While nude beaches remain largely taboo, there are a number of strands, from North and South America to the Caribbean and Europe, that cater to naturists and those who want to feel sun and air on completely bare skin. Here's a list of the best beaches where these sun worshippers can shed their skivvies and work on an all-over tan.
Known as the "unofficial clothing-optional beach" in Maui, Little Beach is an isolated strand surrounded by high shrubs, craggy volcanic rocks and driftwood. Although nude sunbathing is illegal in Hawaii, the law has not been enforced here for years. As a result, Little Beach has become a favorite hangout for naturists and has even attracted the likes of nude recreation expert and artist Dr. Leisure, who has been painting colorful scenes from nude beaches for more than a decade. Activities at Little Beach are plentiful, including swimming, body surfing and whale watching.
Just north of Miami lies one of the few county-run and government-sanctioned clothing-optional beaches in the United States. For years Haulover Beach has been a haven for naturists from South Florida as well as snowbirds from Canada and Europe. Thanks to the efforts of the South Florida Free Beach Association, this beach has certified lifeguards and organized group activities, such as swimming and volleyball.
With its cobalt-blue waters, sun-bleached cottages, ancient ruins and red sandstone cliffs, Crete's Red Beach is remarkably picturesque. Made famous in 1968 when hippies from across Europe flocked to its shores, the resort at Red Beach has remained a naturist favorite thanks to its rustic charm and its tolerance (nudity is allowed everywhere except the dining room). Visitors to Red Beach will find the area's ancient caves interesting, as well as sunken bits of history from off-shore shipwrecks that wash ashore from time to time.
Andrew Herdy, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Although the barely-there, dental-floss bikini is said to have debuted here, nude beaches in Brazil are somewhat rare. However, naturism has caught on in some parts of the country, including Praia do Pinho (Pinho Beach), located in the southern state of Santa Catarina. Pinho opened in 1987 as the first sanctioned au naturel beach, and nudists who frequent this area make a point of saying "clothing is not an option" despite the strand's official description as clothing optional. Pinho Beach is located in the town of Balneario Camboria, a popular destination for beachgoers from Argentina and Uruguay. The town's population is said to increase tenfold from December through February. Beyond the beach, the town's prime attraction is Brazil's second largest monument, Cristo Luz, a giant statue of Christ.
Johann Vanbeek, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Unlike most other nude beaches, Hedonism II promotes a freewheeling and indulgent naturist experience for playful singles and couples. Located in Jamaica along Negril’s famous 7-mile white sand beach, the all-inclusive resort is divided into "nude" and "prude" sections, with separate facilities for swimming, sunbathing, volleyball and more. Clothing is optional, however, throughout the entire complex. Visitors can expect to find vast spreads of food and drink, a thumping party scene and, to quote the resort, a "lush garden of playful passion."
Raguy, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Relaxed and lively, Samurai Beach lies about 2 1/2 hours north of Sydney via the Pacific Motorway. Along Samurai's 1/2-mile expanse of white sand, nudists let it all hang out while playing volleyball, tug-of-war and Frisbee. To reach Samurai, visitors must traverse the tricky terrain of One Mile Beach (think scrub and rocks) and are advised to pack adequate footwear.
Named for a hulking, wrecked vessel that once sat on the sand, Wreck Beach was Canada's first government-sanctioned, clothing-optional beach. The 3-mile-long beach is also a wildlife and nesting area for bald eagles. Still, some sections of the beach assume carnival-like atmosphere thanks to its proximity to the University of British Columbia and its popularity with students. One stretch of sand known as Vendors' Row is a 1-stop shop for souvenirs, refreshments and ever-important sunscreen.
Tomash Devenishek, flickr
The site for nude novices is the Couples Resort in Ocho Rios, a popular Jamaican port-of-call. A unique feature at the romantic, all-inclusive getaway is Tower Isle, a private, au naturel island approximately 200 yards offshore where playful pairs can enjoy a day of nudity. Located on the island are a pool, cozy nooks for lounging, a cabana bar and, of course, a pristine beach. Although the rest of the Couples complex has a dress code, Tower Isle makes it the ideal resort for letting loose year-round.
SORTIR, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Travelers looking for an authentic nude beach experience should go to CHM Montalivet, the birthplace of the international naturist movement. Established in 1950, this nude beach resort on France's Atlantic coast provides a safe and legal wilderness setting for nudists and their families. Within the complex are more than 1,800 campsites, 172 bungalows, shops and facilities for activities like art classes, yoga and soccer. No other nude beach or camp on Earth rivals Montalivet's family-friendly environment.
From March through mid-October, Cap d’Agde, one of the largest tourist resorts in the French Mediterranean, transforms into a nude city, where baring it all is not only an option – it is required. Close to the city of Montpellier and the vast vineyards of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, family-friendly Cap d’Agde is a cultured choice for both avid naturists and those who want to take the clothing-optional lifestyle for a test-drive.
European hippies were the first to adopt this fishing village in Crete as a naturist destination. Since the 1960s, Plakias Beach, which is hemmed in by mountains and the Libyan Sea, has earned a reputation as a safe spot for those who embrace the clothing-optional lifestyle. Now many German, English and Dutch expats make Plakias their home year-round. Breathtaking landscapes, rustic Greek heritage, and its geographical position as the southernmost nude beach in Europe make Plakias Beach an obvious entry for a nude beach bucket list.
A visit to San Francisco is always a good idea. Travelers looking to combine a naturist retreat with a jaunt to the city can visit nearby Baker Beach. Part of the Presidio, Baker Beach is a 1/2-mile-long strand with stunning, panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, making it a popular destination for beach walkers and photographers. For nude sunbathing and recreation, head to the northernmost section of Baker Beach. Note that swimming here is discouraged due to the dangerous surf.
Nude beaches are technically illegal in San Diego. However, Black’s Beach, set below the 300-foot, mansion-topped bluffs of Torrey Pines, has long been known as the best clothing-optional beach in Southern California. Because of the beach's difficulty to reach, nudists at Black’s Beach are mostly left undisturbed. Visitors must follow a marked, but steep route down the cliffs to the beach or take a 20-minute walk along the beach from La Jolla Shores (which is impossible during high tide). In addition to nude recreation, Black’s Beach is popular with surfers.
The wide sandy beach occupied by Club Orient is one of the best family-friendly, clothing-optional choices in the Caribbean. This St. Martin resort lets guests sunbathe, stroll and swim in the nude. Numerous services including laundry facilities, a fitness center, general store and 2 restaurants are located on the premises. Beyond the club, visitors can take excursions to Marigot, St. Martin's capital and the largest town on the French side of the island, or to Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch side, where they'll find casinos and shopping.
The beaches along Mexico’s Mayan Riviera attract everyone from spring breakers and honeymooners to convention-goers. Hidden Beach Resort, between Cancun and Tulum, caters solely to the naturist. Here, guests can sunbathe on white sand beaches, swim in clear Caribbean waters, dine, dance and visit the spa without ever wearing a stitch. The adults-only all-inclusive also offers a day-long nude cruise as well as clothed excursions to local points of interest, such as the Mayan ruins in Tulum, craft markets and bullfighting events.
Just off the coast of Massachusetts lies the island of Martha’s Vineyard, long known as a getaway for old-money scions and politicians. Surprisingly, the island has a bit of a bohemian streak, best embodied by its small, but beloved, nude beach. Known as either Moshup Beach, after the Moshup Trail that leads down to the sand, or Gay Head Beach, because of its position below the scrub-topped Gay Head Cliffs, this strand has a clothing-optional section for sunbathing and recreation. Visitors must pay a $15 parking fee in order to access Moshup’s Beach.