It’s been a banner year for nudity around the globe.
Berlin recently announced that women can now go topless at the German capital’s public swimming pools while Nantucket Island went topless last December after locals voted in favor of “gender equality on beaches.”
After a multi-year Covid hiatus, the Free the Nipple campaign was back with topless parades in New York City, Vancouver, Paris and elsewhere. And the barely veiled female figure was the fashion statement du jour at the Met Gala, Milan Fashion Week, the BRIT Awards in London and other top-shelf events.
Meanwhile, there are more places than ever to sun, swim or build sandcastles au naturel at clothing-optional beaches on every continent.
From rocky coastlines to talcum-powder fine sands, and big city bays to secluded shores, there are now hundreds of beaches where it’s perfectly legal (or at least de facto legal) to frolic beside the sea in nothing more than your birthday suit.
“Soft, smooth sand, warm ocean breeze, gentle ocean waves and lots of other naturists makes for a great clothing-optional beach,” says Nicky Hoffman of The Naturist Society, who’s also the managing editor of Nude & Natural magazine and co-author of “The World’s Best Nude Beaches & Resorts.”
While clothing-optional beach destinations may seem like a modern invention, it’s actually quite an old idea, a product of the otherwise prudish Victorian era.
During the 1880s, American poet Walt Whitman extolled the virtues of the “Adamic air bath” – his nude walkabouts and swims along Timber Creek in New Jersey, writing of “The free exhilarating ecstasy of nakedness in Nature.”
Channeling that same vibe, the naturist movement took off in Europe and North America during the first half of the 20th century, with city parks, camp grounds and eventually beaches established for those who wanted to experience nature nude in their most natural state.
One of the spin-offs of the socially and sexually liberal 1960s was a “free beach” movement that saw a proliferation of nude beaches around the world.
And their popularity continues today, with more and more popping up each year. Here are 20 of the best nude beaches around the world:
Playa Naturista Chihuahua, Uruguay
Located about a 30-minute drive from Punta del Este, Uruguay’s best-known nude beach overlooks Portezuelo Bay on the Atlantic coast.
Photogenic dunes and water temperatures that reach 25 Celsius (77 F) and higher even in the southern hemisphere winter add to the strand’s allure.
After decades as an unofficial naked getaway, Chihuahua finally achieved legal status in 2000.
Since then, amenities have expanded to include the Hotel El Refugio Nudista Naturista clothing-optional resort.
Playa Naturista Chihuahua, Avenida Las Amarras, 20003 Chihuahua, Uruguay
Nida Nude Beach, Lithuania
The chilly Baltic Sea may not seem like the most obvious place to skinny dip. But this gorgeous strand on the long, sandy Curonian Spit offers one of Europe’s most picturesque spots to take it all off.
With its wildflower-covered dunes (among the highest in Europe) and shoreline forest, the beach was the focus of a 19th-century artists’ colony that attracted many of the leading painters, poets and writers of the time.
Walk far enough south along the strand and you eventually come to a fence that marks the Lithuania-Russia border.
Nida Nude Beach, Nidos-Smiltynės pl., Nida, Lithuania
Little Palm Beach, Waiheke, New Zealand
Although it’s technically legal to go naked on any beach in personal-liberty-loving New Zealand, the nation’s naturists tend to congregate at well-known clothing-optional spots like Little Palm Beach on Waiheke Island.
Reaching the secluded strand entails a 40–60-minute ferry ride from Auckland, a taxi or rideshare to the island’s north shore, and then a short downhill hike.
You can top or tail your beach adventure at Waiheke’s many wineries, restaurants, and art galleries.
Little Palm Beach, Miro Road, Waiheke Island 1081, New Zealand
Nugal Beach, Croatia
Flanked by sheer cliffs and shades by pine trees, this remote beach on the mainland opposite Brač island is reached via a narrow path that seems ready made for goats rather than people seeking an apparel-free escape on the Adriatic.
Be sure to bring a thick towel or even a beach chair — like many Croatian beaches the surface is pebbles rather than sand.
Nugal is about a half-an-hour walk from the nearest town, although it can also be reached by boat or sea kayak from Makarska or Tučepi.
Nugal Beach, 21300 Makarska, Croatia
Moshup Beach, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
Perched at the island’s western extreme, Moshup is a long curving strand that wraps around a headline crowned by the historic Gay Head Lighthouse (built in 1799).
Located right below the ancient light, the clothing optional portion lies beneath rust-colored sandstone cliffs that were declared a National Natural Monument in 1966.
Moshup is open free of charge to anyone who wants to take their clothes off, as opposed to Lucy Vincent, the island’s private nude beach.
Moshup Beach, 71 Moshup Trail, Aquinnah, MA 02535
Black’s Beach, La Jolla, California
Set beneath the 100-meter-high cliffs of Torrey Pines, Blacks has been the Golden State’s favorite place for all-over tans for more than 50 years and was once the only legal nude beach in the entire United States.
Long, wide and blessed with great surf, the beach is reached via the zig-zag Ho Chi Minh Trail from the cliff-top Torrey Pines Gliderport near the University of California, San Diego.
Black’s Beach, Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, San Diego, CA 92037
Lady Bay Beach, Sydney, Australia
Although it sometimes seems like just about any beach in Australia is clothing optional, there are a number of official nude beaches here such as Lady Bay. (also known as Lady Jane Beach.)
Perched just inside the South Head of Sydney Harbour, it’s small and narrow, but incredibly secluded for such a big city location.
The rocky ledges around South Head are also used for nude sunbathing.
Lady Bay Beach, Watson’s Bay, Sydney, Australia
Buhne 16, Sylt, Germany
“Grin and bare it” might well be the motto for nudists on this North Sea island, where the average water temperature in summer is a chilly 17 C (63 F).
Technically all of the beaches on Sylt are clothing optional, but Buhne 16 was the first and is still the foremost location for nude sunbathing along the German shore.
It’s a place where beachgoers can chill in the famous blue and white striped wicker beach chairs or let it all hang out at summer beach parties.
Buhne 16, Listlandstr 133b, 25980 Kampen (Sylt), Germany; +49 4651 4996
Wreck Beach, Vancouver, Canada
Billed as one of the world’s longest nude beaches at 7.8 kilometers (4.9 miles) long, Wreck Beach is actually a series of sandy strands, pebble flats and rocky outcrops wrapped around the end of Point Grey.
With the University of British Columbia just across the street, a steady stream of students and teachers have shed their clothes on this beach since the early 1970s, when it first became popular.
Evergreen trees along the shore and snowcapped peaks across the water complement the Canadian ambiance.
Wreck Beach, Vancouver, British Columbia; Canada + 604 224 5739
Red Beach, Crete, Greece
This secluded shore on the south side of Crete is a hotspot for nude sunbathing in Greece.
Named after its ocher-colored sand and cliffs, Red Beach (or Kokkini Ammos) is reached via a 20-minute hike from Matala or a very short boat ride from the village waterfront.
Pioneered by Euro hippies during the 1960s, the beach offers chair and umbrella rentals and is home to a funky little bar called Yiannis that’s renowned for its mojitos.
Note: the mysterious rock carvings at the end of the beach are a modern creation and definitely not ancient Minoan relics.
Red Beach, Matala, Crete 702 00, Greece
Anse de Grande Saline, St. Barts
While the Caribbean may be full of wonderful, chilled out beaches, this wild, white sand strand on the rear side of St. Barts is one of the few places on the islands where public nudity is tolerated (although sunbathing naked is technically prohibited in St. Barts.)
Anse de Grande Saline (or Saline Beach) is another self-catering beach. Visitors will need to bring along everything they need for a day at the shore, especially sunscreen, as there is no shade to speak of.
L’Esprit, an excellent French restaurant, is within walking distance of Grand Saline and well worth a visit. Just make sure to put your clothes back on before heading over.
Anse de Grande Saline, St. Barthélemy
Platja des Cavallet, Ibiza, Spain
Set between the deep blue Mediterranean and multi-colored salt pans near Ibiza’s southernmost point, official nudist beach Es Cavallet is separated into various different sections, including a beach club party section, a gay scene and a more secluded, middle section where the clothing-free crowd hang out.
However nude sunbathers aren’t the only beings who frequent this area. Those bright pink things you’ll see pacing in the background aren’t sunburned tourists, but rather flamingos that like to gather in the shallow salines.
Platja des Cavallet, 07818, Balearic Islands, Spain
Little Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Flanked by ancient lava flows and backed by a volcanic cinder cone, Little Beach would be super-cool even if you couldn’t take your clothes off.
Part of Makena State Park on the island’s southeast coast, it overlooks a national marine sanctuary renowned for its sea turtles, dolphins, whales and tropical fish.
Gnarled trees behind the sand provide a modicum of shade and the cove is well protected for swimming.
Additionally, a drum circle and fire dancers entertain the crowd during Sunday sunsets.
Little Beach, Makena State Park, Makena Rd, Kihei, HI 96753, USA
Cap d’Agde beach, France
Sometimes called the “Naked City,” Cap d’Agde Naturist Village is the world’s largest clothing-optional beach resort, attracting as many as 40,000 guests on any given day during high season.
Visitors are free to be naked wherever they want – restaurants and stores, post offices or banks, sailing their boat or lounging on the long public beach (where nudity is obligatory, even for those not staying at the resort).
Non residents can stay overnight at the naturist hotel, camp ground or rental units.
Cap d’Agde Naturist Village, Rond-Point du Bagnas, 34300 Agde, France; +33 4 67 26 00 26
Mpenjati Beach, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
South Africa’s only official nude beach – and perhaps the only legal clothing-not-obligatory strand on the entire African continent – is located in the Mpenjati Nature Reserve south of Durban.
Its legal status was achieved in 2014, but this came with a list of prohibitions including no staring, no photography, no suggestive behavior, etc.
Local clergy and others continue to mount protests (legal and otherwise) against the naked designation.
Mpenjati Nature Reserve, Palm Beach, Port Edward, South Africa
Playa Zipolite, Oaxaca, Mexico
Live your “Y Tu Mamá También” fantasies at the beach where so many of the scenes from the sensuous 2001 Mexican movie starring Gael García Bernal were shot on location.
Pioneered by Mexican and American hippies during the 1960s, the strand stretches about two kilometers with rocky bluffs at either end, and is famed as a clothing-optional beach (although it isn’t legal here.)
While the main beach here is backed by budget hotels and cafes, a tiny sliver of sand at the eastern end called Playa del Amor offers far more privacy.
Playa Zipolite, San Pedro Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico
Metsoke Dragot, Israel
Float nude in the warm, ultra-buoyant salty water and smear your entire naked body with soothing, mineral-infused black mud at this rocky beach on the western shore of the Dead Sea.
Perhaps the only place in the Middle East where any kind of public nudity is tolerated, Metsoke Dragot is located about an hour’s drive from Jerusalem and requires a short but rough drive along an unpaved road to reach the shoreline.
Primitive camping is aloud along the shore. The only nearby hotel and bar is the cliff top Metzoke Dragot Travelers Village.
Metsoke Dragot, Highway 90, Dead Sea, Israel
Praia Massarandupió, Bahia, Brazil
The string bikinis on Copacabana may expose an awful lot of Brazilian flesh, but not nearly as much as this naturist beach along the Bahia coast.
A two-hour drive north of Salvador, the nude beach is about a one-kilometer walk from the parking lot along the shoreline flanked by coconut palms, rolling dunes and very surfable waves.
Praia Massarandupió, Bahia, Brazil
Spiaggia di Guvano, Vernazza, Italy
Located on the gorgeous Cinque Terre, this primo Italian nude beach looks like something out of a movie (think “Swept Away ” – the 1974 version directed by Lina Wertmüller.)
Adding to the beach’s mystique is the fact that it can only be reached via an old, abandoned railway tunnel (bring a flashlight) on a path from Corniglia village.
Guvano is totally primitive, with no facilities of any kind, so bear this in mind when planning your visit.
The beach is also pebble rather than sand, but the water is clear, clean and gorgeous.
Spiaggia di Guvano, 19018 Vernazza, SP, Italy
Haulover Beach Park, Miami, Florida
The most popular public nude beach in the United States, Haulover attracts more than 1.3 million bare bottomed people to its white sands and warm water each year.
The clothing-optional portion, marked at either end by picket fences, offers rental beach chairs and umbrellas, as well as lifeguards.
Given the stellar weather in south Florida, there’s usually someone in the buff on any given day.
But the biggest crowds gather during National Nude Recreation Week in July and whenever Haulover is trying to set a new Guinness World Record for skinny dipping.
Haulover Beach Park, 10800 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33154; + (305) 944-3040
Editors’s note: This story was updated and republished in May 2023.