Online searches for “nudist holidays” have increased 52 per cent since January. Ben Brown reports on the burgeoning trend for naked travel.
For some, walking around the house in their birthday suit is about as adventurous as it gets. For others, being naked is a way of life. Far from being gratuitous, titillating or sexual, “naturism” celebrates the freedom of letting it all hang out, as nature intended. And naked travel is the next logical step.
On European beaches, it’s not uncommon to see the naked form in all its glory. Here in the UK, however, we’re somewhat more prudish (or perhaps it’s just the cold weather). But that may slowly be changing. From the “Free the Nipple” campaign to collective nudist art, body acceptance is growing in strength, leading many to dip their toes in the water of naturism.
Andrew Welch, British Naturism, the UK’s organisation for Naturists says: “We know that people are far more willing to try social nudity and so it’s great to have confirmation that more and more of us are letting go of any hang-ups and are feeling comfortable in the skin we’re in.
“For those visiting a naturist/nudist beach for the first time, the best advice is to relax, enjoy the sensation of the sun, breeze and sea on your whole body and realise that no one is worried about how you look.”
So let’s strip off, throw caution – and our clothes – to the wind, and find out what naturist activities are out there this summer for the naked traveller.
1. Book a naturist holiday
A recent survey by lastminute.com revealed that web searched for “nudist holidays” have increased 52 per cent since January. Meanwhile, 35 per cent of men would bare it all on a beach, along with 17 per cent of women.
Last year, only 8 per cent of British people have tried naked travel this figure has more than doubled now. Lastminute.com says that “getting an all-over tan is the most popular reason to bare all on the beach, with 42 per cent of the vote, while 21 per cent do it to ‘reconnect with nature’ and one in five (20 per cent) want to ‘step out of their comfort zone’”.Summer holidays are the ultimate way to relax, so why not do it as sans bikini? Globetrender spoke to two leading UK naturist tour operators and both confirmed our hunch: business is booming.
“The problem we now face is availability,” Natural Holidays told us, “as some of our smaller destinations become fully booked up to a year in advance”.
As for the top destinations, Away with Dune said: “Our bestselling destinations are the Greek Islands (Zante, Corfu and Rhodes), Spain (mainland and Majorca) and the Caribbean.”
For Natural Holidays, it’s Fuerteventura: “Virtually the entire island’s beaches are naturist friendly so it makes a great destination for people who want to experience naturism in and around their apartment complex as well as when out and about exploring new beaches.”
According to both tour operators, the future all depends on new destinations opening up. Interest in naked holidays is growing rapidly, but more naturist resorts are needed to satisfy the demand.
2. Find a quiet naturist beach
For first timers to naked travel, a naturist beach is perhaps the best place to start. There are only a handful of naturist beaches in the UK, but Brighton Beach is the best known. It’s a 200-yard stretch of beach away from the main seafront, but it’s still one of the busiest naturist spots in the country.If you’re looking for somewhere a little quieter, try Cleat’s Shore on the Isle of Arran or the incredibly private St. Osyth beach in Essex.
3. Dine at the Bunyadi restaurant
The Bunyadi is London’s first and only “naked restaurant”. Embracing the au naturel ethos with every detail, the Bunyadi operates without electricity, serves only vegan organic food (on clay plates), and bans the use of mobile phones. Even the wait staff are in the buff, surrounded by intimate candle lighting and natural bamboo interiors.
Before you declare the concept ridiculous, the waiting list for the Bunyadi has already racked up 44,000 names, suggesting that Londoners can’t wait to bare all over dinner and polite conversation.
4. Bathe on London’s naked rooftop
Under the watchful eye of Big Ben, a rooftop space has opened up this summer dedicated to naturist sun worshippers. It’s all part of a promotion for NOW TV, and the rooftop boasts a sunbathing area, a bar, and trampolines (admittedly, bouncing around may be a step too far for some people).
5. Try naked yoga
Yoga has been practiced in the nude since its ancient inception; it even has a sanskrit name, nagna yoga or vivastra yoga. It’s yoga as the puranas intended.
The practice of yoga is one of the most centering, liberating activities; you wonder why we ever did it in clothes. Far from being gratuitous or sexual, naked yoga tends to promote body positivity, mental wellness and a return to nature.
Nowadays, you’ll find a naked yoga class in just about every major city, including London, with most offering female-only, male-only, and coed classes.
6. Join a topless book-club
In New York, a small group of bookworms get together to share their love of pulp fiction and celebrate that female toplessness is every bit as legal as the male variety in the city.
They are called the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society, and meet at clothing-optional rooftops or Central Park. There are also similar groups in Chicago, London, LA, and Melbourne.
7. Take a naturist cruise
2,000 people floating off the coast of Florida, all as naked as the day they were born. What’s not to love about this form of naked travel? There are now more than a few dedicated naturist cruise operators (check out cruisenude.com), and more and more traditional cruise companies are opening the gangway to bare bums and other bits.
While naked yoga and topless bookclubs are mostly regularly frequented by the younger generation, one reporter confirmed our suspicions about naturist cruises: they are dominated by the over 60s.
Embracing naturism no longer has the “hippie” connotation of old. Nor is it pervy. As the team at Natural Holidays puts it: “The two words that sum up naturist holidays are ‘freedom’ and ‘relaxation’. Freedom from clothes and being able to fully relax in an environment where no one is making judgements about your body or your clothing”.
Naked travel is still a niche and fledgling trend, but we expect to see more hotels, restaurants, and resorts offering “clothing optional” alternatives as intrigue steadily increases.
And if you’re still cautious, think of it like this: if everyone’s naked, no one’s naked.