It’s not quite Cap d’Agde, France’s famed naked village, but sleepy Zipolite is Mexico’s nudist paradise and home to the country’s only legal nude beach. The city is so nudist friendly that in winter each year it hosts the annual Festival Nudista. Located in coastal Oaxaca and reachable only via a layover in Mexico City followed by an onerous bus or private taxi from either Puerto Escondido or Huatulco, this little sliver of paradise is worth the trek and boasts a huge following of queer sunseekers looking for a gay alternative to Puerto Vallarta.
The most shocking thing about two-kilometer Playa Zipolite is seeing someone actually wearing a swimsuit. (Why come all this way?) The entire stretch of sand is clothing optional, though folks tend to gravitate to its two ends including Playa del Amor. This secluded cove is where folks gather daily for a late afternoon skinny dip and to watch the sunset. Fresh caught oysters on the half shell are often passed around while a makeshift bar serves mezcal drinks. Even on the rare cloudy night, there are full moons everywhere, and as the straights drift off to town for dinner, the gays head toward the cove’s various nooks and crannies for moonlit frisky fun.
Gay-owned HEVEN (www.hevenresidence.com) is perched atop a hill on the western side of town. It’s a clothing optional, apartment-style hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean—that is if you can take your eyes off the clientele. Down the hill from HEVEN and located right on the western end of Playa Zipolite is adults-only El Alquimista (www.hotelelalquimista.com). Popular with hetero folks thanks to its oceanfront restaurant and also its day spa and yoga studio, El Alquimista also boasts a gay fanbase who arrive early to sunbathe nude on the hotel’s oceanfront cabanas and drink margaritas from dawn ‘til dusk.
Stretching across the entirety of Playa Zipolite are numerous palapastyle resorts, and many of them are clothing optional including Hotel Nude (www.nudezipolite.com) and Naked (www.nakedzipolite.com) as if you couldn’t have guessed that. One of our favorites is gay-owned Casa Nudiste (www.casanudiste.com), a new hotel that is located in town (though the town is tiny and it’s only a two-minute walk from the beach). Owned by a handsome Frenchmen named Benoit, Casa Nudiste isn’t just clothing optional, it’s nudity mandatory in all common areas. Though it’s hetero friendly, the clientele is heavily gay, especially during peak periods, and the hotel becomes a de facto gay bar during its naked Saturday pool parties.
NYC AND FIRE ISLAND
Welcome to Nude York City! Only in the Big Apple can you hang at a bar while letting it all hang out, stroll around a packed Brooklyn Beach with your favorite topless gal pal, and admire the city’s soaring skyline completely in the buff—from New Jersey of all places.
Few beaches along the Eastern Seaboard rival Sandy Hook. This barrier spit at the north end of the Jersey Shore is only 50 minutes from Manhattan via scenic ferry. It drops passengers off at a port where school buses then shuttle folks between various sandy stretches including clothing optional Gunnison Beach. It’s hard to believe there’s a beach this great so close to Manhattan (skyline views on a clear day are lovely), but don’t expect to be alone. On a sunny summer weekend, the gay section will be packed booty to booty, which is exactly how we like it.
If you’re young, queer and fond of using they/them pronouns, head to the People’s Beach at Jacob Riis Park. This Brooklyn hangout offers up a summer smorgasbord of beautiful queer bodies. Topless sunbathing is allowed, and most women take full advantage. As for the fellas, don’t expect much more than a thong on many of them. A short walk from Jacob Riis is Fort Tilden Beach, the city’s unofficial nude beach and by that we mean not technically legal.
Did you know that you can go naked at some NYC bars? To do that, get on the email list for GO NAQED (www.gonaqed.com), a social nudist group for the queer community that hosts naked bar nights around town and whose motto is, “Fuck clothes, go naked.” Many of their events happen at Rockbar (www.rockbarnyc.com) in the West Village and Go Naqed welcomes all queer bodies including trans, nonbinary and cis people of all age, race, ethnicities, and body types.
Meanwhile, the reigning king of NYC underwear bar nights continues to be The Eagle (www.eagle-ny.com), despite persistent gentrification on the block. And yeah, sometimes the underwear comes off, though you didn’t hear that from us.
Then of course, there’s Fire Island. This slim barrier island just a few hours by train/ferry from Manhattan is home to two of the queerest hamlets on earth: Cherry Grove and the Pines. Frequented almost entirely by stressed-out New Yorkers (Fire Island just doesn’t have the hotel infrastructure to accommodate tourists), most come here to wear as skimpy a swimsuit as possible. And by that we mean you shouldn’t be surprised to see a muscle daddy grocery shopping at the Pines Pantry in a Speedo so tiny a slight breeze would blow it right off him.
Of course, the draw here is the beach, and there’s plenty of it. Most nudists head to the dunes right in front of the wooded area separating the two communities which is locally known as the Meat Rack, the Petting Zoo, and the Enchanted Forest, and where action happens 24/7. But we’ve seen people drop their drawers just about everywhere on Fire Island beach. In fact, we once saw a cutie with an eye patch get up from his blanket and stroll right into town naked as a jaybird to pick up something he’d forgotten from his time share (his clothes perhaps?).
Whether you’re hanging loose or letting it all hang out, Southern Californians love their beaches. Though it may not have the hippie ethos of its northern counterpart, a coastal drive reveals a half dozen nude spots, each one more amazing than the next. Eureka (I have found it) is California’s fitting state motto, but another good one would be suns out, buns out.
Sleepy California beach towns are an increasing endangered species these days, but Central Coast gem Avila Beach (about 3 hours north of Los Angeles) offers Pirate’s Cove, a crescent-shaped slice of clothing optional heaven just 15 minutes from downtown San Luis Obispo. The crowd is low-key, laid-back, and mostly straight, but the water here is achingly blue and thanks to it being a cove, Pirate’s remains sunny even on days when the marine layer hugs the coast.
Hemmed in by the Santa Ynez Mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, Santa Barbara is the true pearl of the Pacific and offers two amazing nude beaches within county lines. More Mesa (about 15 minutes north of downtown), is a local fixture offering plentiful parking followed by a short, 10-minute hike to a heavenly beach frequented by both straight and gay sunbathers. Walk as far west as you can until reaching the gay section which attracts a mix of seasoned sunbathers,
young professionals, and the occasional USB student. We love it.
Straddling the Santa Barbara and Ventura County lines is Bates Beach, a cinch to reach expanse of dense sand and endless horizon located right off the 101. Ignore the “nudity prohibited” sign near the entrance, you can hang out in the buff under the bluffs all you want. Just wait until you pass the seawall, which divides the clothed and nudist portions of the beach neatly in half. Some days you’ll have the whole beach to yourself, which is exactly why Bates is the best.
Although nudity is outlawed at beaches in LA County, private lands are exempt. So if you’ve ever wanted to try out a California natural hot spring while au naturel, head two hours inland to the Antelope Valley for a soak. The cost of entry to Deep Creek Hot Springs is $10 via Bowen Ranch and hike times to the springs are about 45 minutes from the parking lot, but devotees love the chill (and LGBTQ friendly) vibes. Unlike the beaches, the springs are great year-round.
San Onofre Beach in San Diego County (though it’s closer in proximity to Orange County communities like San Clemente and Laguna Beach) once offered a nudist paradise until a crackdown brought naked sunbathing to a halt. But the gays have yet to be deterred, so head toward the fence at trailhead 6 dividing San Onofre (on state land) from Camp Pendleton (on federal land), and look for pockets of gay men brandishing their baloney batons on hot days. Rumor is the nudity ban is occasionally enforced, but we’ve never once had a problem.
Lastly, just try and keep your Speedo on at Blacks Beach, the best and gayest nude beach in America. Strolling this 2-mile stretch of golden sand at the base of 300-foot cliffs while the Pacific laps gently against the shore casts a spell that makes swimsuits disappear. Divided into both a straight and gay section, on a hot day the north end boasts hundreds of mostly gay men of every size, age, and color catching rays and heading off to far-flung corners to play. Whoever invented the phrase “California Dreamin” was surely at Blacks on a hot summer day.
To this day, we still think about this enchanting Greek island. We think about wandering the labyrinthine streets of Mykonos Town, eating seafood at a portside restaurant, drinking martinis with a London couple we met at gay bar Lola (one of whom starred in Game of Thrones), and lounging nude on the beach surrounded by gorgeous men from all over Europe, including the most handsome Irishman ever. If you’ve got cash to flash, Mykonos is heaven.
Elia Beach is the island’s famed gay beach and is easily accessible via a 25-minute bus ride from Mykonos Town or by car (though we hear the parking lots fill up in season). A wide, sandy beach lined with lounge chairs and umbrellas, it’s near the westernmost end where you’ll catch the first glimpses of nudity. Hang here if you want to be pampered, but most guys follow a trailhead on over to a cramped and secluded cove packed butt to butt with naked gay guys. Keep walking and you’ll stumble (by accident we’re certain) into a cruising section.
But Mykonos is full of naturist beaches. In fact, from Elia Beach it’sonly a short walk to Agrari Beach, which we didn’t even know existed (or was clothing optional) until boredom took us on a naked stroll and we stumbled right into it. It’s about a 5-minute walk west of Elia. Some naturists still hang out at famed Super Paradise Beach, and also at remote Fokos Beach, tiny Kapari Beach, and gusty Panormas, and Agios Sostis Beach, according to our sources. In short, if you’re in Mykonos to sunbathe, lose the tan lines already.
The Elysium Hotel (www.elysiumhotel.com) sits perched atop a hill just outside Mykonos Town. Bathed in shades of purple at nightfall, this gay hotel offers an onsite bar, and clothing optional pool and hot tub with striking island views. Its drag shows are a beloved island fixture. At night most men head straight to waterfront bar Jackie O (www.jackieomykonos.com) where they kill time with pricey cocktails until heading around the corner to Paraportiana Orthodox Church, which has been there since the 17the century. By day, Greeks go there to pray, after hours gay guys go there to play. Somehow it works out.
We’ll never forget the first time we stumbled upon the nudist deck on an Atlantis Cruise. There were so many buns and wieners we thought we were at a barbecue. But the best way to “have your cakes and sun them too,” so to speak, is to book a weeklong clothing optional or nude cruise on a sailing yacht or catamaran with outfitters like GaySail (www.gaysail.com), Salty Boys (www.saltyboys.com) and Pride Sailing Holidays (www.pridesailingholidays.com), among others.
Here’s how it works: For around $1500-$2000 for the week (prices vary) you get a shared or bunk bed on a 14-person yacht or catamaran that includes an experienced gay skipper and gay cook and depending on the time of year, sail around sundrenched locales like the Greek Islands, Tahiti, the Caribbean, Croatia, coastal Mexico, Thailand, the Canary Islands, Turkey, and more.
In the case outfitters like Salty Boys and GaySail, you have the option of either booking a clothing optional itinerary or a completely separate au naturel or naked sailing trip where you’re expected to be in your birthday suit at all times except when anchored and visiting local attractions. Typically included in the price are your (nude) skipper and cook, plus breakfast, lunch, fees, taxes, and fuel costs. Not included are dinner and drinks purchased on land.
We just booked a shared bunk room on a clothing-optional catamaran with GaySail that for seven days will cruise around Tahiti’s Society Islands for a week. This seven-day tour begins at Raiatea Island and will charter around famed Bora Bora and Huahine and along the way anchor at exclusive bays for snorkeling and skinny dipping, plus include island stops for dining, hiking, and soaking in local culture. In this particular excursion, we’ll be traveling alongside a second (nudity mandatory) catamaran, meaning we’ll have the chance to make friends with another dozen guys traveling on an adjacent boat. We couldn’t be more excited!