The weird principle of the separate nude beach

We have been to some absolutely splendid nude beaches during our travels. An all-time favorite of ours is the free beach of Zipolite. “Free” in the sense that you’re allowed to wear whatever you wish. Bathing suit, batman suit or birthday suit, nobody cares at all. Another one that’s definitely in our Top 3 of amazing nude beaches can be found in Tayrona National Park in Colombia. The hike to the nude beach takes no less than half a day, through lush jungle, having you end up at a piece of unspoiled Caribbean paradise of which we thought that it only existed in movies.


Then there are the many hidden coves in Croatia and Greece. The wild Atlantic beaches near Lisbon. And the endless nude beach on the other side of the ocean, in Massarandupio, Brazil. Naturists whose legs are not as vivid anymore as they used to be, tend to complain about the difficulty to get to nude beaches. We mostly think that it’s the main reason why they are so amazing. Because there are no parking spots right behind the corner, the beaches remain much more agreeable.

The naturist section of Toulon’s nude beach

When we recently had to stop for the night in Toulon, a small city on the French Rivièra, we were looking for an afternoon activity. As always, we first try to find out whether there’s anything to do in town which doesn’t require us to wear clothes. Especially in this mid-summer heat. As soon as we found out that one of the city beaches had a naturist section, we knew that we had a plan.


Finding a parking spot at the main promenade appeared to be a piece of cake (thanks to COVID) and a short walk later, we found ourselves at Plage de la Mittre. From a hilltop, we got first sight of the beach. Imagine this: A long sandy stretch of urban beach, leading straight into the emerald-colored Mediterranean Sea. A beach bar, a frisbee game going on. Families, groups of friends, and lots of teenagers and twenty-somethings enjoying a warm Tuesday afternoon under the warm sun of southern France.


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Don’t be fooled, this wasn’t the nude beach. A small, maybe 15-meters long section, covered with hard, sharp rocks and dry seaweed, lacking the slightest bit of shade, was where the naturists could be found.

That’s not hiding the naked people

Having a naturist section of the main beach is a very European thing. It’s not a bad idea. Many naturists don’t like to be looked at by the clothed beach visitors and people in swimming suits might find it bothering when there are naked people around. So each gets their own part. Except, the naturist part is rarely the nicer section of the beach.


In the case of Plage de la Mittre, and lots of similar beaches we’ve visited, the idea of separating the naked and the clothed doesn’t really make much sense. There wasn’t a huge rock or large fence dividing both worlds, but just an imaginary line. People on the textile beach could easily see the naturists and vice versa. Those walking on the path towards the textile beach could see the naturists. People living in the surrounding apartment buildings had a clear view on bare butts from their terraces.


Beach visitors who resent the idea of seeing naked people, would never go to the textile part of Plage de la Mittre. Naturists who don’t like to be seen by textiles, on the other hand, would not feel comfortable at the nude section of the beach. Yet, both parts of the beach were pretty crowded for a Tuesday afternoon.

Why the French girl didn’t go to the nude beach

Those who say that French women have lost their love for topless sunbathing haven’t been to Plage de la Mittre. Lots of French breasts were getting a tan at the textile side of the beach when we passed by. Once we had nestled ourselves among the largely elder crowd of the naturist section, we started wondering: So many young French women seemed to feel no shame for taking their top off. The full monty was definitely not a taboo as they could see us hanging out in the nude, only meters further. Why didn’t any of them decide to come to our side and drop that last piece of fabric?


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We could only come to one answer: Because our side sucked. It’s not that it took such an amount of courage to drop that last piece of bikini. It would take a huge amount of willpower to exchange that nice sandy stretch of beach for hot sharp rocks, just for the sake of not having to wear a couple of square centimeters of textile. Die-hard naturists (and naturist bloggers) will do everything it takes to be able to get completely naked. Many others, however, don’t see bathing suits as an extreme burden that has to be avoided at all cause. Especially if that meant exchanging a soft spot to lay on for a hard and sharp one.

Clothing-optional to the rescue

Every time when we promote the idea of more clothing-optional beaches, we receive many comments with examples about how the local nude beach is already crowded with textiles or how allowing clothes would only create a large playground for gawkers. There’s obviously some truth in this. One nude beach is not the other. And the atmosphere at nude beaches tends to differ a lot between different countries.


In the case of Plage de la Mittre, if people wanted to gawk, they could easily do so from the textile section. Or from the path above. But we didn’t see any weird behavior except for one guy on the nude section who liked to swim with his underwear on his head. If the naturists don’t care about being seen and the textiles don’t care about seeing nude people, why the separation?


Back in Zipolite, we used to see first-time skinny dippers almost on a daily basis. They would go into the ocean in their bathing suits and notice the comfort and joy of the nude bathers. The next time they went into the ocean, the bathing suits were left behind. The difference between this urban French beach is striking. Plage de la Mittre almost had the opposite effect. It’s the kind of place that could turn naturists into textiles. “How annoying would it really be to wear a bikini bottom? Given the fact that I can then spend my afternoon in the sand near the bar instead of on these hot sharp rocks?”


As soon as those scary thoughts started playing in our minds, we packed our stuff and ran (figuratively speaking, that is, we mostly left because there still wasn’t any shade and the rocks had been burning some awkward red spots on our butts). But more than ever, we’re convinced that if this whole stretch of beach had been clothing-optional, the place would have been more agreeable for everyone.

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21 thoughts on “The weird principle of the separate nude beach”

  1. It’s a very good question why people from the textile beach don’t come to the naturist beach. We can make assumptions about this, but it would give more insight to ask it themselves. Too often we look at the pros and cons of naturism from our own naturist point of view without probing the real opinion, preferences and willingness of the others. Such information might also help to understand how to convince those who are hesitant to try naturism.

    • It’s definitely true that we have to also try to think from the textile mindset. We also mentioned this when there was a lot of fuss that the pandemic would produce lots of new naturists. From a naturist mind, this was really obvious. You don’t have to go to work and nobody will ring your doorbell. Of course, you’re nude.
      We then compared this to comic book enthusiasts who might say: You have lots of free time and are not allowed to leave the house. Of course, you’ll read comic books.

  2. The ancient Greeks and Romans weren’t uptight about nudity. So when did things change? The “little ice age” ,Gerry Falwell ,. The reformation? I mean seriously. When and what sociological norms drove us down this path?
    Just ruminating?

    • People feeling insecure about their bodies provide the income of a big chunk of the economy. Lots of commercials start with “A little too…”, “do you want a little less…”, “Lose… in just 30 days”. None of them end with “well, that’s perfectly fine, you’re great as you are”, though.
      The fashion industry manages to convince people that they’ll look better in a certain set of clothes every single season…

      The liberation that comes with naturism, on the other hand, is a disaster for those in power. For a government, it’s much easier to govern those that feel scared and insecure. What do you promise a person who feels great and free?

  3. We’re with you all the way, mixed beaches are by far the most healthy environment. We’ve just come back from Spain and our favourite beach this time was right on the border of Malaga/Granada called Cantarraijan. Although it’s a very well known naturist site and getting there can be difficult, (it’s a steep walk if you can find somewhere to park or you pay a couple of euros to take the beach bus down the somewhat exciting mountain path) once there it is beautiful. The first of the two main bays has a couple of bar restaurants and predominantly textile sun lovers although there was a good dollop of full skin mixed in on this busy bay with no apparent issue. Walk around the corner through the shallow sea to the second slightly quieter bay and the site is a reversal, mostly fully nude with a fair smattering of full traditional bathing attire, a lot of top less ladies of all ages but the most overwhelming part of this beach was the open camaraderie, 3 generation naturist families sitting close to young couples in bathers, naked kids playing with those in trunks or t-shirts. Different nationalities in different stages of undress chatting to each other in broken languages. Folks just soaking up the sun, others in the crystal clear waters…….all with not a care about who was wearing what. A healthy disrespect almost, certainly an uninterest in each others bodies. A great non sexualised space to do what we all want to do, sunbathe and swim dressed or undressed with no pressure or judgement. Every beach should be like this, every family should have the body confidence to be nude in front of each other and others. Beaches like this one promote the healthy attitude and go a long way to destroying the prejudicial image of nude meaning sex. Mixed beaches rock .

    • Lots of beaches in Greece are, certainly on Crete, Lesbos Ithaki etc
      And try Gavdos, off southern Crete.Free camping nude under the trees in some places, costumes needed just when you go to a taverna etc

        • Its hard to get to Gavdos so I guess that keeps it safe from the crowds.and development. We have been 3 times, twice with a car.

          • Lawrence. Have stayed on the island 3 times! 2014 (3 weeks), 2016 (9 weeks), 2018 (3 weeks). Loved waking up at sunrise and going for a skinny dip before breakfast. Best time of the day for a naked swim! Don’t get many opportunities to do that here in Aus! Enjoy your summer! So want to be in Europe right about now!

    • You’re absolutely right, every beach should be like that. Some people like wearing bathing suits and others prefer to be nude, and that’s great. It shouldn’t be an issue if everyone respects one another.

  4. Great comment, Glyn.

    I also wonder why some women bother to wear anything and how anything would change if they didn’t. Many women wear tiny thong bottoms and nothing else. They are literally a few square centimeters from being nude. Why bother?
    Fashion and style make little sense.

  5. It appears completely discriminatory to consign nudists to the such a crappy and small end of the beach. The nudists should stand up fo their rights and not just accept crumbs.

  6. We went to Ibiza and heard that ALL the beaches were nude, but rarely did anyone go nude. So we asked the police on the first day of our trip and they said “Yes, every beach is nude if you want”. So we did, all 7 days spent nude in any beach we wanted. Sure several times we were the only 4 nude. But by the end of the day we did see others join in and we were never the only ones nude. We will be traveling back to Ibiza for this very reason, we really enjoyed the mixed nude beach vibe. We live on Haulover Beach so we are used to mixed nude every day.

    • Technically, Spain doesn’t have a law against public nudity. Only specific cities or regions have them (for example Barcelona). This means that all beaches can be considered nude beaches by default. Although some beaches, often secluded, tend to attract more naturists than others.

    • Indeed this is the case. Ibiza is very tolerant of nudity, or of people who like to be naked on a beach, even if they are in the minority, or even the only one. Probably not wise to do it on the main resort beaches, but anywhere outside of those towns and it should be OK.

  7. Exactly right. Here in Holland, besides a few exceptions, the nude’s always end up with the short end of the stick, in other words the beach that is the furthest away from parking, facilities, toilets and even the lifeguard! Let alone having a drink without your clothes on. Indeed how much different from Spain, Nude or not always mixed. We love to visit Vera Playa or Gran Canaria en enjoy long nude walks over the beaches, have a drink without clothes at most bars etc.

  8. It definitely sound like whoever set the line between the nude and clothed sections wanted to make the naturists uncomfortable or unwelcome. Are there signs delineating the two sections?

    We live close to Blacks Beach in San Diego CA USA. I think you’ve been there. Like most nude beaches in the US it’s a long hard hike, but worth it. It’s very long and deep, so there’s space for everyone. Historically it self-divides into a gay section, a family section, and some empty space in between.

    Just this weekend we noticed that someone had put up a line of plastic traffic pylons delineating the city beach (where nudity is not allowed) from the state beach (where nudity is tolerated but still officially illegal). There were no signs saying anything about clothing – just a few orange pylons.

    It all seems so arbitrary and unspoken.

    • Hi Greg,

      Yes, we’ve been to Black’s Beach a couple of years ago and the hike is indeed pretty steep. For us, that wasn’t really much of an issue, but we’ve met several nudists in California who loved to go to the beach but just can’t get there anymore because of the hike. Which is a bit sad.

      The traffic pylons are indeed interesting. Especially the message behind it, which completely depends on who put the there. Was it the nudists who wanted to make sure that nobody entered “forbidden grounds” and risks a fine. Or was it the textiles who wanted to cage the nudists…

      • The consensus in our Blacks Beach Facebook group is that the lifeguards put up the pylons. They have tended to be allies in the past, and so I take it as an effort to give those who might be offended some little warning even if the governments won’t, and to let naturists know to stay on the north side.

        I’ve got bad knees, and the hike hurts, but the joy at being there is plenty of motivation. When we all get mobile again, perhaps we’ll meet on some sunny shore. Thank you and keep up the wonderful work!

  9. In the U.K. it is legal to be nude on any beach, indeed naturism is legal in the countryside or forest too. However, the British are generally prudish and ashamed of their bodies, so naturism is not that popular – but things are improving slowly. At one of our flagship naturist beaches, Studland near Poole in Dorset the naturist section is about half a mile or more long and it is by far the best section of beach for fine, clean sand and sea – great! But in France I do usually find that naturist sections are small and often rocky. The west coast of France is probably the best for naturism as the beaches are so very long.


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