Here’s a simple way to avoid those pesky airline baggage fees: Don’t pack clothes. Travel to clothing-optional destinations and events is on the rise, as more hotels, resorts, and even cruises are catering to guests who want to strip down. But the trend goes beyond aging hippies lounging around '70s-style campsites or risqué resorts in the Caribbean: Nudist vacations are increasingly popular among all types of travelers, in some of the most unexpected places. Reasons for the uptick, according to the American Association of Nude Recreation (www.aanr.com): Nude vacationing is more relaxing, relieves stress, and offers travelers a welcome respite from the (fully-clothed) crowds. Here, we give you the top 10 nude vacations, along with some bare facts about clothing-optional travel. Go grab a towel and get ready to let it all hang out – just make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen. Take a (safe-for-work) peek at the destinations with our Nude Vacations slideshow.
Bay to Breakers 12K Race, San Francisco
This 7.46-mile race, one of the most popular in the world, is as famous for what some runners are wearing (outrageous, elaborate costumes) as what others aren’t (clothing). Traversing the city from east to west, the event takes place on the third weekend of May and draws tens of thousands of entrants, many of whom trot the course in the buff. In recent years, alcohol has been officially prohibited, and city officials have started cracking down on public nudity, too. But that hasn’t curbed the diehards, who even have their own running group, Bare to Breakers (baretobreakers.com), which welcomes newbie nudies. If you want to run, make sure to sign up early – the race, which draws about 100,000 runners, sold out in 2011 (registration for the 2012 running will open by January 1, 2012; zazzlebaytobreakers.com). Braver souls can try to bandit (that is, run without an official number); spectating is a sport within itself, too.
See our San Francisco Travel Guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on hotels, flights, vacation packages, and more.
Black’s Beach, La Jolla, California
Sure, you can take your pick from nude beaches aplenty in the Caribbean and Europe. But Black’s Beach (www.sandiego.gov/lifeguards/beaches/blacks.shtml) is closer to home, secluded, and super laid-back – the perfect mix of ingredients for getting an all-over tan. The beach is a sandy two-mile stretch, flanked by craggy cliffs that are a popular spot for gliders. Gay men make up a significant portion of the bathers, but couples and even a few families are common, too. On weekends, look out for the Black’s Beach Bares, a group of local naturists who take to their self-maintained volleyball courts for some feisty games. There are a couple of ways to access the beach (a steep dirt trail or a long walk along the coastline), but whichever route you choose, expect quite a bit of walking. And be careful not to venture too far north, where clothing is mandatory.
The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Yes, you’ll be baring all in sub-freezing temperatures, within proximity of gorgeous blonde Nordic people. But don’t let that stop you from experiencing Iceland’s iconic geothermal pools, located about 45 minutes from Reykjavik and also the site of a racy 1980s flick of the same name starring Brooke Shields (though the film itself was shot in Jamaica and Fiji). You’ll strip down and shower (men’s and women’s areas are separate), making sure to take care of every nook and cranny – Icelanders are notoriously hygienic – before slipping into the otherworldly blue waters, which hover between 98 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. While there isn’t a written policy on whether the pools are clothing optional, plenty of bathers soak sans suits. Whether you come during an epic Icelandic summer or the chilly winter months, you’re sure to truly understand what it means to “chillax.”
See our Iceland Travel Guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on hotels, flights, vacation packages, and more.
Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Now a weeklong party in the desert of northeastern Nevada, this massive arts-festival-turned-cultural-phenomenon started out as a solstice bonfire bash on San Francisco’s Baker Beach, the second oldest nude beach in America. No surprise, then, that the clothing optional vibe has continued, with participants, or Burners, braving the blazing temperatures on the “playa,” as the ancient lakebed is known, with skimpy costumes, body paint, or nothing but the desert dust as cover-up. During the week before Labor Day and through that weekend, Burners set up camps, bars, classes, art installations, and mini-shops to become the tenth-largest “city” in Nevada, and the party rages with themes of self-reliance and expression, community building, and art. The event has become so popular that it sold out for the first time this year, so if you’re burning to take part, make sure to get tickets early (prices start at $210 and go up to $360 as the event gets closer; www.burningman.com) for 2012.
Moorea Beach Club at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
People don’t wear much clothing in Sin City as it is, but if you’re ready to take it (almost) all off, check out Moorea Beach Club at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino (www.mandalaybay.com). This private, adults-only (ages 21 and up) pool party exudes a sexy European vibe, with an optional topless dress code, red lounge chairs, poolside massages, and personalized assistants. Cover charges aren’t cheap (Mon.-Fri., $10 for women, $40 for men; the price jumps to $20 and $50, respectively, on weekends), but you just may be able to work your way onto the comped guest list if the pool isn’t busy (weekdays are your best bet for scoring a freebie). If you’re craving an extra-upscale experience, consider indulging in a private cabana. The ones on the upper level feature more privacy and excellent views – not just of fellow loungers, but of the adjacent family-friendly pool and the hordes of children that you’re mercifully not part of. Like many pools at Vegas hotels, Moorea does undergo maintenance during the slower fall and winter months; this year the pool is scheduled for closure from the first week in November through March 2012.
See our Las Vegas Travel Guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on hotels, flights, vacation packages, and more.
North Swanbourne Beach, Perth, Australia
About 20 minutes outside of Perth on Australia’s western coast, North Swanbourne is arguably the best nude beach in the country. Naturists have been flocking there for decades for its friendly environment, soft white sand, and sparkling aquamarine water. Every February, dozens of naturists flock to the beach for the Nude Olympics, during which in-the-buff athletes compete in wacky activities like the Four-Legged Race, Tug of War, and a Best Bum competition. Be careful not to wander too far south, as a family beach is about 300 yards away, well-marked by a “No Nude Bathing” sign. Suit-free sunbathers also need to watch out for more than just a sunburn: Swanbourne is located on army-owned land, with an active firing range nearby (though the beach is closed during sessions).
Spa World, Osaka, Japan
If you’ve ever been tempted to splash into Rome's Trevi Fountain sans clothing or skinny-dip under a Grecian sky, this superspa in Osaka is just the spot for you. Part centuries-old tradition, part Disney-esque water park, Spa World (www.spaworld.co.jp) is Japan’s most lavish and popular onsen, which, by Western standards, is like a combination of a spa and hot springs. Its multiple levels of baths feature clothing-free levels, one with an Asian theme and the other European, which alternate every month for male and female bathers. Sections are arranged by countries, complete with iconic landmarks (like the Trevi Fountain). According to onsen etiquette, the soaker should wash thoroughly before entering the male or female area. Towels are used while walking from one area to another, though they’re more appropriately sized for locals instead of more robust Westerners. And if you’ve got body ink, may be out of luck, as tattoos, whether permanent or temporary, are usually prohibited.
See our Japan Travel Guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on hotels, flights, vacation packages, and more.
Spencer Tunick Photo Shoots
Another way to scratch that exhibitionist itch, in the name of art no less: Volunteer to pose for a photo shoot by this New York-based artist, who snaps soothing images of thousands of bare bodies juxtaposed against skylines or rugged natural landscapes. Since 1994, Tunick has been eluding local authorities with his installations – about 75 so far, most recently, about 1,200 Israelis at (and in) the Dead Sea. To join the next one, which as of this posting hadn’t been scheduled yet, just sign up on his website (www.spencertunick.com), which even has a skin spectrum where you’ll click the color closest to your tone. But you’ll have to be OK with some possible skin-to-skin contact with your fellow volunteers, as Tunick’s vision often involves placing bodies close together. You won’t get paid for your time, but you will get a pretty cool souvenir: a Tunick-signed copy of the print (extra points if you can identify your privates).
Turkish Baths, Budapest, Hungary
For centuries, locals have been soaking up the health-boosting benefits of the city’s plentiful baths, which are fed by more than 100 hot springs and are a part of the country’s healthcare system. But tourists also can dip into the healing waters, or gyogyviz, at any of several spa baths; among the most popular are Szechenyi, Gellert, and Rudas baths (www.spasbudapest.com). Once you make it through the tricky pricing system – there are various costs for extra services, and it’s more expensive on the weekends – expect to get lost in the labyrinth of pools, showers, saunas, steam rooms, and massage parlors. There are pools for soaking, which are usually separated between the sexes or alternate days for men and women bathers, and pools for swimming, many of which are communal. Generally, the soaking pools are clothing optional, while the swimming pools require a swimsuit and swimming cap. Attendants can be prickly and usually don’t speak English, so try to find a friendly local who can point you in the right direction. And along with the healing waters, make sure to soak up the grand décor of robust statues, grand columns, and intricate mosaics.
See our Budapest Travel Guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on hotels, flights, vacation packages, and more.
World Naked Bike Ride
Part of an international movement that seeks to "deliver a vision of a cleaner, safer, body-positive world," the World Naked Bike Ride (www.worldnakedbikeride.org) takes place in 70 cities and 20 countries every June. Cyclists in various states of undress take to the streets in cities including Mexico City, Portland, Oregon, and, of course, San Francisco, to protest society’s dependence on oil and promote positive body acceptance, among other hippy-ish motifs. "Think of it as Critical Mass with a REALLY lenient dress code," the organization’s web site reads. Riders who cringe at the thought of their bare butts on a bike seat don’t have to go completely nude – body paint, glitter, bikinis, or lingerie are acceptable cover-ups. And if you don’t want pics of your naked bod to appear online, consider a costume instead, as NSFW-ish photo galleries from rides (not surprisingly) often go viral.