Musings about The Nudist Etiquette in 2020

Some time ago, we received a message from one of our readers asking how she should position her legs in a nudist venue or at a nude beach. More specifically, what the maximum acceptable distance between her two knees would be. Within the same week, we stumbled upon an entry on a naturist forum of a woman saying something like “according to the nudist etiquette, I never bend over and always go through the knees“.


These two cases were enough to make us dive deeper into the subject. What does the nudist etiquette actually say? Who decided on this? And most importantly, how accurate is it still in the second decade of the 21st century?

What’s the Ultimate Nudist Etiquette?

The difficulty starts with trying to find a document that exactly describes the dos and don’ts of the nudist. As far as we know, this doesn’t exist. Instead, we found lots of different opinions, designed by nudist club representatives, nudist federation secretaries, and nudist resort owners. They all look pretty much the same with the obligatory Thy Shall Look Into The Eyes and Thy Shall Always Sit On A Towel and then some specific interpretations of the other rules.


A couple of things that we immediately noticed were:
1. Many of the rules are dependent from club to club, resort to resort, and even beach to beach.
2. Many of the rules are unspoken.
3. Some of the rules are outdated.
4. Some of the rules are different for men and women.

Things you have to check with the naturist resort

Although some die-hard believers of the nudist freedom tend to dislike the often very long set of rules that nudist resort staff presents to their visitors, we also believe that you make friends by making sound agreements. In the end, if you can’t live with a certain rule at a certain resort, you are free to go somewhere else. The rules that specifically depend from resort to resort are meant to create uniformity and to keep the visitors safe.


Clothes or no clothes

The general agreement at nudist places is that you have at least the intention to spend some time without clothes. When, where and which type of clothes really depends from place to place. At nude obligatory places, you are expected to be nude whenever the weather allows it. At clothing optional places, as the name suggests, clothes always remain an option. Most nudist venues, especially in Europe, end up somewhere in between. Nudity is enforced in places like the pool and the sauna. In the rest of the resort, it’s rather encouraged. A sarong or towel is most often accepted, a bathing suit not that much.

Using mobile phones

In the past, all devices that can take photos were strictly forbidden at nudist places. Especially with the uprise of the internet, these rules were even more enforced because few people enjoy appearing butt naked on the web for the whole world to see. But then came the smartphone, which doesn’t only have two cameras but also plenty of apps that we like to use throughout the day. At some resorts, taking out your phone in public areas is still a big no. Other resorts will provide stickers to put on your cameras, so you can still use the apps but not take pictures.


New Cambium intext 1
Most resorts will ask you to just use common sense. Don’t take pictures of others without their approval, definitely don’t take pictures of other people’s children and even if you’re just playing a game on your phone, try not to point it towards other people.


Genital jewelry and tattoos

There has been a time when neither of these was allowed at any nudist resort. Those days are largely behind us. Tattoos are allowed pretty much everywhere, as long as they won’t disturb the peace (as in sexual tattoos, racist ones, etc). Genital jewelry is a bit more difficult. In our opinion, there are several types of nudists who wear genital jewelry. Some do so because they like to decorate their genitals, some for sexual pleasure, some because they like piercings in general, and some because they want to attract attention.


The last type, those who want to attract attention, are those who are most likely to run into trouble. Their genital jewelry is often large, plenty, and in your face. As long as it doesn’t really attract the attention of others, it won’t be frowned upon at most places. Family-friendly resorts tend to be more strict about the use of genital jewelry than adults-only places.

No sex on the beach

If there’s one thing on which every nudist resort in the world agrees, it’s that public sex is not allowed. Period. You can have sex as much as you want, but only behind closed doors. The question is: What is sexual? Intercourse is one thing, but then there is a huge gray zone, full of opportunities for the exhibitionist and worries for the resort staff. Can you smack your partner’s butt during volleyball? Which body parts of others and yourself can you rub with sunscreen for the whole pool area to see?


The things that are unspoken

Suddenly, this becomes one of the unspoken rules. In our opinion, pretty much everything you do without sexual intention won’t appear to be sexual to the others. And if it does, it’s in their head, not in yours. For example, there are people who think breastfeeding is sexual. Does that mean that every mother should avoid breastfeeding in public? Of course not. Unfortunately, many of the unspoken nudist rules do depend on the mindset of others.


Maestra Banner

To shave or not to shave

Shaving pubic hair is a trend that started in the porn industry in the late seventies and quickly found its way into the swingers community. Needless to say that the nudists weren’t big fans and often it was forbidden or very much frowned upon. But the times changed, the Brazillian became mainstream and soon all different kinds of pubic hairstyles became common. Among nudists as well.


Today, at the large majority of nudist places you will find a variety of styles ranging from the baldie to the afro and everything in between. As with every trend, also pubic hair comes and goes. Shaving is most common between the age of 30 and 60. The younger and elder generations often prefer a bit of a bush.

Where to look

Some nudists will tell you to always keep your eyes on eye-level. DO NOT believe them, it will make you look very creepy. It’s much better to act as you would in any other place. It’s perfectly natural to have a glimpse at other people’s bodies, but even at an Eskimo party, people will get annoyed if you’d keep looking at their chest or waist. Find the balance and most importantly: Don’t make people feel uncomfortable. Here’s a tip: If you’re wondering if what you’re doing is making people feel uncomfortable, it most often does.


Social distancing

It’s the term of the year 2020 but nudists have known this principle for a long time. We try not to get into other people’s comfort zones, especially not the one of strangers. Therefore you will rarely see a nude beach where the visitors are packed like sardines. Some nudists need more space than others, so it’s better to take a step back than to set one forward.

How to handle an erection

It’s the fear of every beginning male nudist. Please, please, pleeeeease stay down. Just worrying about it can be the trigger to make things go up. Lots of endless discussions have been had about this subject. On one hand are those who say that an erection originates from sexual desire and should thus be avoided. On the other hand are those who say that erections are natural and nothing to be ashamed of. And then there are some who claim that it’s beyond their control and that it just happens randomly.


If you consider that nudism is about non-sexual nudity and that we strive to create a space where everyone feels comfortable, we tend to join the first group. Erections are a sign of sexual desire and might make people feel uncomfortable. The guy you’re talking to, the woman you’re talking to, the husband of the woman you’re talking to, the parents of the kids you’re talking to, and pretty much everyone else who notices. Even if you believe that it’s something natural or that it happens randomly, it takes very little effort to hide. Wrap yourself in a towel, turn on your stomach, or have a dip in the pool and it will soon go away. You can see it as taking one for the team.


How to find the perfect knee angle

Which brings us to the question in the introduction. We tried to search the internet for a general consensus but didn’t really find one. From our experience, it’s much more common to see a man with his legs wide open than a woman. Is it a cultural thing? Is it because decency is generally more expected from women than from men? Or is it something men invented, to avoid getting aroused and run into trouble?


We honestly don’t know, but we’ll tell you what we’ve told our reader. Just like with genital jewelry, with rubbing each other in sunscreen and with having a look around, it’s all about the intention. Sensuality will rather be found in the eyes than in the genitals. As far as we are concerned, you can put your legs in every position you are comfortable with. And if someone thinks it’s sexual, it’s in their heads, not in yours.

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21 thoughts on “Musings about The Nudist Etiquette in 2020”

  1. I recall learning about the Zo’é tribe in Brasil, a relatively uncontacted tribe near the equator. The women cover themselves with the heel of their feet when seated, and the men cover their ends with a simple helix made from a part of a tree. That’s it. I wonder if naturism should keep its rules similarly simple, fundamentally. Obviously rules arise from some learned need, but less is often more. Two sentences covering the essence of expected behavior would be telegraphic. In a way, they’d even evoke what naturism is, via the bounds and the norm.

    • We absolutely agree that the many rules often work against the evolution of naturism. We briefly tackled this topic in our blog post about smartphones at naturist resorts as well. If people would be allowed to take pictures (of themselves and consenting others of course), many more naturist images would find their way to the internet, which would help to change the general perception of naturism/nudity. What happens instead is that only some take the risk to take a selfie and others are taking candid pictures. The candid pictures go online and present the idea that 1) naturist places are dangerous because candid pictures are common (which they’re not) and 2) naturism is full of young women.

      We’ve mostly learned about this in the USA, where people said things like “Yes, I go to nude beaches and take nude yoga classes from time to time, but I’m not a nudist or a naturist”. This sounded so strange to us. But it proves that they believe that their experiences with social nudity are not enough to call themselves a naturist/nudist.

  2. A common sense post on the internet? Until now, I’ve never seen such a thing. If you want to fit in, N&L, you’ll have to lower your game. A beautifully thought out and written post as usual.
    For me, its the difference between naturism/nudism, whatever word you want, and exhibitionism. If you are the latter, go to Cap D’Agde, where they seem to encourage that sort of thing, and seem to attract an unsavoury element as a consequence.
    I want to fit in, not stand out from the crowd, and I don’t want attention, so I try not to look/stare, I don’t take photos on my phone, and I go with the flow as far as wearing clothes is concerned.
    Oddly, I remove my pubic hair in summer to fit in, because everyone seems to do it, and you are more likely to draw attention to yourself if you don’t. It seems to now be a part of modern life, like underarm and leg hair for women, not a sexual thing at all.
    As to the knees, girls should keep them closed, unless they are at Cap D’Agde and want that type of attention.

  3. To me, the basics of etiquette is the same as when I go out to the village square having a coffee or a beer. Or a brandy. I like brandy. The classic story is, you behave because there might be old people or children watching. That motive is out of date. Who is 80 now grew up in the 60’s. When things were much more liberal then now. Just compare old Bond movies to the latest. The old ones were much more explicit then those of today. Men, women alike. Today it is too much narrow minded US Facebook rules. That many silently adapted to. Ridiculous mindsets.
    What is not nice is another story. Just having a beer in the sun with other people, we would never do anything like French kissing. Touching in other more intimate places. Not that is would be shocking to the old, nor to the young (they already have seen all on the web, giggle, or simply say okay and continue playing). It is not nice to others who are alone. Or have a “dry” relationship. Or to a widow who misses her man. Or a widower. It is not nice because when intimacy starts, you forget the world around you (the same like when you are on your phone the whole time or just making calls). You shut out the world around you. While they went out to see people. And so did you, didn’t you?
    Whether people around you are dressed or not dressed around you should not make a difference. Except maybe for the occasional stiffy of a man. Which we are simply not accustomed to. All men wake up with one, but it is not a sexual thing. Just a practise round of the device. It is an autonomous reaction that a man has no control over. Especially about losing a stiffy. It happens like it happens to a labrador who is just happy to see you, without any sexual intentions either. For the dog, we find that normal, for a man not, because we are not used to similar reactions with men. As for ladies not crossing legs, have a good long look at the painting of Gustave Courbet, L’Origine Du Monde. Long enough to ask yourself what is actually so shocking about that, or even dirty. The insides of noses are much more dirty because how many people wash there?
    The beauty of the buff is to get used to it. And to find the beauty. To get down and forget everything around you is for at home. It is not nice for other people. Not very friendly to demonstrate one does not care whether others are around or not. It is locking out the world around you, just like whatsapping for two hours on a nice terrace is. Or crossing a zebra, facetiming or talking to the side of a phone, not even looking at the car that just stopped to let you cross.
    It is not nice when you are with other people to lock them out. That, to me is basic etiquette. And it should not be more complicated than that.
    The nude story should not be a problem. On the contrary. I think the two of you have great bums (fab pictures all the time). They should be 3D scanned, 3D-printed out and be put in a fountain in Rome. Same art like they used to make in the old days. Before Facebook came. Or everybody turned to their smartphone while having a coffee in the morning, like not of the rest around them exists too.

    • “It happens like it happens to a labrador who is just happy to see you, without any sexual intentions either”
      That’s a bit tricky, because if the labrador encounters a female in heat, he’ll probably hump her. Not caring about any other dogs, humans, or other animals that are around.

      We often say that this is the exact reason why humans can perfectly enjoy non-sexual social nudity. We don’t 100% rely on our instincts but understand norms and etiquette. And, as you mention, this makes it necessary to take others into account. A society can’t work if everyone just does what they feel like without thinking about the feelings of others. The question is: Where does it stop? Of course, we don’t have sex in the streets because it could shock others. But do we consider taking our shirt off because someone around could have a heavy sunburn and isn’t able to go shirtless? Again, this brings us back to norms and etiquette.

  4. The interesting side is you guys might well be discovering new fronteers. The old naturist world can be quite orthodox. When you are supposed to always look in the eyes and never at anything else, what do such people do when they visit the Louvre museum in Paris, the Prado in Madrid or the Winterpalace in Saint Petersburg? Look only at the ceiling? The etiquette side is very interesting. Dogs are “in heat” once or twice a year. Humans all year round. Women too. To deny that is pathetic. On the other hand to deal with it socially and not be offensive or behave like a predator (which both sexes are very capable of as well!) is interesting. Very.

  5. Thing with erections – when I was a teen, or in my 20s, I really didn’t always have a way to control it, later in life, this isn’t generally a problem. Hard to say if obsessing over one, when they show up, helps, or hinders, this when you are in the age range that it can be a problem. But, beyond that… I think its something that needs to be gotten over, not hidden, just because its visible when its a guy, and not with most women, who don’t show so obviously. If, for no other reason, that while a woman might get harassed, or emotionally abused, with name calling, and accusations (a guy likely getting a different set of these, depending on where they where at the time), said women could, otherwise, probably get by with, at most, a slap on the wrist, even in the US, in most places, for walking around naked. A guy.. just has to sit wrong, have a circulation issue, which resolves itself when he gets up, and I would bet good odds the next thing he sees is some angry person calling for cops, followed by a cell, followed by someone saying they just automatically added him to a sex offender list (this being the insane logic in the US – merely being caught “possibly” doing something that someone might think is a sex crime means you are automatically on the lists, even if you are later determined to be not guilty of anything).

    Makes nervous, especially in the city I am living in right now, to even contemplate “accidentally”, do to lack of sleep, or some other factor, stumbling out to check my mail, without remembering pants, to be honest. I think I prefer the theory – Its normal, and will go away, where its accepted, over the silly, “Oh my god! Hide it!” Because, really.. this isn’t about what is natural, or even intended, its about “other people’s perceptions of what might be intended”, and if we really want to be going that route, why are we only caring about this, and not all the people misreading the intent behind being nude in the first place? It seems, to me at least, damn silly, and contrary to the whole point, and actually plays into, I think, the paranoia that the general public has, much more, with male nudity.

    • You are absolutely right that it’s all about “other people’s perceptions of what might be intended”.
      We see this in a lot of aspects of daily life. Europeans don’t like the refugees because there might be terrorists among them. Americans don’t like the Mexicans because they might steal the jobs or sell drugs to the kids. Naturists don’t like men with an erection because they might have sexual intentions.

      Is this all pure paranoia? There is some truth behind all of that, some terrorists come with the refugees, some Mexicans cross the border to sell drugs, some exhibitionists go to naturist places. The solution is to fight the rotten apples, but as long as that doesn’t work perfectly, people will keep having prejudices.

      Sometimes we need some etiquette to keep the peace. No matter if it’s actually valid or not. You may understand that erections can appear without any sexual intentions, but how will you react when you see a stranger with an erection talking to your wife? Or to your children?

  6. There is a comment on a Youtube celeb called Legal Eagle, which he makes a lot, when talking about various legal cases, both his, and other past ones – “Never ask a question if you don’t know how they will answer.” What would I do if I saw that? Find out what is actually going on, if the content of the discussion contains things that edge into statements, comments, or innuendos, which are not appropriate, and deal with it *if* it really is a problem, not just make a wild assumption.

    This is the problem with all the cases you mention – an assumption is made, based on “who”, or “what group” a person is presumed to be/belong to, and conclusions leapt to without evidence. This is shameful, and people should be called out for it, as much as the “bad apples” for such wrongful behavior. Civility goes both ways.

    • You’re absolutely right that it’s wrongful behavior, but still, it’s a very general way of thinking.

      There are plenty of online discussions about whether or not erections should be allowed at naturist venues. And it often makes us wonder why some people are so strongly in favor of allowing erections. We understand that it may be annoying to wrap yourself in a towel when things start to go up, but it’s not that this happens 10 times in one afternoon (and if it does, it probably does have some sexual background).

      One of the few explanations we can come up with is that when people really want to be allowed to have an erection at naturist places and not having to cover up, it’s because they want others to see their erection…

  7. Ok, most of that reply.. yeah, I get its a “common reaction”. But, after thinking over what I wrote below, I decided to add this disclaimer – I try to make it a habit to both examine why I am making assumptions myself about things, and to try to work through why someone else might be making them too, based on their stated position on them, and whether they make sense. The following is my take on what I “think” is going on with the reply, why I think its not necessarily a good thing, and my thoughts on it needing a bit of.. self examination, maybe?

    But, then I would argue that you a) kind of doubled down on things, and b) threw your own prejudice into the mix. And, yeah, I even get where you are coming from. There is a video blogger who does free the nipple stuff who finds, on some places, that half the idiots that show up can’t stop talking about her tits, and missing the point. You are dead right, there are trolls, all over the place, and many of them would, though not terribly articulately, both advocate for not using a towel, and.. probably never set foot in a naturist location ever (and/or be thrown out in five minutes for doing *FAR* more than just waving their erection around). There is also a bloody obvious, I would think, difference between someone who gets one, doesn’t touch it, wave it around, show it off, etc., and has it fade nearly as quickly as it came, and the people you are worried about. But.. this doesn’t mean there isn’t something to discuss, that there isn’t unfairness, and even unintended fear for being mistaken for a perv, if they are not quick enough to hide, etc.

    All I am saying is a) inside a naturist venue, this attitude is in *my* personal opinion, unhealthy, as are any set of assumptions, or special rules, which say, “If you don’t do this, you should be ashamed.”, with all the other assumptions about what the cost should be, and what you intended, etc., lumped in with that, and b) outside a walled off, closed to the general public, venue, this assumption is **even worse and more extreme**, and could get a guy arrested, when a woman would never need to be. I think it also contradicts the, “nudity isn’t sex”, message, in that, “Oh, its not sex, but you worry about men doing that too, you just won’t immediately have them arrested for it. Guess it is about sex then, isn’t it?” Yeah, that is utterly absurd, but.. no more so than assuming that anyone making an argument against the stigma, “Wants to walk around showing themselves.” Because, in a way, they are absolutely right – you do assume that “some” nudity is “always” about sex, or at least its is strongly suspicious that someone would bring up the subject without it being that. And, if that is the case, its not just.. unfair, its a bit, in my personal opinion, ugly.

    • We definitely agree that people can overreact and that too much a deal can be made about something like erections. Personally, we’ve seen both. We’ve seen people at nudist places (often beaches) who are very proud of their erections and we’ve seen others getting an erection accidentally (often first-timers who just get excited by the whole new experience). It’s pretty easy to see the difference within the blink of an eye. But who’s to say which is which? If we’d adjust the etiquette and say that erections are not a problem as long as there’s no sexual intention, everyone will obviously say that theirs isn’t intentional.

      Our advice to most men is to handle an erection at a nudist place like you would handle a fart. It’s natural and nothing to be ashamed of, and few people will bother if you take a couple of steps back. But if it happens 10 times in a day and you’re all “did you smell/see that?”, you shouldn’t be surprised that you’re not making friends.

        • Funny that you mention viagra… We often joke that adding viagra to the drinks would be the ultimate april-fools at naturist resorts 😀

          • Yeah… Sounds sort of funny, but.. have to cringe at the resort that gets dosage wrong, and sends everyone in the place to the hospital, because of, “See a doctor if it lasts more than 3 hours.” :p

  8. Really interesting discussion… particularly the erection angle. Growing up in the more inhibited 50s, I discovered the joy of being naked, both indoors and out, from a very early age, certainly prepubity. I was not aware at the age of 7 or 8 that what I was feeling was ‘sexual’ however, when experienced with other similar aged children, it was a different experience. In my early teens, that feeling evolved into something that was in part sexual. But then so did many things… riding on the bus, riding a horse, waking up in the morning! It’s part of growing up. However, being naked with others (school showers, skinny dipping) an erection would be an embarrassment, something to be avoided or at worst hidden. It was not, however, anything to be ashamed about. Around that time, in the 60s, I would have given anything to find a ‘Nudist Colony’ where I could experience social nudity but not for sexual reasons, I just enjoyed going without clothes, sunbathing or exercising. It was the early 70s that I discovered nude beaches and social nudity which I was lucky enough to enjoy with my girlfriend. It was then that the sexual element intruded. I found that, venturing a short distance from the main beach and my partner, there were invariably older men whose ‘Naturism’ was far more sexually orientated. This did not offend me but it made me consider the demarkation between naturism and sexual activity. About that time, I started modelling for life drawing classes. One of the first questions I was asked by friends was “don’t you ever get an erm.. you know?” I can honestly say that it was never an issue. Although I must have had an exhibitionist tendency to enjoy doing it, it was not a sexual activity. In the following 50 or so years enjoying naturism and life modelling I can honestly say that erections were never an issue. I should say that I have a very healthy and full sexuality. It just that the borders are clear and easy for me. I wonder if it is because I the joy and practise came from early childhood, before puberty, or whether I’ve never been conditioned out of the childish preference for being naked!

    • Few people who have never tried social nudity can understand that it’s really nothing sexual. Lots of men fear getting an erection when they go to the nude beach for the first time, but few actually get one because it’s not a sexual setting at all.

      It’s just that it can happen and that it’s important to be modest about it. If you feel the need to show off your erection, you’re an exhibitionist, not a naturist. And if you do get 10 erections on one afternoon at the nude beach, you definitely don’t get the concept of non-sexual nudity and that’s something you may need to work on first.

  9. Generally, people are too self-conscious about being nude themselves and uptight about the proper behavior of others. The more confident I am and the less I focus on sexual expression, the fewer erections I have being nude with others. Sometimes the confusion about etiquette is in the nature of the environment. Some groups and events are adults only and others welcome families. Some environments are male only and others welcome both sexes. The nudist lifestyle fosters different kinds of communities who have wildly differing expectations.

    • True. We too believe that the more naturists will become confident with their own nudity, the less they will care about the behaviour of others.

  10. “In our opinion, there are several types of nudists who wear genital jewelry. Some do so because they like to decorate their genitals, some for sexual pleasure, some because they like piercings in general, and some because they want to attract attention.

    The last type, those who want to attract attention, are those who are most likely to run into trouble. Their genital jewelry is often large, plenty, and in your face. As long as it doesn’t really attract the attention of others, it won’t be frowned upon at most places.”

    Something not mentioned is that there are people who get genital piercings as a form of bodily reclamation after things like abuse, ridicule, humiliation, and/or shaming. Like a person seeking cosmetic surgery for help with personal confidence, some use piercings and bodily adornment to gain confidence. Multiple piercings might only be a form of finding some semblance of contentment with oneself, and enjoying social nudity might only happen *because* the piercings give just the right amount of confidence to take the step in the first place.


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