Don't Make These Common Mistakes When You Go To A Nude Beach For The First Time

Bikinis and board shorts are typical beach day attire. However, those who want to bare it all can do so at a nude beach. Nude beaches have their origins in nudism, also referred to as naturism. This social movement arose in the country during the late 1920s and grew in the 1960s. In a nutshell, it encourages individuals to disregard societal shame regarding nudity and wear their birthday suits with pride. Now, the U.S. is home to some very popular nude beaches, and there are some even better options in the Caribbean as well.

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Notable spots include Black's Beach in California and Haulover Beach in Florida. There's even a nude beach on Lake Tahoe, one of the biggest lakes in the US. Although nudism and nude beaches might be taboo for many, others find it empowering. Speaking to CNN, writer Geena Truman stated, "It's about freedom and reveling in your body while immersed in nature."

Similarly, Nicky Hoffman Lee from the Naturist Society Foundation told USA Today, "If you swim in the ocean without a swimsuit on, you'll never go back in with a suit on." She continued, "The feeling is just incredible." If you've never been to a nude beach but are interested in the experience, there are rules to adhere to. With that said, here's what you need to know before taking it all off.

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Don't gawk at other nude beachgoers

Admittedly, if it's your first time at a nude beach or resort, it could be overwhelming to be suddenly exposed (pun intended) to various nude bodies. Nevertheless, to ensure that all beachgoers feel at ease, refrain from gaping or glancing. You don't want to unintentionally make someone self-conscious or falsely frame yourself as a spectator instead of a participant. In other words, act as if you were having a typical beach day. 

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Consider bringing sunglasses to prevent awkwardness or to acclimate yourself to this new environment. If you have a conversation with another beachgoer, maintain eye contact. This will likely be limited to small talk; they will probably not reveal too many details about themselves for confidentiality reasons. In the same vein, note that nude beaches are intended to be a safe space for all.

"Nude beaches embrace body acceptance and celebrate the diversity of the human form," Travel agent Jaxson Smith explained to Fodor's. "Expect to see people of all shapes, sizes, ages, and backgrounds. Respectful behavior includes refraining from making derogatory comments or judgments based on appearance."

Don't partake in PDA

Inappropriate PDA is very much discouraged at nude beaches. Although nudity is typically associated with sex, Jeffrey Baldasarre from the American Association for Nude Recreation told Fodor's that this is not the case with nudism. Simply put, there's nothing sexual about nudism. Thus, keep your clothes off, but keep your hands to yourself. Like any other beach, sexual activity on nude beaches is prohibited.

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In fact, legal action may be taken against individuals found engaging in sexual behavior. Note that some nude beaches around the country are family-friendly, and there could be minors present. In addition to being highly inappropriate, sex was found to be negatively impacting the environment, specifically the sand dunes at Es Cavallet Beach in Ibiza and Oranjezon Beach in the Netherlands, both of which are nudist beach destinations.

Per The Guardian, the situation in the Netherlands prompted Karlien Lodewijk from the NFN Open en Bloot (open and bare) naked recreation association to state, "Sex outdoors is not naked recreation, and people who come to sunbathe find it just as much of a nuisance as other people do. Naked recreation ... gives a real feeling of freedom, and it's very healthy to see real, naked bodies that are not photoshopped. But we distance ourselves from sex outdoors."

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Don't snap photos

As mentioned, nude beaches are a haven for many. In an article for CNN, journalist Lola Mendez and other nude beachgoers wrote that visiting nude beaches increased their self-esteem and brought positive changes to their lives. With that said, going to a nude beach for the first time can be exciting, but you should think twice about taking your smartphone out. Needless to say, taking photos and documenting everything you do on social media is the norm. But alas, avoid taking pictures at a nude beach. 

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This, of course,  is out of respect for fellow nude beachgoers. You wouldn't want someone to believe you are taking photos of them without their consent, even if this is not true. Additionally, you could take a picture and accidentally capture someone in the background without knowing it. This could violate their privacy, especially if you upload said photo on social media. To avert making anyone uneasy, put your phone away, relax, and disconnect.

Don't come unprepared

Even if you're wearing your birthday suit, you'll need the proper gear for the perfect beach day. That said, a towel should be on the top of your packing list, especially with how convenient it can be. Jeffrey Baldasarre from the American Association for Nude Recreation explained to Fodor's, "Whether to sit on or wrap around yourself when you walk to public areas such as picnic benches, food stands, and restrooms, you will be more comfortable, as will those around you." Remember to be mindful of where you put your towel down to provide other beachgoers with enough personal space.

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Bring an extra towel if you plan to have a dip in the sea and prefer to have at least one dry towel. Another must is sunscreen. The last thing you want is to have your first nude beach experience ruined by a nasty sunburn. For optimal protection, choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 — reef-safe versions are always strongly recommended — and reapply every two hours. If you are especially sensitive to the sun, consider bringing an umbrella. Of course, don't forget sunglasses, snacks, and water to stay hydrated as you sunbathe or swim. Likewise, pack an outfit that you can change into when you leave the nude beach.

Other things to know before your first nude beach experience

If you're going to a nude beach for the first time, check if the location has any other specific guidelines besides the abovementioned rules and etiquette. Upon arrival, make sure to read any posted signs for more information. A sign could indicate that not all of the beach allows nudity and could pinpoint you to the dividing line. Are you feeling nervous about your impending nude beach experience? Bear in mind that you should take off as much as you want at your own pace. If you want to go topless but prefer to keep your bottoms off, there's nothing wrong with that.

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In the end, you should do what feels right for you. If applicable, read reviews on sites like Tripadvisor, as this could further clear up any questions or anxiety you might have. For example, in a review describing their first time at Playalinda Beach, a nude beach in Florida, an individual wrote (via Tripadvisor), "Everyone was nude (expected), people didn't stare, everyone did their own thing. Seeing how comfortable and easy it was for everyone made it easy to join in."

In a 2017 article for Thrillist, writer Jennifer Hope Miller admitted that her first time at a nude beach was initially nerve-racking. She noted that her apprehension melted away when she concluded that everyone was focused on themselves. If you want to learn more about clothing-optional vacation spots, check out the best all-inclusive nude beach resorts.

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