China’s State-Controlled Media Recommends Top 10 Nude Beaches

nude beach patmos greeceLooking for nude beach recommendations this summer? You probably wouldn’t think to consult Xinhua, China’s state-controlled press agency, but here comes editor Yang Yi’s list of their “Top Ten Sexy Nudist Bathing Spots Around the World.” I stumbled across the link to the slideshow while checking out an article about their new English language travel website and had a few good laughs reading the photo captions.

According to Yi, Australia’s Lady Bay Beach “is one of the legitimate nudist beaches announced by the Prime Minister in 70s,” and the entire city of Rio de Janeiro is “the most ‘eye-candy’ beach” where visitors will “find many graceful statures and beautiful faces in beach activities.” In “Cape Down” (sic) South Africa, Yi recommends Sandy Bay Beach because it has “inconvenient traffic,” which makes it feel “away from the world.” Other entries included San Gregorio State Beach in California, and beaches in Negril, Jamaica, British Columbia and St. Martin. The entire state of Hawaii also made the list. Aloha!In recommending Paradise Beach in Mykonos, Yi opines, “Europeans are always full of reverence for human body … In other European countries, restrictions on public nudity are very relaxed. Say nothing of other countries like Netherlands, France, and Spain, even England, which is strict and conservative in some people’s eyes, possesses officially-recognized nudist beaches.”

It’s obviously a pretty half-assed list and some of the stock photos they used look like models from cheap ’70s porn sets. But it’s nice to see that state-controlled media in China is letting its hair down and chasing clicks just like every site in the West.

I hit a couple clothing optional beaches in Greece last summer and can highly recommend Plakias on the island of Crete and Psili Ammos beach in Patmos. Somehow I don’t think editor Yi has spent much time on nude beaches, so if you want more detailed recommendations consider checking out Captain Barefoot’s Naturist Guide to the Greek Islands.

Living Naked And Free On The Beach In Greece

nude beach in greece patmosI spent seventeen years in Catholic schools and that’s probably why you’ll never see me lolling about naked on a beach. I have no moral opposition to naturists, but like many others, I’ve observed firsthand that nudists tend to be a bit older, with many old enough to qualify for senior citizens discounts, and some aren’t exactly easy on the eyes. There’s something about the aging process that makes some people want to revert to their natural state as they grow older.

Men hear the words “nude beach” or “clothing optional beach” and their heart rates accelerate a few notches. But are you going to bump into Gisele Bundchen or Brooklyn Decker sunning themselves in the buff on a beach? Probably not.

In the Greek Isles, you can’t help but bump into people who are naked or nearly naked, even without seeking out nude or clothing optional beaches. A couple weeks ago, I saw a few portly, hardy souls, certainly from Northern Europe, looking burned like lobsters and naked as jaybirds on Tigaki Beach in Kos.

Then you also see men who have suits on, but they’re so skimpy they’re almost more of an assault on the eyes than if they were actually naked. I saw a man at the Livadi Geranou beach in Patmos last week that was actually wearing a thong bathing suit reminiscent of the one Borat used in his movie, save the shoulder straps. He appeared to be about 85 years old.The next day, a portly, middle-aged man tried to board a public bus we were on in Patmos with a tiny speedo half pulled down, exposing both pubes and half his ass. A group of Greek schoolchildren on the bus began to point at him and laugh hysterically, and he turned around and got off. (Perhaps the driver told him to get dressed, I’m not sure.)

Then on Saturday, my wife and two young boys and I found ourselves in the company of a whole host of naked people at the Psili Ammos Beach in Patmos, much to our surprise. The beach can only be reached via a boat ride or rigorous 30-minute hike, so it’s apparently an ideal place for naturists to hide out on a very religious island that frowns upon public nudity.

We noticed that a few of the nudists were actually camping on the beach, which isn’t technically legal, and I was curious about the practicalities. But how does one go about interviewing naked people on a beach? Surely approaching them naked, on their terms, would have been best, but I wasn’t going to do that.

I asked my wife, Jen, to accompany me, thinking that I might seem less like a horny stalker if I had a woman with me.

“I don’t know,” she said, clearly dreading the chore. “I feel like you need to give naked people on a beach a really wide berth.”

nude beach in patmos greece nudists naturistsBut she eventually agreed to accompany me on my quest to speak to naked campers. We approached a variety of naked people, feeling very awkward since we had suits on, and none admitted to being campers, though this might be because they thought I was some sort of undercover police officer.

The naturists were all friendly, and obviously not Americans. One older gentleman who we approached, sort of half rolled over when we addressed him and I accidentally caught sight of his junk – clearly a low point in our trip. It’s odd but when you’re speaking to naked people on a beach, you focus so hard on making eye contact that it’s almost ridiculous.

After a few hours on the clothing-optional beach, I told my wife I’d had enough and wanted to leave. And then just as the words left my mouth, a large group of attractive young people came hiking down the hill and plopped down right next to us on the beach. Well, not so fast, I thought. But alas, they turned out to be a wholesome group of Norwegians on a Bible study tour, and they definitely weren’t there to get naked.

For those who are interested in getting naked and camping for free on Greek beaches, check out the Captain Barefoot site, which appears to be a comprehensive guide to Greece for naturists. In some way, I kind of envy people who feel free enough to live naked and free on a remote beach in Greece, but I’m still keeping my suit on.

Read Part 2 of this story, A Prude Bares it All On a Nude Beach in Crete here.

(Photos by Dave Seminara, the second one needed blurring)

Nakation Nation: Nudist Resorts And Beaches Solve Airline Baggage Fee Woes

nude sunbatherAnd from the, “OMFG” department comes this information, via press release: The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) “encourages wholesome family nude recreation [“Nakations”] in appropriate settings such as designated nude beaches and AANR-member resorts, or around the home. Experts have attested that children raised in a social nudist environment grow up with a stronger sense of self-esteem, free of many of the body image issues that trouble the average textile youth.”

I’m most disturbed by the terms, “textile youth” and “Nakation.” I’m not going to touch those with a ten-foot…never mind. Why I’m so skeeved out by the naked family vacay thing is a bit more convoluted. I like to think that I’m pretty open-minded, and it’s true we’ve become a nation of body dysmorphic, eating-disordered freaks…when we’re not morbidly obese, that is.

I have no problem going topless on European beaches, and have often bemoaned the puritanical leanings of Americans when it comes to censorship with regard to nudity on television and in magazines. I just feel that it’s potential fodder for a therapist’s couch when children and their parents frolic about sans textiles after the toddler stage has passed; I also believe that public nudity past toddler-hood is something that should only be done by consenting adults.

I’ve been to a nude beach twice. Maybe it’s because I didn’t holiday in the buff with my family (my eyes, my eyes!) as a child, but I can tell you two things my nude sunbathing didn’t accomplish: providing me with a stronger sense of self-esteem, and freeing me of the body image issues that have troubled me ever since I was an average, deprived textiled youth.nude beachIt could have something to do with the fact that the first time I went, it was with an exhibitionist Australian boyfriend who was a professional athlete. It was (as we discovered) a gay beach, meaning most of the men were totally ripped. I’d also been on a month-long food writing assignment, so I wasn’t feeling very good about my body. And I was covered – literally – with mosquito bites I’d gotten several days prior on a camping trip. This included my ass, because…let’s just say that women have a tougher time peeing in the great outdoors than men.

So, I wasn’t exactly feeling empowered about this experience, but I forced myself to do it. Just so I could say my boyfriend and I went to a gay nude beach in Australia. The second time, I was by myself in Santa Cruz and it was all good until some freak threw his towel down three inches away from my toes. I haven’t taken my clothes off in a public place in broad daylight since.

Clearly, I’m the one with the issues, because according to the AANR, the “2011 Portrait of the American Traveler tells us that at least 53 million people are interested in visiting nudist resorts or nude beaches. This confirms the increasing public understanding that family nudity is wholesome, natural and comfortable after the first daunting but liberating plunge.”

I guess the issue really comes down to, “Is this behavior hurting anyone?” and that’s open to debate. Personally, I’m not too cool with kids being, uh, exposed to naked strangers. I agree that teaching children to have a healthy sense of esteem about their bodies is important (as important, say, as feeding them a well-balanced, nutritious diet and encouraging them to be physically active and play outdoors), but I think there are plenty of ways to learn that without going on Nakations. Or, for the cash-strapped family, “Staycation Nakations.”

One thing I will say about clothing-optional travel: it saves money on baggage fees and laundry. The downside is explaining how you got melanoma.

[Photo credits, sunbather, Flickr user uppityrib; sign, Flickr user Sister 72]

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