Naked Meandering Takes Time…

The last two years have been pretty intense, with a couple big projects that have required a lot of travel, and as a friend put it this morning, many instances where I could say “I worked two days yesterday!” That’s tricky for a blogger, given that the very nature of blogging is organized around a chronological sense of time and space. Challenging when neither is available.

I write this post from Skinny Dippers Naturist Retreat on Mallorca, which has the unusual feature of encouraging a sense of community as many (most?) of the guests gather around the dinner table each evening; where, of course, the lead-out topic of conversation is almost always, “Where have you been, and what did you think?” If that conversation takes hold, perhaps I will disclose that I am a naturist blogger, and the most enthusiastic among them will run off to grab his or her iPad to put – shall we say – a face to the name.

“So, you’ve written about this place in Hawaii? Or Greece? Or Brazil?”

“Well…” I say sheepishly, “I intended to get that done, but you know how those things go.”

But as of this writing, we are looking ahead to three more weeks of nakation, and there are few things sweeter in life than sitting naked on the veranda with a glass of wine and sharing your musings about past travel experiences. So whether you are a loyal fan of my blog, or you just stumbled in from the frustration of a web search where the term “nudist” pulled up all the images you weren’t looking for, here’s what lies ahead on the blogging agenda for the Meandering Naturist.

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On the edge of the big island, Hawaii

I wrote a couple posts about our visit two summers ago to Hawaii, but never quite got around to writing about the sweet little resort called Hangin’ Loose where we lived for a week in a yurt during monsoon season – or at least, so it seemed.

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The serenity of Playa Sonrisa, Mexico

And it seems that I’ve never shared much about our two visits to Playa Sonrisa, a quiet little resort so far down the Yucatan peninsula that you can (and we recommend that you do) take a daytrip by boat to Belize.

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Celso. The guy from Brazil with a naturist dream

And for that matter, I was surprised to find out that I’ve left virtually no trace of our visit to naturist Brazil whatsoever, despite the drama of the story of Colina do Sol, where we met the guitar playin’ naturist Celso to learn of the perils of the naturism business in 21st-century South America. So many stories to tell about that!

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Oriental Village, Thailand
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Near Lemon Tree Resort, Thailand

When asked if I’ve blogged about our visits to two naturist resorts in Thailand, (Oriental Village and Lemon Tree Resort) I had to search my own archives to realize that, “Nope! Those trips are pretty much missing from our travelogue.” Which is a shame, as I’m particularly eager to promote naturism in this part of the world most suitable for naturism 365 days a year. Thailand is most definitely that place!

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Walking to Tahiti Beach on Corsica

I knocked out a few posts about some of our travels last summer, but never really mused much about free-hiking on Corsica or our stay at the naturist resort Bagheera, let alone the subsequent visit to Vritomartis and a stunningly naked day on the tiny island of Gavdos – the most southerly point in Europe.

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At the end of the world, on Gavdos, Greece

I did, however, do a pretty good job in keeping up with the blog during our time last winter (summer, there!) in Australia. At least, that is, until we got to the last two stops near Brisbane at BB at Byron Bay and a local legend known as BoBrene. But that often happens at the end of a long trip, when you start gearing up for reality at home, and the diary business goes out the window.

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The view from the top! A naturist villa near Byron Bay, Australia

And finally, it seems I only gave a cursory glance to our long weekend at Paya Bay in Honduras, which I’ve taken to calling my new Caribbean Branch Office. Another case where we’re eager to simply get the word out about this little gem that has been flying below the radar of much of the international naturist community.

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My branch office at Paya Bay, Honduras

So that’s quite a lot of catching up to do, and as I reflect, quite a lot of miles we’ve accrued in getting naked on six continents over the past two years. Seems that our pacing may slow down over the course of the next year or two as life reinvents itself, but as any blogger will tell you, the best part of the process is living the trip over through the mind’s eye. If a confirmed or would-be naturist finds the motivation in these pictures and words to book his or her own nakation, all the better for the cause, quietly hoping for the day when clothing-optional vacations are as normal as a trip to Disney World. For this meandering naturist, they are most certainly a lot more fun.

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The idyllic little naturist beach on the Island of Rab, Croatia

Individual trip reports to follow in a quasi-chronological order. In the meantime, I always enjoy conversing with other naturists, so if you can’t find it in the search bar of my blog, don’t hesitate to ask Naturist Dan.

Happy naked wanderings to you!

 

In Praise of Aging Nudists

In my most recent post – Nakation for Dummies – I made a bit of a fuss about finding the right place to experience social nudity for the first time, including a few punchy remarks about geriatric communities and sagging skin. A long-time reader felt compelled to write me a long and thoughtful email suggesting that my comments may have been a bit harsh, particularly when you consider that we are largely indebted to these pioneers of nudism for having any place to go naked at all. Point well taken.

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As it happens, while my insurance company has not yet granted me the benefits the label of geriatric would provide, I’m most certainly getting closer to that mark each and every day. And I would go on to say that I’m a bit envious of those who are ten or twenty years older than I, as it seems there was a synergy and passion in those early nudist efforts that is all but lacking today. I remember those first naturist endeavors on the world-wide-web (Who remembers CompuServe?) that first made it possible to not only seek out places for nude recreation, but led me to meet real people as well, each of whom had a tremendous influence on our subsequent naturist endeavors.

There has been a lot written about the aging face of naturism, not only as that pertains to venues and clubs in the United States, but also for those in the large European naturist centers of Spain, Croatia and France. It is easy to neglect a few awkward truths that are frequently lost amidst overly simplistic statements about preserving nudist culture and recruiting the next generation. Having pondered this at great length, I have wondered if others have gone down the same rabbit holes that I have…

  • In the digital age, traveling to a protected naturist environment costs money! My reader friend updated me on the status of several nude beaches that were popular back in the days we lived near San Francisco, some of which are no longer clothing optional, others of which have been compromised by the fact that the naked people are out-numbered by the clothed gawkers looking for a cheap thrill. And that’s to say nothing of the evolution of high-tech camera equipment (Drones, for god’s sake!) than can capture clear digital images from a mile away. The security and self-assurance that could be had for free at a local beach in 1970 now requires a reservation at a luxury resort or on a dedicated cruise. That requires discretionary income. Who has that kind of money? The aging naturist, of course.

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  • Naturism is inter-generational, except when it isn’t. That is most definitely something we took from our summer vacations in the South of France – naturism actually can be an inter-generational affair. In fact, it was particularly heartening to see two or three generations of a family, from one year to the next, as the grandchildren turned into young adults. Seems that’s never been part of the American nudist experience, and we’ve never really noticed that in Croatia or Spain either. In fact, at the huge Croatian resorts of Valalta and Koversada, the camping area is all but segregated with older folks who have dibs on the beachfront camping spots, and younger families who pitch tents up the hill. I suppose it makes sense, really. The French people go to French resorts with their French families, and it becomes a family tradition. I envy them for that. With the naturist population in Croatia coming mostly from Germany, and those in Spain coming mostly from Great Britain, it all becomes a bit more complicated as far as family traditions are concerned.
  • There are perils involved in purchasing your own personal naturist hamlet! So you fall in love with a naturist place in France, or Spain, or Palm Springs, or Arizona, and you decide to buy into a condo or into an apartment complex. Maybe it will be an investment property, or even something you can leave to your family as a vacation home… except the local law of the land requires nudity! La Jenny in southwest France opened in 1984 with about 1000 chalets built over the following ten years. But what happens when the offspring don’t take a fancy to the naturist idea? This has become a significant issue at La Jenny when non-naturist family members want to come use the vacation hideaway, but aren’t too keen on the code of conduct which says, “Take your clothes off!”

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  • It Takes a Village… to make a Village. Especially in the United States, I believe this has become a particularly critical point. Like anything else, it requires a critical mass to provide a wide array of choices for various life-style preferences. Our most vivid experiences to this end have taken place in Florida, in one instance where we visited a “family naturist place” with our children only to learn of the unadvertised strong sexual undercurrent, and another “family naturist place” only to aggravate a less than tactful older man who quite clearly did not want children playing near the pool in his retirement village. But the fact is that when there are a finite number of people who consider nude recreation to be an All-American pastime, then facilities are challenged with being all things to all people. With literally hundreds of naturist centers in a space smaller than Texas, France has a marked advantage here that goes well beyond their laissez-faire attitudes about nudity. French people simply have a lot of choices! Wish that were true everywhere.

As I go about sorting all that out in my own head, it occurs to me that the age thing is perhaps the most perplexing conundrum in the demographics of nakedness. If you’re over sixty, and reading this now, there’s a good chance you have been an advocate for the free beach movement, or have volunteered at your club to fix the roof and paint the snack bar. Or perhaps you were simply there as part of the village to say “Naturism is important. Let us live and let live!” For this, I am grateful.

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Here at this lovely little resort in Mallorca, we met the most lovely man who spends a month each winter at Club Orient in St. Maarten, and a month each summer here in the Balearic Islands. Have suffered a bad fall, he’s a bit less ambulatory in his 84th year than he once was, but his mind is sharp and his humor is vibrant – if not a bit stinging at times. He left early this morning, and I think I can speak for others when I say a certain energy went with him to the airport. Turns out that when he was in earshot, he was the life of the party.

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Perhaps the takeaway there is that we really can’t measure the naturist population in calendar years as accurately as we might in the appreciation of one’s love of life, despite the condition of the skin that contains it!

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[A disturbing side-note: As I was searching for images for this post, I used terms like “senior nudists” or “vintage naturism.” What Google pulled up was some of the most raunchy pornographic images fathomable, most of which were neither seniors nor vintage. While I’ve been around the web enough to find neither the images or the search results particularly surprising or shocking, it’s no wonder people are so confused about naturist/nudism, especially when searching for reliable information on the internet. Bummer!]

 

Nakation for Dummies

So I have made repeated mention in recent posts of my daughter and 20-something friends – mutual friends, I might add – who have become increasingly naturist-curious; a true bonanza for a long time naturist blogger who throws a small party every time he gets a new follower on his blog. This, in an age where nudism is frequently dismissed by Millennials as something my slightly deranged, post-modern hippie parents threaten to tell us about…

“Anyway, your father and I just booked on a nudist cruise to Aruba.”

“NOOOO!!!!! MOM, don’t tell me THAT stuff! Just STOP”

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Day-dreaming in Croatia

It’s strange to me, really. I was a late bloomer, who wasn’t even old enough to bloom during the Summer of Love. By the time I came of age, we were in the Reagan era, California was cracking down on nude beaches, free love was under fire from the emerging religious right, and the AIDS crisis was just about to erupt on the horizon. But the bizarre part of it all to me is the dichotomy of the strange relationship 20-somethings have with immodesty. I know quite a lot of people in this age bracket, most of whom are not especially religious, don’t think twice about a one-night stand (Do we still call this casual sex?), are as likely as not to make out with a new acquaintance at a party, frequently wear seductive clothing in casual settings, but would never consider going to a nude beach or resort. What’s up with that?

What’s up with that, says this humble blogger, is that we’ve made the whole thing seem damn weird and unmanageable! Try visiting a nudist resort in the United States and it costs a fortune (Like $50 for a day visit), and only that after you submit a full FBI check to prove you’re not a sex offender or puritanical ax murderer! Go to the wrong place in Europe, and you inadvertently end up at a naked geriatric center pondering your mortality in disbelief that skin could possibly have that kind of elasticity. Turn the other direction in France, and you might find yourself in Cap d’Agde, the most infamous of naked places in the world, where your inhibitions and misconceptions about naturism will turn into a nightmarish collage of men in studded collars and lesbian sex on the beach. (I know, Cap d’Agde fans – the place can be great for naturism, but send an unsuspecting newbie there? Yikes!)

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Family nakation at La Jenny

And thus, a few thoughts for the newbie naturist who finds the idea of no tan lines and swimming without wet nylon a least at bit alluring.

  • Leave the country! Assuming you’re reading this in the US of A, (or even in Great Britain,) you need to go someplace where people aren’t freaked out by nudity. The family naturist resorts on the southwest coast of France (La Jenny, Montalivet) are by far the most normal in terms of demographics, but they are difficult to get to, and the weather can be iffy. Croatia would be a good alternative, but the time and place means everything. If you go before school holidays, you’re back to the geriatric thing. Do your research before you go.
  • Go to a spa in Germany or Holland. Check out the website for information about FKK or Texteil Frei days, which for many of them is everyday. Elysium near Rotterdam or Therme Erding near Munich are particularly impressive, and draw huge numbers of young couples and singles who don’t consider themselves nudists, but don’t think twice about getting naked with others. It just feels normal.
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The view over Origan naturist camping in France

  • Search the blogosphere for things written by naturists. A lot of it is rubbish, and you’ll know right away this is not going to be helpful. But now and again, you’ll find a blogger who gets it, knows where to go, and when to go there. Send them a message and see if they answer. I’ve found many of our favorite places that way, on the basis of personal recommendations, greatly reducing the chances that you’ll waste your time and money, while irreversibly damaging your psyche!
  • Read Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews before you go – not just a few, but drill down. Many people adore Gunnison Beach in New Jersey, as it’s one of the only substantial and recognized nude beaches in the entire country, but if you read enough reviews, you’ll also learn about some of the oddities of the place as well. In fact, American nude beaches have big issues with gawkers, which is pretty much a sure-fire way to get your girlfriend to say, “Never again.”
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Therme Erding near Munich

  • Decide if you’re an “all in” or “ease in” person. “All in” means you’ll be more comfortable if everyone around you is naked, and you just need to follow suit. “Ease in” means you’re seeking a mixed crowd where nudity is permitted by not required, but also means you put it out there while others around you may not. You can usually figure that out from the aforementioned trip review sites, but it’s an important distinction.
  • Go high-end, or go low-end, but beware of the middle. Though a bit counter-intuitive, you either want to stay at a nice naturist hotel like Vritomartis in Greece or Heliotel in France, or find a place with lots of tent camping –  not miles of trailer camping – but tent camping. Why? The places in the middle tend to attract the folks who parked their travel trailer on a plot in 1967 and haven’t budged since. Lovely people, they may be, but if you’re looking for a youthful vibe, seek out the tent campers. Check out Camp Full Monte in Montenegro, or Belezy in France. Valalta in Croatia seems to have struck a nice balance, but not so much before schools let out in early July.
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Naturist camping on Corisca

  • Beware of naturist/nudist message boards if you want to feel normal about the whole thing. Like the blogosphere, there are some very cool people out there who have a lot of helpful information, but receiving a nude pic from a lonely guy in Atlanta is probably not the introduction to social nudity you’re looking for.
  • Seek out resources geared to people in your demographic. Perhaps the best one out there right now is The Young Naturists Association (YNA) run by Felicity and Jordan out of New York. They have done more to promote a positive image for social nudity than anything I’ve seen on the web for quite a long time. I have yet to attend one of their events (I’m told I’m welcome, despite the fact that I’m not quite a young naturist anymore) but from everything I’ve seen, they’ve got it right, including a blog that is thoughtful, intelligent, and informative. My guess is the people they have attracted to the cause have similar traits.
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Naked feeding time in South Africa

Dunno! Perhaps there’s no rocket science to be found in this post, accept to say that a bad first foray into naturism is more often than not the last foray into naturism. We started young – just months after we were married (remember, our kids are in their 20s now!) so we’ve been at this for a while. To a large degree, our naturist travels have defined our relationship; when our naked travels have taken us to places we would never thought to have visited, where we have met people we would have never had reason to talk to.

Start young. Before you have children. Before life bogs you down. Have more questions? Ask Naturist Dan! We naturists love to advocate for our cause.

 

 

 

 

Dad!?! What the Hell are you Doing?

We made some new friends today at lunch during our first day (second visit) at Skinny Dippers Resort on Mallorca. As was the case during our stay last year, the typical introductory visit follows a fairly predictable script; Where else have you done the naturist thing? How did you get into nude recreation? And, if the pre-screening test goes well, the inevitable, “Do your kids know you’re here?”

As it happens, our kids do know we’re at a naturist place. We had a FaceTime session with our 29-year-old daughter today (appropriately undressed for the occasion) and her 27-year-old sister will join us (here at Skinny Dippers) for a few days in the coming week. As I have mentioned before, each of our daughters are naturist-friendly, or more directly, “we will undress for a free vacation.”

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Es Trenc Playa

Turns out that we are the exception to the rule by way more than a country mile! In fact, in our informal survey of other parents we have met at naturist places over the past ten years, there are approximately zero subjects who have told their children, “Yeah, we’re going to lie in the sun naked for two weeks – come join us if you’d like.” Which leads to an amusing story our new friend told us at (naked) lunch today…

Seems he and his wife were visiting a clothing-optional beach in Great Britain when their (now-adult) daughter was about six years old. Having completed a rejuvenating swim, the father came ashore with swim-trunks in hand, surrounded by naked people,  wringing out the seaweed and salt-water and enjoying a brief dose of fresh-air-all-over. To which the daughter replied in horror, [insert charming British accent here,] DAD!?! What the HELL are you doing?

What the hell, indeed!?!

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I find myself more introspective than usual during our world travels, with an unusual amount of time to read, and even a few minutes to catch-up on a few reliable news-feeds by the likes of John Oliver and Seth Meyers. (Sorry friends – if you’re an avid Trump fan, you may want to X out of this page now and get on with your day. Don’t let my little rant here diminish your appreciation for my blog.) Today’s confluence of events, besides this delightful story delivered with passion from my Brexit disdaining comrade, also included time on a floaty in the pool – naked, of course – while reading Bassem Youssef’s Revolution for Dummies, and the discovery of this handy little flow-chart that attempts to explain the terms of engagement for the President of the United States and the first lady of France.

Donald! What the hell are you doing?!?

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Thank you for setting the bar for us, President Trump.

In the case of the Youssef book, he walks his readers through the Arab Spring and the Egyptian revolution, step-by-step, so that westerners might have some insight into the rise of radical Islam, and just how that aligns with the other religious-gone-political campaigns the world over. Today’s lesson was, “Liberal thinking leads to discussion, which leads to democracy, which leads to freedom of thought, which leads to women baring skin (and driving cars!), which leads to… wait for it… mass orgies in the streets in every city and town the world over. You would think these observations to be ridiculous until you realize that Youssef struck such a nerve with his ironic humor that he was forced into exile, and now resides in asylum in the United States of America. (Don’t tell Donald.)

So let’s be clear. I’m one of those professor types that works pretty hard to draw conclusions out of non-sequitur ideas, but I have to say, we live in a bizarre age when the leader [sic] of the free world can essentially make a pass at another diplomat’s wife, when women of the Arab world are banished to a life of physical (fabric) and psychological (everything else!) imprisonment, and a six-year-old child is shocked by the appearance of her father’s penis at the distance of fifty meters on a clothing-optional beach.

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And for that matter, we are only frank with our adult children about our naturist doings because we had the audacity and resource to be naturists with them while they were children, though we had to travel all the way to France to make that seem normal and acceptable for them.

My point exactly? Well really, I just wanted to tell that humorous story from lunch today. But that aside, my desire to create a blog in the first place was to create a place on the internet where social nudity assumes its rightful place in this bizarre and chaotic world in which we live. In America, we even have children’s books that help us teach our children that “this is an elbow, this is a toe, and this is a penis.” If you’re really progressive parents, maybe you have those books in your house that help explain to your children that at a certain age you grow hair on your body and things start to protrude.

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But really? How does a child understand the oppression of women in the Middle-east, let alone the behavior of an American president, if they can’t see a penis or a breast without reeling in horror and disbelief? Especially in this day and age when they are simply a Google search away from the most extraordinary elements of sexual deviance, and god knows what else.

Clearly, my mind is warped in favor of nakedness, along with body acceptance, truthfulness, and a realization that humans have a finite number of body parts that make them human. If there are, indeed, orgies on the street, I don’t think you can ascribe those to the nudists. Truth be told, anecdotal evidence suggests people who are into sexual deviance (orgies, et al…) are quite shy about total nakedness. Too vulnerable. Too real.

“Dad? What the Hell are you Doing?”

“I’m being human, dear one. Go back to playing in the sand.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ile du Levant – New and Improved!

I have written quite a lot about Ile du Levant over the years, since our first visit here roughly ten years ago. That was a weird day, at best. Trying to figure out what this little island community was about, or more specifically, what were the known and unspoken rules regarding nudity in this naturist haven.

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Last year, we brought long time (non-naturist) friends to the island to experience the tranquility and freedom of the clothing optional experience. They bought in 100%, but had a lot of questions, such as, “If this is a nudist island, why are so many people wearing clothes?” “And what’s with the regulations that require clothing in the town square?” My friend was an outsider trying to make sense of it all, without the luxury of having a history of wallowing through the infinite abyss of naturist message boards about erections and pubic hair.

This year, however, there is a noticeable difference. The website for the island has been updated, as well as the corresponding brochure with a map that shows where one can and cannot be naked. And guess what? The new map shows the main square as a naturist friendly area. That’s sort of a big deal, as it seems this has been a point of contention in the village for quite a long time, which has led to numerous demonstrations by the townspeople who have insisted that nudity should be accepted in the center of the naturist village.

Seems so simple – but social nudity never really is.

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All the while, there seems to be a greater tolerance for nudity in the restaurants on the island as well. In fact, I’m pretty sure our beloved little inn, Heliotel, used to require clothing during the evening meal, but alas – no more. “Come as you wish.” And at least half the clients choose to come naked. And that seems to be trending in other establishments on the island as well.

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In fact, the publicity materials now refer to the island as a naturist resort, which it really is not. It’s a town, on an island, where nudity is accepted – or not. But it seems the locals are stepping up the game to make it a destination worth the 30-minute boat ride from the mainland. A small price to pay for a few days of naked nirvana.

Is it still a bit difficult for a foreigner to figure it out? Yes, perhaps. But less so if that person decides to spend a couple nights in a local hotel or gite to experience the village after the day-trippers have gone home on the 5:00 pm ferry. But isn’t that how it works everywhere? People don’t want you to visit as gawking tourists, but instead, as members of the community who actually care about the ideals that hold that community together.

I think this is all good news for this little island off the Cote d’Azur. And also an indication that we’d better make reservations for next year sooner than later, as things are likely to get busy around here.

Good news for naked people everywhere.

 

 

My Parents Took Me to a Naked Place

I’m in France right now, as is my 20-something daughter, but she is not traveling with us at the moment. In fact, she took a beach trip today with several friends and acquaintances – all of whom I know – to just an ordinary beach on the Cote d’Azur. Not long into their stay, off came her bikini top. Hardly necessary on any beach in France, so why not?

Our daughter is what I would call naturist friendly. Would she drive 300 miles to get to a naturist beach (as I would) just to add it to her bucket list? Probably not. But given the choice to swim naked or adorn herself in wet nylon – well, that’s a no-brainer! Nylon and lycra be gone! As one of her naturist-friendly peers so aptly stated, “What’s the big deal? We all know what’s down there!”

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The big deal, at least for Americans, is that we are very much confused about the meaning of nudity, especially when it comes to bringing the kids along. The AANR (American Association for Nude Recreation) will tell you that naturist travel is enjoying a significant upswing, especially when you consider offerings like the Big Nude Boat that packs 1000+ nudies onto a Carnival cruise ship. But in our experience, this marketing niche is directed to either the 30-something “I need a spark in my life” set, or the over 50 empty-nesters, who wouldn’t dream of telling their children that they were going on a nakation.

As I write this from a sweet little hotel on Ile du Levant, it occurs to me that I saw many children today – some clothed, some not – as well as just about every other age demographic over the course of the day, and not a single person looked shocked, disgusted, or otherwise traumatized. Which leads me back to my daughter’s naturist curious friend when she asks me, “So when you took your kids on nakation in France, weren’t you concerned about the inevitable back-to-school essay called, What I did last summer?

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Our good friends have always known about our aversion to wrapping ourselves in fabric, as have many of our siblings. But it is true that we were a bit more cautious when it came to telling the grandparents that the true meaning of summer vacation meant not having to launder your underwear, or anything else for that matter. How could anyone fathom the context of a family naturist resort in the South of France had they not experienced such a thing? Might we be putting our children in harm’s way? Will they need to see a psychologist in 15 years having repressed memories of seeing people with (or without) pubic hair? Or perhaps to most viable concern, will they show up on the internet on some unsavory website?

To be fair, the digital age has not been kind to the naturist agenda, at least not when it comes to the proliferation of unauthorized images captured from devices hidden and unknown, only for the purpose of exploitation. Though having acknowledged that, I have yet to find an unauthorized image of myself or any family member anywhere, which is quite remarkable given my 30+ years as a naturist. Could it happen tomorrow? Of course, but that is a relatively small danger within the broad strokes of cyber-crime.

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But I digress.

What did we/do we tell people when they ask about our holidays in Spain, Greece, and the South of France? We tell them where we went, and about how we rented a house, an apartment, or stayed in a hotel there, conveniently omitting the name of a specific naturist venue. In one case, upon mentioning a specific geographical destination (the Gironde peninsula in France) to a colleague, we both recognized the common denominator. Simply the mention of the town of Montalivet was enough to identify our shared desire for holidays without clothing.

“But what about the grandparents?”asks my young friend. What do you tell them? And what will the children say when you’re not around?

We were quite direct with our children, telling them that out of context, not everyone would understand the inherent value of family naturism, and that while our vacations were not to be thought of as secretive, there are many people with different value systems that simply would not understand, and your grandparents quite likely would fall into that category. But, if you inadvertently let the cat out of the bag, or even the absence of tan lines became a noted issue, then by all means, tell the truth and we’ll take it from there.

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Photo attribution: Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park. See there page on similar topic here.

Interestingly enough, that happened on at least a couple of occasions, but alas, the comments were so lacking in context, that they went unnoticed by the grand-parental units!

“We don’t wear swimsuits in France.”

“Of course you don’t honey. Now let’s get ready to go to the pool.”

The bi-product of all this, however, is that until adulthood, our children never found a level of comfort with nudity at home. France was a place to be naked; home was the place to be modest. And this would carry across, rather mysteriously, from one year to the next. As of this writing, none of them are avid naturists, but any of them will gladly accept the offer of food and housing, (note that clothing is missing) in an exotic Mediterranean or Caribbean destination. Funny how that works.

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As for the grandparents? We eventually fessed up to one side, as grandpa became increasingly internet savvy and wanted to know precisely where we were staying on an upcoming European adventure. Knowing we were just a Google search away from full exposure, I wrote a thoughtful email saying that I was less ashamed about the naturist thing than I was about keeping this from them for so many years. If it was such the right thing to do for our family – and it was – why not just come out and tell the full story?

But social norms are powerful, especially within the family structure. We were fortunate to have more freedom and autonomy than many, but then again, we had the sole responsibility of raising our children to be thoughtful humans with a worldly perspective. A world in which a naked man disabled by polio or a woman recovering from a mastectomy would become a casual topic for dinner conversation while living in a community of mutual acceptance. That is the very best face of naturism, and the environment we have experienced time and again during our travels throughout naturist Europe.

Would we do it differently if we had it to do over? Too many variables to answer that question, and those variables differ a great deal from one family to the next. But our naturist family vacations are among our most prized memories, and I believe our (adult) children would tell you that as well. As stated above, we all know what’s down there! Why we load that with so many taboos remains a mystery to me to this day. Somehow, violence and porn have become commonplace, but lying naked on a beach is still a source of suspicion and contempt.

Grow up America! We know what you’re hiding!

 

 

 

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.