NAKED RESEARCH 2019 – Part II: Naturist Pattaya

Ever since discovering naturist Europe – especially France – I’ve been hell-bent on finding something of an equivalent in the Southern Hemisphere. You know, when our cold, northeast winters are offset by their sun-drenched summers. We have now amassed a few options that meet that criteria, including Brazil, Uruguay, and South Africa, but it seems Thailand is quickly pulling into the lead as the single country in Asia that is at the ready to give the discerning naturist a few excellent choices.

Phuan Naturist Village – Note by “office cabana on the left. 🙂

I have written quite a bit about my previous visits to naturist venues near Chiang Mai and Phuket, with a particular fondness for the new PeaceBlue Resort near Rawai Beach. But this time I thought I’d head the other direction, flying into Bangkok’s international airport then driving about 90 minutes to the sprawling seaside metropolis, Pattaya. If there is an Asian equivalent to the Jersey Shore, this would most certainly be it, with towering apartment buildings and beaches packed with umbrellas and loungers, all for the privilege of splashing around in the murky waters where snorkeling would seem futile – if not a little disgusting – at best.

No photos, except when the owner suggests it.

My base camp this time would be at the relatively new naturist resort – Phuan Naturist Village – located on the edge of a small village about 25 minutes (by car) outside the center of Pattaya. For those who have visited Oriental Village near Chiang Mai, you would find this somewhat similar given its proximity to a couple small stores and some other basic amenities, but you’re not likely to walk into the village for dinner in the evening – unless you’re really accustomed to hardcore “be like a local” travel.

To that end, Phuan has a restaurant on grounds that’s open pretty much all day every day, including the highly coveted luxury (at least to me) of fresh brewed coffee. (What is it with the rest of the world with their incredibly high tolerance for Nescafé. That is not coffee!) Otherwise, their menu is a bit limited, but enough choices to warrant staying in to eat naked.

My bungalow at Phuan Naturist Village

In combing through their website, I had a difficult time figuring out the lodging configurations, which are most definitely a two tier affair. I stayed in one of the simple bungalows for the equivalent of about $45 USD per night. A small cabin with low ceilings and a shower that simply consisted of a sprayer head anchored to the wall below a small water heater – You know, the one that washes down the entire bathroom, draining to the lowest point in the corner of the room? But otherwise, the AC was excellent and the bed was comfortable enough. Certainly adequate for one person; perhaps a bit cozy for two.

Lifeguard at the Phuan pool

The alternative looked to be a significant upgrade, beginning at about three times the price. The villas are referring to several modern two bedroom houses scattered about the property. You can rent the entire villa, or you can choose to “share” a villa, which means you and your housemates will each have your own bedroom, but share all the common spaces such as the bathroom, kitchen, and living room. I could certainly imagine doing that when traveling with good friends, but I guess it’s not uncommon for total strangers to rent “a shared villa” – at which point, I guess they would become good friends rather quickly. Seemed they were running near capacity during my stay, with an interesting mix of guests of both Asian and Caucasian heritage, including several northern Europeans, and perhaps two Russian couples traveling together as well. Clearly, their international marketing campaign is working.

Chan Resort (Photo courtesy of Chan Resort

Since I was only there for a long weekend, and quite enjoying the excellent Wifi connection to get some work done from the poolside open-air cabana, I debated about actually making the trek into the crowded and reportedly over-stimulating mecca of Pattaya, though it seemed a bit absurd to go to one of the world’s famous beach towns, and not go to the beach. And… I really wanted to duck in and see Chan Naturist Resort, somewhat famous in naturist circles for being the first such establishment in Thailand. I had written ahead to inquire about day use, and indeed, they offer a day-use fee of about $15 that gives you access to a locker, restaurant and pool. Having read mixed reviews of the rather confined feel of the place behind 10-foot walls along a city side street, I was pleased to find the place crowded and convivial, with a clientèle a bit older on the average than that of Phuan Village, but also quite international. (Meaning mainly European again, I think.)

Chan Resort (Photo courtesy of Chan Resort0

I especially enjoyed the restaurant, with a significantly more extensive menu than Phuan, particularly given the ambiance of the small alcove (seen in the photo above) next to the pool. With all the rage for naked dining opportunities trending at the moment, I would actually say this is a naked dining destination, and best of all, if you go the “too spicy” route, you can jump in the pool once your meal is over. I didn’t bother to check out a room, but the property appeared comfortable, clean, and modern. In short – I would stay there in a heartbeat.

Convenient parking at Phuan Naturist Village

I think Bruce, the co-proprietor of Phuan Naturist Village hit the nail on the head. (The place is actually run by his wife and her sisters, but their previous place of residence was New Mexico, so her American English as extraordinary.) Bruce noted that if you’re looking for a place with solitude and the opportunity to read and snooze by the pool all day, it’s hard to beat the peaceful and serene atmosphere of Phuan Naturist Village. Agreed! But if nightlife is a priority to you, and a big part of your travel experience is seeking out the best local eatery with the highest rating on Yelp, then Chan Resort if your place. Should I have an opportunity to return, I would fancy a few days at each resort, as each has a unique ambiance, and if you’re hell-bent on spending your days on the beach – with a swimsuit, I should add – you’ll get there a lot faster from Chan Resort than from Phuan Village. (Though neither is in walking distance.)

An early morning selfie at Phuan Naturist Villag

As a post-script, it’s worth noting that the Thailand Naturist Association organizes a boat excursion to a secluded island with a make-do naturist beach on the last Sunday of each Month. Unfortunately, my stay didn’t coincide with this event, but it seems it would be worth planning one’s itinerary around that. Few things in life sound better than getting naked on an island in Thailand when it’s icy and below freezing at home.

The Perils of Naturist Photography

SUBTITLE: Think this skin makes my butt look big?

I know… First World Problems and all that! But while one might think that naturist photography has become a lot easier in the digital age, in many ways, it’s quite to opposite.

A film capture – At La Jenny in 1999

I feel like I can speak with some sense of experience on this topic, if not outright exasperation. The first time I remember bringing a camera to a naturist place was in 1994. We were visiting a modest nudist place in the San Francisco Bay Area and brought along our 35mm camera hoping we might grab a few pics for the archives. (We’d be moving to the east coast soon, and who knew if we’d ever find a place to get naked there!)

It would be difficult for somebody under the age of 30 to remember what it was like to carefully calculate your film consumption, as the most you could hope for was a 36-exposure roll of film. If you were going to set up a shot, you’d better get it right. In fact, they had you coming and going: Not only would you lose the frame on the film roll, but then you’d have to pay to have that random and blurry photo of your foot developed! Seems to me that if we got ten good shots out of a 36 exposure roll of film, we were feeling pretty good. Some of our earliest naturist photos are either blurry beyond recognition, of inadvertently cropped out appendages such as arms and heads. Not suitable for any photo album, I dare say.

Dordogne Valley, 1999

And if the shot had nudity in it… What then? I remember taking a few early rolls to the drug store hoping that would “be OK.” The general word on the street back then was as long as there was no sexual content, you were probably going to be fine. Then there was a big scandal where a mom took a roll of “bathtub pictures” in to be developed, only to find herself facing criminal charges, despite the fact that the pictures were of an innocent nature. As I recall, that led to a wide sweeping ban, led by the likes of Walmart, to immediately sequester any photos featuring nudity – especially child nudity – while the authorities were to be summoned.

Club Origan, 2004

Soon there were digital cameras. While I think we purchased our first one around 1999, I remember taking a spiffy new Canon 35mm model with us on one of our first explorations of naked France. It looked, felt and acted much like a traditional 35mm camera. Suddenly, it was “take all the pics you want!” You’re only limited by the size of your flash card and disc space on your computer. And you didn’t have to worry about that moment at the One-Hour photo place when the middle-aged woman watching your naked ass slide out of the developing machine at the CVS store freaked out. Nor did we have to find one of those discreet photo developers listed in the back of a naturist magazine, pay twice as much, and wait for three weeks for a blurry picture of a naked foot. Nakation photography was here to stay!

La Jenny Beach, 2007

Who could have predicted the explosion of the internet back then, let alone the advent of the smartphone? As I write this from a smallish resort in Thailand, it took me five tries to position my phone with the timer to create a discreet photo by the pool, early in the morning, before everyone is up and about – ever so diligent about not catching one of the “no photography” signs in the background.

I get it! Once an image is captured in 2019, who knows where it will end up? And I’ve already ranted in other posts about oh so many websites that claim to feature genuine and fully authorized naturist photos, but how does one even begin to go about verifying that? So most small resorts invoke the only logical policy – NO NAKED PHOTOGRAPHY, OF ANYONE, EVER!

St Martin, 2008

That said, generally speaking, I have found most places in Europe and Asia a bit more easy going on this policy than those in the US. (Thinking of what almost came down to a body cavity search at a nude music festival in West Virginia a few years back!) Though yesterday, during my visit to Chan Resort in Pattaya, there were at least two guests reading books on their smart phones, (Would have loved to have gotten a pic of the guy doing that right below the no photography sign!) as was I, as this is my primary reading device when traveling. My wife was doing the same thing in a German spa a few years ago and was told to put her cell phone away – and fair enough! Who’s to say she’s not taking advantage of the occasional photo op every now and again, which by the way, she was not.

Croatia 2012

Of course, if you’re at a large naturist center like some of those in France and Croatia, where people simply have more private space away from the pool complex, naturist photography is quite a lot easier. Or, if you can find a place where naturist walking is possible – the shores of Mallorca, isolated paths on a Greek island, resorts with significant acreage, or just about any beach in France – a few more opportunities open up even yet.

Crete, 2012

Interestingly, I got in a bit of a tussle recently with a long-timer on reddit about the proliferation of naturist images on the internet, which of those might be considered to be in the public domain (He would say none!), and which of those were simply a gateway drug to pornography. All valid points, I think, but ironically enough, I think this all cycles back to one of the greatest difficulties of being a naturist in the 21st century. The issue shouldn’t be the proliferation of photos depicting simple non-sexual nudity; the issue should be that there’s really nothing wrong with simple non-sexual nudity. In an era where paranoia is dictating just about everything, from rules in the public schools to foreign policy on immigration, most of us naturists are scared to death that the wrong photo will somehow turn up in the wrong place. In thirty years of naturist activity, this has yet to happen to me, and on this end of the spectrum, it is not only seeming less likely, but I’d like to think I’m less likely to care.

Club Origan, 2013

In the meantime, we not only enjoy documenting our naturist travels, but have also taken a great deal of pleasure from a slideshow that runs fairly constantly on my desktop computer. It’s simply a travelogue. We travel naked about half the time, so about half the photos feature nudity. We enjoy reliving each moment of each particular place, as each of those places have a story. But it’s also interesting – if not a bit disquieting at times – to watch out bodies age within the typically human struggle of accepting that is simply what humans do! While body acceptance at 35 was easier than at 55, I’m hoping I’ll have the constitution to appreciate the inherent beauty of my 75-year-old naked self when that time comes.

Thailand, 2016

Of course, a lot can happen in 20 years. Who knows how we’ll deal with capturing images by then?https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mSs8bnH6Q39QR6mJCTOWcjLUbb2Xjkw0CoaBmf_Uzlk/edit#gid=1321461204https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mSs8bnH6Q39QR6mJCTOWcjLUbb2Xjkw0CoaBmf_Uzlk/edit#gid=1321461204 I suppose the infrastructure is already in place, especially at naturist places where security is key, that I could find naked images of myself of just about anyplace I’ve been naked over the past ten years. And to think, people fret about full-body scans at the airport? Don’t they have something better to worry about?

Thailand… today!




Gallery

Nakation Chronicles VII: SXM, and Croatia

Been awhile since I made an installment into our Nakation Chronicles, this one documenting our two big expeditions for 2009; our last annual trek to St. Marten, and our second visit to Croatia.

We had been going to SXM every year at about the same time, and we decided to mix things up a bit this particular year by renting a small boat to make our way out to Green Cay. Knowing that, at this writing, Orient Bay is still very much in recovery mode, it always makes me a bit sad to see some of these picture from the glory days.

Our first visit to Croatia was more family oriented, but this time we started in Dubrovnik – just the two of us – and made our way up, with a stop on the Island of Rab, and finally to Koversada, which would subsequently become one of our naturist go-to places. (The apartments there are hard to beat.) We also spent about a week in a stone cottage at Palmizana, not really a naturist place, but with lots of places to get naked – including the neighboring island of Jerolim. Have always wanted to get back there, but haven’t quite figured that out yet. Nearby Hvar is also a great place for nightlife, though not so easy to get to from the Palmizana resort.

You may want to check out the previous Nakation Chronicles installments:

Nakation Chronicles I: The Pre-Digital Age

Nakation Chronicles II: France and Corsica

Nakation Chronicles III: St. Martin, Croatia, Corsica and France

Nakation Chronicles IV: Living Waters, St. Martin, Cap d’Agde, Ile du Levant, and France

Nakation Chronicles V: SXM, Spain, and La Jenny

Nakation Chronicles VI: Mexico, SXM, and Greece

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?!