed by lunch (clothed) in the taverna in a neighboring village. I suspect there are other remote trails on Crete where naked walking would be tolerated, but again, we always exercise caution to avoid offending the locals.

GREECE: Island of Gavdos

We have made it to Gavdos twice, once on a smallish ferry that makes the round trip most days of the week from Chora Sfakia, and then a couple years later on the car ferry that runs on something of a “when we feel like it schedule” from several small ports on the southern coast.

Once considered a hippie enclave where nudity on the beach was largely the norm, Gavdos has become increasingly gentrified with the addition of several small hotels found on commercial sites like Booking.com. But we had no trouble finding roads and trails leading to various idyllic beaches where nobody seemed to care when they came upon naked hikers. Our personal favorites would have to be the walk from the sleepy village of Vatsiana all the way down to the Tripiti beach – the most southerly point in Europe – and on the north shore, Pyrgos Beach, reached by a trailhead that leads down the gentle slopes to one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve even seen. I have made the walk twice and only passed a couple others along the way; none of whom were naked, but none who seemed the least bit concerned that I was!

SPAIN: Mallorca

I’m still trying to figure out the complexities of naturism in Spain, which is even a bit more complicated on the islands that fly the Spanish flag while maintaining their own customs and traditions. That said, it seems one could get themselves in trouble pretty quickly by getting naked in the wrong place at the wrong time on Mallorca, but when it comes to the seaside trail along the coast near Colonia San Jordi, it seems that nobody much cares. The famous Es Trenc beach is well known for clear turquoise waters as well as sustained popularity with people who celebrate their aversion to swimwear. That seems to have set the tone for the trails that stretch eastward toward the lighthouse near Ses Salines and onward to the gorgeous little cove where you’ll find the smallish Mármois Beach tucked away with it’s pristine sandy beach.

While staying at the nearby Skinny Dippers Naturist Retreat, we’ve made it out daily routine to arrive at the trailhead by sunrise each morning to exploit optimal lighting for photography while beating the heat of the day.

We’ve found a few other “naked tolerant” walks on the island as well, most notably the north coast beach that stretches to the west from Colonia de Saint Pere, but we much prefer the walks near Ses Salines as we have covered at least fifteen kilometers and have yet to exhaust all the naked walking options therein.

SPAIN: Lanzarote

So… if you take a couple really big volcanoes, drop them in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco, then add a few millennia of lava flows and sediment accumulation, you end up with several barren little islands that are a little tricky to get to, but well worth it if you’re looking for a nakation spot that’s reasonably warm for most of the year.

We made our home base at the naturist village Charco del Palo, which is little more than an assemblage of self-catering apartments, a modest grocery store, and a couple local eateries that may or may not be open, depending on the season. But what you can count on is lovely beach walks in either direction from the village, without the need to even carry a pareo unless you plan on pushing the boundaries by getting too close to the neighboring villages.

While one of the locals warned us about being judicious when naked elsewhere on the island, it seems that some of the mountain trails offer excellent opportunities early in the morning, providing breathtaking mountaintop views along the way. If that seems too daring, you can most certainly count on a nice beach walk at Caleta de Famara, where we found a fairly even divide between the naked and the clothed. The bluffs along the Costa de Papagayo also seems suitable to naked trekking, with the nudist beach Playa Congrio nearby.

SPAIN: Fuerteventura

If long naked walks on an infinite sandy beach is your main squeeze, then Fuerteventura may well be your ultimate nakation destination. We spent a few days at each end of the island, first in Corralejo where we stayed in a naturist hotel that closed shortly after our visit. From that location at the edge of town, it was possible to walk quite a distance a la nude if you were willing to cover up now and again for the textile beaches adjoining to super-hotels about a mile down the beach.

But the real prize was the beach near Morro del Jable where we stayed in the apartments at Naturist Monte Marina. While we had to wrap up for the five minute walk to the beach, once along the sea, we set our sights a bit farther each morning expecting to come to a place where we would need to cover up. After walking nearly an hour-and-a-half one morning, we did finally reach a textile beach where we were feeling conspicuously naked, but I suspect had we just kept on heading north, we could have continued another hour or two. And even in August, the weather was perfect with the cool breeze coming off the water, which made 90-degrees days absolutely bearable if not downright pleasant.

So, I think I have one more installment left in this series of places for naked walking, as I have yet to talk up DeAnza Springs in California, and a couple more European locations that I will have a chance to visit in early June, so I may hold back on Part 3 until that critical research is complete!

In the meantime, I’m always looking for another place to get naked, and all the better if it allows the freedom to get out and about… in the altogether, of course!

TOP PICKS: Naturist Hotels

My more fervent blog followers will know that as I write this, we are currently on Mallorca in the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. As is typical when “breaking the ice” with other naked people you don’t know yet, we’ve played quite a few rounds of the Where have you been? game. If you’re a naturist, you most certainly know the drill – a roll call of sorts to see who has been to most, or at least the most exotic, naturist clothing-optional destinations.

We have had the good fortune to visit quite a few, but in this case, I decided to focus specifically on naturist (or at least clothing-optional) hotels, each of which have been subjected to an incredibly intense screening process that consists of two very directed questions:

  1. Did we – my wife and I – like it?
  2. Would we go back ?

There will be subsequent blog posts to share our opinions about other types of clothes-free accommodations, such as naturist resorts with self-catering units, B&B type places, and maybe even a list of most exotic naturist destinations, (Brazil, Australia, and South Africa come to mind.) but in this case, I set out to identify full-service hotels that include amenities and conveniences you might expect at similar properties where clothing is required. And… the place should be enough bigger than a B&B so you can have some level of anonymity should you choose to do so. (A place with two or three guest rooms simply doesn’t offer that!)

So here we go. Our faves, listed in alpha-order:

FRANCE: Heliotel


This little hotel with about 16 rooms sits near the top of Heliopolis, the naturist village at the crest of Ile de Levant off the Cote d’Azur in France. The rooms are quite simple, but tastefully decorated and air-conditioned, which is especially welcome in the evening when the mosquitoes come out. They have an excellent restaurant overlooking the sea that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and while most dress for dinner, it is not required to do so. Ile du Levant is sort of a quirky place with a unique set of regulations that frequently turn up in the news, but it’s difficult to find a more serene naturist environment, and there are several dining options within walking distance, many of which are clothing optional as well, which is good, since civilian cars are not allowed on the island.

Of course, one of the main attractions of Heliotel is the island itself, which offers a calm little beach and an excellent trail along the rocky shores were nudity is obligitaire! We typically try to make it down to the shore and back before breakfast, as climbing to the top of the village under the midday sun gets pretty intense.

GREECE: Vritomartis

To fully appreciate Vritomartis you have to have stayed in other little Greek hotels to contextualize the “luxury” of this naturist destination. Every place seems to have a unique set of rules, and those at Vritomartis mandate that you dress for breakfast and dinner, but if you’re having lunch at the poolside tavern, wear as little as you wish! There is a main building with traditional hotel rooms, and several blocks of bungalows, with rooms that are more spacious and have a better view of the sea. All have air-conditioning.

Breakfast and dinner are also served buffet style, which while offering a nice selection can feel a bit pedestrian after the third or fourth night. We typically alternate between eating there and making our way into the nearby village of Chora Sfakion where there’s a nice array of seaside tavernas featuring lamb, goat, or the catch of the day.

In all, the place may make you pine a bit for the good old days in Eastern Europe, but they’ve continued to upgrade from one year to the next, and the organized/optional activities, such as naturist hikes and boat-trips, are a nice diversion. An hour’s drive takes you to the breathtaking Plakias Beach, or you catch the early morning taxi boat to Sweetwater beach, then walk the rest of the way – naked – to Loutro.

HONDURAS: Paya Bay

You have to have a bit of adventure in your blood to go to Paya Bay, a smallish resort that first opened as a yoga retreat with one or two naturist weeks, but now seems to advertise itself as a naturist retreat with one or two yoga weeks. It’s located on the tip of Roatan, an island well isolated from the civil unrest on mainland Honduras, but we still feel most at ease when they come get us at the airport in a private shuttle and take us right to the resort. The rooms are quite charming, several perched precariously over the crashing waves, but you have to be willing to deal with a few third-worldish things like power outages and non-grounded electrical fixtures. (Don’t hang your toiletry kit on the bathroom light fixture! 😬 )

You can be naked pretty much anywhere on the grounds EXCEPT in the restaurant, but the real charm of the place is the network of paths and quiet places to sit with a glass of wine and contemplate life and the sea. The yoga hut is perched at the top of one such hillside that oozes peace and calm whether you’re into yoga or not. If you’re into snorkeling and have been dying to snorkel naked, book one of the packages with daily snorkeling excursions. You might need a pareo to get to the boat, but after that, you can work on your all-over tan on the boat and off.

MALLORCA: Skinny Dippers Boutique Hotel

Patrons of Skinny Dippers on Mallorca are a fiercely loyal crew, and for good reason. From a hospitality perspective, Grant and Jordi are hard to beat! At present, they are running two properties that are essentially next door to one another: the first with twelve rooms including full-service (most days) for three meals a day, the other essentially self-catering apartments. The attention to nuance and detail is world class, as are the amenities around the pool, and thus, they tend to attract an international clientele that have made this their annual naturist destination, which can be something of a challenge if you like booking your holidays at the last moment. Most people book here at least a year in advance. (Jordi says that 85% of their guests are repeat customers. Enough said!)

While one can remain quite anonymous here, the conviviality of the hosts, and the evening meals at the long communal table are a significant part of the Skinny Dippers experience. A little wine usually produces a copious amount of laughter, and Jordi is quite magical in the kitchen with his various culinary creations. Here again, we find that alternating between naturist dinners at the resort and exploring local eateries provides just the right balance. You’re only a short drive from the turquoise waters of naturist beach Es Trenc, and we’ve enjoyed many early morning naturist treks along the sea near the Cap ses Salines lighthouse. Truly a special place for the discerning naturist.

MEXICO: Hidden Beach Resort

In a class of its own, which in this case I would call, you pay (a lot!) what you get! We have never fully succumbed to the all-inclusive ideology, which seems to suppose that you’re going to drink your weight in tequila to fully maximize your investment. That said, this forty-room luxury resort is among the nicest naturist places we’ve been to. Perhaps it’s the proximity to the US, but of all the places I’ve mentioned so far, there’s always a bit more of a party atmosphere here – never inappropriate like some other places that cater to friends with benefits, but a little less holistic than its European naturist counterparts.

Perhaps not so ironic is that the beach at Hidden Beach is… well… hidden! You can spend the day under a waterfront palapa and even hear the waves crash, but it’s really not what you think of as a beach on the Mexican Riviera, lacking a few basic amenities like jet-skis and sand! The other thing to prepare for is the restaurant scene. We’ve had particularly positive experiences with the food service at Hidden Beach Resort proper, which tends to vary from one day to the next with an extensive BBQ set up, but you also have access to the all-inclusive (except for fine wine!) restaurants at the adjoining resorts. Call us foodie-snobs, but we have found the other resort restaurants somewhat reminiscent of eating at Disneyland. As one reviewer put it, it’s like the chef took a course of how make things that look like gourmet food, but missed the day they talked about flavor. We concur.

As I write this, I realize I sound a bit lukewarm on the place, but we really do enjoy staying there when we can get past how much it costs! We can justify (and totally enjoy) a long weekend. Not sure it would merit a two-week stay!

THAILAND: Lemon Tree Resort (Peace Blue)

OK – I’m a bit more passionate about this place than my wife – at least so far, but to be fair, I have had three opportunities to visit this sweet little hotel on a side street near Rawai, Phuket, and the only time my wife was with me, half of the resort was closed for a private party. That’s all of little consequence in the end, however, since they are about to move to a new facility built intentionally as a naturist hotel. (At one point they had considered keeping both properties, but apparently that didn’t turn out to be a viable option.)

Run by young entrepreneurs, Patty and Golf, they take the hospitality part of the equation to heart, bending over backwards to make sure you’re having a wonderful stay. (You see this again and again in the Trip Advisor reviews.) Particularly impressive are their efforts to organize naturist outings, such as speed-boat trips out to nearby islands where naturist snorkeling and nude sunbathing is possible – neither of which would be tolerated on a beach near the tourist center on Phuket.

During out last stay, they drove us past the construction site for the new resort, Peace Blue, which looks like it will rival any modern luxury hotel in the region. And of course the best part of the deal? When the rest of the planet is freezing cold in January and February, you can count on warm (and mostly sunny) days in Phuket. It’s quite a trek to get there, but at least you know you’ll be warm when you do!

USA: Desert Sun Resort

Formerly Desert Shadows Inn, we have been staying here since they first opened with nine rooms in the early 90s, and have stayed in each section of the resort at least twice. As far as we’re concerned, it’s really about the only viable option for a nakation in the United States, especially if you rent a condo room and the restaurant is in full-service mode during your stay. (The original hotel rooms are quite small, and feel, unremarkably, like reconditioned rooms from a vintage hotel!)

We’ve heard people say that Desert Sun simply isn’t as friendly as the other nearby naturist places, but quite frankly, I think that’s what we’ve most enjoyed about the place, as we typically go there for a weekend getaway with the intention of not interacting with other humans. And here again, there are a plethora of fine restaurants just down the street in downtown Palm Springs if the food on offer at the poolside restaurant fails to inspire.

A bit of trivia for those who keep track of such things. The original Desert Shadows was run by Stephen and Linda Payne who, before opening this naturist inn in the desert, had been in charge of Papagayo at Club Orient in St. Martin. They would later return to St. Martin to manage the entire Club Orient resort which has tragically washed out to sea in a category five hurricane last summer. At this writing, Stephen is regularly updating the Club-O Facebook page about the challenges of rebuilding a naturist resort below sea level in a hurricane path. Don’t know if I would have included Club Orient on this particular list, but it certainly isn’t there now. 😧

So there you have it! There are a lot of other choices out there, including a few honorable mentions, like Vassaliki Club or Panorama Hotel in Greece, Mira Vista Resort in Arizona, Living Waters Spa in California or even Hotel Eve in France, (Cap d’Agde is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish) but those listed above have simply become our go to places – again and again. Have a question about our stay at one of those places? Ask Naturist Dan!

Authors note: An interesting detail about assembling this post is where I was able to comfortably take our own photos as space and custom allowed, and where I had to defer to stock photos found on the web, as it simply wasn’t prudent to grab a photo on the grounds. That also says something about the ambiance of each property, don’t ya think?!

Gallery

GALLERY: Reminiscing on Greece 2018

We have two naturist adventures this summer – the first being Gavdos and Crete (the second is yet to come) – each of which are stunning for naturists in very different ways. Where I live, the weather has been bleak, rainy, and humid, so I decided to binge a bit this morning while reminiscing about nakation in Greece. <sigh>