“Bonjour, do you have the time?” said the old Frenchman walking towards us on Cala Macarelleta beach. We were wading waist-high in crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean, enjoying a perfect day. While X the husband tried to explain in bad French our watches were set on London time, I realized something unusual about the smiling, tanned man approaching us.
He was completely naked as the day he was born.
As was his grinning wife behind him – just a straw hat perched lopsided on her head. I tried to focus on that hat while we continued pleasantly chatting about where we were from and how nice the weather was.
The whole day went like this for my first time at a nude beach. On the island of Menorca, Spain, there are several you can visit that are either out in the open near big resorts, or more secluded, like Cala Macarelleta we found after a 30-minute hike. There’s no rules, only a small sign letting you know that people have the option to go sans-clothes.
This was easily one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, so we opted to stay for the day. There’s fun snorkeling coves, heaps of sandy wading areas and even a guy selling fresh mojitos for a negotiable price. What more could you want in paradise?
Realizing We’re All the Same. Kind of.
When stripped down, literally, to be on display without adornment is an interesting experience. Besides skin color and age, most other assumptions can melt away when it comes to money, class, and that constant drive for perfection. It’s liberating.
Not to mention, people who tend to opt for nudity are comfortable with themselves. And there were all types of people flaunting this laissez-faire attitude. The best part is you can’t photoshop real life! What you see is what you get. I felt knowing this gave me and everyone else permission to be whatever they wanted.
Realizing Bodies are Flawed – Which is Fine
I saw no super models on Cala Macarelleta that day. Maybe they were there or maybe they weren’t, but after a few hours everyone starts to look the same. I strangely found it comforting and wonderfully disarming. There’s no hiding when you’re stark naked in broad daylight. All the scars, jiggles, hair and sizes of body parts are right there for the world to see. And the world doesn’t spontaneously combust, or find itself in throes of lust, or even get weirdly awkward. Life on the beach simply keeps turning, albeit naked. It’s normal and it’s actually really nice if you just go with the flow.
Realizing Bodies are Natural
Everyone from young children and old ladies to gay couples and groups of moms were buff. It’s liberating without being sexualized – it’s just embracing humanity and being outside. Every day people come to this beach without incident and without care besides having fun. It’s understood and not sensationalized, because it’s habitual and normal in many places throughout Europe (and the whole world).
Nude Beach Etiquette/ Tips for Visiting a Nude Beach
Almost no one had their phones out for photos. When on your phone, have it facing down and be discreet. I took a few great snaps from a far distance on the cliffside, then tried to make sure I was super mindful of anyone else in the shots I snapped. I’d avoid pulling out a camera all-together, as people do not want their backside all over your social media (we took ours far away from the actual beach up on the cliff).
Try not to stare.
Really. Most people go to these places not to show off, but to avoid tan lines and just have a good time swimming. Gawking will make you look a little foolish. If you must or think you can’t help it, wear dark sunglasses to avoid an obvious reaction.
All Beaches are Different
The vast majority of nude beaches are like Cala Macarelleta in Menorca, but a few are a little more…flirtatiously charged. This is rare, but it’s something you’ll quickly know either way.
Respect People’s Space
It could have just been my perspective, but it seemed people were a little more spread out on the beach when taking advantage of being naked. I’m sure this is for respect and to avoid any close (uncomfortable) encounters. Just be aware of your surroundings.
Do Your Own Thing
I was wearing a one-piece suit and didn’t know we’d be at a nude-friendly environment, so I chose to stay clothed that particular day. You can also do whatever you want – be covered, go topless or let it all hang out. No one else will care about your personal decisions, so simply make them and soak up the experience.
Bring a Towel or Quick Cover-up
If you need to be seated anywhere communally, use a public toilet or order food from a café, it’s usually expected to be clothed for these activities.
Wear extra sunscreen
If you have skin exposed to the sun, you’ll want loads of sunblock. Especially for those sensitive areas that may have never seen the sun before!
Would you ever visit a nude beach? Do you think all beaches should be nude? Do you think all beached should require swimsuits?