Naked Rules!

On our way northward from the island of Rab yesterday, we decided to deviate by taking the ferry to Krk, where subsequently a bridge would connect us to mainland Croatia. Lunchtime destination? Buncaluka Naturist Resort on the southern tip of Otok Krk. It’s a lovely spot, and it was a lovely day – Father’s Day after all – until I got scolded by a German patron for… ready for this? Being naked. We had taken our cue from a German couple next to us; he was naked, she had a pareo around her waist – we followed suit. But when I dashed down to pay the beach attendant the rental fee for our lounge chairs, a less-than-pleasant restaurant patron ceased conversation to issue me a citation.

“Bitte?” says I.

“WEAR SHORTS!”

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Beach-side bistro at Buncaluka

To be fair, I was naked in the restaurant area, which is exactly 0 meters from the beach area, and I had actually read something about the need to cover up in the bistro, though it’s always very difficult to tell exactly what that means. And what’s more, we had been interacting with our server for at least 45 minutes, who certainly had noticed our weapons were not concealed, yet he did not seem alarmed by us or the similarly attired couple at the next table. Apparently the actual rule here is live and let live.

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Naked surveillance

In each of the French naturist resorts we’ve visited, nude dining is always permitted, though most guests do not exercise the option. Where we’re staying in Valalta, it’s similarly nebulous – put clothes on to eat, unless you’re at a beach bar, or near a beach, or … well I don’t know exactly. Go across the fjord to Koversada to have lunch at the fish restaurant and you’ll find more naked patrons than not. You’re at a naturist resort for God’s sake. Is it such a stretch to be naked?

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Should I dress to walk home?

I suppose there is the argument to be made for hygienic conditions in an area where food is served, (though I find naturists to be more conscientious than most about hygiene, especially compared to the typical beach town crowd) or maybe the other patrons simply don’t want to “see your junk” while eating their grilled squid, but that’s not actually my point.

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Seems clear to me.

Given the relentless rhetoric about naturism as ultimate freedom, the rules and regulations that govern most naturist places are often complicated at least, and downright contradictory at best. I was particularly amused by a sign right outside the restaurant and bar of an Italian naturist resort that said, and I quote, “Naturista? Si Grazie!” But walk three meters beyond that sign and sit at that bar and you get reprimanded by an old Italian woman for indecent exposure.

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Buncaluka – It really is a beautiful spot.

Perhaps I’m sounding overly-sensitive, but we have found time and again that it literally takes the better part of an entire week to learn the explicit and implicit rules of virtually any naturist place we have visited. And it works both ways! My wife was once chastised for wearing a scarf around her midsection at a French naturist resort, despite the fact that she was covering a scar from a recent surgery. “You must be naked in the pool area! Undress or leave!”

So with that, here is a summary of the typical resort rules for European naturism:

  • You must be naked here.
  • You can’t be naked there.
  • No nudity after 8:00 pm
  • No nudity before 8:00 am – even in the shower!
  • No clothes when swimming… unless you’re wearing a swimsuit… or you’re an adolescent… or you’re shy.
  • No display of genitalia, at times and under certain conditions, which may include breasts, (but not man breasts) in places were food is served, unless it’s OK with the server, or you’re drinking a beverage with a sexy name or a pun invoking some absurd double entendre, like White-ass Russian, or Skin and Tonic. (There’s an entirely different post to be written about self-deprecating signage at nudist places, but for another day.)
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Naturism on the Island of Krk

I’ve grown weary from reading the long and winding thread of forum posts regarding the decline of naturism and the aging of the naturist population. But the fact is, if I visit a textile hotel and end up in a state of paranoia wondering if I’m pissing off the locals, I’m not likely to harbor fond memories about my relaxing vacation. For those who live in the eastern United States, it’s something akin to showing up to a summer wedding without a coat and tie, only to realize you’re the only person there who didn’t meet the dress code. Are you the only person smart enough to know how to dress in 90-degree heat, or have you ruined the bride’s most special day in ignorance of the dress-code? We keep saying that nudity is all about acceptability and tolerance — except when it’s not.

Of course, there’s also another post to be written about photography at naturist places, and the fact that I’ve included a few pics in this post, taken before I saw the “camera-slash” sign, but after I had seen several others taking phone-shots of their friends and family on the beach amidst a sea of naked people. Just another tangent that makes the simplicity of nakedness way more complicated than it should be.

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And there you have it!

Don’t worry newbies. It’s not just you. It really is that confusing.

 

 

 

The Best Nude Beach in Europe?

Well, maybe… yeah!

I mean, that’s a pretty high standard when you consider beaches on the Greek Islands, the long stretch of naturist friendly shores on the French Atlantic, and then Spain… Oh Spain! With your beautiful islands and recent legislation that states that any beach is a nude beach, unless it’s not.

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The paved path to the nude beach

But then there’s Croatia. Back when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia, it became the “go to and get naked place” for so many Germans who had grown weary of rainy days in July. And so the tradition continues, not only in several naturist resorts (See Valalta, Koversada, and Solaris) where the staff is required to speak Croatian, GERMAN, and maybe a bit of English, but through the northern regions of Croatia at large. Just tonight, in fact, we had dinner at a restaurant in the charming island village of Rab, and nearly every other person in the place was speaking German.

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Naturist palapa heaven

But alas, that is the bread and butter business of nakedness in this beautiful landscape that winds down the coast of the Adriatic Sea. And to that end, most of the naturist destinations are in the north on the Istrian peninsula. But as it turns out, many of the Dalmatian islands are quite naturist friendly as well.

This is our second visit to Rab, and as it happens from a naturist perspective, this one is turning out quite a lot better than that last. When we were here several years ago, we tried to GPS our way to Kandarola Beach, but found ourselves on a gated road with no way forward.

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Kandarola naturist beach

After that, we made our way out to the Lopar peninsula, allegedly famous for FKK (naturist) beaches, only to find hordes of people in swimsuits sitting beneath the FKK signage. All quite disappointing given the legend that purports that King Edward VIII discovered the joys of “naked in the sea” on the place that is known today as Kandarola Beach; thereby giving birth to the Croatian naturist movement.

Amazingly, or not… it seems there are very few Croatians on the naturist beaches of the Adriatic, but instead, the aforementioned Germans who seem quite happy to change their euros into kuna and raise a tall Weissebeer to the frugal joys of eating and drinking in Croatia.

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Naked on the water taxi. 🙂

As for Europe’s best nude beach, Kandarola is most definitely a contender! Long sandy beach suitable for volleyball – NO. Beautiful little cove with palapas, sun-loungers, and restrooms and a beach-bar nearby? YES! In fact, I suspect you could be naked on pretty much any part of this peninsula, and in the worst case, somebody might give you the “put your pants on” glance, but from all I can tell, naked is a critical component of the economy around here.

In an effort not to repeat the sins of our past, I did a bit of research on getting to Rab’s premier naturist destinations, which led me to believe there would be a boat waiting for us at 9:00 am outside our room at Hotel Istra in the harbor village of Rab. Maybe that happens in July or August, but in June, the only bargain boat goes to a dock just beyond the naturist beach, and thus, we opted for a water taxi instead. At $30 round-trip, we thought it was money well spent. In fact, on the return, I asked the captain if I could wait until the Rab harbor to put my clothes back on. “Not a problem!” Should have asked on the way out.

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Wooded areas around the beach.

As reported on TripAdvisor, the beach is a gem. Like most in Croatia, it is situated on stone slabs, but with palapas and beach loungers it would be difficult to find a better place to enjoy the sun and sea breeze in the altogether. And also as reported on TripAdvisor, we found a nice cross-section of beach goers ranging from families and young couples to the more typical middle-agers and beyond. The nearby bistro overlooking the beach required an effort to be clothed, but quite candidly, I’m not sure anyone would have cared had I chosen to dine naked. It’s just sort of a chill kind of place.

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Life is good!

So it took two visits to Rab Island to find the best nude beach in Europe. Is it really the best? Well, it’s up there in the top ten to be sure. Well worth the trouble to get there even though that requires a trip on a car-ferry and probably a night or two in a local hotel. But it was truly a lovely day in a place where the nudity ratio was 95% or better – more than you can say for most naturist resorts in Europe these days. That, by itself, puts this on our “gotta get back here someday” list. For the Meandering Naturist, that’s a big deal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Boatload of Naked Germans

So that’s a thing!

When we were here at Valalta ten years go with our teenage children I remember seeing a flyer for the “FKK Fish Picnic.” FKK, of course, is the German nomenclature for naked (Usually naturism, but be careful – sometimes sex clubs!) But at the time, it seemed pricey, and a day floating around the Adriatic – naked – was not getting high marks from our adolescent offspring.

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Swimming at the Fish Picnic

But now, the nest is empty, so I say, “Let’s give this a whirl!”

Seems there must be a few regulars on this excursion as the boat was packed by the time we got there about 15 minutes before departure, mainly with naked Germans. Clearly, I have no issue with naked, and I have many friends who are German, so the only reason this is noteworthy is that there is most certainly a propensity of Germans at the naturist resorts on the Istrian Penisula of Croatia. Simple math when you think about it. A drive to northern Croatia for a German is roughly the same as a drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles, or Washington DC to the Outer Banks. The only difference being that when you make that trek in Europe, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be flanked in nakedness, whether that’s your cup of tea or not.

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A naked friendly island off the shores of Rovinj

This particular excursion was operated by Valalta resort, which meant you could walk to the boat naked, be on the boat naked, and once we arrived at a remote little island past Rovinj, wander the island naked – which we did. The advert boasted Croatian music along the way, which consisted of an accordion player serenading us with stuff you would likely hear in the Paris Metro and scarcely pay attention to, but there was no getting around this guy. From polkas to John Denver, he was in your naked face for much of the journey. Romantic and introspective? No. A really good time as the Germans on the bow got to their third or fourth drink? Absolutely!

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Fish picnic done – Scraps go to the food chain!

The second port of call on our six hour journey was in the sweet town of Vrsar, across the Lim Fjord from Valalta. We know the town well, having stayed several times in Koversada; just a stone’s throw away. The captain told us (explicitly in German, then in an abbreviated version in English) that we were entering the harbor and to get some clothes on. Was hoping it might be naked day in Vrsar; alas, no. But we still made it to our favorite little wine bar at the top of the hill in the shadow of the campanile. About the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

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Who doesn’t love the accordion guy?

Valalta runs several “FKK” excursions each week in the summer, and I’m hoping we’ll take one or two more during our stay here. Sea breeze + no clothing = a very nice state of being on the Adriatic, which makes you wonder why anyone would bother to wrap themselves in wet nylon when the defacto rule is, “No clothes. No worries.” We made a pass each direction past Koversada Naturist Resort on the way to Vrsar, but there were plenty of other islands decorated with naked bodies where the inhabitants waved vigorously when they realized there was a boat of naked humans floating by.

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The Blue Bar on Koversada. No “Cover Charge!” 🙂

Wouldn’t that be something if a boatload of naked humans was not actually a thing?

While there’s still a ways to go, Croatia is most definitely leading the pack on this front.

 

 

Seclude! It most certainly is.

Hey! Wouldn’t it be fun to make our way from Cairns to Brisbane by Train? There must be a naturist place half way in between to break-up an otherwise 24 hour journey. Turns out there are a couple, but the one that caught our attention is called Seclude. Why, might you ask? Well… it’s secluded!

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So secluded, in fact, that the options for getting there are actually quite limited, especially if you don’t have a car. Tony and Yvette set up this beautiful little Garden of Eden on nearly 200 acres nestled in the hills between Proserpine and Airlie Beach. So when I saw the train stopped in Proserpine, I thought, “Great. Get off the train. Rent a car. Drive 20 minutes, and drop our gear!”

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Turns out there’s only one place to rent a car in Proserpine, and that’s at the airport. And essentially, only one time to rent a car at the airport – shortly after the arrival of the afternoon flights. Which coordinates with the train schedule (which doesn’t really run on schedule) not at all! So Tony kindly booked us a car to meet us at the train and drive us up the long dirt road to his idyllic little retreat.

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Turns out Seclude has three self-contained (and stunningly gorgeous) little chalets, (not that little, actually!) and two distinct identities with corresponding websites; one that markets to naturists (which Tony and Yvette are deeply keen on), and the other marketed to people who simply want to get away from it all, but without exercising the option to get naked. The first unit booked sets the rules for the ensuing days. Never will you find naturist and textiles sharing the property at the same time.

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Tony designed each of the three chalets; each ultra modern, beautifully designed, and with verandas overlooking the surrounding mangrove and rain forests. Air conditioned and equipped with an extensive movie selection through Apple TV, you could settle in for a month to enjoy the seclusion. What they do not have, however, is an over-abundance of WI-FI, as service comes through a satellite hook-up with a small monthly allotment and a narrow bandwidth. Despite my attempt to adhere to their urging to limit internet usage, I fear I may have left the legacy of burning up their monthly allocation. In any event, achieving full seclusion was not a challenge.

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As it happened, we booked first for our time period, extending over the New Years Eve week-end, which meant I got to attend my very first Nude Years Eve party. With three couples staying at the resort, and our lovely hosts joining us poolside, only 75% of the crowd made it to the new year. I was there!– and I’m happy to report that it was quiet, but memorable!

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Should you choose to visit, be sure to ask Tony and Yvette about the development of their bucolic little resort, which began with a shed and an outhouse that were both nearly consumed by unrelenting landslides during one of the rainiest winters on record. You would never know that today, which the charming chalets, carefully manicured lawns, and thoughtful layout of the entire grounds that allow each visitor the seclusion they are yearning for. In fact, Tony tells us that’s the biggest difference between their naturist and textile clientele. The naturists seek to socialize with one another. The textiles, once arrived, become all but invisible.

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Fortunately for us, Yvette prepares food hampers and BBQ kits upon demand so one really never needs to leave the property to find food. The portions were generous and the ingredients were fresh and creative.I would have regretted missing a single meal there.

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Would I go back? Absolutely – but maybe spend a week… with a car! Tony and Yvette are wonderful hosts, and deeply passionate about the naturist cause. I would hope that one day they might become a full time naturist establishment, as high quality clothing-optional establishments are hard to come by, in Australia, or anyplace else. Call them up, make the first booking, and drop your gear. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Cloudy and 100% Chance of Naked on Samurai Beach

Timing is everything – and ours wasn’t quite right.

We stayed several nights at Le Chateau Naturiste (Blog entry coming soon!) with hopes of figuring out the naturist scene in and around Nelson Bay, or more specifically, the celebrated Samurai Beach.

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As many have noted, the first point of business is getting there – and… getting out! Samurai Beach is adjacent to the textile One Mile Beach, separated by an outcropping of rocks that become all but impassable at high-tide. The other way in is on a sandy track from the highway, with a small sign that indicates 4WD is required. Our kind host (Stuart, from Le Chateau) suggested that we leave our car at the parking at One Mile Beach, then he would drive us in to Samurai, which involved a maneuver of letting the air out of the tires so even his 4WD wouldn’t get stuck in the sand. That was the moment I decided, “I will never drive a car – 4WD or otherwise – to Samurai Beach.

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This being the week before Christmas, the beach was very quiet. Most people we encountered were nude, but they were far and few between. I had also read complaints about the 4-wheelers that race up and down the beach, along with the gawkers who have ruined many a stay. Neither were an issue for us.

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It is perhaps a 15-minute walk from one end of the beach to the other. On the far end, you find an even more treacherous road (says the citified naturist from the US of A) that leads into a small campground with perhaps a dozen or so camping rigs, along with signs about carrying out your rubbish and bringing along your own portable toilet. Stuart tells us that people settle in here for the better part of the summer – up to 6 or 8 weeks at a time. There’s something else that’s not likely to make it onto my bucket list. Only a few miles from all the amenities of civilization, yet almost impossible to get there.

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We knew the tide was coming in, and also knew that if we waited too long, scrambling over the rocks would be supplanted with a long walk back out to the highway on the sandy track. Nope! Clothes on and a-scrambling we went. As is typical, we thought the neighboring One Mile Beach to be a lot nicer than the famous nude beach behind us, which always begs the philosophical musings – “What’s the big deal with donning a swimsuit? Is this really necessary?”

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Should you put Samurai on your list? Yes.

Should you plan your visit around high and low tide? Yes.

Should you bring a beach umbrella or some such thing to protect yourself from the sun? Absolutely, as there is no natural shade to be found on the beach. For that, we welcomed the cloud cover.

Does Samurai live up to it’s reputation? You bet! Hope to get back there one day.

 

Nakation Chronicles II: France and Corsica

This gallery contains 22 photos.

Installment number two of my attempt to chronicle our naturist travels as I go about sorting through the thousands of photos we’ve collected over the years… Two big events in 2004: We bought a new digital camera (our first Canon Digital Rebel), and we got away for almost two weeks without the kids to explore […]

Mallorca Hospitality – Grant and Jordi Style

This summer marked our first visit to Mallorca, but most certainly not our last. Having read about Skinny Dippers resort for years, we finally found our way to this beautiful little hamlet near the south shores of this island in the Balearics, off the Spanish coast near Barcelona.

IMG_0178Of all the naturist places we’ve visited, I have to say that this one is truly unique – in a good way – largely defined by what I came to refer to as the “Grant and Jordi Show.” Grant and Jordi are the owners/innkeepers of this classy little resort “for the discerning naturist,” now in its second edition. They began with a smaller inn down the road, but expanded to this property with twelve rooms a few years ago. Apparently that is going so well that one’s failure to book a year in advance may well mean you don’t get your dates, or maybe, you don’t get in at all. There is clearly a devoted following that makes this their one stop nakation destination each and every year. Now we know why.

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Famous map by Grant

Most of the rooms are in a beautiful two story finca that was originally built as a home for a guy long on money, but short on time to absorb the qualities of the simple life in the country. That, along with a few adjoining apartments make up a lovely selection of beautiful apartments with unusually spacious bathrooms. Perhaps the nicest accommodations we’ve had in a naturist venue anywhere!

But what really makes the place unique is the innkeepers themselves, attentively looking after each guest with humor and charm, eager to personalize each guest’s holiday experience. Grant is famous for his hand drawn maps to local naturist beaches and various tourist attractions, usually doodled on the back of a scrap of paper, but acutely accurate. (You can read about our naturist outings in a previous post should you wish.)  If you desire to dine in, meals are served on one of two verandas where guests dress – or not – according to the evening temperatures. Into the new trend of gourmet dining au naturel, skip London and Paris and head straight for Mallorca.

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Beach combing

Over the course of our stay, the communal meals made it nearly impossible to remain completely anonymous, unless you should choose to dine elsewhere or alone. We made many new friends from Great Britain, along with those from Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands, and Sweden as well. Lots of lively and convivial banter in the midst of Brexit and the US Presidential Election. But what truly impressed us about Skinny Dippers is how our hosts worked so diligently (and discreetly) to maintain the calm and welcoming environment that creates something of a familial sense about the place. In fact, during our stay, there was an incident where guests had arrived that were not quite in sync with the ambiance of this particular resort. (You’ll need to read between the lines on that one.) This was handled quickly and discreetly, and suddenly, they had chosen to make an earlier than anticipated departure. What Grant and Jordi have created here is something very special in the naturist holiday realm, and they are most definitely committed to protecting that investment for their most valued clients. No wonder their customers are so loyal.

IMG_0177So we have already made our reservations to return next year. Pool gravity made it difficult to get dressed and get out to see as many sights as we might have hoped, especially if it involved donning clothing. My only reticence about talking up the place on social media is that I suspect it will become increasingly difficult to book a room with each successive year. To that end, it seems there are plans underway to reopen the original resort, this time as self-catering apartments. Staying there means you’d miss out on the Grant and Jordi Show, but I suspect it will be fabulous in its own right. I can’t imagine any endeavor put up by these two naked entrepreneurs to be anything less than first rate.

Thanks Grant and Jordi, for such a welcoming introduction to Mallorca. We look forward to the food, the wine, and the laughter again next year.