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.
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23 thoughts on “The Geographics and Demographics of Naturism”
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.)
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?
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.
“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).
Are you ever to old to become a nudist/naturalist? I’m 70 and just wish my wife would agree to try it.
That’s the interesting thing about naturism, you’re never too old. Or too young. Or too rich or too poor. Or too skinny or too chubby. It’s basically for everyone.
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.
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.
I used to go on holiday on the Greek island of Corfu.
The first time I went there I was still married and with my wife. I found during a walk that at the eastern end of the beach nearly everyone was nude, but it wasn’t an official nude beach.
I took my swimming trucks off and continued my walk, eventually returning to my wife. We were in the part of the beach where no one else was nude. I decided to stay nude (my wife didn’t approve but had to reluctantly put up with it) and I did that for the rest of the holiday. No one complained.
I’ve been back several times with other women.
Recently I emailed the owner of a hotel and some apartments who I got to know, and he said, “you can still go nude on the beach”.
Greece only has a handful of official nude beaches, but probably hundreds of unofficial ones. The general guideline is that if you stay away from the crowds and are not in sight of a church, it’s most of the time fine to get naked.
I’ve never been to mainland Greece or any other Greek Island, only Corfu. I don’t think there are any official nude beaches on Corfu, but nudity seems to be accepted at near enough every beach there. On one visit we rented a Suzuki jeep and toured the island. We found that everywhere we went there were nudists on parts of the beaches.
One place we went to was Paliaokastritsa, a village with about five small beaches. I was (pleasantly) surprised on getting out of the car that there was a nude woman sitting on a rock reading a book on the beach just a few steps away from the car park right in the middle of the village, and that there were several other nudists on the beach and in the sea in full view from the street.
The place we used to stay regularly was Agios Stephanos on the North West corner of the island. There is almost 2km of beach there and you can be nude for the eastern most 1km of it.
Just around the corner of the island from Agios Stephanos is another beach called Arillas. I was told that the northern part of Arillas beach was also nude. Late one afternoon we had returned to our apartment and my wife wanted to have a sleep before we went out for dinner. I had also planned to lie down for a bit and had already stripped off again. I always hung about nude around the apartment. But I didn’t feel like sleeping so I decided I would leave my wife to have her sleep and would go and check out Arillas beach.
I picked up the keys to the car and was about to head outside when it suddenly dawned on me I was nude. But then I thought for a moment and decided, no, I wasn’t going to put any clothes on, it was still warm, around 28C and I felt more comfortable without clothes. I left the apartment in the nude jumped into the car and drove around to Arillas. It was only about 2.5km. Once in Arillas village there was a road heading north along the sea front which changed from a tarmac road to a dirt track. I knew that was where the nude part of the beach was because I’d been told, and I could see a small number of nudists, about three, on the beach. I parked next to the dirt track and walked the 5m onto the beach, there was a clothed woman sitting next to the short path to the beach, I walked past her and then on to the sea and had a swim. While I was in the sea a girl came onto the beach from the same direction I had come from, she was topless with only a bikini bottom on. She came into the sea right next to me and and we struck up a brief conversation. I left the sea and walked back towards the car but stopped because the clothed woman spoke to me, saying the view of the sea was beautiful. I stayed for a few minutes and had a conversation with her (she was also a Brit) while I dried off, then I left and drove back to our apartment I got out of the car and made the short walk to the entrance and into the apartment.
This was another experience of mine when I’d gone out nude, no clothes with me at all, and felt the liberating freedom of being nude without any need to hide, and it was amazing.
I think people in Corfu, both locals and visitors, are quite accepting of nudists.
I love being nude and I’ve been bold enough over the years to do it in places that are public and find that most people aren’t bothered by it.
In fact, here’s another little thing that happened in Corfu. My wife and I went to a bar a few times that was run by a local Greek guy and his British girlfriend. I was ordering drinks from the British girl and she said with a little smirk on her face that she and the other girl working the bar with her had seen me on the beach that day. When I asked, “Oh did you?” She said, “Yes, we saw your willy (a polite British word for a penis in case you didn’t know)!” I said sarcastically, “That must have been nice for you!” They both just giggled. I asked her if she had any objections to nudity and she said, “No not at all!” Then she asked me if I’d be on the beach the following day and I told her we would, and she rather cheekily said, “We might come and have another look tomorrow!” I told her she was welcome, it didn’t bother me.
Which again tells me that most people don’t have a problem with nudity. Yes, as with those girls, it amuses some, but very few are offended by it.
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 .
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
Thanks a lot for the tip! It will definitely not be for this year, but we’ll keep that in mind!
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.
Tim, you’re from the UK. I was under the impression that people there are very conservative about nudity. It is not a very common thing. Am I wrong? To be honest I have never been to the UK at a time when the weather was appropriate for being nude, hence my total ignorance on the subject. But my impression is that it is not a common thing. I do have plans to travel there for a vacation this summer though, so any information on the topic is welcome.
No, the UK is not conservative about nudity.
It’s difficult to generalise it. There are certainly some people who are completely against it. There are also a large number of “naturists” in the UK. It’s estimated on the basis of club memberships and surveys that have been done that approximately 3.8 million people in the UK intentify themselves as nudists or naturists. I think the reality is, there’s a much higher number that includes people who don’t identify with those labels but do take part in nude recreation.
There are also lots of events in the UK these days involving nudity. The World Naked Bike Ride takes place in several major cities, including London, Manchester, Brighton and many others. These don’t only attract thousands of naked participants, but also thousands of clothed spectators. Many other events, usually fund raisers for charities, also involve nudity, such as sponsored skinny dips. An outdoor pool near to me did a skinny dip and BBQ evening last summer for a charity, and it was so popular they’ve made it a regular monthly event. Other charity fundraisers include (and it’s mostly women who do this – look up women’s rowing team nude calendar for one example) nude calendars.
The law here in the UK (mainly England and Wales – Scotland has slightly different laws) says non-sexual public nudity is legal. The only problem with it is there is a general ignorance about that law, including amonst some police officers. But the bottom line is, you can legally be nude in public if you want to be.
However, it’s unlikely you’ll see people walking around towns and cities in the nude. But nude hiking is becoming a very popular thing in the countryside and is perfectly legal.
We have many “naturist” beaches here in the UK, many of them officially designated as “naturist”, but many that are not official but are accepted after decades of use.
We have a TV show called “Naked Attraction” where the contestants are naked – and there’s no censorship, no blurring or pixelation. For example they’ll have three naked women in three separate cubicles which are made of glass or plastic (I’m not sure) and initially you can only see them from the knees down. Gradually more of them is revealed. A man who is initially clothed has to assess them on the attractiveness of their bodies. The female presenter (who remains clothed) asks the man what he thinks about the women’s bodies and specific parts of there bodies. For example, one of the women may be shaved and the female presenter will ask the man, “What do you think? Do you like a shaved pussy? It’s a neat one isn’t it?” Eventually the guy choose one of the women he wants to date. At that point he has to go and undress and comes back naked so the woman can offer her opinion of him, and the presenter woman will say things like, “Oh he’s circumcised, do you like that? He’s got a good sized dick hasn’t he, do you like a big one?” You can watch clips of this show on YouTube. They do it the other way around as well, with three naked men in the cubicles and a woman assessing them.
We have daytime TV programmes (morning usually) that often do features on nudity and naturism. Recently (last year) a naturist couple appeared on “This Morning” completely nude at around 10am. The female presenter admitted live on TV that she couldn’t stop looking at the man’s penis!
In the 50-odd years that I have been a “naturist/nudist” (I don’t really use those labels to describe myself) I have gone nude at official nude beaches, unofficial nude beaches, and regular beaches, as well as in other public places. I have pushed the envelope a lot, often going nude where it’s not expected. In all those years I only ever had one bad reaction and it was from a man. Otherwise I have been naked in front of hundreds if not thousands of clothed people at beaches without any adverse reaction.
So, no, I don’t think the UK is conservative about nudity.
If you come to the UK in the summer when temperatures can be in the 30C’s (86F) (I think the highest recorded temperature in the UK last year was 32.2C/90F in July) Wales is one of the best places to go. The views are stunning, the sea is warm (comes up from the gulf stream) and there are plenty of places to go nude.
One of the best beaches in the country is Morfa Dyffryn, it’s in mid/northwest Wales and has a 1km/0.62mile marked official naturist section. Google it! Personally, I ignore the marked boundaries because as I have said, public nudity is not illegal here.
Go to Morfa Dyffryn beach in the summer (especially during the school holidays from late July to September (6 weeks) and you might see up to 400 nude people at the southern half of the beach. Morfa Dyffryn is approximately 4.5 miles south of the historic Welsh town of Harlech (pronounced “Harleck”, for those who aren’t British) with it’s famous castle.
Take a look at this for a view: www bodysgallen com/media/1974/harlech-castle-snowdonia jpg (replace spaces with . )
Or Google Harlech Castle.
I’ve also spent many hours on many different days, nude on Harlech beach, which isn’t a naturist beach, but never had any issues there even when encountering other, non-nudist/naturist, people. You might wonder why I do that when there’s an official nude beach only 4.5 miles away. It’s just for a change of scenery.
Feel free to ask me for advice about other nude beaches around the UK.
Just an extra to my previous reply. Just today this article appeared in our newspaper, The Daily Mail, about a nudist/naturist cycling through central London yesterday.
The article points out that cycling in the nude in public is not illegal.
Replace spaces in the following address with dots…
www dailymail co uk/news/article-10627027/Nudist-cycles-central-London-street-rush-hour html
Great reply TimA. Thanks for all this information, this is exactly what I was looking for. I had no idea that nudity was legal anywhere. That’s good to know, because that’s not the case in every country, far from it.
Gary, the document published by the college of policing has a flow chart to guide officers and call handlers on what to do if someone reports a nude person. It says:
If they are just being naked in public, it will be lawful activity
Explain to caller that no offences are being committed
No police action necessary