Whether you want to reconnect with nature, avoid tan lines, or just fancy baring your butt in the sun, there’s more than one reason to check out nudist beaches. But they can be pretty intimidating if it’s your first time, and you’ll likely have loads of questions before you strip down to your birthday suit. Here is everything you need to know about enjoying the seaside au naturel with this list of 10 golden rules to abide by when visiting a nudist beach.
1. Check the law.
Some places allow full nudity, others are topless only. In the US, every state has its own rules, and in Europe, certain beaches are nudism-permitted. Check before you go, and keep your clothes on until you’re sure you’re in the right place.
Sometimes, a beach will have a nudist end and a clothed end. The different sections are generally well marked, but if you’re not sure, just look around and see what everyone else is doing. And remember to stick to your side: The British Naturist Beach Code advises nudists to refrain from approaching “textiles” (nudist slang for people wearing clothes) at all times. It’s a good rule to follow, whether or not you’re in Britain.
2. Remember to accessorize.
Just because you’re in your birthday suit, doesn’t mean you can’t wear anything at all. In fact, nudists like to dial up their accessories, like a giant sun hat and sparkly sunglasses, to stand out a little.
It’s also a good idea to bring sandals for walking across rocks and hot sand, sunscreen, hats, umbrellas, and everything else you’d usually pack. Note that you’re allowed to put on a jumper if it gets chilly or cover up with a sarong if the wind starts whipping sand across the beach.
3. Strip off gradually.
It’s normal to feel a little stage fright. Rather than diving in at the deep end, try removing your clothes gradually. Obviously, you don’t want to be that fully clothed person walking around gawping at everyone, but if it’s clear you’re just working up the courage to disrobe then you won’t stand out at all. Remember that there will be all kinds of ages and body shapes on the beach, so don’t worry about what you look like. Nudist beaches aren’t about perfection.
4. Don’t stress about grooming.
Whether you’re sporting fuzz or a Brazilian wax job, just go with what you’re comfortable with. You’re only obligation is to be clean, just like at a regular beach.
5. Look, but don’t stare.
There’s a difference between looking at people and ogling them. Nudist beaches are about relaxing around naked bodies, not sexualizing the situation, so long stares or repeated glances are not cool.
Taking photos is also not cool. Some locations don’t allow photography or filming of any kind — so no matter how great the sunset or how much you want to add #nudistselfie to your Instagram, leave your phone, drone, and selfie stick safely locked away in your car.
6. Cover up erections.
Nudist beaches aren’t meant to be sexual environments, and erections are not welcome. When you’re surrounded by folks in the buff, proudly waggling your thing around is a major faux pas. That said, erections occasionally happen and it’s not a big deal. If it happens to you, don’t bring attention to yourself; just lie on your front, cover it with a towel, or take a dip in the sea until it subsides.
7. Be firm about unwanted attention.
Nudists are proud of their community and enjoy getting to know each other. So don’t be surprised if someone wanders on over and strikes up a conversation. But if you find yourself on the receiving end of some unwanted attention, be firm and tell them you’d prefer some time to yourself.
If, on the rare occasion they turn out to be creeps who won’t leave you alone, then slip on a cover-up, move to a crowded area, and report them to the coastguard. If the beach isn’t staffed and your admirer won’t get the hint, call the police and let them fix the problem. You shouldn’t have to deal with sexual harassment just because you’re naked.
8. Flirt with caution.
The same rules apply here as they would in real life: If you can tell someone’s not into you, then don’t force it. You’ll need to be even better at reading body language on a nudist beach because people tend to feel extra-vulnerable without clothes on. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t flirt, just don’t comment on their physique (it’s creepy) and put extra time and effort into getting to know them on a friendly level before turning up the charm.
9. Don’t engage in sexual activities.
Sexual acts of any kind are not only frowned upon; they’re illegal. If you break the law, authorities will take a zero-tolerance stance: You’ll be kicked out, and may receive a lifetime ban, a fine, or imprisonment. Criminal activity also puts naturist use of the beach at risk — many have been shut down over the years.
Exhibitionism is also not okay. Naked is one thing, but twisting your body into yoga stretches is a bit much. Just make sure you respect those around you.
10. Respect people’s space.
Nude or not, it’s nice to have your own space on the beach. When you’re at a naturist spot, the need is higher because everyone is more vulnerable. If possible, position yourself at least 15-20 feet away from anyone else.
You should also respect shared places. Some nudist beaches have bars, cafes, or car parks on the shore. There’ll be a sign to let you know if you’re allowed to be nude there or not. It’s also polite to sit on a towel or sarong when relaxing on a public surface, so carry one with you at all times.