Let’s get one thing straight, right off the bat. In most of the United States and Mexico, “nudist” is a common word to mean one who doffs one’s clothes, indoors or out.
But nowadays in Canada, Europe and in some Caribbean countries, such a person is a “naturist” (not a naturalist, who studies flora and fauna and such; I suppose one could be both, but that gets way too confusing, especially for those who hate to be labelled).
And then there’s a whole group of people who abhor either word but are comfortable with visiting a resort or beach that may be “clothing optional.”
Here is just a sampling of a few resorts — near and far — that are happy to welcome gay customers, making them feel comfortable from the minute their clothes are stashed in the closet.
Southern Ontario’s Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park is described as a “family” park, and owner Stéphane Deschênes and his staff are far from homophobic. Several queer couples are regulars here.
Bare Oaks boasts a swimmable small lake, an outdoor pool, numerous trailer and tenting sites, a clubhouse (with four rental overnight rooms, one with a private washroom) and spacious, nicely landscaped grounds. Ethical naturism is the norm here: like all clubs and parks endorsed by the Federation of Canadian Naturists, don’t expect and don’t engage in any open sexual activity, or you’ll find yourself dressed and on the road again.
General manager Karen Grant tells Daily Xtra, “At Bare Oaks, we are interested in people. Colour, size, sexual orientation, political views, gender or religion are not part of what we embrace here at Bare Oaks. It’s all about the people. Please come and join our naturist family!”
Bare Oaks is less than an hour north of downtown Toronto, near Newmarket.
Prince Edward Island’s Oasis Resort, near Cavendish and in the centre of Anne of Green Gables country, celebrated 10 years in business in 2013 and has been gay-friendly since it opened its doors. The owners, Linda and Gary Lowther, also have a “textile” property called Sundance Cottages, which is celebrating 30 years in business.
“Both our properties are members of the recently formed Prince Edward Island Gay Tourism Association and we welcome all our guests with open arms,” Linda wrote in an email to Daily Xtra. “We just love PEI so much that we want everyone to love it as much as we do!”
The Oasis has three (four-star rated by Canada Select) motel-style rental units, 12 three-way campsites, a clubhouse, an outdoor pool, a suntanning deck and more. It’s convenient to the beaches, Cavendish and its amenities, and it’s private — perfect for first-timers to naturism.
If you’d rather stay at one of the non-naturist Sundance Cottages, you can try out The Oasis, which is nearby, with a day pass at no charge.
Palm Springs, California, happens to be a mecca of small gay resorts that offer clothing-optional pools and sunning areas. Some are wilder than others, so it’s your pick — but reserve early. Check out visitgaypalmsprings.com for more information.
In Key West, Florida, arguably the most well-known gay resort offering a clothing-optional vacation within its confines is Island House. Other options include Pilot House, Equator Resort and La Te Da. Check out our article Clothing Optional Key West.
Near Orlando is one of Florida’s largest and oldest nudist resorts, Cypress Cove. The 85 rental units are clean and comfortable (and a soft refurbishment is ongoing), and its two large pools, a fitness centre and two restaurants and bars will keep you busy. The only drawback? It’s almost completely a straight clientele, albeit a friendly one.
“Our reviews on Trip Advisor have been excellent, and as part of the family that has seen Cypress Cove grow to what it is today, I’m very proud of those reviews,” owner/manager Ted Hadley says. “But we do take the feedback from our guests very seriously, and we would like to do a full remodelling of all the hotel rooms in the next two to five years.” New televisions and mattresses have already been installed in all the guestrooms.
A rental car is almost a necessity on a visit to central Florida, as it is only a short drive to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, Sea World Orlando and many retail centres and designer outlets.
The dually owned island of Saint Martin/ Sint Maarten (French and Dutch, respectively) has contained a nudist gem since the late 1970s.
On the French side is the Club Orient naturist resort, which adjoins the clothing-optional portion of one of the best beaches in the Caribbean: Orient Beach on Baie Orientale. In my trips to Saint Martin over the past 20 years, I have seen an increasing presence of gay couples staying at Club Orient, even though it is marketed worldwide to families and (straight) couples.
When you arrive at Club Orient, you may want to stay “close to home,” thanks to the ability to be nude anywhere on the property. With a boutique, small grocery store, gym, wellness centre, water-sports pavilion and two bar/restaurants, there is little need to venture offsite.
The Papagayo Restaurant and bar offers entertainment most evenings, and both it and the Perch Bar, which is right on the beach, have daily happy hours (be prepared for lineups of a mix of nude and dressed patrons) and standard-fare menus. There are nude day sails with Captaine Philippe of the Tiko Tiko catamaran throughout the week; this writer can attest to the good times had by those on board.
Gay-oriented or gay-friendly naturist accommodation is not confined to North America and the Caribbean; England, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand all have plenty to offer, as well.
Also, read our articles 10 Great nude beaches in Europe and The Pleasures and Possible Pitfalls of Canada’s Nude Beaches.
For more information check out nakedguystravel.com.