Naked Oddessy II – Naturist Europe 2016

We are fortunate people! We discovered naturism at a young age, and now we are empty-nesters with enough discretionary income to explore the planet in the best possible way – naked.

In 2013, we were lucky enough to live in Europe for a year and took advantage of that to make a three-month journey across Europe with the intention of visiting as many naked places as we could manage. You can read a little about that here, but we’re at it again. I have business in France this summer, so I’ll need to wear clothes for a few weeks, but for the rest of the summer, we’re going to do all we can to live in the now and the naked. Our itinerary…

Therme Erding is always our preferred first port of call when traveling to Europe. It’s a short drive from the Munich airport, and by the time you’ve soaked, sweated, and slumbered in their comfy lounges, the jet-lag thing seems like a non-issue. We’ll stop here twice on this trip – on our way into Europe, and again on our way out. I’ve referred to Therme Erding several times in my blog over the years, in several different contexts. Not a naturist place by definition, but if you want to spend the day with a bunch of naked people, well, I guess it is.

famille-plage-des-grottes

Beach at Ile du Levant

 

 

We have visited Ile du Levant at least a half-dozen times now and stayed at several hotels on the island. By now, there’s no question – our lodging of choice is Heliotel near the plaza at the top of the hill. It takes at least a couple visits to the Golden Island to figure out what that’s all about, and in fact, having done some reading on the topic, the “about it all” has changed quite a lot over the decades. But today, it is mostly a tranquil little island virtually unnoticed by the rest of the world. Perfunctory rules tell you where you can and cannot be naked, but nobody seems to pay them much mind – in either direction. Naked and clothed people just going about their business in anticipation of another stunning sunset on the Cote d’Azur. This year, we’ll be there for a long weekend with novice naturist friends. Talk about throwing them in the deep end…

Nude Shopping

Shopping nude, because you can!

Then I have to work for a few weeks before we make our way to Barcelona to catch the ferry to Mallorca. While we regard the place with a sense of circumspect, we will stay overnight at Hotel Eve in the renowned (infamous?) Cap d’Agde. I think this will be our third visit to this theme park of human deviant behavior (harsh… I know… but really, humans walking humans in studded collars? C’mon!) since we have a day to kill en route, and indeed, there is something alluring about having the freedom to go banking or grocery shopping in the nude. Our last experience (maybe ten years ago) at Hotel Eve was very pleasant. A quiet oasis in a metropolis of bizarre.

 

We are counting the days until our arrival at Skinny Dippers resort on Mallorca. Neither cheap, nor easy to book – we reserved last summer – this appears to be one of the premier naturist boutique hotels in the world. Pictures could very well be deceiving, but I doubt it. And apparently, Mallorca boasts some stunning naturist beaches as well. We are prepared to reveal our findings related to all things Naked Mallorca. Stay tuned.

skinny dippers

Mallorca naturist retreat

From Mallorca, we take a ferry to Sardinia (just a stopover) to Corsica. Again, this will be our third or fourth visit to Corsica, but our first visit to naturist resort Bagherra located on the East coast of Corsica, about 2 hours south of Bastia. Our previous stays were at Riva Bella, and another complex called Piana Verde which is no longer naturist. And we’ve made day visits to U-Furu (Lovely!) and La Chiappa, each of which are charming in their own right. But it seems Bagherra has the best accommodations on offer at this point, so we’ll give it a try. One thing for sure – they have a good webmaster.

 

1438599229618

Corsica

With the desire of finding blindingly sunny days, we chose to end our sojourn in Greece, but as it turns out, getting from Corsica to Greece on a car ferry takes some doing – in this case, making our way across the rather naturist-unfriendly country of Italy to the Adriatic Sea. There are a few naturist places to be found, but the one not far from the port in Tuscany called Locanda di Terramare; a smallish inn that appears to blend simple Tuscan elegance with the freedom to be nude. Just two nights there, but it looks like a great stopover.

 

Locanda 2Given its perfect climate, there are amazingly few sanctioned naked places in Greece, though the one that has emerged as our personal favorite is Vritomartis on the southern coast of Crete. This will be our third visit to this stunning resort perched on the cliffs over the deep blue sea. A fabulous bonus is that they organize amazing day trips including naturist boat excursions and even a naturist trek through a remote gorge. This year, we hope to take the day trip to Gavdos – the most southerly point in Europe – a small island that has long been a safe haven for hippie types and other naked folk.

 

As we head back north, we plan to spend a few days at the Fig Leaf Villas back on the mainland west of Athens. This will be our final stop on our naturist explorations of summer 2016, positioning us for a boat trip back up to Venice which will position us for our return to Munich and a few more hours at… you guessed it – Therme Erding.

Hiking at Vritomartis

Nude hiking on Crete

In short, we have invested a lot of time and effort in seeking out the best naked places in the world. An endeavor not only intended to serve our own naturist desires, but to help people find places they would otherwise miss. Naturism is a niche market at best. If a few thoughtful blog posts can help keep these stunning places thriving, then it’s worth all the effort. Hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it.

 

waterpolo

Vritomartis

 

 

 

 

 

And Sweetwater makes four: Another stunning beach in Greece.

Before our recent trip to Greece begins to fade into our collective traveling memories I thought I should add one more venue to my recent post about naked beach combing on the Greek Islands. We have been to Sweetwater Beach on the south shore of Crete twice – and this second time, we got it right. Given the breathtaking location, I think it deserves its own post.

The cliff trail for the few and the brave

The cliff trail for the few and the brave

For starters, you really gotta want to get there. The beach is located on a little cove half way between Chora Sfakion and Loutro. Both of our visits were day trips from the nearby Vritomartis Hotel. The first time we did it the hard way, walking up the coastal road from the village until you come to a sign that points to Sweetwater Beach, essentially sending you off the curve in the road and straight down a cliff. From there, it’s a truly breathtaking (aka: scary) walk along a narrow path carved into the side of a steep cliff. (Who makes those paths, by the way? That’s one crazy job!) IMG_3150This time, we were a little more methodical. For 20 euro, we were able to hire a water taxi out of the village port at 8:30 in the morning, which put us on the beach about two hours before all the scheduled boat arrivals. Nice! There were a few folks who had walked in earlier, and a really nice guy from Sweden who seemed to be camping on the beach. (No restrooms on the beach, by the way.) As the regular boats starting arriving around 10:30, the little taverna opened as well, just in time for brunch and a beer. I think the taverna people run the sun-lounger and umbrella business, with a clear distinction of “you can be naked down here, but not in these other ones closer to the taverna.” There was a nice mix of naked and not, younger and not, tan lines and none. The way I always wish American beaches could be.

Sweetwater beach and taverna

Sweetwater beach and taverna

The water was clear and calm during our visit, which made for great swimming. I was particularly envious of the people who thought to bring a floaty or a raft. We were smart enough to bring water shoes, a definite necessity at this pebbly beach. But the real defining characteristic of this beach are the little springs that well up along the shore. The deal is; you go for a swim, feel the salt crusting up on your skin, and walk over to the spring where someone before you has filled a bucket with fresh water to warm in the sun so you can douse yourself and rinse off the sea grit and salt. Then you refill the bucket for the next person.

We parked our lounge chairs under the trees near the cliff, took a post-brunch snooze, then headed off by foot for about an hour walk along the sea – not nearly as precarious as the one along the cliff – on to Loutro, a picturesque little village with several restaurants where you can sit on the harbor, cool down, and have “second lunch.” During both visits, I have wondered who you might piss off if you decided go walk the beach path naked. We only passed two other people during our trek, and they were about to encounter naked people at Sweetwater anyway. But alas, we bit the bullet and took the risk of acquiring tan lines.

Springwater showers at Sweetwater

Springwater showers at Sweetwater

From Loutro, there is regular ferry service back to Chora Sfakion until about 6:00 pm, after which you could hire a water taxi back to your starting point, but I’m guessing that would cost a good bit more than 20 euro. From all I can gather, Crete is among the most naturist friendly of all the Greek islands, especially in this region of the southern coast.

It’s a must do. Put it on your bucket list.

Sweetwater Beach

Sweetwater Beach

And a Naturist Angel appeared…

My regular followers are probably aware that we have just returned from two blissful weeks in Greece, starting on Rhodes so we could check out the new (as of last year) naturist hotel, Naturist Angel Club, then on to Crete where we made our second visit to Vritomartis on the south side of the island. (More about that part of the trip coming soon.)

Don't blink. You'll miss it.

Don’t blink. You’ll miss it.

While Greece has a long tradition of technically illegal, but largely tolerated nude beaches, we have been pleased to see several clothes-free inns and hotels open over the past several years. As best I can tell, many of these ventures have been borne out of a desire to find a niche market amidst an otherwise mind-numbingly vast array of accommodations – which appears to be the genesis of Naturist Angel Club Hotel.

Having never visited Rhodes before, it was most definitely one of those “where the hell are we” sort of arrivals, particularly showing up at a time when the economy was on the brink of collapse. As you depart the smallish, aging airport, you can turn left for a twenty-minute drive into the Old Town (past a myriad of chain hotels and resorts,) or you can go to the right and head down the coastal highway, through a couple quaint – and by quaint, I mean difficult to drive through – little towns until you’re on the open road that would lead you down the less populated side of the island. You could easily whiz by the Naturist Angel without noticing; an older property that used to cater to people who like roadside motels, perhaps? But despite our tepid first impressions from the parking lot, we made our way inside where the owner greeted us with warmth and enthusiasm, eager to tell us all about the hotel, the island, the nearby beach (which we never used), the entertainment schedule… Admittedly, we were travel weary and didn’t catch the details as to everything he had on offer, but appreciated the friendly welcome, nonetheless.

For those who have stumbled across this blog post, you should know that our travel priorities are quite specific:

Old Town Rhodes

Old Town Rhodes

  • We want a safe place to stay, naturist when possible, with the amenities you would expect at a three star or better hotel, but devoid of the innuendo and overtones that you sometimes experience at “clothing-optional” venues.
  • We are likely to spend a significant amount of our time lounging with a book by the pool or the sea, but quite frankly, we’re not terribly particular about which – and, of course, we don’t want to feel like the only naked people in the crowd.
  • An finally, while naturism is a big deal for us, nakedness by itself does not constitute a top-ten travel destination. Our reading-sunning-swimming time is best punctuated by exploring the region, tasting the wine, exploring the villages, and adding to our list of serendipitously charming restaurants.
Soaking in the rays at Filiraki Beach

Soaking in the rays at Filiraki Beach

Naturist Angel Club most definitely met the criteria, even though it’s a bit remote. The pool area is a lovely sanctuary, with a nice vibe during the day that is absolutely family friendly. (There were several couples with babies while we were there, as well as a family with a young daughter, but the property is large enough that it never felt noisy or crowded.) Trip Advisor reviews mention the noise from the amazingly convenient airport, which indeed, has an amazingly close flight path for departures over the sea in amazingly close proximity to the hotel. I, for one, happen to be one of those people who will sit at the end of a runway to watch planes land and take off, so I didn’t find this annoying, (or even noticeable inside our room with the doors closed) but it’s most definitely loud enough to cause one to pause conversation for a few moments. Simply one of those things better to know before you get there, but for us, not a big deal.

So... the sea view. It's out there!

So… the sea view. It’s out there someplace!

The owner mentioned that he had loungers and umbrellas available at the nearby beach which is “naturist tolerant.” Having a sea-view room. we could make a general assessment of what that beach might have consisted of, beyond the farmland adjoining the hotel. Given our bliss and contentment reading and snoozing by the pool, we thought our beach time would be better spent making the 40 minute drive to Filiraki, the “official” naturist beach across the island, which turned out to be well worth the trouble. (See that post here.)

That all said, the shining stars of the Naturist Angel Club are the staff members; an international team representing Russia, Latvia, and Greece – but all with outstanding English. With all due respect to the French, we found the staff to be so warm and eager to make our stay memorable that we almost felt like we were leaving family behind when we left at the end of the week. (Not something we commonly experience in Germany and France.) That, and the fact that if you chose to dine in at the hotel, each evening featured a regional specialty, all of which we found to be excellent. We did make it into Old Town Rhodes for a couple excursions to buy a few trinkets and pay too much for lesser meals, but truthfully, it was a bother to get dressed and leave this little oasis of paradise.

Pool nirvana

Pool nirvana

We will eventually make our way back to the Naturist Angel Club as it was an excellent value for our naturist euro, and there is much of Rhodes we’re still eager to see. And it seems the prospects are looking good for this little seasonal inn, as they are apparently fully booked for the rest of this season. I’m hoping that’s good news for them, and good news for the prospect of other potential naturist venues in Greece. Even the staff said that naked people are among the kindest (and cleanest!) of clients they have experienced in the hospitality industry.

So there you are, Greece! Open more naturist boutique hotels and we’ll come drop our clothes and ramp up the cash flow. We’re ready to do our part!

A TALE OF THREE BEACHES: The quirky joys of naturism in Greece

NOTE TO READERS:

Sorry, the photos don’t line up with the chronology of the post. Hopefully, the captions will help you figure that out.


This is our third trip to Greece is search of naked bliss. I have yet to blog about our naturist travels here, but now is a good time to start – having spent the morning on a naturist hike down through a gorge on southern Crete as we brace for our last day of nakation.

Swimming at Filaki Beach

Swimming at Filaki Beach on Crete

Pubic nudity in Greece is something of a dichotomy all in itself. Religion runs deep here, even among the younger generation that may not be “actively religious,” but frequently display small symbols representing their heritage (religious and otherwise) and how that permeates (or even dictates) cultural norms. Thus, unlike France – where many beaches have simply been designated naturist, so that is that – Greece has very few designated naturist beaches. In fact, the largest island in Greece (Crete) has only one “officially authorized fully naturist beach;” Filaki FKK Beach situated near the beautiful Vritomartis Naturist Hotel, where we happen to be staying as I write this. That is not to say that this is the only place to swim naked in these warm, crystal clear waters. Far from it, in fact. It seems that about fifty years ago, the Greek people realized that if they could learn to turn a blind eye – easy enough when faced with blindingly white bodies from northern Europe – that it might be good for tourism. Now on our third visit here, I’m still trying to figure out all the rules, but it seems there are only a few of them that matter:

  • Be sensitive to the locals, especially when there are children around. All the more ironic, as the children are as likely as not to be playing naked in the surf.
  • Beware of grandma, all dressed in black, who’s deep personal convictions may simply override the locals’ desire for the tourist dollar, and
  • Pay attention to the signage, which is almost always in English and says “No Topless Bathing Here!” We have to assume, however, that means they want you to keep your bottoms on as well.

If you consider yourself a naturist, and haven’t found Captain Barefoot’s page yet, well… you have some homework to do. He has been maintaining this online community seemingly since the internet began, first built on his own personal research, and now powered by innumerable “community members” who send in location reports from one year to the next. Sort of the Trip Advisor of naked beaches in Greece.

Filaki Beach, Crete

Filaki Beach, Crete

Empowered with knowledge from his site, and a few recommendations from people we’ve met along the way, we have recently had enjoyable days on three naturist beaches, the likes of which simply go unparalleled (IMHO) to any clothing optional shoreline to be found in my beloved homeland, the US of A.


Faliraki Beach on Rhodes is only a short drive from the Old Town; the main tourist hub of the island. What we didn’t realize, however, is that Faliraki is actually a beach town, and a series of beaches – of which only the last one at the end of the road is “nudist.” As we were searching it out, we finally decided that we were actually looking for Mandomata Beach. (See sign below) We drove past the convenient and available parking spaces until we reached the end of the road near the taverna, where I should mention there were no parking (available) spaces, and turning around was anything but convenient. Once parked, we paid a few euros for two lounge chairs and an umbrella and made our way to the snack bar (taverna) where the dress code seemed to be “wrap something around some part of your body, and we’ll appreciate the gesture.”

Wading at Plakias Beach

Wading at Plakias Beach on Crete

The water was shallow quite a ways out, and calm in the cove of the surrounding mountains, but we had yet to purchase new water shoes (which we have quite a large collection of at home now) and walking this pebbly beach requires leather shoes or leather feet. The crowd was somewhat on the older side, but most everyone was nude, which amazingly enough, is not always the case. After one week on Rhodes, we made our way – only a 45 minute flight – to Crete to revisit two beaches that we discovered during our last visit about five years ago. As I mentioned earlier, Filaki Beach appears to be under the jurisdiction of the aforementioned Vritomartis Hotel, located down a well paved road perhaps a mile from the hotel itself. Perhaps it was our tendency to walk the road naked during our previous visit that precipitated the posting of signs that essentially say, “the beach is naturist, but the road is not! Put some clothes on!” Truthfully, I’ve always been baffled by these passive aggressive signage campaigns, never quite sure if the management is simply obliged to post the sign to appease the locals. It seems to me the goats meandering the hills wouldn’t be offended by our nudity, and as close as I can tell, you’d need a Hubble telescope to detect our naked asses (let alone genitalia) from the nearest domicile. But alas, this year we donned our pareos, which on this particularly windy day, did little good in covering the evidence.

The sign for the nudist area

The sign for the nudist area on Rhodes

Here again, the beach itself is in a protected cove, with sunbeds and umbrellas to rent, and a similarly stony, gravelly beach that plays havoc on barefootedness. But there’s a wonderful and ever-evolving collection of “rock art,” and a small taverna that has no signage related to nudity, so we’ve taken the liberty on both visits to have a snack and a frosty cold beer in full appreciation of the ocean breeze. Life rarely gets better than that. We made two trips this week to Plakias Beach, about an hour west of our hotel; the first intended, but disappointing; the second unanticipated, but serendipitously wonderful. We remembered our visit five years ago to this beautiful sandy beach with calm transparent waters at the foot of huge cliffs that changed colors as the sun moved across the sky. But on arrival this year, gale force winds were blowing off the sea, sending white caps all the way to the breaking waves on the shore. Occasionally, the soft white sand would come blasting at us, sending our floaty airborne into our sleeping naked neighbors.

Woo hoo! It's the Donut Guy at Plakias Beach

Woo hoo! It’s the Donut Guy at Plakias Beach

We had remembered a tavern nearby, and assumed it to be the little beach bar just beyond the naturist area, where they served a wide variety of drinks, but only one choice for food – warmed-over panini. And my research assistant learned that showing up at the beach bar topless was forbidden, but not until after we had paid our bill and returned to our loungers where we were “kindly reprimanded” by the guy who collects fees on the nudist beach. Plakias revisited was a fail.

Rock sculptures on Filiraki Beach on Rhodes

Rock sculptures on Filiraki Beach on Rhodes

The next morning, we realized we had left a family keepsake hanging from our rented umbrella. We quickly rewrote the script for the day and headed back to Plakias Beach, prepared for another day there just in case conditions were right the second time around. Once there, we made a bee-line for our umbrella from the day before. The chairs were vacant, and the little stuffed monkey that’s traveled the world with us was still hanging from the spokes.

The road from Filaki to the hotel

The road from Filaki to Vritomartis Hotel

This day, the waters were calm and clear, and just as we remembered, you could walk 100 meters on the sandy bottom of the bay and still keep your head above water. We found the taverna across the street that we had remembered from five years ago and had a great lunch (fully clothed), then headed back to the beach for sunning, swimming, and floating before the “donut man” magically appeared, immediately drawing a queue of naked people who had clearly planned their day around his anticipated arrival. When the nude beach guy showed up to collect the fees for the sunbeds, he seemed truly delighted we had reclaimed the monkey. Plakias Beach bounced back to the top of that “A List,” just like that. We just have to remember not to go topless in the beach bar on a windy day. But that’s how these things work in Greece, and for that matter, in most places where you travel – naturist or not. There are always unspoken rules, traditions, expectations, and serendipitous discoveries to be made, and timing is everything. That’s probably another blog post, all in itself.

The only official naturist beach on Rhodes

The only official naturist beach on Rhodes

The good news about getting naked in Greece? Not only are there more formal establishments (hotels, etc) like the Naturist Angel on Rhodes and Vritomartis on Crete, but it seems to me that the general feeling about nudity here is slowly evolving from the “tolerance of naked foreigners” to “the acceptance of and participation in naturism” by more of the Greek population. That’s good news for naturists everywhere, and especially for those of us who think Greece is one of the best places in the world to get naked.