Late Summer Nights with Naturist Friends: My Humble Attempt at Writing a How-To Guide

Following a busy summer of European Travel – a few weeks for business, then a few for vacation travel – it was pretty jarring to return home to the oppressively humid days of the northeastern USA where my administrative job awaited me with an insurmountable to-do list. The previous weeks had scarcely required me to bother with clothing at any time of the day as we found refuge at naturist resorts in the South of France and Catalonia. In that region, the summer air is warm and dry, sunny more often than not. At home, adorned in the requisite button-down shirt and dress shoes, each day vacillates between the sweltering heat of late August, countered by the abrasive gale force winds of office air conditioning systems. Regardless, in either situation, clothing seems a nuisance and a hindrance to regulating body temperature – all of which  routinely landed on the family room floor the minute I walked through the door at the end of each day. 

Fortunately, we have cultivated a naturist friendly refuge in our home located a few miles beyond the suburbs of the northeast corridor, and time has worked on our side with the careful addition of fast-growing hedges and shrubs that has resulted in what I affectionately call my “naturist man cave.” While it seems that most man caves are found in windowless basements featuring an overstuffed couch, a widescreen TV, and a fridge full of beer, mine looks quite different. Imagine a screened porch, a deck extending to the hot tub, and even a fire pit for the late summer nights when the chill starts to set in. After years in the making, it’s been a long time since I’ve needed to worry about clothing in my back yard. While our neighbors on each side are rarely inclined to wander into our backyard unannounced, they are all aware that doing so may well result in the sighting of a middle-aged guy sitting buck-naked with a glass of wine, reading his kindle on the porch. It’s happened once or twice, and guess what? Nobody much cared.

But the serendipity of the past year has been the increasing success rate of creating clothing-optional evenings with others who have been amazingly willing to bare all, when the conditions are right. At the urging of one such friend, I offer a few common-sensical thoughts about how you might facilitate a naked gathering in your home. Granted, it has taken us a while to put the necessary amenities in place, but for most of us hell-bent on the virtues of social nudity, it doesn’t hurt to work out a plan for the long game.

  • LANDSCAPING: Creative landscaping can do what fences never will. For us, that involves a robust barrier of forsythia on one side, a brawny forest of Leland Cypress on the other, and a strategic row of privet hedges which are now in excess of twelve feet (four meters) in height. Aesthetically, it creates a park-like environment, but pragmatically, someone has to work pretty hard to see a naked person in the backyard. 
  • THE HOT TUB: Hot tubs are tricky, and earlier ploys to invite people over with the express purpose of getting naked in the spa have been mostly met with blushing resistance and stuttering responses. (Seems that might have worked a bit better back in the swinging 70s. But we’re not interested in swingers, and the stigma of free love seems to have left an indelible legacy embedded in nude recreation.) BUT… Inviting friends to bring along swimsuits and towels on a chilly night, along with a bit of banter about our naturist travels, has resulted in a few surprises where we have actually under-estimated someone’s willingness to drop their towel and jump in. Unlike those who enforce a “strictly no swimsuits” rule, offering to wear one at first is often just exactly the option some people need to realize that clothing optional is actually the rule, thereby providing a choice to get naked. Think you can’t afford a hot tub, by the way? Check out home improvement stores or Craig’s List. Or watch for a moving sale. When people need to get rid of a spa, sometimes they’ll literally give it away.
  • THE SCREENED PORCH & PROPANE HEATER: A winning combination. The screened porch is not really inside (That feels weird to some people), but not really outside (Oh, that’s too exposed!). And the propane heater helps extend the season on both ends of summer. That and an ample supply of beach towels helps the newbie naturist feel more at ease as they’re figuring out the decorum of being naked around others. (If I’m wrapped in a towel, I’m not really dressed, but I’m not really naked. The gateway drug!) 
  • THE WOOD-BURNING STOVE: We made the investment several years ago to install a wood-burning stove in our family room in an effort to actually create a toasty living environment in our otherwise drafty, east-coast, vinyl siding house. I’ve been following a young couple from NYC that has been quite successful in connecting with other naturist-curious humans on social media while sponsoring a series of modest home-based naked gatherings. That all sounds good, but then suddenly not so much when the ambient temperature hovers around “annoyingly chilly.” By contrast, a glass of red wine in front of the wood burning stove is an enticement even when dressed. Couple that with a dash in from the hot tub on a snowy winter evening and you have your own little European spa. This is the stuff converts are made of!
  • Perhaps most importantly, you have to find a way to identify other would be naturist friends, which is always better if you’re already friends in the first place. (See The Demographics of Nakedness) Simply volunteer that you’re a nudist as a one-off at a cocktail party and you’re more likely than not to get an awkwardly blank stare as the conversation comes unraveled right in front of your eyes. But mention your summer trip to Florida, San Diego, or France with a quick aside that you have a thing for seeking out idyllic nude beaches, and you might pique just enough curiosity to entice someone into a chain of follow-up questions. “Really? You do that? Don’t know if I’d ever do that. How did you get into that?” In one such conversation of recent years, that thread led to the discovery that a professional colleague and her husband vacation at a naturist place (CHM Montalivet) just up the coast from our favorite naturist place (La Jenny) in France. Now they have become regular guests for naturist BBQ evenings on our back porch. You simply never know who’s out there, just waiting for a chance for a staycation-nakation.

The good news? While social nudity remains taboo for many, the very concept is becoming more and more common in the mainstream news. (See Things Are Getting Better for Naked People) To be sure, people are still confused about the sexuality piece of the whole equation, but as it happens, that’s precisely why I started this blog. Every time we – the collective naturist community – get another article or blog post out there about non-sexual social nudity, there is one more invaluable resource for the naked-curious out there that might help them figure the whole thing out. And thus… I’m hoping THIS blog will become a participatory exercise…


Have you been successful in introducing your friends to home naturism? COMMENT BELOW. This blog typically gets about 1500 hits a day. Share a good idea and you might even liberate a new naturist from the oppression of their restrictive clothing!

Talk to us, my naked friends!

All images were taken from a Google search and are believed to be in the public domain. If you find an image that belongs to you, and you’d like to have it removed, just let me know.

Reflections on a Naturist Life: La Jenny, France 2019

After an absence of five years, we finally made it back to La Jenny this summer, the place I’ve often cited as the best naturist place in the world. [See previous post here] As it goes with the best of anything, such classifications are highly subjective, and even in this case, we’ve wavered a good bit on that assessment over the years, depending on the weather during our most recent visit. A rainy week at La Jenny doth not a fabulous nakation make.

You can read the long version of our naturist saga here, which highlights our first visit to La Jenny in 1997 as a pivotal event in our naked lives. That first time, we only stayed for four nights, but we were immediately smitten with the place, and with the concept of French family naturism in general. (Check out this recent post by Nick and Lins about family naturism in France. Compelling, at least!) We returned for two weeks in 1999 with our pre-adolescent kids, at which point it became a perennial project to figure out how we could manage the airline tickets for a family of five to get back for subsequent nakations. By this time, we had tried several naturist places in America with our children in tow, but they were quickly moving into the “This is really awkward and dumb” state of mind about going on vacation with parents, let alone taking your clothes off. La Jenny was an immediate game changer, and our summers there still live among our most cherished family memories – nudity notwithstanding.

We would return to La Jenny at least a dozen times over the ensuing years, sometimes with kids, then as they were out on their own, sometimes as a couple. In 2014, we even “coerced” some of our naturist friends from home to join us a weeklong visit, but alas, it was one of those iffy weather weeks which left the lasting impression, “This place would be perfect if the sun shone a bit more.” After that, summers got busy with other things to do and  places to be, and La Jenny fell off our travel itinerary… until this year.

La Jenny, 1999

Though our adult children don’t really consider themselves naturists, they don’t bat an eye at getting naked for a family vacation, especially if it turns out to be an all-inclusive sort of deal where they get room, board, and a free plane ticket. Two of the three took the bait this summer, so we found ourselves – naked – on the porch of our chalet near the La Jenny golf course, playing Uno into the wee hours of the morning again. It felt reminiscent to be back in this charming naturist village, sitting near the pool, watching an entirely new generation of naturist families, providing evidence – in the flesh – that family naturism is a booming business in France. 

As a blogger and avid advocate of family naturism, it has occurred to me on many occasion that our naturist travelogue probably seems someplace between irrelevant and unreachable to many a would-be American naturist. I suspect that many feel just like we did back in 1997, saddled with three small children and barely enough money to buy shoes and lunch makings for the coming school week. “Nakation in France? Never gonna happen.” [There’s a whole separate story that goes here about my friend David who taught me how to earn airline miles with a credit card, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole right now.] And I also remember the “Ah-Ha” moment when we realized that a short week in a Disney park carries roughly the same price tag as three weeks in Europe, if we could figure out how to get everybody from this continent to that one. 

La Jenny, 2003

But as I read so many blog posts, tweets, and reddit musings from frustrated husbands and fathers who simply can’t find a way to sell naturism to their spouses and families, I can’t help but think, “That’s because you simply can’t find a place in close proximity to where you live to replicate the everyday normal naturist experience in France… or Croatia…or Spain.” Family naturism will never feel normal when you’re in an environment where it simply isn’t… NORMAL!” Where the people you see at the pool and the beach and at the restaurant that evening are the same people you would encounter at Disneyland, or Six Flags, or even at the local grocery store or restaurant. 

La Jenny, 2005

I’ve ranted a good bit in these pages over the years about the “nudist colony” feel of naturist places in the US. Indeed, there are a few places in North America that have broken that boundary, but making a quick weekend jaunt to Toronto or Palm Springs may even be more cost prohibitive than going to Europe. And then there are the family naturism casualties in the US, like Caliente in Florida, which finally gave up on their business plan for family naturism when they realized that catering to those seeking a sexual adventure became a necessity for keeping the cash flow in the positive. Or Desert Sun (formerly Desert Shadows) in Palm Springs, which first opened as a family naturist destination, where many units sold under the banner of “my grandkids can come visit me here,” only later to have children banned from the premises altogether as the potential of aiding and abetting a child predator outweighed the prospects of attracting clients who would pay for a family nakation. We Americans like to think we’re really progressive, but when it comes to intergenerational nudity, we simply can’t seem to figure it out.

La Jenny, 2007

Like Nick and Lins say in their piece, the French have totally figured out the formula for making family nakation acceptable, even to those who would rather vacation with their clothes on. (Imagine that! Telling your friends you went with your family on naked vacation without worrying about getting reported to Child Protective Services!?) France has also learned to embrace mainstream and social media in a way that doesn’t just sexualize or poke fun at social nudity, but portrays it as a viable recreational option for everyday people who simply want to de-stress, snooze by the pool, and walk on the beach, then come home without tan lines. 

La Jenny 2013

So now it’s 2019. As I rode my bike (naked) down to the village for croissants and a baguette from the market (also naked), before spending the rest of the day (naked) with my wife, friends, and adult children, I couldn’t help but get a bit nostalgic about that first visit to naturist France some 20+ years ago. I remember thinking, as we were in our thirties back then, “Why did it take us so long to discover this magical place? And how will I ever go on another vacation, anyplace, where clothing is required by the pool or on the beach? Why is that even a thing?”

So I guess that’s the point. Despite the best efforts of the most ardent proponents of social nudity in the US of A, it seems unlikely we’ll ever catch up with our European friends when it comes to creating a place where family naturism not only seems normal, but is in demand! Are there safe places to get naked with your family in the United States to enjoy social nudity with your family? A few, scattered across the country. Do any of them measure up, even to the mid grade places in France? Well… not from what we’ve seen, and we’ve been looking for a long time.

So if you’ve made it this far in these wandering musings from a meandering naturist, and you’re still living in the confines of naked and alone at home, I simply encourage you to find a cheap plane ticket, do a bit of careful research, then go get naked in France. It doesn’t have to be La Jenny; there are over 300 options in France alone. But if you get it right, you might end up wrecked… and naked… for life! 

So, What’s the Deal with My Obsession with Nudity? It’s a Thing!

I was in the car the other day with a naturist friend, Jennifer, debriefing about the whole naturist thing.

In fact, we were on the way to the airport as she had just spent a few days hanging out with us at La Jenny, (one France’s premier naturist resorts) it seemed like a good time to grill her for a few moments about her proclivity for doffing her clothes whenever given half a chance to do so. She mused quite a lot about naked time as having become “safe zone,” which is particularly notable in this case as up to a few years ago, the idea of getting naked with other humans in a non-sexual environment wasn’t even something that had crossed her mind! Now, I think she would go as far as to identify herself as a fervent naturist.

So, there’s no question that I’m the most fervent naturist in our immediate family, having spent years creating a naturist friendly environment behind our home with the strategic placement of hedges and other landscape features that protects our neighbors from unsolicited glimpses of sunbathing and naked wine-tasting on our back deck. My wife is a most willing co-conspirator when it comes to naked tubbing, and I think she would tell you that given the choice, she’d choose nakation over vacation if such can be accomplished without compromising the touristic elements of our travel itinerary. (One is hard pressed to find a naturist hotel or campground in Morocco, Turkey, or Singapore, the latter of which has such strict anti-nudity laws that you could get you arrested if spotted naked through the sheers of your hotel window!!) Of our three adult children, all are naturist friendly to varying extents, but I don’t think any of them would drive more than ten minutes out of the way to visit a naturist beach instead of the more convenient textile option next door. BUT I WOULD! And SO would Jen. 

I asked her in the car a few days ago, “Why do you think some humans are simply hard-wired as fervent naturists? Something in our DNA? Is it a philosophical disposition? A psychological crosswire that sets us apart from the rest of the human race who can’t bear that thought of going to bed with two layers of unnecessary clothing?”

She reflected for a bit, then alluded to a common friend we’ve discussed in the past who is big into Second Life, that cyber world where people live in an alternate reality that replicates all the elements of daily life, but interfaces through a computer generated world where your actual identity is completely detached from your day to day existence.

“Getting naked is sort of like that for me. A complete departure from my daily routine. Even the ability to get up in the morning and not worry about what I’m going to wear, how I’m going to accessorize, and just how I want the world to perceive me today is a real game changer.” Jennifer thought a bit more, “When I’m naked, I’m just me. Done.”

We mused a bit more on the topic about whether there’s a correlation between one’s penchant for nudity and the qualities of openness and vulnerability that same person exhibits in their everyday (clothed) lives. I am personally fond of that notion, but as I ran a quick inventory of people we’ve encountered at all the naturist places we’ve visited over the past thirty years, I had to challenge the premise on the grounds that I’ve met a lot of rude and jerky people who seemed neither open, nor genuine, let alone vulnerable – just naked.

“Yup,” I say, “I’d like to think that naturists simply see the world and interact differently with other humans, but in reality, well… I’m not sure that checks out. “

But back to the title of the blog post itself, I’ve never really fully figured out my own disposition that somehow results in a direct correlation to the stress levels of the day, and the subsequent desire to get naked at the end of that day. In that regard, I have to agree with Jen! Especially as I’ve developed an identity as a naturist blogger where I interact (mostly in cyber-space) with a whole community of humans that are neither involved or even interested in what I do for a living and whether or not I’m successful at it. And also like Jen, I find a distinct sense of relief in leaving my textile image at the door, and at least in my case, all the insecurities I have felt that day when my shirt doesn’t quite fit right, or the shoes didn’t coordinate with my pants. Strangely, despite age spots, weight gain, and a host of other typical hang-ups that most of us have about our own bodies, there’s something empowering about simply acknowledging, “This is the skin that I have, and I’m sticking with it. So there!”

When you stop to think about it, it’s a complicated phenomenon. We have friends that will get naked in the hot tub with us but would never consider a nakation. And others who seem intrigued by our naturist endeavors, but would never even consider going topless on a European beach, despite the fact that they may be more fit and “attractive,” – by 2019 cultural standards – than we are. For my wife, it’s really much more an issue of pragmatism. Naturist friends come over for dinner and it’s warm and not too buggy on the screened porch, so off come the clothes. But if she’s working around the house when a trip into the garage or onto the front porch might require a light cover-up, “Meh! It’s not worth the hassle. Better to just stay dressed.”

But I suspect that many of my readers are a lot like me… and like Jennifer. 

“Give me twenty-five minutes of time out of mainstream society, and I’m going to my safe place. Where I can leave my clothes, my identity, and at least someof my stress laying on the floor before I have to cover-up and face the harsh realities of the outside world again.”

We live in a world where appearance is a multi-million-dollar industry; in an age where a woman on the eastern Mediterranean could be arrested for exposing too much of her face. Yet at the same time, hundreds of naked Germans are frolicking in the altogether on a beach just a couple hundred miles across the seal. It makes you wonder how simple nudity became such a controversial subject, or even a subject at all?

And in the same breath, it makes me wonder why I’m so obsessed with the right and the desire to be naked, and even more so, why anyone else would care if I am.

But one thing I do know…. It’s a thing.

All images were taken from a Google search and are believed to be in the public domain. If you find an image that belongs to you, and you’d like to have it removed, just let me know.

Naturist Ada Bojana: The (Once) Naturist Queen of the Adriatic Coast

For those of us who bother to worry about such things, there are wildly mixed reports about the future of naturism in Europe. One day, you read that young French people are lining up in droves to get naked, but the very next page lays out the demise of naturist tourism in Croatia as all the “old leathery Germans” are dying off. Never mind the thriving spa industry in The Netherlands and Germany where thousands of 20 and 30-somethings are having naked date nights every weekend. But that scarcely ameliorates the rampant complaints on Trip Advisor that hardly anybody was naked at the big naturist center in France last week.

Really, it’s all very confusing!

I can see you Albania! So close, but yet SO far!

So confusing, in fact, that I finally had to go see one such place for myself in preparation for that awkward moment at a cocktail party when somebody asks, “So aren’t you one of those nudie types? And didn’t you say you’ve been to Montenegro? Is there a good place to get naked there?”

“Well, I think Ada Bojana is still open. You might wanna check that out.” I say with tentative trepidation, “Though I can’t really say for sure, since, well…  I’ve never been there.” 

Which was true, until a few weeks ago when I purposely diverted my flight itinerary to avail myself for a bit of nakation research in an area that has become known as the French Riviera of the Adriatic. Ada Bojana is actually a triangular island that splits the mouth of the river that separates Montenegro from Albania, or if you know your post WWII history, the southern reaches of former Yugoslavia. 

My view while enjoying a naked beer at the Ada Bojana Beach Bar

As best I understand it, Yugoslavia garnered much of its naturist fame during the Tito dictatorship that, bizarrely enough, provided a framework for stability until the dictator’s death in 1980. (Tito’s death was the beginning of the end for Yugoslavia as tensions grew between various factions that eventually led to genocide and the many atrocities of the Balkan War in the early 1990s. It’s worth reading up on all that if you decide to visit the region, as the topic is still very much relevant to the people who live there.) But ironically enough, it seems the communist regime of former Yugoslavia was amazingly good for naturism. With the northern beaches of Croatia a mere six-hour drive from rainy Bavaria, and decades of a depressed economy under a communist regime that kept the cost of tourism ridiculously low. So many naked Germans flocked to the Adriatic coast that, even today, German remains an unofficial second language of the region. 

Endless rocky shorelines on the deep blue Adriatic created the perfect formula for the rapid growth of the mega-naturist centers Koversada and Valalta near Rovinj, numerous others scattered down the Dalmatian Islands, and finally, the naturist Queen of the south – Ada Bojana; a perfect sandy beach landlocked between historic Ulcinj and the mysterious borders of Albania. I can only surmise what the place was like in its heyday, but even what remains today – a complex of several hundred apartments, an adjacent camping area, and three kilometers of sandy beach – represents one of the most expansive naturist properties in Europe. 

Several years ago, we made a naturist trek across Europe beginning in Spain and ending in Greece. Ada Bojana had been on that itinerary until I finally got cold feet after reading so many poor reviews on Trip Advisor about this place stuck in the communist era, along with rumors that the entire plot of land was for sale to the first developer with enough cash and a little entrepreneurial imagination. Regrettably, we didn’t even bother to give the place a day visit. 

Six years later, it seems the developers never showed up, the existing management made a few modest upgrades, and a few more mildly positive reviews have accumulated on line, including that of Nick and Lins from Naked Wanderings, who (rightfully!) raved about the beach bar and the expansive naturist beach.

Promo shot, but I swear, you can get naked here.

I flew into Podgoriça where I rented a car for the 90-minute drive through the mountains down to the sea, well worth the entire trip simply for the scenery alone. But as you make your way south of Ulcinj, the mountains fall away into broad open marshlands, past a few modest hotels, and across the bridge onto the little island Bojana. Walking into the reception area, it felt very much like the hotels of Zagreb and Budapest I had visited as a college kid in 1985, before the fall of the Iron Curtain. It was early June, and the place wasn’t crowded, and thus I think they upgraded my 60€ room to an apartment right on the sea with a small terrace overlooking rows of loungers – ALL intended for naked sunbathers, like ME!

The linens were clean and starched, and clearly the bathroom fixtures had been updated within recent years, but even with the terrace doors wide open, it was impossible to get rid of the pervasive aroma from decades of cigarette smoke. I would later ask about non-smoking rooms as I was checking out of the hotel, when the man in the white shirt and black tie behind the counter looked at me as if I were proposing some bizarre revelatory idea for the first time ever. “Oh no…. we don’t have that kind of room.”

Naked blogger hard at work in his Soviet era apartment.

Making my way to the beach bar, there were only three or four other people there on this weekday evening in early June, but the kitchen was open, and the server was pleasant enough to communicate in our best GerFranglish. Calamari and beer seemed like a good bet. It took a couple visits on subsequent days to figure out the laid-back policy of dress or undress as you wish while enjoying a beverage as you’re overlooking the sea, another particularly well-deserved rave from Nick and Lins. No shirt? No shorts? No problem.

One of my main objectives during my short stay was to test out the walkability of the three-kilometer naturist beach. The most immediate realization was that the management of the naturist resort does an excellent job of keeping their sector of the beach clean and groomed, as once outside the resort, the accumulation of plastic bottles and assorted trash was immediate and overwhelming, in some cases, sculpted into art installations of sorts. But indeed, the beach was sandy, and a chance encounter with a herd of cattle while beach-combing was a first for me. Not only was naturism not a problem, but I was practically the only person out walking that day, with the exception of one or two others, also fully nude. 

Um… You cows are blocking the beach, and my sandy ass and I need to get through!

When a cluster of small fishing boats appeared on the horizon I thought I must be approaching the outlet of the river, and thus, the Albanian border, only to realize upon closer inspection that maybe those weren’t fishermen in those boats. In fact, a good swimmer could easily wade out into the mouth of the river and make their way across the stream onto mainland Albania in a matter of minutes, and it seemed evident that the occupants of the yellow boats were quite concerned I might attempt to do just that. The jetty formed a quiet little bay that was similarly littered with refuse, and while the rugged Albanian mountains in the close distance looked inviting, the feeling of being naked and watched – by border-guards in small motor boats – was at least a little spooky.

Making my way back to the resort area, signage demarked an area closed to public access (only by signage, not by barrier) where simple cabins for maybe one or two- hundred more naturists were slowly falling into ruin. It made me wonder about those years during the Balkan Wars when devoted naturists are said to have maneuvered around the areas of intense fighting to make the annual pilgrimage to these hallowed naked stomping grounds, and the parts of the region that never quite recovered from all that.

I bet these were pretty decent apartments, back in the day. 😦

Today, textile civilization is slowly closing in around Ada Bojana, providing some excellent dining options within an easy walk of the naturist lodging, but a burlap fence has also been placed near the end of the beach with a beach bar for those who insist on wearing swimwear. Will the textiles eventually capture the entire resort? Are there simply not enough naked Germans left to go around? Can’t you find your own private island someplace where you can drink cheap beer in a swimsuit?

I’ll keep an eye on Ada Bojana. If you can handle a couple imaginative flight connections, it’s a stunning place for vacation even with your clothes on! And given the success and proliferation of naturist places in France, it’s hard to believe people wouldn’t pay two or three times as much for naturist accommodations here, simply for the privilege of just a few more amenities and the option of a no-smoking room. Thankfully, it seems change happens slowly in Montenegro, which may be the very reason this magical little corner of Europe hasn’t been swallowed up by holiday business tycoons… wearing beach pants and nylon swim trunks. 

These signs still exist. “Buy perfume, Shop at Lidl, and oh get naked!” WOO HOO

Hang in there Ada Bojana! You are a most worthy naturist destination. You just need a little TLC, and a few more naturist tourism dollars that many of us would part with in a heartbeat for a fresh room and a naked beer on the shimmering Adriatic!

That Day I Got My Millennial Friends into Naturism!

Remember Addie? She’s our twenty-something friend who’s not only become a fervent naturist, but quite a prolific blogger as well. She’s particularly keen on what might make naturism more alluring to people in her own demographic, as she’s clearly found it to be most liberating and rejuvenating for herself. Having come to naturism just in recent years, I think she offers timely perspective to encourage others to follow in her (naked) footsteps…

[This post was published previously under the title of “The Joys of Sharing Naturism. “]

When we establish human connections within the context of shared experience we create community wherever we go” –Gina Greenlee 

One of my greatest joys in life stems from moments in which I am lucky enough to introduce others to places and experiences that I have found meaningful; I gain great pleasure from watching someone else experience something for the first time that means a lot to me. Certainly, I would qualify naturism as a defining feature of my life through from which I derive a great amount of joy. Therefore, it naturally follows that I very much enjoy experiencing someone else’s moment of astonishment as they realize, “Wow! I’m not wearing clothes in public and it’s awesome!” 

Certainly, I have not had the joy of experiencing this moment many times, as I’m fairly new to naturism, but witnessing someone experience naturism for the first time constitutes something very special for me, and I can’t wait to continue to share my love for naturism with others. 

In this blog post, I offer two vignettes about sharing in someone’s first moments with naturism, along with a list of tips for how a naturist can help someone navigate their first experience with non-sexual nudity.  

Vignette #1: Naked Breakfast: Northeastern US

As a young, single female in the Northeastern United States, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to get naked without establishing an expectation for sex. Therefore, when a situation arises to eat a potato hash with an over-easy egg in the nude with your neighbor, you obviously must take full advantage in the fully monty! 

My neighbor, Joe, and I had known each other for about sixth months when I traversed to Germany. After my return, he asked me about the happenings of the trip over happy hour oysters and wine. I described that relaxing without a swimsuit in the German spas bumped my trip from the “great” category into that of the “unbelievable.” Having never frequented a co-ed spa in the nude, he was initially surprised, but intrigued; he continued to casually follow up in subsequent conversations, asking questions like, “Have you been to naked beaches?” and “Why do you like it so much?” Through his line of questioning, he discovered that I not only have “skinny-dipped,” but I enjoy almost everything more without clothes, including sharing meals. He expressed an interest in trying it out, and eventually one morning, he proposed breakfast- not just a breakfast, but a naturist breakfast. 

            I was already wearing a bathrobe when he arrived at my apartment; I had set out two towels across the kitchen chairs so as to indicate, “this is where we will sit.” While puttering around cooking, my bathrobe came undone-no problem. He followed my lead, getting undressed in the living room, as I continued to cook in the kitchen, affording him a bit of privacy. For several moments, he talked quickly, trying to “cover up” his physical features I had not previously seen before. However, after a few minutes of cooking, all “first time” awkwardness seemed to have washed away, as he laughed about the new sensation of the oven fan blowing air against a body part that was rarely afforded the light of day! Slowly but surely, he became more outspoken for the cause, exclaiming about the serendipity and carefree nature of the moment more than once.

“You know, I’m a fan of over-easy eggs and potato hash in any context, but sharing it in the nude with a friend? It’s a no-brainer; it’s simply the best.” Seriously, what a good morning, filled with ample conversation of body positivity and lots of laughter. 

Vignette #2: Naked Island: South of France

As someone who frequents the south of France, I’ve visited Ile du Levant, an all-naked island, several times; I might even describe it as one of my top 10 favorite places in the world! This time, I took three newbies along for the ride! 

            This July, four friends and I had planned to visit Iles du Porquerolles, a group of three islands off of the southern coast of France. However, I quickly realized that they had an interest in the naturist island, Ile du Levant, when they started asking questions like, “Have you ever been?” and “Can you be naked everywhere?” Each of them wanted to know something different. One asked, “Do you have to be naked?” while another asked, “How beautiful and crowded are the beaches?” The third questioned, “How good is the food?” I answered each to the best of my ability, emphasizing that because it is not a resort, there are truly no Naked Police present on the island; I suspect that this provided an “out” to my friends who had decided to sign on for not just a few hours naked, but a whole day on an all-naked island.

            Upon arriving, I immediately shed my shirt, taking in the glory of the sun on my skin, and setting a precedent for my friends who followed behind. We hiked to a lovely cliff surrounded by crystal clear water, and the water gave each person the courage and the impetus to “dive right in,” both literally and figuratively. As soon as they hit the water, each person seemed to relax. One particularly funny moment consisted of a friend slipping and sliding while exiting the water, her bare butt bobbing up and down in the shallow water amidst her shrieks of desperation and laughter. After that moment, everything seemed to flow naturally; sometimes one person would slip on shorts or a cover-up, but as we passed several people on our walk and at lunch, some in the nude and some in various stages of dress, each person in the group seemed to understand that truly anything goes. 

            Over lunch and on the walk back to the port, I had a particularly poignant conversation with one of the girls, Kelly, who said that never in her life had she felt so comfortable with her body image at a beach/pool setting. We shared an excellent conversation about naturism, dating for naturists, and seeking out vacation spots specifically on account of their potential for naturism. She seemed almost immediately sold on the concept, citing this day as “one of the best in her life.” Though I enjoy naturism because of its typical features of peace and quiet, this comment struck me as incredibly poignant; one of the only things that I enjoy more than naturism itself is sharing naturist experiences with others. Once again, there’s a parallel: I enjoy sharing clothed vacation spots with others, and I love teaching others my hobbies so that they can experience joy through those hobbies also, so why would I not absolutely love sharing naturist experiences with a newbie naturist? SUCH sweet moments in the south of France; I think each of us felt bummed to board the all-clothed boat to return to the mainland. 

How to Prepare to Share Naturist Experiences with Others

Unless your friends have been carefully following a naturist blog (doubtful), it seems wise to broach the subject with care, as they might have loads of questions and may feel self-conscious talking about the subject. Here are a few helpful tips about how you can prepare a newbie for their first naturist experience. 

  1. Discussion. Make sure that you have fully described why you enjoy naturism. Explain what non-sexual nudity means to you. 
  2. Give them Options. Don’t ever force someone into trying naturism. Instead, express your excitement and openness to share various experiences with others naked. Offer a variety of potential situations in which you enjoy naturism so that people can choose one that seems right for them. For some, swimming seems like a natural entry point, as people tend to wear less clothes at the beach/in a pool/hot tub anyways. Naked breakfast could seem like a larger leap to some, because the thought of sitting at a table without clothes or even in underwear seems like a bit of a stretch. Some might prefer a beer to ease them into the experience. Whatever the options, one must admit to the idea that options provide someone with the ability to choose a situation with which they might feel most comfortable. However, keep in mind that talking about naturism could also make someone feel shy. Read the signals and do your best to help. 
  3. Don’t make them guess the Norms. As a newbie naturist, it can be embarrassing to ask questions. However, the more answers that you give without them asking, the less mysterious and/or scary the experience will be. Depending on their nonverbal cues, explain to them about what to expect in various naturist situations that may apply to them: Is it expected that you wear clothes? Could you wear just bathing suit bottoms but not a top? Do you need to sit on a towel (yes!)? Is there a norm for shaving (no)? Can/should you eat at that restaurant naked/topless? Where can they get undressed/where can they leave their clothes?
  4. Take off your clothes first. It’s always better to have the newbie naturist follow “in your footsteps.” Otherwise, they will wonder where to take off their clothes (in public or privately), when to take off their clothes, etc. Better for you to set the precedent and to show that you’re comfortable than to leave them wondering. 
  5. Ensure them that you are not judging. Body image is a thing! Ironically, after being immersed in naturism, many find that they feel less self-conscious. However, prior to experiencing it for the first time, many feel quite nervous about exposing all. While experienced naturists are used to not judging others for their body shape, shaving preferences, size of their butt, etc., newbies may feel extremely nervous. I tend to share the brief vignette that eased my concerns as someone trying naturism for the first time: When I speak with you, where am I looking when you’re wearing clothes? The only correct answer is “my eyes.” Suddenly, everything falls into place; it’s a good point of reference if someone expresses concern. 
  6. Be willing to answer questions. If someone is nervous, they may have many questions. Be ready to answer questions in a non-judgmental way. 
  7. Give someone an out. Again, read your audience. Assure them that it’s okay to wear clothes at the table, or offer to do another activity (with clothes). It’s easy to tell when someone is squeamish or absolutely squealing with delight (and I’ve been in situations with both). If someone is uncomfortable, help to remove them from the situation or change the circumstances to make them more comfortable. 

Do you have any other tips for helping ease newbie naturists into the practice? Do you prefer naturism alone or with others? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

For me, life is better experienced with others; naturally, naturism is better experienced with others. Go share the joy! 

You might want to check out Addie’s previous posts on The Meandering Naturist:

Vignettes of a Blossoming Naturist

Dating for Naturists: Can I fit “Naturism” into my Tinder Profile Description?

Add This to Your Bucket List: Naked in a Rainstorm

Images for this post where taken from a Google search and are believed to be in the Public Domain. If you find an image that belongs to you and should be removed, let us know and we’ll take it down.

NAKED RESEARCH 2019 – Part IV: A Naked Refuge in Uruguay!!!

So… this is a continuation of a series of posts I started last winter, or… if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, last summer! Quite amazingly, I had the opportunity to make my way to six continents in five weeks, hitting every naturist place I could manage along the way. (You can find my previous posts here about Naked Africa and Naked Thailand.)

For you travel geeks out there, I should explain that I often use the month of January to bulk up my mileage account in an effort the keep my airline status, which makes everything quite a lot more comfortable for more perfunctory travel over the rest the year. In this case, I was able to extend a couple business trips into pleasure excursions as well, which afforded me the opportunity to check out a few new naturist places.

To that end, it was only recently that I became aware of Refugio Naturista near Playa Chihuahua, about 90 kilometers north of Montevideo in Uruguay. Uruguay? Who goes to Uruguay? To get naked? REALLY?

Turns out that this may be the most promising naturist destination in South America. There are certainly some nice naturist beaches in Brazil, and I’m told there are one or two in Argentina and Chile as well, but for years I’ve been looking for something that would rival the best naturist beaches in Europe. A family vibe with long sunny days in a place where naturism is not restricted to a two-hundred meter section of seclusion.

And imagine if there was a nice place to stay nearby where nudity was permitted. We found the rather spartan accommodations at Praia do Pinho in Brazil a few years ago, but up until now, that was about the best we could do. How is it that the family-run Refugio Naturista had escaped our consciousness when they’ve been in business for nearly twenty years? So much time lost!

Marcela and Ricardo run the place with their young daughter (at least until she goes off to university) and welcome you as if you were visiting their home. In fact, they live just a few houses down the road, next to a small string of apartment units that they have apparently acquired quite recently in an effort to increase their capacity for naturist lodging. That’s where we stayed, which required wrapping in a pareo for the three minute walk to the main lodge where meals are served and a rather large iguana comes looking for table scraps the same way your dog might do so at home. Don’t be alarmed! He seemed way more interested in my bread crumbs than my toes!

I speak almost no Spanish. Marcela has enough English to help you deal with the necessities of living, (even enough to handle the nuances of a gluten free diet!) while Ricardo needs very few words to demonstrate his genuine kindness. This is clearly a labor of love as they have created a laid-back atmosphere where clothing is optional and stress is forbidden. We happened to be there for BBQ night, when Ricardo cooked up a huge pile of meat on the open fire pit while we played the game of “How many words do we have in common with the other guests from Bolivia, Argentina, and Europe.” As is typical, the game got a bit better around the second glass of wine.

It’s really difficult to know when you’re pissing off the locals, or in this case, just how much clothing you need to wear on the way to the naturist beach just a few couple hundred meters away. Here’s again, an immodest attempt with a pareo seemed to do the trick. A gust of wind comes up to reveal a buttock or a breast? Meh – No problemo!

At the end of the road, a huge sign announces you’ve arrived at Playa Chihuahua (Again! How is it I had never ever heard of this place until about a year ago!?) where a small boardwalk takes you over the dunes and onto an expansive beach where a significant majority of the people are naked. Nudity is not required, but obviously, most preferred, making it an excellent option for a newbie naturist or reluctant spouse who simply isn’t sure yet. Lifeguards are perched in their little house on stilts, a massage tent awaits for those seeking self-indulgence, and the little Explora Beach Bar proved to have a policy of “No shirt? No pants? What would you like for lunch?”

As one who loves a long naked walk on the beach, it turns out this requires a bit of careful planning, as a significant estuary denotes the western border of the naturist beach, unless the tide is out and you can simply wade across to the other side where an isolated beach awaits. We attempted this twice, the first time realizing we didn’t have enough time to walk as far as we wanted, the next time unsure if the tide was going in or going out. A lapse of judgement on that front could send you walking for miles – naked – up and around through the neighboring beach town. Research matters! I regret that we had not planned a bit more carefully, as the long, sandy white beach was truly idyllic for nude trekking, and most people we encountered there during our brief exploration were naked as well. Next time.

Other things I did not know about Uruguay? Apparently it claims one of the most stable economies in South America, which was well evidenced in some of the newer establishments, such as beautiful wineries that are springing up in the coastal hills. We did make the drive into Montevideo one evening, seemingly close, but not so much during rush hour, only to find that it lacked the panache of places like Rio and Buenos Aires. Once we realized that even the parking garages in the theater/restaurant district closed at 6:00 pm, we got spooked, bought a sandwich at a gas station, and high-tailed it back to our naked refuge near the sea. Perhaps we inadvertently missed the charm of Uruguay’s principal city, but come to think of it, I’ve never seen a travel brochure that says, “Have the time of your life in Montevideo!” Sometimes it’s better to cut your losses and stay naked at the beach bar.

Would we go back? The actual question is simply – When? From where we live near NYC, it requires a bit of doing (including an airport change in Buenos Aires) to fly into Punto del Este (just a few minutes drive from Refugio Naturista and Playa Chihuahua,) but I think that’s the way to go! Sometimes convenience overrides saving money, and in fact, we could have done well without a car had it not been for our impromptu winery exploration.

In any event, you want this place on your bucket list. We only ask that you don’t book the last room at the same time we’re hoping to go! 😃

The “Right to Bare All”… and other news from Ile du Levant

If you’re a keen advocate for naturism, and you haven’t yet made a visit to Ile du Levant, you need to move that up on your bucket list. It’s one of a handful of places that has self-identified as the birthplace of naturism. (Germany and Croatia contend for this distinction as well!) At the very least, it seems to be something of a naked renaissance town at the moment, but more about that later.

Part of the adventure of coming to the naked island in France is catching the ferry from the port of Le Lavandou. Since the boat makes two stops, one at Levant, and the other at neighboring Port Cros, it’s fun to play the “I wonder who will get off the boat on which island” game. This time, the boat was quite full, and nearly every person on board disembarked at the first stop – Ile du Levant!

Mind you, we had been in transit for nearly twenty-four hours having made our way from Newark Liberty Airport, through Brussels, then on to Marseille. After another two hours in the car, and a 40-minute ferry crossing, I was itching to embrace the late day Provençal sunlight, free from the bondage of North American travel-wear!  Thirty meters up the path from the port, a quick bathroom stop, and voila! Naked!!

A few years ago, we brought long-time friends from California along with us to experience this little naturist mecca first hand. They would not call themselves naturists, but have been willing nakation companions over the years. Our friend Tom was particularly intrigued with the history of the island, the prevailing rules regarding nudity, or more acutely, “Why were there so many people walking around the island fully clothed?” Eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit, not a cloud in the sky, and so many a passers-by wearing jeans and a long-sleeve shirt. What’s up with that?

Fair question, I think, particularly on this landmass isolated from the prudish nay-sayers who might suffer the oppression of unwanted nudity. NOBODY comes to Levant without the expectation of seeing naked people. And it seems even more peculiar to me that someone might come here without the expectation of becoming an enthusiastic clothes-free participant. Tom prodded our innkeeper about the politics of it all, unpacking the complicated history of this naturist hamlet island with nearly a hundred years of controversy in defining how naked is naked. (See: Another Round of Crazy on Ile du Levant)

Now, several years later, we’re back for a weekend of naturist serenity and solitude, and I, for one, plan to get my money’s worth! While anecdotal at best, it seems this is not an uncommon perspective amidst visitors from North America, as evidenced by the only other couple at breakfast who were as naked as we were. Perhaps some people come here simply for the pleasure of lying au naturel on the beach or striving for no tan lines by the pool. Or maybe the French people think nudity to be such a non-issue, with so many places “in the neighborhood” to get naked on the day-to-day, that they lack some of the zeal of the prudish American who has waited all year (or years!) for the privilege to bare all.

We have experienced this again and again during our European travels, going to great lengths to find places where nudity is not only allowed, but required– as is the case on the coastal path just beyond the port of Ile du Levant. (Explicit signage near the port tells you where you can’t be naked, where you can be naked, and where you must be naked!) But on this morning trek, we found the demographics to be about 50-50, some fully nude, some donning beach cover-ups, and others dressed as if prepared to take on the Appalachian Trail in early October. Really!?

There is a sub-plot to all of this, pertaining especially to residential naturist places, which Ile du Levant most certainly is. (We’ve experienced this at La Jenny as well.) With increasing frequency, it seems that families have purchased homes in these naturist communities two or three generations back. The home stays in the family, but the naturism gene didn’t carry forward. 

“Hey! We have this lovely home near a beautiful beach in France!”

“Isn’t that one of those places with loads of naked people?”

“Oh yeah… you’ll encounter some of the crazy nudists, but don’t worry about it! You don’t have to get naked with them!”

As with the evolution of any neighborhood, I suppose such unintended outcomes are inevitable, but if it’s a total naturist experience you’re seeking, there’s a compelling case to be made for camping establishments that cater to young family tent-campers – the most transient of communities where the main attraction is the right to bare all. If you didn’t want to get naked, you simply wouldn’t go there.

Which takes us back all the way to our very first experience with Ile du Levant sometime back around 2006, when we came out on the ferry for a day trip for our first exploration of this historic naturist landmark. My wife and I still reminisce about her reticence to get naked that day, despite the hype about a naturist island and her confirmed affinity for naked travel.

“Are you sure we can be naked here? Why aren’t those people naked? Really, I can be topless in the village?”

We laugh about it now, but for the novice naturist, this can be quite a conundrum! As my friend Tom learned from our innkeeper that day, the modus operandus at most naturist places is simply that… “You have the right to bare all,” but there are few places that even attempt to impose any sort of regulations for mandatory nudity. “As you wish” seems to be the presumptive rule of the land.

So last night we frequented one of our favorite bistros on the island where the wait-staff were attired in their typical apparel; sandals and full-length aprons with ample butt cleavage on full display below the apron tie. While they actually advertise that nudity while dining is permitted, if not actively encouraged, I found myself – again – in the midst of that proverbial third grade dream when you realize that you’re the only one in the room with no pants on. (Except, in this case, for the waiters, of course!) It’s a small island, and by now, we’d seen at least half the people in the restaurant earlier in the day, fully nude by the pool or along the sea. But here at dinner, most everyone was fully adorned, some of the women rather provocatively so in sheer fabric that would never make muster for the church covered-dish dinner or a PTA meeting. As I made my way to the restroom, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was the singular freak-show for the evening, dressed in a button-down shirt, but nothing below. Perhaps I was, but alas, we are here in the land of as you wish, and if anyone batted an eye, they were most discrete about it. 

But it was a beautiful evening, on a naturist island, and I simply couldn’t resist the all too infrequent… right to bare all!

As to the renaissance – it seems there are more 20-30 somethings on the island than we’ve seen in recent years, and at least during the day, more naked people than we’ve encountered on previous visits. They say young naturism is on an upswing in France. Maybe the young naked people we reclaim the naturist vision on this remarkable big rock off the Cote d’Azur!