At the writing, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 Social Distancing Crisis. Somehow, it’s seemed a bit glib to continue the typical trajectory of my blog, which is usually focused on nakation destinations around the globe – here at a time when going to the grocery store is considered an adventure. To that end, I thought it might be a good time to add to my Nakation Chronicle installments, intended to sequentially document our naturist journey over a period of thirty years of meandering about six continents. At very least, this feels cathartic to me, a devoted naturist consumed with wanderlust, as I sit here wondering when the world will, again, be open for naked meandering.
2010 was a particularly busy year between family events, business travel, and keeping tabs on our son who had an internship in China. So much time going places where we had to wear clothes.
That said, from the perspective of documenting our naturist journey, we have interesting tales to tell from that year, beginning with our one and only visit to Eden Bay Resort in the Dominican Republic. We were among the last (and only) visitors to this beautiful resort before it became Caliente Caribe – a subsidiary of Caliente Resort in Florida, another beautiful resort that threw their naturist mission under the bus to cater to the “adult playground scene.” My impression was that Caribe followed suit, only opening for selected periods to facilitate “parties of like-minded folks.” Last I knew, even that had ceased, as the place had fallen into disrepair. Bummer! It was a gorgeous venue.
We also traveled to France that summer with our young adult daughters, revisiting their childhood naturist fav, Domaine Naturiste La Jenny, located west of Bordeaux on the Cote d’Argent. From there, we made our way to Provence and took the ferry to Ile du Levant, staying in a modest hotel that shared that special Caliente vibe! (Guffaw!) Shame on us for not scouring the TripAdvisor reviews before we booked. Suffice it to say, that trip ended abruptly and early.
So there you are. Nakation Chronicles VIII. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page if you want to trace our story back to its humble, naked beginnings.
Eden Bay, DR
Eden Bay, DR
Eden Bay, DR
Eden Bay, DR
La Jenny, France
La Jenny, France
La Jenny, France
Ile du Levant, France
Ile du Levant, France
Ile du Levant, France
Eden Bay, DR
Eden Bay, DR
Eden Bay, DR
Ile du Levant, France
La Jenny, France
Ile du Levant, France
Ile du Levant, France
La Jenny, France
You may want to check out the previous Nakation Chronicles installments:
I’ve just returned from a small naturist resort in Thailand where I had planned to hide out for a week to enjoy a bit of naked solitude while digging my way through a huge work project. (Watch for a future post about Harmony Naturist Resort… Coming soon!) The best laid plans were first undermined when my naturist sequester was overridden by the need to tend to all-things-crisis back home as my workplace fell victim to the omnipresent Coronavirus quarantine. In fact, were it not for the sudden pandemonium that followed the President’s announcement about closing all international borders this past Friday night, I would just now be on my way home. Now, it seems that getting on an airplane to go anywhere is a bleak prospect for the foreseeable future, let alone acknowledging the fact that social nudity typically implies that you’re going to be nude… in a social setting. Probably not the best idea when “social distancing” is about all we are hearing from every direction at the moment.
Nick and Lins (Naked Wanderings) published a helpful blog post about a week ago (Will the Corona Virus Ruin You Nude Vacation?) in an effort to help dispel some the hysteria about this, now proclaimed, pandemic virus. They explain a bit about the virus itself, how to practice good hygiene, and perhaps most importantly, pointed out the fragile state of naturist tourism. It’s a good read and a rational perspective, I think.
God knows, I’m most certainly not a health care professional, so the following prose is not to imply anything more than a cautious dose of common sense. But I can imagine that people who haven’t really thought things through might say, “How could I even think about getting naked in a time when every person I see is a suspected Coronavirus carrier?” As we are being pummeled with messaging from every possible angle, while schools, churches, sports arenas, and even restaurants are closing down, it stands to reason that being near another human is dangerous enough – but near another naked human? Do you simply have a death wish?
As personal hygiene is a relentless topic in all discussions related to naturism, (“Don’t forget to sit on a towel!”) it seems worth noting that most matters related to hygiene and cleanliness for naturists have to do with bacterial issues – not viral infections. And for that matter, at least in the places we frequent, we have found naturists to be more conscientious about cleanliness and personal hygiene than your average human at a typical tourist attraction or public venue. I know, it’s counter intuitive. But just think about the German spa culture where swimsuits are forbidden mainly because they collect bacteria that is not easily rinsed away in the shower. And hot tub owners know that it’s much easier to keep the water balanced if you can keep textiles out of your spa. Humans wash easily. Clothing, not so much! Again, as Nick and Lins pointed out, if a fully clothed human sneezes three feet away from you, it won’t make much difference whether you’re clothed or not, unless you have your head wrapped in gauze that’s certified to be impenetrable by airborne microorganisms.
But all that aside, as one who loves and lives to travel, I’ve been watching day by day as the hospitality industry is struggling for survival with increasing desperation from one hour to the next! My favorite argument regarding the global warming debacle (which, for the record, concerns me a great deal,) has always been the unintended consequences if you grounded even half of the scheduled flights around the world in the altruistic effort to slow down Co2 emissions, as doing so would not only decrease anticipated revenues to all those airlines, but to all the support industries as well. Hotels, restaurants, airline catering and cleaning operations, let alone all other things tourism and transportation. We got a taste of that after 9-11 when air-traffic was brought to a halt for a week or so, mainly for flights in and around the US. But now it seems apparent that this crisis is not going to end any time soon, which actually brings me to my point within the context of this naturist blog.
Aside from a few of the huge naturism centers in France and Croatia, most places catering to naturists are small boutique operations. Those of us who follow such things have been celebrating the rapid growth of naked tourism in Thailand, with three naturist resorts on Phuket, and five more scattered about the country from Chiang Mai in the north to the newest establishment near the border of Malaysia. (We had planned to visit Barefeet Heaven Hill next month, but now it appears we won’t be able to leave the United States, let alone get back home at the end of our journey!)
And it certainly doesn’t help that social nudity is about… SOCIAL… nudity. There are so many blogs and online discussions about whether a home nudist is really practicing social nudity, or whether they’re simply in a state of nakedness at home. At this writing, the directives are becoming more restrictive every day as to exactly what constitutes a crowd, along with best practices for enjoying your friends and loved ones at the distance of six feet or greater. This is not good news for any part of the tourism industry, but especially gloomy for naturist tourism as in most places, the season is short to begin with, and the remoteness of such places requires a willingness to travel a good distance to get there.
I have a clear recollection of those days following 9-11, when people were scared to death to get on an airplane even though calculating the odds of a Las Vegas card game bore out that you had a greater chance of getting struck by lightning than falling victim to an airborne terrorist attack. And yet, planes flew empty for months. And I also remember my most progressive friends posting on those pre-Facebook era online forums: “The best way to fight terrorism and boost the economy is to get on an airplane and take a vacation!”
Of course, this is different. Nobody really knows what it will take to contain the Coronavirus, whether it will subside as the weather warms up, or for that matter, whether anyone will be able to afford to take a vacation this summer as the ripple effect of the economic fallout is just starting to rear its ugly head.
But in the name of advocating for the future of social nudity, and all the establishments that make that possible, I encourage my fellow (and would be) naturists to remain optimistic about the potential of summer travel, knowing that many naturist places simply don’t have the wherewithal to withstand more than a month or two of low occupancy. And most airlines are currently advertising ridiculously low fares with incredibly lenient cancellation policies. Thought you could never afford that nakation in France because it’s simply too expensive to get there? This might actually turn out to be your chance of a lifetime. (I saw round-trip mid-summer fares to Amsterdam this morning for less than $400!) And if it’s still untenable to fly by late spring, start looking into places that are within driving distance, seeking out naturist places that don’t require that you pass through an airport. While not impossible, it seems unlikely we’ll still be obsessing with social distancing three months from now, but by then, many of the places for social nudity may be long gone in the throes of bankruptcy.
By the way, my wife just read a Twitter post that includes a long list of “things to do to keep yourself healthy” during this crisis. (Attributed to Rupa Mayra.) One of those was get more sun on your bare skin to increase Vitamin D.
Now THAT sounds like a healthcare plan I can really get my bare buns behind!
I’ve been absent from the blogosphere as of late. In fact, my last post dates back to early September, before life became a bit overwhelming, and blogging about nakations seemed a little less urgent than everyday life.
Among other challenges, this has been a time of loss with the passing of relatives and friends – some timely and expected, others less so. All that, along with having to face up to a pretty strong dose of dissolution in the workplace, has made for an intense period of self-reflection. NEWS FLASH: Sometimes things just don’t go the way they should – or at least not the way you want them to! Turns out that’s not news at all. At least, not according to my therapist.
I’d never seen a therapist on a regular basis before, but this seemed like the right time. Turns out the old adage is true… The one that suggests that as people age, they simply become a decidedly more vivid caricature of themselves. I’m willing to own up to that, but not without a bit of discomfort along the way.
If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you probably know that I’m quite passionate about naturism. In fact, as it turns out, I’m pretty passionate about everything I do! It just so happens that naturism ended up near the very top of my life priority short list. Followers of this blog may have also read my various rants and raves about our – my wife and I – naturist journey and maybe even a few of my opinion pieces about social nudity such as The Demographics of Nakedness, the quirky unevenness of naturism in America, or a more recent piece about my own personal obsession with naturism. If you’re not up for digging back through my personal archives, I can summarize the entire story with one sentence: “My college girlfriend went to a nude beach as part of a class experiment, wrote a paper about it, piqued my interest, and I took up the cause with a fervor that most dudes in my age bracket have for football or golf.” Thirty-five years later, that girlfriend is my wife, and naturist exploration remains an integral part of our relationship.
For readers who have pursued therapy or counseling, I would love to see your comments about how you went about explaining naturism to your therapist. How did you roll out the topic? What parts were difficult to contextualize without feeling awkward or apologetic? And how did you gauge the raised eyebrows when you tried to explain the difference between social nudity and sexual deviance? Surely, any seasoned therapist has heard it all, but context (and empathy!) is absolutely critical when you’re trying to rationalize something that matters to you. I suspect the average therapist deals with all kinds of deviant behaviors – that’s part of their job. I simply can’t help but wonder if my therapist is sitting there indexing my meandering thoughts to that lecture in graduate school about “people who run around naked.” Ugh!
You’ve probably realized by now, the title of this post is misleading. I have not gotten naked with my therapist. At least, not in a literal sense of the phrase. Though my affinity for naturism has been a constant thread throughout our many discussions about how I perceive the world, and how I perceive the world’s perception of me. Not surprisingly, the naturist thing represents a multi-faceted existence for me, which has led to a few “ah-ha” moments alongside a few more, “Well, of course!” revelations along the way.
The most obvious part of my affinity for naturism is likely congruous with nearly every other naturist on the planet. I felt insecure about my body until I went to a nude beach and realized that essentially nobody is pleased with their God-given proportions. Funny that you have to go to a naked place to come to grips with that, but it’s the recurring theme in pretty much every interview following a person’s first experience with social nudity.
But here’s the one I’m still musing over when I drive home from my therapy appointments…
Is there a correlation between social nudity and one’s desire to be real? To be present? Or in the language in my generation, is nakedness a necessary part of the process of total self realization? (Cue the soundtrack from Aquarius here.)
Problem is that I’ve been a naturist long enough to know that there are all kinds of people who participate in all flavors of social nudity, each embracing a unique set of values, which all becomes very confusing when people try to make the argument that nudists/naturists are more forthright, genuine, or altruistic than those who hide behind a shield of garments. That argument simply doesn’t hold up. One’s ability to disrobe in public doth not a statistically valid personality assessment make.
But the part that keeps me in head scratching mode is my own affinity for nakedness, even if I’m home alone. I can’t figure out if it’s simply the counter-culture sense of it all, or the heightened sensory of so much exposed skin, or simply the fact that nakedness represents the extreme opposite aesthetic of my otherwise frenetic and public life.
I’m pretty sure that despite her requisite open-mindedness that fuels so many open-ended questions, my therapist still doesn’t know quite what to make of the naturism thing, or perhaps more presciently, hasn’t experienced it herself. How do you explain such a phenomenon to someone who’s never been there themselves? And how do you adequately explain the difference between a sexually charged atmosphere like Cap d’Adge (See my latest rant about that!) as compared to a place where naturism is as family friendly as Disneyland? (Let’s hear it for La Jenny and French family naturism.) To the uninitiated, I suspect the very notion of social nudity lies someplace between nudist camp jokes and the poorly researched top ten lists for naked places that appear each summer in USA Today – an exercise that routinely fails to convey that Cap d’Agde is nothing like Disneyland.
All that said, the most fascinating part of this process for me is how we arrive at our own personal perceptions that define each of our social norms. For those of us who have embraced naturism for some time, it’s all but impossible to grasp how or why anyone could, would, or should be anxious about seeing a woman breastfeed in public. How could that possibly be offensive to anyone? But here in 2019, to many, it most certainly is.
I put up an article a few days ago on my other nudist blog called “Nudity Increases in America.” It’s a repost of a piece first published in 1974 in the New York Times. It’s a thought-provoking read, if only to realize that while we live in an age where there is so much emphasis on accepting people for who they are, as they are, the adherence to social norms has become more polarizing than ever. Be it based on religious convictions, political ideology, or simply a fight to maintain one’s personal identity, I don’t think this decade will go down in history as the age of open-mindedness and acceptance.
My therapist suggests our preoccupation with all that may well be an exercise in futility. (And yes, I recognize the irony that I’m preoccupied with what she might be thinking about my involvement in naturism. An endless loop!) If anything, the Digital Age has resulted in a time when we are more concerned with how people perceive us than ever before in the history of mankind. Maybe that’s why I so value the freedom to go home at the end of the day, drop my clothing near the front door, and sit by the wood-stove wearing nothing but the glow of the fire. In my estimation, that’s about a good as life gets.
How strange that anyone would think something so simple and so real is anything other than genuinely human, innocent, and innocuous. Hard to believe that living in one’s own skin is actually controversial at all.
But indeed, that is simply the perception of a meandering naturist, and to be sure, one’s sense of perception defines the game.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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 thinkAda 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!