Nude Beach Etiquette: A Guide for First Time Nudists

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Whether you’re familiar with the nudist lifestyle or visiting a clothing optional beach for the first time, reviewing nude beach etiquette is always beneficial.

Even if you’re a regular visitor of Haulover Beach in Florida or Maui’s Little Beach in Hawaii and subsequently know the ropes,  it can always help to brush up on the do’s and don’ts for nudist beaches.

Common Sense and Good Manners go a Long Way with Nude Beach Etiquette

Fortunately, most of the tips below simply go back to good manners and common sense. However, laws governing nudist beaches in the United States may be somewhat confusing. 

For instance, some allow topless sunbathing only, while others allow full nudity. Still, others are firmly in that gray area labeled, “unofficial nude beach,” where it’s more a case of nudity being tolerated than being technically legal. 

Double-checking local nudist beach laws is the only way to determine the exact status of a particular beach, and you should do this before donning your birthday suit. Some of the best tips are outlined below, and they’re worth committing to memory:

You Are Here (But Where is “Here?”)

Man covering himself with a summer hat, where nude beach etiquette is important

One of the most important aspects to consider with nude beach etiquette–and why it makes the top of the list–is being sure you know where in the world you are.

Nothing is more embarrassing, or potentially illegal, than baring all and then looking around sheepishly in that embarrassing moment when you realize everyone else has clothes on. 

Naturally, the obvious sign that you’re at a nude beach is the presence of other naked people. If you see no one going bare, look for that classic “beyond this point you may encounter naked sunbathers” sign. If it’s not there, err on the side of caution and don’t remove anything until you check for that beach’s specific rules. 

Following the rules isn’t difficult, but if you get sloppy regarding what they are, your vacation won’t work out as planned. Also keep in mind that all inclusive resorts with private beaches may have different guidelines from that of public areas.

Cover your back–and the rest of you when appropriate–to make sure you don’t accidentally break laws by not being properly dressed.

Unfix Your Gaze

You’ll never find information on nude beach etiquette that doesn’t include a warning about staring. Depending on that state’s laws, in some cases, staring at another person’s body, regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, may even be considered harassment.

So if you want to make sure you’re always allowed back to the best areas, keep your eyes moving when on a nudist beach.

Don’t be a Creepy Shutterbug

When checking off your list of what not to do at a nude beach, consider leaving your camera in your car. Of course, that may not be realistic. If you’re like most people, you just can’t part with that phone, even when on a beach vacation. If this is the case, just remember this isn’t France and don’t take pictures of anyone–except the sea turtles.

If a selfie is a must, make sure no one else is in it by accident. Even if it seems like you’re just taking photos of nature and scenery, it can make people uncomfortable, and the more you make others feel uncomfortable, the less apt you are to be welcome at that particular nudist beach in the future. 

Book a Room for That

couple sitting on a nude beach

Regardless of which of the world’s nudist beaches you plan to visit, don’t make the classic rookie mistake of thinking it’s okay to engage in sexual activity in front of others. It’s true that some of these destinations are private.

However, such locations and their patrons are dedicated to enjoying the sun and sand au naturale, not watching the sexual performances of others. This is a huge part of nude beach etiquette that you can’t ignore.

Very few nudists will appreciate other visitors acting like the beaches are hotels as opposed to beaches, and that’s why this tip makes the nude beach etiquette list. 

Space Out in a Good Way

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to spend a little more time choosing a spot than you would when visiting a traditional beach. In other words, don’t get too close to other people. You never want to make others feel uncomfortable, even if it’s unintentional, so always leave plenty of space between you and the next person.

It’s a No Clothing Beach, But Bring a Towel or Two

Always bring your own towel. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to bring a spare. Keep in mind, though, that not just any skinny little towel will do. Carry a large towel that you can wrap up in if the circumstances call for it.

It should also be big enough to adequately cover a lounge chair if you end up in a common area where everyone must bring their own chair covering.

Apply Sunscreen Where Needed Most

This may seem like a no-brainer with nude beach etiquette, but some people get so excited on their first trip to a nudist community beach that their most vivid memory is sunburning those sensitive body parts. 

The sun is hot, so bring some sunblock or an umbrella just to be on the safe side. Many hotels on the coast sell sunscreen so if you forgot, check with the front desk before you hit the sea and sand.

Don’t Assume You Can Pick it up on the Road

Nudist beaches are often found on roads less traveled, somewhat like a secret beach. For this reason, they sometimes lack basic amenities, such as places to buy food and water, and they may not have lifeguards.

When visiting any secluded beach, always bring enough supplies to finish out your day with nature. Never assume you can “pick it up on the road,” because the road might be a bit too remote.

Keep Your Swimsuit Close

Woman walks down toward a nude beach in Florida
A beautiful nude beach in Florida

Bathing suits may seem like unnecessary hitchhikers in your suitcase if you’re heading to a nudist beach. Isn’t the whole idea to go skinny dipping?

Although that is a good point, you may be at one of the best nude beaches but discover there is a public place or other area where clothing is required.

In fact, a few of the most popular nudist beaches are within walking distance from restaurants and other attractions and you just might find that bathing suit to be a lifesaver.

It’s also a good idea to don your suit in parking lots or any other public place that’s not considered an actual part of the beach. Whether you break the rules intentionally or accidentally, it can still get you in trouble.

Read the Rules and Regulations

Virtually all nudist beaches, particularly popular ones such as Gunnison Beach in New Jersey, or San Diego’s Black Beach, have rules and regulations both on their websites and posted at the beach.

Interestingly, most clothing-optional beach areas are public places, and everyone who loves the sun and sea is welcome. The best way to become unwelcome, however, is to commit a faux pas, such as taking photos or staring at someone else’s bare body. 

These problems can be avoided if you get the correct information, such as whether or not full nudity is allowed or if it’s only okay to go topless. It’s also in your best interest to determine if going naked is merely tolerated or officially legal on certain public beaches. 

Are There Clothing Optional Beaches in the US?

The short answer is yes. Around the world you may find the choices are less limited, but if you want to take a domestic vacation and enjoy a clothing optional public beach, you’ll be pleased to know you can visit the following places in your birthday suit:

Haulover Beach in Florida

Haulover attracts over one million visitors yearly, which easily propels it to the top of the list of most popular nudist beaches in the US. Each end of this beautiful stretch of fine, white sand has clothing optional areas, where nudists can rent umbrellas and lounge chairs, and swim under the trained eyes of lifeguards who pepper the coast.

Gunnison Beach in New Jersey

This New Jersey beach on the Sandy Hook peninsula is only a few hours from New York City, and on a clear day, offers a great view of the Big Apple. The southern end of this beach is the nudist section. The parking lot is quite far from the beach, though, so bring proper walking footwear.

North Baker Beach in California

Baker beach is a great place to practice nude beach etiquette
The view from Baker nude beach in San Francisco

North Baker Beach is a highly popular San Francisco beach, with terrific views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and of course, nude sunbathing.

The one-mile beach and its glorious white sand is nestled against a backdrop of impressive cliffs, where you’ll find two great hiking trails.

The surf at this clothing optional beach can be hazardous, though, so swim at your own risk!

Black’s Beach Near San Diego

Black’s Beach is another great option in California, and is essentially a secret beach due to its hard to reach, and surprisingly rugged, location just outside San Diego. Just beware that the parking lot is not paved, and you must hike down a steep path to reach the sand area.

On the flipside, the sand is fine and silky, and the Pacific Ocean in that area is great for surfing.

Little Beach in Hawaii

People play in the surf at Little Beach nude beach in Maui
Little Beach in Maui

Little Beach in Maui will likely always remain a popular nudist beach for visitors around the world. Even though Hawaii state laws say that nudity is technically illegal, over the years, the general consensus is that this beach welcomes nudity, and the law is rarely, if ever, enforced.

Don’t disregard the rules entirely, though, since at any time, authorities could choose to enforce these local laws.  If you choose this beach for your vacation, you’ll be pleased to discover that there is fire dancing and a drum-circle on Sunday afternoons and evenings.

Hippie Hollow Park in Texas

More than just a secluded nudist beach, Hippie Hollow is a park where clothing is optional. You can enjoy sunbathing and swimming in this 109-acre nudist community at the edge of Lake Travis.

One of the few nude beaches that has amenities, you’ll be pleased to discover the Hollow has convenient facilities located in different areas of the park. Keep in mind, however, that this is not a family-friendly beach, but rather admittance is restricted to those over 21 years of age.

Now that you know a bit more about nude beach etiquette, you can confidently visit the aforementioned nudist beaches on your next vacation and leave those dreaded tan lines behind.

Those listed above are certainly not the only beaches where you can strip, but they are definitely some of the most popular nude beaches in the US.

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