LivingTravelNude beach behavior: good manners in your birthday outfit

Nude beach behavior: good manners in your birthday outfit

The rules of nude beach etiquette may not be written, but if you don’t follow them, you could find yourself breaking the written laws about being naked in a public place.

Public nudity is not illegal in Britain, nor is, surprisingly, outdoor sex. Until you offend someone. And then it is.

Obviously your goal (if you want to enjoy the naked sun and swim in peace) should be as little offense as possible. It’s just common sense really. Should you cover up on a nude beach? How close is too close? Is it wrong to look at other nudists around you?

Manners code

Nude beaches, especially unofficial ones, are tolerated due to a code of good manners as to what is acceptable behavior on a nude beach. Follow these guidelines for a calm day:

  • In unofficial areas, do not undress until you reach the tolerated nudist area. As a general rule, it will be as far as you can go from the entrance and you will still be on the beach.
  • Keep your distance. Choose a place that respects the privacy of other beach users.
  • Do not look at others. Do not approach strangers. Men, in particular, should be aware that women probably do not want to be approached, stared at, or openly looked at. Even in the friendly environment of a family-oriented naturist beach, it’s a good idea to take cover when interacting with others on the beach.
  • Look at yourself when taking photos. Let people know that you will be taking pictures near them so they can move around or take cover if they want to. It is highly unlikely that you will have to include strangers in your images, but if necessary, ask their permission. (And by the way, wrap yourself in a towel while you ask.) Nude beaches in the UK are hardly ever crowded, making it easy and much more thoughtful to simply find a different spot to take your photos.
  • Whatever you do, don’t photograph children without their parents’ permission. Be very clear about what you intend to do with the images. What you may think of as completely innocent behavior can quickly be classified as a crime in the eyes of others on the beach. In today’s weather, even photographing your own children naked might raise some eyebrows.
  • If you are a bird watcher, watch the birds of the avian variety. Do not point your binoculars at other users on the beach.
  • Keep clothing or a costume handy. If someone asks you to cover up on an unofficial nude beach in the UK, you should.
  • Avoid sexual activity unless you are sure you are alone and you are likely to stay that way. The Sex Offenses Act (2003) does not prohibit outdoor sex in isolated locations as long as you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, you could be prosecuted for a public order offense if others are present. In 2013, after being briefly banned, nude bathing was restored at the beautiful and popular Holkham Sands. The reason the landowners, the Earl of Leicester and the Crown Estates, had banned it in the first place was an increase in “antisocial behavior,” in other words, offensive open sex on the beach that was impossible to ignore. Note that nudists, called naturists in the UK, often include their entire families in what they consider to be a healthy activity. So remember that there will probably be children around.
  • Prepare with towels, sunscreen, water, drinks, and food. You are unlikely to find them on remote nude beaches.
  • Leave the beach clean. Take what you have brought to the beach, and more if you can.

Are you tempted?

Europeans are much more relaxed about naked bathing and sunbathing than North Americans. Even in England, with its reputation for secretive behavior, it is quite common in suitable settings. And in Greece, where the local people can be quite primitive, it is not so uncommon to strip down to sunbathe.

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