Nude beach

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A nude beach, sometimes called a clothing-optional or free beach, is a beach where users are at liberty to be nude. Nude beaches usually have mixed bathing. Such beaches are usually on public lands, and any member of the public is allowed to use the facilities without membership in any movement or subscription to any personal belief. The use of the beach facilities is normally anonymous. Unlike a naturist resort or facility, there is normally no membership or vetting requirement for the use of a nude beach. The use of nude beach facilities is usually casual, not requiring pre-booking. Nude beaches may be official (legally sanctioned), unofficial (tolerated by residents and law enforcement), or illegal.

In some countries, nude beaches are relatively few and are usually at some distance from cities, and access is at times more difficult than at a regular beach and the facilities at these beaches tend to be very basic with a few notable exceptions. In other countries, like Denmark, most beaches are clothing-optional. Nude swimming is one of the most common forms of nudity in public. A nude beach should not be confused with a topless beach (or top-free beach), where upper body clothing is not required for women or men, although a swimming costume covering the genital area is required for both men and women. A nude beach should be considered as a clothes-free beach.

Nude beaches tend to be separate or isolated physically from non-nude bathing areas. In other instances people maintain a comfortable space between beach users. Signage is often used to warn unfamiliar beach users about the specially designated areas on the beach. This accommodates people who are not comfortable with nudity, as well as nude beach users who do not like to be watched by clothed individuals, particularly those engaged in voyeurism.

Types of nude beaches[edit]

Sign on the beach at Cap d'Agde, France, informing that naturism is obligatory at this beach.
The last part of the eastern part of the beach of Plakias in the south of the Prefecture of Rethymno in Crete (Greece) that is used mainly by tourists for nudism.

There are several categories of nude beaches:

  • Beaches where nudity is required, subject to weather conditions. This type of nude beach is common at dedicated naturist resorts.
  • Beaches where nudity is encouraged, but not mandatory. This type of nude beach is common when the beach is part of a private resort or other private property. On such beaches, most people go nude, but some do not.
Haulover Beach, Florida, United States
  • Beaches where nudity is permitted, but not mandatory (i.e. clothing-optional beaches). Most beaches in Denmark and some in Norway are clothing-optional. A large and popular U.S. clothing-optional beach is Haulover Park in Bal Harbour, Florida,[1] which has a clothing-optional section officially designated by Miami-Dade County. On such beaches, there may be a mixture of nude people and clothed people. For some clothed people, the clothing-optional status makes them less reluctant to expose themselves briefly when changing clothes.
  • Beaches where nudity is illegal, but tolerated by the authorities. Beaches in this category are generally public beaches where the authorities turn a blind eye to nudity by not enforcing local laws.
  • Beaches where nudity is illegal and not tolerated. At such beaches, nude persons may be directed to don clothing, may be fined, or may be arrested.
  • Textile beaches. Textile beaches are specifically not nude or clothing-optional. The term is used for a beach where nudity is not permitted, but where a clothing-optional beach is nearby.[2]

Legal status[edit]

A group of naturist friends at Haulover Park beach, USA

Most beaches around the world, including nude beaches, are on public lands. That means that although private resorts and hotels that adjoin a beach may enclose their property behind fences with controlled access, most countries do not allow private ownership of the actual beach area. Thus, while a resort can control access and set clothing standards on its property, these standards would not necessarily apply to the beach itself, which remains subject to local laws or customs, and public access to the beach itself usually remains unrestricted. This applies, for example, to the islands in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida. On the Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica, for example, though the beach is lined with private resorts with fences down to the sand/waterline, the beach itself is open to the public. Though actual clothing standards vary from resort to resort, the beach area is officially designated as "topfree", and public access is unrestricted.

There are eight officially regulated naturist beaches in Brazil, but they are not "clothing optional". Nudity is required, and single men are not allowed unless they have a membership card from a recognized naturist organization. Otherwise, they are similar to other self-regulated naturist beaches, asserting that nudity is natural, and need not be sexual.[3]

The International Naturist Federation has developed a code of conduct, or etiquette, for use by member organizations. The INF nude beach etiquette requires the avoidance of all forms of sexual harassment and sexual activity, such as masturbation or sexual intercourse. Predatory behavior is not permitted, nor is unauthorized photography.[4] In general, the standards call for the respecting of the privacy of other visitors. Staring is frowned upon by rule and social pressure.[5]

However, unlike naturist resorts and hotels, which can enforce standards of conduct on their properties promptly and effectively, most nude beaches are on public lands, making the enforcement of standards of nude beach etiquette a more personal matter, subject to the deterrence of local laws. The standards of conduct take different forms in different countries. Other than the fact that people using a nude beach expect to find naked people on the beach, most other local laws and customs continue to apply.

History[edit]

Vintage image of German sunbathers, 1984.

During a 1936 Adriatic cruise, King Edward VIII and his mistress Wallis Simpson stopped at a beach on the island of Rab where the King obtained a special permission from the local government to swim naked, thereby designating it the world's first official nude beach.[6] Nude beaches became popular in the 1950s along the French coast[7] and have since spread around the world, though they are still few and far between. Some nude beaches are part of a larger nude area, such as the Cap d'Agde area. Most beaches in Denmark[8][9] and some beaches in Norway[10] are clothing-optional. In Germany there are clothes optional sunbathing areas in public parks, e.g., Munich[11] and Berlin.[12] Beaches in some holiday destinations, such as Crete, are also clothing-optional, except some central urban beaches.[13] There are two centrally located clothes-optional beaches in Barcelona.[14]

The 1960s and 70s saw some tolerance for nude beaches in the United States. An example was Jacob Riis Park, where nudity was limited to "Bay One" the northernmost section informally demarcated by jetties. Originally frequented by gay men, popularity expanded to traditional naturists, including families. When the park became part of the Gateway National Recreation Area in 1972, Federal law superseded local indecent exposure laws. In 1974 a city law was passed specifically prohibiting nudity in the park, but the U.S. Park Police continued their policy of leniency unless other laws were being violated. Nudity was made illegal by a state law in 1983.[15]

Though free beaches developed separately from national naturist bodies, some of these bodies have taken an interest and helped to protect them legally, and through the publication of guidelines of acceptable behaviour.[16] In North America, the Free Beach Movement was the name of a group that was opposed to the direction of the official nudist organisation, the American Association for Nude Recreation, and set up the rival body The Naturist Society. Clothes free organizations and free beach associations, such as the Naturist Action Committee, lobby for the removal of laws which prohibit nude swimming and sunbathing or the increase in the number of nude beaches and sometimes to improve the amenities at nude beaches.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Clothing-optional holidays: Nudists on cruises". The Economist. 5 July 2014.
  2. ^ "Definition of Textile". Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on December 6, 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2015. ... Adjective... ...2 informal used by nudists in reference to non-nudists.
  3. ^ Lacerda, ALine. "Conheça praias de nudismo e saiba como se comportar (Discover nudist beaches and learn how to behave)". Terra. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  4. ^ "Appropriate Behavior at Clothing-Optional Beaches". The Naturist Society. Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  5. ^ "California nude beach guide". Gocalifornia.about.com. 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  6. ^ "A King who fell in love in Dubrovnik". The Dubrovnik Times. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  7. ^ Mize, Melanie. "Nude Beaches – Don't be Shy: Take Everything Off!". Travel Channel. Archived from the original on 17 November 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  8. ^ "Naturism and free beaches in Denmark". Archived from the original on February 6, 2005. Retrieved 2011-12-23.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  9. ^ "Nude Beaches in Scandinavia". Archived from the original on April 29, 2012. Retrieved 2015-09-09.
  10. ^ "Nude Beaches in Norway". Archived from the original on April 29, 2012. Retrieved 2011-12-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  11. ^ "FKK baden in und rund um München - das Nacktbaden Special". ganz-muenchen.de. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  12. ^ "Berlin". Active naturists. 2008-07-08. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  13. ^ "Crete". Active naturists. 2009-01-24. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
  14. ^ "Barcelona". Active naturists. 2012-04-20. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
  15. ^ "Nude Sunbathing at Riis Park Is Banned by New State Law". The New York Times. 1983-06-27. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  16. ^ Boura, Malcolm (Summer 2007), "Campaigning", British Naturism, BN 172: 31, ISSN 0264-0406

External links[edit]