It was stinkingly hot in Crete that year. The sun was beating down relentlessly as my girlfriend and I plodded over parched earth, every step draining what seemed like the last reserves of our energy in search of a small beach our guesthouse host had recommended. Finally, below a rocky outcrop, there it was…a small crescent-shaped beach of pure white sand and gin-clear turquoise water gently lapping onto the shore. We looked down and saw — people. A few families but mostly couples and groups the same age as us — early 20s — and in various states of undress. We scrambled down the rocky path and claimed our spot on the sand. Sweat was running in rivulets down our faces, we kicked off our shoes, and struggled mightily to pull our clingy, soggy tee shirts over our heads. My girlfriend whipped off her top and clad only in bikini bottoms ran into the warm sea. I followed in my swimming shorts. We languished in the water, our bodies cooling gently and the weariness of the trek quickly ebbing away. We could feel our energy levels returning. This was heaven — almost.
After a while, we plodded back to our towels and flopped down — the Cretan sun drying us off as though we were in an oven. It wasn’t long before we were up and back in the water. This time, while it still felt good to be neck-deep in the soothing water, it wasn’t quite heaven. Around us, some of the couples and families were splashing, playing together, or calmly floating around without seemingly a care in the world. They were naked. It was time. Still in the water, we pulled off our bottoms and the feeling of freedom was exhilarating. Wow. It was as though something had been missing, but now we were complete. As the warm water caressed our bodies, I wondered if this is what it must feel like in the womb. Now this was heaven. We walked out of the water invigorated, holding our bikini bottoms and shorts, admittedly feeling a bit exposed but also remarkably relaxed and “cool”. This was our first experience of skinny dipping — the practice of bathing naked outdoors — and, 30 years later, we’re still doing it.
It’s Been Around For Years
“Skinny dipping,” “inmersión flaca,” “dünnes tauchen,” or “baigner à poil” — no matter how you say it, swimming without the encumbrance of clothing is something that people all over the world have known for centuries just feels so good. The term “skinny dipping” is a relatively recent term (established in the 1940s) and means “dipping nothing but skin in the water.” But look back through the centuries and numerous paintings depict people of all ages bathing without clothes.
But Is It Legal?
Attitudes toward public nudity vary across the globe. Strip off and skinny dip at practically any beach in Spain or lake in Germany and no one will bat an eyelid. In the UK, it is not illegal to be nude in public, providing you did not do so with the intent of causing shock or upset to others. In the U.S., public decency laws vary from state to state and even across local jurisdictions. So while swimming naked is, strictly speaking, illegal in most public spaces in the U.S., in Florida it’s perfectly legal to skinny dip so long as there is no lewd or lascivious intent. It’s best to use discretion when deciding where and when to “dip,” which is perhaps why many people either take their first dip in the moonlight, lose their swimsuit in the water and put it back on again before leaving, or find the remotest places to dip. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to check local regulations first.
Having said that, there are many places where you can skinny-dip without fear of offending anyone or potentially breaking the law: your own backyard (as long as you are not overlooked by grumpy neighbors), clothing-optional beaches, or naturist (nudist) resorts. In fact, in naturist resorts worldwide, you are often not allowed to wear clothing in the pools or hot tubs. The best clothing-optional beaches in North America include Miami’s Haulover Beach, Vancouver’s Wreck Beach, and San Diego’s Blacks Beach, though many more “unofficial” beaches also tolerate skinny dipping. Inland, Valley View Hot Springs in Colorado offers some of the best skinny dipping experiences in its multiple natural hot springs overlooking gorgeous vistas.
Everyone Is Doing It — Why Not You?
If you think skinny dipping is the preserve of alcohol-infused spring breakers or something that is a new fad, think again. Millions of baby boomers can be found skinny dipping at naturist resorts and beaches all over the world, and that exhilarating feeling of freedom is the same whether you’re 4 or 94. People have appreciated the many benefits of nude recreation for eons — think of the Greeks in the first Olympics, Ben Franklin espousing the benefits of “air bathing,” and President John Quincy Adams regularly bathing nude in the Potomac. A friend recently recounted her first time: “I was in high school, it was a double-dare experience. We went to a private dock at our local beach in Illinois. We waited until the sun set, allowing the darkness to provide the protection our clothes could no longer offer. I can only describe the experience as freeing. I remember laughing a laugh of joy and delight. There is something extraordinarily connecting when the skin comes in contact with the element of air, water, or earth. Perhaps it is a remembering of our true nature.” She no longer owns a swimsuit.
Attitudes toward nudity are changing in the U.S. — it’s no longer outrageous (although it still makes good tabloid press) to see celebrities skinny dipping. Cameron Diaz, Lady Gaga, Hugh Jackman, Heidi Klum, Christina Aguilera, and Helen Mirren to name just a few, have said they enjoy skinny dipping, and its popularity is growing. People are realizing that skinny dipping is fun, healthy, eliminates stereotyping, and reinforces body positivity. Promoting these attitudes is the American Association of Nude Recreation (AANR), which established Nude Recreation Week, and in 2018, International Skinny Dipping Day was created.
International Skinny Dipping Day
Held annually on the second Saturday of July, international naturist associations challenge each other to capture the world record for the largest skinny dip in the world. At the designated hour, people shed their inhibitions and swimsuits, jump into swimming pools, rivers, and lakes and record the number of participants. The current world record for a single skinny dip event is held by 2,505 brave women who stripped off and skinny-dipped in the sea in Co. Wicklow, Ireland in 2018 and raised over $13,000 for charity in the process.
So, on Saturday, July 10, 2021, free yourself of your clothes and inhibitions and join with naturists who have already discovered the ultimate joy of clothes-free swimming. It’s an experience you will regale with friends for years to come and likely the last time you will ever want to wear a swimsuit.
Planning your first skinny dip? Don’t miss Chris’s Ultimate Naturist Vacation Packing List: Things You Must Bring And What To Leave Behind.