The Geographics and Demographics of Naturism

What’s the deal with naturism around the world today? Is it growing or shrinking? Are naturists getting older or younger? Is gender imbalance still such an issue?

 

During our naturist travels to different countries and continents, we’ve learned that evaluating the evolution of naturism or nudism on a global level is pretty impossible. We noticed, for example, that in regions where a naturist culture is still quite new, like in Asia and South America, the average age of the naturist tends to be lower than in North America or Europe, where naturism already exists for about a century.

Naturism and culture

We also found that the local culture is a huge influence. Religion plays a large role in this, in countries where the majority of people are very religious, there tend to be fewer naturists. Or (and this is very important) fewer naturists that dare to openly talk about naturism.

 

Also in Brazil, we stumbled upon an interesting cultural influence on naturism. We were pretty surprised when we visited our first nude beach in the country and noticed quite a presence of female naturists. Often alone or with other women. Not exactly something we expected to see in this part of the world where gender inequality is still heavily impacted by the ancient patriarchal traditions.

 

Then where did those female naturists come from? We believe that this is mainly caused by an uprise of the fight for equal rights and because more and more Brazilian women are demanding ownership of their own lives and bodies. Going naked among others is, of course, an excellent way to prove to yourself and to others that you can do whatever you want with your own body and that you’re proud of it.

 

On the other hand, machismo is also still standing strong in Brazil and for many Brazilian men, it’s important to have “the largest” or at least to keep the myth alive. Additionally, the idea of getting naked together with other men may not sound all that manly and not something the hetero macho would do. As a result, groups of naked women are common, groups of naked men were a rare sight.

First sight is not always the right sight

Of course, how accurate are our observations? It’s not that we visit Brazilian nude beaches on a regular basis. We don’t even visit the country all that often. Can we rely confidently on those short experiences? We can not and we find proof of that in Europe.

 

Many European naturists have their nakations between June and September. Depending on the month, the dynamics at the naturist resorts differ a lot. Most young naturists and naturist families travel in July and August when the kids don’t need to go to school and many offices close.

 

In June and September, you’re much more likely to encounter the retired naturists who don’t need to worry about the office or school hours, often prefer a more quiet atmosphere, and enjoy the typically lower prices. We noticed that the naturists who travel during those months much more often believe that young people are not interested in naturism anymore. Just because they don’t see them.

Did we lose count?

In the past, the only reliable source of information about naturism was the naturist federations and pretty much every private naturist venue asked for proof of a federation membership to be allowed entrance. As a consequence, many naturists were members of a federation and this gave federations a decent idea of the demographics and geographics of the naturist.

 

Today, you can find everything you need to know on the internet and many resorts (especially in Europe) don’t require membership anymore and this influences the statistics. According to the numbers, there seem to be fewer and fewer new naturists and the average age keeps rising. Some organizations conclude from this that young people aren’t interested in naturism anymore. That’s the easy conclusion. The more difficult one is that young naturists aren’t interested in joining an organization anymore. Admitting that would mean that things need to change in the organization.

The availability of naturist places

We got into an interesting discussion with Charles from the Naturist Place website recently about why some naturist resorts seem to work particularly well, while others appear to be as good as dead. Charles made an excellent point that an interesting factor is population density. It’s pure mathematics. The more people in a certain area, the more naturists. The more naturists, the more need for naturist places. When there are multiple naturist resorts in a certain area, there will be competition, which often results in better service and facilities.

 

If there is a low population density, there will be fewer resorts and these will be more distant from each other. Which also influences the demographics of the guests because who’s willing to drive 5 hours for a day visit at the naturist resort? If you don’t have much else to do and don’t mind spending a lot of time in a car, you might go for it. But if you have two jobs and three children, a visit to this resort may not sound all that appealing.

Who’s the naturist?

Does this mean that our two-job-three-kids-friend can’t be a naturist? Definitely not, but you won’t find her in many statistics. And she’s not alone. In the past, being a naturist most often meant being part of a club that you regularly visit and where you probably help around as a volunteer. Today, the definition has become much more blurry.

 

We’ve elaborated about the different kinds of social nudity in a previous blog post and concluded that it’s not much more than pure terminology. That “being a naturist” can mean different things to different people. Some will, for example, tell you that it’s all about the social aspect. This means that in their vision, the concept of the home naturist doesn’t even exist. To some, it’s all about the nudity, and to others, the nudity is just a tool that serves a philosophy.

 

More and more often, we meet people at naturist resorts, especially younger people, who don’t see themselves as “naturist” or “nudist” but just as a person that likes to go to places where it’s possible to be naked.

Are the demographics of naturism changing?

Is “the naturist” getting older and older until a possible point of extinction? It all depends on your definition. If you believe that a naturist has to be part of a local club, and the local club stops existing, one could say that naturism in this region stopped existing. But does this mean that there won’t be any naturists anymore? The spa centers in Europe where communal nudity is common are increasingly popular among young couples and women. But few of them call themselves naturists or visit naturist resorts. Should they be included in the statistics or not?

 

We believe that the fact that people feel comfortable being naked among others is much more important than the name they choose or choose not to give it. That’s why we look at the whole spectrum of social nudity and strongly believe that there is growth. In all age groups and in many different locations around the world. But if you use other statistics, it’s equally possible that you will come to a different conclusion. That naturism as you know it is aging and may eventually disappear.

 
Naked Wanderings Live Q&A

Support Naked Wanderings

Do you like what we do for naturism and naturists? Did we make you laugh or cry? Did we help you find the information you were looking for? Then definitely join our Patreon community!
 

Become a Patron!


 

13 thoughts on “The Geographics and Demographics of Naturism”

  1. This question is entwined with another: How broadly is simple nudity accepted? For when nudity becomes normal, there will be no need for an “ism.”

    What I seem to see is that we’re still confused with sex addicts and pornographers. We didn’t make this confusion; our message is clear, yet still we suffer from it. But I also see a backlash rising against exploitive commercial porn in favor of both natural nudity and loving, real-life eroticism.

    (It may be that in separating natural nudity from sexuality, we’ve given the impression that we’re prudes. None of the naturists I know truly dislike sex! But we have been clear about the difference in simple nudity.)

    Reply
    • It’s very hard to say to which degree nudity is accepted. If we look at rules and regulations, we’d say not that much at all because very few countries have laws in favor of nudity (not to mention social networks…).
      On the other hand, we’ve heard so many stories from people who get naked on a beach or on a hike, encounter some clothed people, and don’t get a negative reaction. So we would dare to say that most people don’t really care about nudity. Is that acceptance or ignorance? And how do we get those people on our side?

      Reply
  2. First of all, thanks for your thoughtful post. As usual, your perspective is well reasoned & informed. And, for what it’s worth, here is my perspective on the U.S. domestic market.

    If outdoor nude activities (whether called naturism, nudism or no “ism” at all) were on the rise, one would think that there should be a discernible increase of the number of “naked places” — that is, places where outdoor nude activities are common. And in the category of “naked places” I include both public (beaches, parks, hot springs, etc.) and private (resorts, campgrounds, etc.) venues. In other words, rising demand should create a corresponding increase in supply.

    I do not have the global perspective that the two of you have, but from my perch in middle America I’m just not seeing any noticeable increase in the number of naked places anywhere in the U.S. At best, the number of U.S. naked places seems to have remained fairly stagnant for the last 20 years or so. This leads me to believe that the popularity of outdoor nudist activities within the U.S. likewise has remained relatively stagnant over this same period.

    Perhaps the situation is different outside the U.S. And it’s also possible that Americans are increasingly opting for naked destinations in other parts of the world. Or perhaps my perception of the U.S. market for “naked places” is simply wrong — and, if so, I would be glad of it. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and those of your other readers.

    RR

    Reply
    • “it’s also possible that Americans are increasingly opting for naked destinations in other parts of the world”. We think that you’re hitting a nail there. Americans are increasingly being spotted at naturist destinations in Europe and also the growth of naturist destinations in the Caribbean is largely thanks to an influx of Americans and Canadians.

      From what we hear, naturist resorts in the USA have gotten a bit stuck in the late eighties with a strict club/membership principle. In Europe, naturism has gotten much more commercial and in the Caribbean and Asia it has been commercial from the early beginning. Maybe that is what American naturists are looking for?

      We don’t want to generalize, of course, and we also hear about younger movements that retreat back to the woods. Naked in nature (hot springs, hiking trails,…). This seems to be popular among the younger generations and interestingly, both in the USA and Australia (a country where naturist resorts and clubs also failed to modernize during the last decades).

      Reply
  3. In Greece, naturism is not widely practiced due to the conservative upbringing of most people and the influence of the Church.
    Being a tourist destination, however, means that there is familiarity with the concept of social nudity and there are small, unofficial nude beaches almost everywhere. Nowadays there is little outright hostility towards naturism, but there is also no naturist movement.
    Greece missed out on the 1960s counterculture due to the military junta that ruled from 1967 until 1974, and that’s one of the reasons that unlike other countries, in which a significant percentage of naturists are older, most Greek naturists are younger, in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

    Reply
    • We’ve noticed this too when we were in Greece, that a lot of the Greeks we found on the nude beaches were about our age. It’s been so long since we were there, that we didn’t think to include our experiences with Greek naturists in this post, although they definitely were interesting too. We also noticed quite some naturist groups of friends, whereas in most other European countries you’ll rather find more couples and singles. Also, we remember that in mixed groups, it was common for the men to be completely nude and the women to be rather topless. We’re sure that there must be some historical explanation for this.

      Reply
  4. Very slowly nudes are becoming more publicly accepted in a few countries . Its such a natural great thing being naked.naturist know its getting rid of the porn thing,thats a big thing, naturism is about nature. We love that aspect of it .

    Reply
  5. You raise some interesting questions in this post. I believe that you’re right that younger people don’t feel the need to be in a club, and I think that’s a good thing. The more that people just get on with it and strip on public beaches and other public places, the better. That’s how it will become more generally acceptable. I’ve always felt that fenced off private clubs are a bit weird. They don’t help with the general public’s perception of naturism/nudism. I think it will be a positive thing if they become extinct. I’ve never been into the naturist club scene, I have always, for 45 years, gone along the “do it publicly” route.

    I am one of those who prefers not to be called a naturist or nudist. I use them occasionally if I’m being lazy. I have always thought of myself as just a regular person who prefers to be nude.

    I noticed in your “Naturist Destinations” you haven’t been to the UK. We have some very good nude beaches, several official ones, and numerous unofficial, tolerated/accepted ones.

    Our laws allow public nudity, it is legal to be nude in public as long as it is non-sexual and not done to deliberately cause someone harassment, alarm or distress. This is designed for prosecuting flashers without illegalising naturism.

    You can read the Crown Prosecution Service’s guidelines on this here: https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/nudity-public-guidance-handling-cases-naturism. So, I have gone nude at lots of beaches.

    One of the UK’s best official nude beaches is one called Morfa Dyffryn in North Wales. It is part of a beautiful beach that is 7.5 miles/12km long, stretching from the seaside town of Barmouth at the south, to a large camp site known as Shell Island at the north. The 1km long official naturist section marked at both ends by signs, can be accessed from either end. Its southern end is approximately 6.2 miles/10km north of Barmouth and its northern end is approximately 0.65 miles/1km from the campsite at Shell Island.

    You might have some preconceptions about the UK weather, but in the summer months it can be as hot as Spain in Wales. That part of Wales has its own microclimate. The gulf stream brings warm sea and air currents to the west coast of Wales across the Atlantic from the Mexican Gulf; and the backdrop to the area is the Snowdonia national park and mountain range, which tends to lock the warm air in, as well as providing stunning views. Yes, it does rain sometimes, but in the summer it’s not often.

    Reply
    • continued from above…

      You can camp or park a caravan or camper van at Shell Island (although to be nude there you’d have to be very discrete). There is also a holiday park and a campsite close the southern end of the nude beach, as well a car park, and there is a large field owned by a local farmer where you can camp or park motorhomes or caravans, which is naturist friendly. However, it’s used by non-naturists as well as naturists, so the owner asks for nudity to be discrete. That said, I have sat naked in a foldable chair, with a bottle and glass of wine, in full view on many occasions in an evening.

      The beach is huge and in the peak season there could be 300 nudists on the beach, and even then, it only looks slightly crowded at the south end of the marked naturist section. The beach is a stretch of golden sand 200m – 300m wide at low tide, and as I have already said, a kilometre long. It is backed by high sand dunes which stretch a further 600m to 1.2km behind the beach, depending how far up the beach you are. Beyond that area is an ex-RAF airfield, now a small civil airport. For conservation reasons you’re not supposed to walk in the dunes, but many people do. You can walk literally for miles if you want to. On the beach, if you’re lucky you might see dolphins and the occasional seal in the sea.

      People who are not nudists/naturists do walk along the nude section, but that doesn’t present any problems unless you are uncomfortable with clothed people seeing you naked. Personally, I don’t care.

      Reply
    • Indeed, we haven’t made it across the channel yet. Not to check out the naturist places at least. During the first years of Naked Wanderings, we avoided the UK for 2 main reasons: 1) The pound would dig a big hole in our budget and 2) the unpredictable weather could cause us to travel all the way to the UK to spend our days in the rain. The latter reason has also been keeping us away from Germany, by the way.

      For 2020 we had made big plans for a huge naturist road trip around Europe, including a number of stops in the UK. But then COVID came and we had to change our plans to a small naturist road trip in France…

      Anyway, we will get to the UK eventually 🙂

      Reply
      • As I said, there are many misconceptions about the weather here. It doesn’t rain half as much as some people believe, and can reach high temperatures in the summer months. Even this September week, we’ve had a couple of days of temperatures in and around the 30C’s. And we’ve had similar temperatures through most of summer.

        When you do venture this way, if you want to visit the beach I mentioned, depending on where else you plan to go, but certainly if you want to go there first, and assuming you would be driving, I would recommend not going via Calais-Dover. It’s a far more relaxed trip to go overnight via Rotterdam-Hull. Those ferries are superb, with nice restaurants, and great evening entertainment. Dover to Morfa Dyffryn would be from six to seven-and-a-half-hours drive (if you’re lucky with the traffic) depending on which route you take. Hull to Morfa Dyffryn is four hours.

        Reply
          • You’re welcome. The other thing with that route is that once in Hull, the first 100 miles of your route will be on the M62 trans-Pennine motorway which takes you past the cities of Leeds (Yorkshire), then Manchester (Greater Manchester), both within minutes of the motorway should you wish to visit them. About 9 miles past Manchester you’ll switch briefly to the M6 motorway, travelling south for approximately 6 miles where you’ll join the M56 motorway. The M56 passes close to the village of Daresbury in Cheshire, the birthplace of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland). It also passes close the the beautiful city of Chester… soon after Chester you’re in North Wales and you have a choice of two routes, one along the coast eventually taking you through the Royal town of Caernarfon with its famous castle, or a cross-country route taking you through the hills and valleys, and through a small town called Bala, known for its large three-and-a-half-mile long, half-mile wide lake.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.