The skinny on the increasing popularity of nude resorts
Destinations where clothing is optional are riding such a wave of new-found popularity that online travel sites are openly embracing a term once reserved for people who spend their time promoting nude recreation: "Nakation."
In a recent online survey conducted by TripAdvisor, about half of the 22,091 travelers interviewed said that they wouldn't be shy about stripping off their swimsuits at the beach. This compared to about 31% of vacationers who said last year that they would visit a nude beach.
"Travelers indicate in their reviews that the real appeal of nude beaches has nothing to do with flaunting one's flesh or checking out the neighboring eye candy," said Amelie Hurst, a TripAdvisor spokeswoman. "Rather the spaces often benefit from a lack of crowds and beautiful settings that can be enjoyed by any demographic."
TripAdvisor, which aggregates reviews from travelers of destinations worldwide, recently called out the nakation trend by devoting a member update to nude resorts. The e-newsletter exhorted readers to "Strip down to your smile at these beaches."
Surprisingly, half of the naked vacation spots were in the states, including San Diego's Black's Beach (at No. 1), Haulover Beach Park in Miami, Fla., Gunnison Beach in Sandy Hook, N.J., Moshup Beach at Gay Head, Martha's Vineyard, Ma. and Little Beach in Wailea, Maui.
"There is a mix of different people on the beach of all different body types etc and everyone's very non judgmental and pretty much minds their own business," wrote tashadoll of Toronto on TripAdvisor of her first visit this summer to Haulover Beach with her boyfriend.
As for the reasons people are increasingly comfortable vacationing in the buff, fare-comparison site Skyscanner found in an informal online survey that travelers gave surprising answers to how they were coping with a proliferation of airline checked-baggage fees.
About 2% of the respondents said they had taken a nakation to avoid paying these charges, said Scot Carlson, Skyscanner's North America travel editor. (U.S. airlines raked in $769 million in baggage fees alone in the first quarter, according to the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics.)
The results inspired Skyscanner to track down what it calls the "top five places to strip off" including, taking a naked sauna in Helsinki, Finland, playing naked golf in La Jenny, France, visiting a naturist settlement in Costa Natura, Spain, attending the annual naked festival in Okayama, Japan, and naked scuba diving.
The increasing willingness by Americans to bare all is evident by nudists' efforts in several U.S. cities to formally designate popular beaches as clothing optional zones.
In Seattle, nudists who frequent a beach known as "Secret Beach" on Lake Washington are pushing city officials to openly designate one of the city's many waterside parks as a swimsuit optional zone. In Asbury Park, N.J. the city council recently voted down a play by local nudists to allow topless sunbathing at a popular beach.
Nudists resorts, like the Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park in Sharon in Ontario, Canada are also actively seeking converts, looking to expose the benefits of vacationing au naturel by conducting aggressive social media campaigns.