Nude Beach Combing on Lanzarote

CANARY ISLANDS NAKATION: Part One

I’ve been reading about naturism on the Canary Islands for years, and in doing so, had all but come to the conclusion that once you clear security at the airport, you can pretty much doff your clothes for an all-out naturist vacation. Not entirely true!

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Morning walk near Charco del Palo

It’s easy to get confused about such matters, especially in Spain where the Spanish Naturist Federation has done a good job publicizing that “Any beach is a nude beach in Spain.” In fact, public nudity was not officially illegal anywhere in Spain until people started pushing the envelope in places like Barcelona – renowned for people roaming naked in the streets. And thus, today this most liberal of liberal cities has a specific ban against public nudity.

And so it seems to be that this is the way things are going with many Spanish beaches as well, especially those that are well known as family vacation destinations, and in recent years, similar regional bans are turning up in traditional naturist havens like Lanzarote and Tenerife. I suppose it’s simple math if you consider which tourist niche is likely to produce the most revenue, but not particularly good news for the traveling naturist, especially in the high family travel season of July and August.

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Not exactly a sandy beach – near Charco del Palo

Our home base was the famous (in naturist circles) little village of Charco del Palo, located about 45 minutes north of the Arrecife airport. I’ll talk a bit more about the quirky joys of this coastal village in a subsequent post, but I can say that it is well situated to get to just about anyplace you could want to go on this smallish island  – everything is about an hour away.

There is really nothing you could refer to as a beach in the immediate proximity of Charco del Palo, though we did enjoy walking the coastline each morning along the craggy volcanic sculptures that looked like they could have been from an eruption two weeks ago. But seeking out bona-fide naturist friendly sandy beaches would take a bit of exploring. Using the excellent blog by NatBliss (MyNudeBeaches.com) as a source of guidance, we set out for our first destination straight across the island to Caleta de Famara.

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Unfathomable beauty at Famara Playa

FAMARA BEACH

Aside from its popularity with surfers, Famara Beach is a also well known for its sheer beauty; a long beach nestled against the imposing cliffs along the west side of the island. It also has a reputation as one of the windiest spots on Lanzarote, though we were fortunate enough to enjoy a day with calm winds at low tide. While not exclusively a naturist beach, you can follow the dirt track around the vacation cottages and find parking right along the beach where textiles and naturists seem quite tolerant of one another. From a safety perspective, it was affirming to find single females there; including a woman with her young child.

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The tide-pool bathtubs at Famara

A bit of exploration on the way back home took us up to Las Nieves on the cliffs high above Famara Playa where we were clearly the only living creatures within seeing distance. This afforded a brief naturist walk along the mountain top for a few photo ops and some great views of the coastline below. Had hoped we might return for an early morning free-hike along a trail there, but we never got back to that.

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The view of Famara, from the top!

LA GRACIOSA and PLAYA DE LAS CONCHAS

Despite our delusions of grandeur, the arduous journey to this remote beach turned out to be a huge disappointment, at least in the “getting naked” category. The trip to the small island of La Graciosa (immediately opposite Famara Playa mentioned above) requires a bumpy ferry ride around the tip of Lanzarote before arriving in the quaint village of Caleta del Sebo – renowned for its dirt streets and modest accommodations for those who really want to get away from it all. I had read several reports suggesting that the island is so remote that one need not concern himself with any clothing whatsoever once leaving the village. I put that to the test as we made the nearly 90-minute trek (by foot) across the island in the midday heat, where we only encountered one passerby on a bicycle whose sneer and harsh (but indiscernible) words suggested things were not quite as laid back as I had been led to believe.

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Tranquility before the textile storm at Las Conchas

Playa de las Conchas was to be the promised land, and indeed, it was a stunningly gorgeous beach, especially since we arrived quite early when only a few others could be seen anywhere along the surf. But shortly thereafter, the hired jeeps began to arrive with throngs of tourists, as if there was a contest that day for the brightest and most creative swimwear at play. Within two hours, the beach was packed. A few 20-something girls settled nearby, gradually trying out the topless thing, and there were two other couples where the woman went naked, but the man remained clothed, (Go figure!) but by noon, it seemed I was the only naked guy on the entire beach. When a family settled behind us with an adolescent son who was either reading Tolstoy on his iPhone, or more likely, mastering the two lens feature on his iPhone 7, we found the inspiration to get up, get dressed, and make our way back across to the port town where a cold beer and the next ferry was waiting. Again, this may simply have been one of the perils of visiting on a Saturday in July, but a guaranteed naturist beach this is not.

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The long, hot walk to Las Conchas

PAPAGAYO PLAYA (Playa del Congrio)

We nearly racked up another letdown here, until we finally got our bearings and figured out where all the cool (aka, naked) people go. It’s easy enough to get confused. You either need to park at Payagayo Playa and make your way over the mountain bluff to your left, (north) or park near the oppressive campground at Playa del Congrio, and make a similar jaunt to your right. (south) Either way, you’ll stumble upon a beautiful little cove where we found about half the inhabitants to be naturists of all ages, including a couple young families. The beach was gently sloping, and late in the day, the surrounding cliffs were providing an option for shady protection from the sun. Had we not found this during our last day on the island, it may well have become a go to place for us. Certainly the most naturist friendly we came across in the sandy beach category on Lanzarote.

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Naturist bliss near Papagayo Playa

Can you go naked on any beach at any time in Spain? That seems up to a fair amount of debate. In fact, the municipality of Teguise, a town located smack in the middle of the island, recently passed an ordinance prohibiting nudity within its jurisdiction, which apparently includes Charco del Palo and La Graciosaas as well. I didn’t spend much time researching the details of information I wasn’t so eager to know about, but that would explain the reticence of our acquaintance Alan – a full-time resident of Charco del Palo – who urged us to use discretion with nudity outside of those places where it is expressly ordained. Seems that may well vary a good bit from one month to the next, as is so often the case when seeking out a vacation paradise with all the perks that would please Adam and Eve.

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Charco del Palo; where you can walk home from work naked.

NEXT UP: Nude Beach Combing on Fuerteventura

I hope you’ll take a moment to browse my other blog called:

THE DISCERNING NUDIST: Selected reading for those who prefer to live without clothing.

 

 

ANOTHER BLOG ABOUT NUDISTS. REALLY?

This effort is meant to augment my naturist travel blog, The Meandering Naturist, wherein I write mainly about our travels to naturist and clothing optional places all over the world.

Read the entire post: Another blog about nudists. Really? — The Discerning Nudist

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The North Side of Naked Mallorca

After a few edgy opinion pieces, I thought it might be time to get back to documenting our naturist travels, leading out with a few words and pictures of our naked explorations on the north side of Mallorca.

This was our second visit to Mallorca, and likewise, our second stay at Skinny Dippers Naturist Retreat; an idyllic little haven just a few minutes drive from the famous naturist beach, Es Trenc. During our first stay about a year ago, we were so mesmerized by the place that we scarcely left the side of the pool, lacking neither the energy nor motivation to get dressed and explore.

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Canova Beach

This time, however, we decided we should see a bit more of the island, one day setting off on a train excursion from Palma to a little German enclave on the eastern shores of Mallorca, then another day driving directly north to check out a couple other renowned naturist beaches on the island.

First stop was Platja sa Canova, a long beach stretching to the east of Colonia Saint Pere. Truth be told, I was also a good bit curious about the other naturist hotel on the island, Hotel Naturaplaya; particularly intriguing as finding reliable information about the place had proven confusing at best. In fact, it took me forever to find their website, and once there, to verify whether it was actually a naturist property. Even the chase through various threads on TripAdvisor were dogged by ambiguity.

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Only a 20-minute walk to the sandy naturist area

But among the advertised amenities was the implication that you could walk out their gate onto an expansive naturist beach, which suggested that if we could find the hotel, the expansive naturist beach must be nearby. Google maps helped us locate the property, but the search ended rather abruptly when we approached the guy working the front desk – strangely glib and a bit condescending all at the same time – to ask a few questions about the place and if it might be possible to see a room. (The room photos on their website are a little bleak.)

“No!”

OK. That was direct.

“It’s a naturist hotel, and we don’t have any vacant rooms!”

Yeah, OK. I get that. Of course, we would have dropped our clothes in a heartbeat if it meant qualifying for a tour, but apparently, that wasn’t on offer.

“You have a brochure?”

He handed me a business card. “Look at the website.”

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The mysterious Naturaplaya hotel

I asked about the allegedly nearby naturist beach, for which he gave us vague instructions for walking a couple-hundred meters in a you can leave now sort of way.  To be fair,  I suppose we could have simply been creepy people on the prowl to see naked Germans in their natural habitat, (It seems Germany is their target market) but at the same time, he didn’t seem too keen on attracting new clients, either.

We found our way to the seaside of the hotel, noting that it actually looks like quite a nice property, despite the fact that it sits right at the edge of the village in a residential neighborhood where you’d have to drive several kilometers to find a place to eat. We’re finding this to be a recurring theme with naturist places.

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The walk to the beach

Platja sa Canova is, indeed, a long beach that was perhaps sixty percent naturist on the day of our visit. And you could say the hotel backs up to the beach, though more accurately, the hotel backs up to some rocks that lead to a path, that leads to a long sort of rocky and marshy area, which eventually (think 20 minutes later) leads to a sandy beach which is where most of the naturists were hanging out. Adequate? Sure. A destination – nope. Not compared to the calm turquoise waters on the south shores of the island. But most peculiar of all…  by the time we returned to the hotel to retrieve our car, the adjoining rocky beach was crowded with what one would think would be hotel clients – all in swimsuits. Go figure.

After a “slow food” stop in Artá for a lunch in a charming little courtyard, we decided to check out another beach that had been recommended to us by our host Jordi. Cala Mesquida sits in a small cove surrounded by sand dunes on two sides, and a wide array of apartments and hotels on the other. The place was packed! But we had read that the naturists gather at the far end, noting once again that even the snack bar menu was entirely in German – which is typically a good sign when you’re looking to get naked.

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Cala Mesquida. Naturists huddle on the end.

On the scale of beautiful beaches, we give Mesquida much higher marks that the long, rocky Playa Canova we had visited that morning. And we did find the smallish naturist sector at the far end of the beach, perhaps representing less than three percent of the total beach goers that day, though I will say that of the age range of the naturists was significantly wider than that of most places we’ve been this summer, including a couple young naturist families.

A recurring theme for our summer naturist travels has been that timing is everything, and ironically enough, summer is not always the best time to be a naturist. It seems that when all the children are out of school and resort areas are overrun by families, places with reputations for full-on naturism tend to cave to societal norms and wrap themselves in nylon. Quite a lot more to say about that in my next entries about our expedition to the Canary Islands.

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The rocky shores near Platja sa Canova

In the meantime, is Hotel Naturaplaya worth a visit? Dunno. Neither the beach nor the “friendly staff” has made a particularly compelling case to pursue further investigation. Should you read this, have been there, and can offer a few more words on insight on the topic, I’d be most grateful for your comments. In the meantime, you can find us basking in the naked glory of Es Trenc on the other side of the island.

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Behind the hotel, on the edge of civilization

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