A great article about visiting a nude beach for the first time.

Like many people my friend D’s worry about being naked for the first time was being seen by someone she knew. The “what if I run into someone from the office and they see all of me” keeps lots of people from enjoying nature- without a bathing suit.

In this great article in the UK about a British couple tying naturism for the first time they had this to report when they took their clothes off for the first time in public.

“Your first reaction after disrobing is inevitable. ‘Is this OK? Is it legal? Am I going to get into trouble?’

You keep imagining a police officer suddenly appearing out of nowhere, covering you up with his truncheon (oo-er), followed by a public indecency prosecution.

What’s more, you find yourself glancing up at the people walking past, who are deliberately trying to avoid eye contact.

The British Naturist Beach Code (yes, really, it’s a thing) tells you to ‘avoid confronting or approaching textiles’ – the naturist equivalent of Muggles.

But soon you realize that no one is looking at you, just as you are not looking at them. The dog-walkers and strolling couples have eyes for the ocean, or each other. They’ve seen the warning signs promising Naturists Beyond This Point, and they’re still here – so they can’t care that much.” Read the full article here

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Why being naked in nature should be one of your New Year’s Resolutions

There is a quote on the door of the outhouse at a nude camp in Canada that goes something like this:
“Nature is mean to be experienced without clothes. Until you feel the breeze on your skin and the earth beneath your bare feet you realize that life in clothes has been like experiencing the world through a dirty window.”

We absolutely buy into this philosophy. It has done a world of wonder for body image issues, in making friends, feeling alive, finding a community, getting rid of tan lines, and losing the uncomfortable, sandy bathing suits. There is a great list of why doing kind things for yourself should include a nude beach on pintrest. Have a read.
And know that it’s the most natural thing in the world.

“They basically have the same exact things going on as typical beaches, aside from the obvious lack of swimwear. Everyone, whether solo or in groups, was basically just doing their own thing. They were there to enjoy the sunshine, hang out in the water and feel the sandy beach between their toes… and everywhere else.”

If you want to try it with a group of kind, fun, happy people consider joining the Ducklings at Club Secret (and the nearby nude beach on Florida’s space coast) April 5-12, 2018. Here are the details.

The Duckling travel group are headed to Club Secret Orlando April 5-12. Come join us!



The Ducklings in Orlando April 5-12!

It’s the first ever Duckling travel adventure! We are planning a group trip to the clothing optional Secrets Hideaway Resort near Disney in Kissimmee just outside of Orlando. This is not your parents Disney vacation. It’s about fun, sexy pool parties, chasing gators, dancing naked, sunshine, drinks by the pool, volleyball, beach trips, optional airboat and ziplining, hot tubs, games with other Ducks, a Disney Springs walkabout, and BBQ’s among so much more.
We have Curtis, the longtime Duckling (and kick-ass travel agent) who has been working tirelessly to put this together for us. Have a look at the 360 tour of the Secrets resort (www.optiview360.com/secrets) and choose your hotel room (either modest or newly renovated with a variety of interesting additions). Check out the video looking at our day trip to Florida’s largest naturist resort at Cypress Cove (www.cypresscoveresort.com) just down the road. That’s two big resorts and you can wear (or not wear) anything you desire.

The trip includes an optional visit to Sue’s favourite theme park (www.gatorland.com) complete with gator chow for everyone to feed the wildlife. You can decide whether or not you want to zipline over the reptile-infested lake. We are also organizing a walkabout to Disney Springs to take in the live music, as well as a trip to the nude beach near Cape Canaveral to frolic in the ocean. Finally, an airboat ride through the headwaters of the Everglades should give you lots of PG pictures to show people at home.

And throughout all this we will be based at the Secrets resort with a full disco, lounging areas, hot tubs, pool, tiki bar, playrooms, and eating area. It’s a 5 duck resort. Please note that it is not a Duckling takeover (unless 200 people sign up) therefore there will be locals and other guests partying with us. We will set up Duckling outdoor areas and indoor rooms and fellow Ducks (as usual) will be well labelled 😊

If you need a getaway with guaranteed warmth and sunshine after a long winter to laugh, sing, dance, drink, sun and play with your Duckling friends then consider booking off a few days April 5-9 or the full week April 5-12 to join us in Florida. Please note that minimum numbers are required for either itinerary and we reserve the right to cancel the trip providing a full refund if there are not enough participants. We looked at Jamaica and Mexico. This is our most economical choice and Secrets really want this to be a success. It goes without saying that future travel depends on the turnout for this event. The more Ducks that turn out, the more fun we have. The resort is lifestyle but very well policed. And as always, we will be on duty full time and staying with you. Prices and itinerary is below. Consider joining us in Florida!
Pricing and Itinerary is below.


Itinerary:

Note – unless noted as a la carte, meals and snacks are provided. Alcohol is your own responsibility

Thursday April 5th
Flight from Ottawa Arrives in Orlando (MCO) at 10:30 am
Transportation to the resort and check in
Shopping trip and alcohol run to stock the rooms at the local store
Snacks by the pool and first pool side activity
3 pm leave for Disney Springs. Snacks, shopping, live music (a la carte)
7:30 pm buffet dinner at Secrets
9-midnight (or later) themed party at Secrets disco
Late night design your own omelet bar is open 11 pm and onwards

Friday April 6
Breakfast buffet at Secrets 8-9:30 am
Transportation to Cypress Cove Resort (a 4 duck only resort)
Activities by the pool, paddle boating and kayaking with the gators on Lake Brown
Sand volleyball, Cove tours in the golf cart, pickleball, pitch and putt golf tournament, music, swimming in the two pools
Lunch picnic BBQ and snacks. Cypress cove is byob.
7 pm Return to Secrets for a dinner buffet and ready for the themed dance party 9-midnight (or later)
Late night design your own omelet bar is open 11 pm and onwards

Saturday April 7
Breakfast buffet
10 am Optional trip to see the nature preserve and walk on the boardwalk through the Cypress Swamp, alligator sighting, and ice cream.
Picnic lunch back at Secrets
2 pm Activities by the pool and pool party at Club Secrets
6-8 dinner buffet
9-midnight themed dance at Club Secrets
Late night design your own omelet bar is open 11 pm and onwards

Sunday April 8
Breakfast buffet
10 am (optional) Transport to Gatorland
Feeding the reptiles, jumparoo and gator wrestling shows,
(optional ziplining over the gator pools)
A la carte lunch at a local restaurant
Late Afternoon back at Secrets for pool lounging and activities
Disco theme night dance
Late night design your own omelet bar is open 11 pm and onwards

Monday April 9
7 am breakfast buffet
Anyone staying four days only will be off to the airport for a morning flight back to Ottawa
Free day to shop, visit Universal, Disney, or other Orlando attractions (a la carte)
Dinner buffet and activities at Secrets.
Inappropriate board game night and other fun Duckling activities

Tuesday April 10
8-10 am Breakfast buffet
Transport to the east coast of Florida (near Cape Canaveral) to visit the Playa Linda clothing optional beach
Full day of Duckling beach activities
Beach Picnic
Late afternoon return to Club Secret for dinner buffet or (optional a la carte restaurant excursion)

Wednesday April 11
Breakfast buffet
Free day to take in Orlando activities or optional trip to Boggy Creek airboat rides (www.bcairboats.com/) for the airboat ride
Pizza lunch back at Secrets
Final wrap up Duckling activities by the pool
Margaritas Meet and Greet with the new group coming in 6-8 pm
Dinner buffet
Themed dance party 9-midnight
Late night design your own omelet bar is open 11 pm and onwards

Thursday April 12
Breakfast buffet
Final goodbyes and everyone is taken to the airport (MCO)

Food/land transport organized by the Ducklings.

A $250 (non-refundable) deposit per person holds your spot. Balance is due Feb 1st, 2018. Etransfer to Marlin Travel c/o Curtis Brown Travel Agent at curtis.brown@marlintravel.ca (password Ducklings)
Note: 4 day airfare is confirmed. 7 day airfare may vary. We can’t lock it in till we have a sense of numbers. Anyone who has points or wants to make their own travel arrangements can look at the land-only prices. Medical and cancellation insurance (if desired) can purchased through Marlin Travel ranging from $160-$200.

Prices:

Single Double Single Double
basic room basic room Renovated room Renovated room
April 5-9 per person per person per person per person
Land Only $1,110.00 $880.00 $1,875.00 $1,265.00
Air p/p $450.00 $450.00 $450.00 $450.00

total $1,560.00 $1,330.00 $2,325.00 $1,715.00

April 5-12
land only $1,410.00 $1,180.00 $2,175.00 $1,565.00
air p/p $450.00 $450.00 $450.00 $450.00

total $1,860.00 $1,630.00 $2,625.00 $2,015.00

Naked in Eastern Ontario

Naked Camping in Eastern Ontario

Most of Canada in the summer is breathtakingly beautiful, and Eastern Ontario is no exception. The naturist camping locations in Ontario were originally chosen for their seclusion and unspoiled surroundings, and their owners have all been great stewards of the land. Well entrenched, all four naturist camping locations have been established over a decade.

People regularly ask us about being nudists and we often hear “do you really camp naked?” The answer is that we try to live nude most of the summer weekends excluding the two weeks of black fly season, or when the temperature dips below 16 degrees Celsius (60F). We often bicker about who has to get dressed to do a pizza and ice cream run into the nearby town of Calabogie as summer in the woods in various stages of undress is paradise and nobody is too keen to throw on the laundry. And the only things that keep it from being absolute Shangri-La are the occasional cool evening and the need for insect repellent from mid May to Mid June.

Pristine hardwood forests surrounding deep water lakes carved out of the Canadian Shield describes the three nude camping locations of Sunward, Lakesun and Jewel Lake, all situated within 3 hours drive west or southwest of Ottawa in Eastern Ontario. Combined with East Haven, a one hour drive east of Ottawa (or 1.5 hours drive west of Montreal) you have your choice of authentic naturist spots to stay close to major Canadian tourist attractions and cosmopolitan areas.

Sunward (Calabogie, ON)

Sunward advertises as family naturism, and kids and well behaved pets are welcome. It boasts fishing, paddle boating, canoeing and the best lake on the planet in which to swim.

With a gas motor ban and water clean enough to drink, Sunward is home to a deep, walleye-filled private lake. With a sunning area, and a raft to swim to, the lake fits all summer needs and is a major part of the quintessential Canadian cottage experience. Curious loons send out their cry if you get too close while their babies ride on their backs. With deer, wild turkey and the occasional bear or silver lone wolf seen in the fields surrounding Sunward’s sugar-maple forest, you can get back to nature a mere hour from Canada’s fourth largest urban area. Ottawa, the national capital also serves as a great day-trip or sight-seeing destination.

Located in the Madawaska Highlands, Sunward is a great mix of long time summer residents and weekend or day campers. The mood is friendly where everyone is welcome and deck parties break out as matter of course. Join in, the beverages are cold and the hospitality is warm. We often comment that nude volleyball is the best part of summer days. There are 25 or so permanent trailers on different elevations of the granite outcroppings another five camping platforms on which to pitch tents. For those that wish to wander, there is 500 acres of private wooded area to hike including a few marked trails. With two lakes, loads of activities including group games days, dances, scotch tasting and social potlucks, everyone is welcome and included. The best thing about Sunward is the laugh-out-loud fun. Community activities in 2010 included a harvest celebration, a 70’s dance (imagine nudists in Mr. T jewellery, afro’s and nothing else), and a Canada Day (July 1st) firework display and accompanying pig roast.

For someone new to clothing optional recreation, Sunward is a safe place to drop the laundry for the first time. Accepting, out-going and with a great sense of humour would be the way we would describe the Sunward welcome.

The downside, if there is one, is that Sunward doesn’t run on electricity. All the energy required to operate trailers is provided by a mixture of solar, propane or occasional generators. On the green side however, Sunward has little to no environmental footprint from the 100 plus people that can use the facilities on a long weekend.

Jewel Lake (North Bay, ON)

Like Sunward, the Jewel Lake naturist resort is rustic, beautiful and friendly. It is located further north, (three hours north of Ottawa and outside the medium sized city of North Bay, Ontario). With more wildlife present as you venture from the urban areas, you are likely to spot deer, porcupine or the occasional moose. The youngest facility of the four, Jewel Lake is coming into its own with a clubhouse, euchre and dart tournaments, new decks, and horse shoe pits.
Jewel Lake is blessed with another one of Ontario’s crystal clear lakes. With a new raft and diving area completed in 2010, the swimming at Jewel Lake has never been better. Diving off the rock ledge at the old sauna is a favourite for the young and is a safe place for kids and dogs alike. A new diving sensation has been the Gibraltar rock ledges. Young and old have been descending 20 feet into the spring fed water – and we are told it is quite the sensation. Jewel Lake is a great place to go if you are a canoeist or kayaker.
Jewel Lake is still a naturist facility and not clothing optional. They adhere to “the old time philosophy of nude in the sunshine”. It is a little more abrupt a transition for the “tween” kids and newbies, but the setting is welcoming and magical.

East Haven (Casselman, ON)

East Haven is much more of a traditional camping spot with power outlets, a pool, a hot tub and a recreation centre. Located less than an hour east of Ottawa and being based in the heart of Franco Ontario country, it is charmingly bilingual. Yogi, the long time owner is a big believer in privacy and security. This is an adult-only club with many long-time members. The campground boasts the luxury of having a fully equipped shower building and fully equipped cabin rentals. They have tent camping along with a small number of RV hook ups. The nudist philosophy is truly embraced at East Haven. They celebrate the “freedom of sensations of air, sun and water all over your body”, and are “dedicated to just being yourself without any artificial barriers of clothing.”

Lakesun (Kingston, ON)

Lakesun is one of the oldest clubs in the area and has a ”dyed in the wool” philosophy of “respecting nature, the ecosystem and the many inhabitants who were there long before the club was”. “We all enjoy every one of them and do our part to make sure their home is as undisturbed as possible. It one of those things you have to see to understand.” As such they frown on unleashed pets, rambunctious children, and anything beyond “catch and release”. They believe that life is hectic and demanding enough without making a naturist retreat equally as hectic. So quiet and relaxed are the operative words in describing Lake Sun. The lake is bigger, and equally as private and beautiful, but it is the serene atmosphere that is the centre of focus. They have a bocci pit, club house with movie nights, and they play volleyball.

Lakesun is also located reasonably close to the City of Kingston, which boasts many summer time attractions.

The Canadian camping season runs from the May long weekend to our Thanksgiving (second Monday in October). The costs associated with camping are very low, and the opportunities to sight see or just soak up the sun are plentiful. Canadians love to visit their American neighbours during our cold winters, but equally love to host them during the long days of summer. Close your eyes and try to hear the call of the loon or the howl of the wolf. We hear them all summer….. See you next season.

Naked in St. Lucia

Naked in St. Lucia
By Sue McGarvie and Blaik Spratt
Clinical Relationship Therapists, Syndicated Talk Show Host

As keynote speakers and therapists, we are often asked to suggest shared sensuous activities for couples. We always recommend exploring nudity for the first time. However try explaining to non- nudists about the appeal of being naked. Maybe if you have to explain it to someone, they never will truly understand it. For us, it is the pleasure seeking sensation of wind across your skin, the free feeling of being naked outside, or the complete avoidance of uncomfortable, wet, sandy, bathing suits. Either way finding places where you can be naked outside is one of life’s great quests.

We consider ourselves as much romantic adventurers as we do die hard nudists. We are busy finding new places to explore, and then make it our mission to locate the places where you can “drop the laundry”. So when we had an opportunity to visit St. Lucia, we packed lightly and made a point to source out opportunities to be naked. It may be fun to be surrounded by thousands of other like-minded naturists, but we discovered St. Lucia can allow you to be quietly naked, which has its own appeal.

St. Lucia, like all the Caribbean Islands, has a flavor all its own. St. Lucia is a small, primarily Catholic country of 150,000 friendly, but reserved people, with no advertised nude beaches. According to all the trip advisors we read in anticipation of the trip, nudity is not allowed anywhere on the island, and thus we expected to be clothed for the duration of the vacation. We also read that St. Lucia is a spectacularly beautiful place of waterfalls, rainforests, volcanic hot springs, and amazing scenery. At least the internet postings got that right.

St. Lucia is lush, green, and covered in flowering shrubs and multi-colored hummingbirds – even during the dormant season when we were there. As throughout the southeastern Caribbean, you get warm days and nights in the 28-31 Celsius range almost year round, and can expect small cloud bursts occasionally through the day. St. Lucia has a rich history of pirates, French guillotines, banana plantations and a mix of French and English cultures. Both France and England battled for the island (and each won seven times, with England winning the last bout), and although English is the official language, the locals speak a Creole dialect mix of French and English called patois which was fun to listen to.

Most of St. Lucia is mountainous and covered in jungle. The whole island is only 29 miles long, but you can expect driving the length of it to take over two hours. The roads are switch back and a bit of a roller coaster ride- especially along the west side of the island. Bring your Gravol or other travel-sickness medication if you are driving around the island much. We read one report that suggested that “St. Lucia allows you to get in touch with your calf muscles” which we found to be oh, so true. Almost everything in St. Lucia is uphill or downhill (although it seems more like uphill), and everyone is expected to climb flights of stairs. It’s not a great destination if you are ambulatory challenged.

The capital, Castries in the north is home to 50,000 people, shopping and a number of destination spas and resorts such as Sandals and Almond resorts. Further southward down the western coastline near the town of Soufriere lay the Pitons. The Pitons, are two volcanoes that UNESCO has deemed a world heritage site. We visited three resorts in Soufriere, overlooking the Pitons and the view rivaled anywhere we’ve ever been. What makes the view so magnificent is that resorts in Soufriere are built with only three walls and only a shade canopy to the block the sun where the fourth wall should be. That means open air in all the rooms, dining and common areas. It is a very different concept, and one of the few places in the world that has limited bugs, few mountainous creepy or slithering things, warm weather, is sheltered somewhat from hurricanes and tropical storms and is relatively crime-free and difficult to access along the mountain-side. You can sleep naked while feeling like you are completely outdoors, albeit the bed is covered in mosquito netting. During the day you can move back and forth without wearing a stitch between the luxurious comfort of a five star appointed room, and the outside while enjoying the delights of sun tanning, swimming, and bird watching within your own large, villa-like room. It’s like fantasy camping.

The three Soufriere area resorts we stayed at; Jade Mountain, its sister resort Anse Chastanet, as well as Ladera all had these three walled, open concept rooms, complete with their own large splash pools (about a third of the size of a regular pool). You could watch the stars from your king sized bed, or feed the birds, naked at the edge of the pool. It was absolute bliss to be naked 24/7, in and out of the pool with all the amenities of a hotel room.

Jade Mountain is a one-of –a-kind resort (partnered with the older, but quaint Anse Chastanet). We discovered that Jade Mountain is about beauty, nature, modern art and architecture all blended into jaw dropping scenery. Located on the edge of a marine reserve, the snorkeling and diving is said to be tremendous. With only 29 rooms, and only three years old, Jade Mountain is the uniquely designed specialty resort by Canadian architect Nick Troubetzkoy. He had been running Anse Chastanet (the less expensive but delightful family resort again with the great open aired rooms for nudist families) for 30 years, before he built the uniquely designed, secluded, adult romance gourmet destination of Jade Mountain.

The quality of the food at Jade Mountain/Anse Chastanet can’t be over emphasized. Jade Mountain boasts an American Academy of Hospitality Sciences five star rating for food and service. Much of the organic produce for both Jade and Anse Chastanet is grown on the owner’s surrounding 600 acre plantation including mangoes, spices, and chocolate used in their so named culinary festivals. We had grilled snapper followed with homemade rum and raisin ice cream for dessert that instantly became a most unforgettable meal. By day two the staff had an understanding of our food and beverage preferences, and was suggesting a favorite tea. With English Butler Academy trained butlers (they call them major-domos) at your service to fulfill any need, the attention to detail was superb. The Guild of English Butlers means that these professional hoteliers can unpack for you, arrange for your favorite foods at preferred tables, acquire hard to find items, and aid in travel arrangements. Given the service, and the privacy allowed in the sanctuaries (as these open-aired rooms are called) you could spend your entire vacation naked if your intention was to just relax and unwind.

Ladera, the other resort we stayed at in Soufriere was voted the #1 hotel in the world in 2005 by Conde Nast readers. Again, they had these great open-aired villa-rooms with splash pools. Their slogan is “a view with a room”. An interesting feature of this hotel was the multiple bedroom villas. Two or three couples could share the villa and enjoy the benefits of communal nudity (while splitting some costs).

Soufriere boasts hot springs and sulfuric mineral springs and waterfalls in the area. It looked just like muddy water, but it is rumored to have healing properties, and was originally built for the troops of King Louis XVI of France. They are relaxing, and offer some privacy for nude bathing if you are discreet.

After lots of relaxation in Soufriere, we headed to the south part of the island for adventure and beach living. We landed at Coconut Bay, the largest resort in St. Lucia at over 300 rooms. We stayed on the adult-only Harmony side that had an outstanding spa with private showers for two, and an acceptance of topless sunbathing. We asked a number of locals about nude beaches, and they all laughed and said that there were a number of private beaches on the east and south coasts of the island available for nude sun tanning. One of the young women who worked at the resort said “she almost never wore a bathing suit when on the beach near her family’s home”. She said “to ask the locals”, they know where to go. Apparently the water taxi drivers have a few secluded places they can take you for a nude day at the water’s edge, but they don’t recommend going alone “as there has been some theft of clothing and money when left unattended”.

St. Lucia is a quieter, more relaxed nude holiday. The island can be more expensive than some of the other Caribbean islands, but it is a classy, cultural, and elegant destination for nudists looking for a new adventure.

Green and Naked in Tulum

the place we went snorklingNaked and Green
By Sue McGarvie and Blaik Spratt, Clinical Relationship Therapists, Travel Journalists

Where’s a nudist to go if you want to get away from all the same clothing optional resorts, but don’t want to be arrested for inappropriate streaking? We’ve made it part of our personal mission statement as travel aficionados and naturists to find as many great nude spots in the Caribbean as possible. This year, we also were increasingly aware of minimizing our carbon footprint as we travelled. Eco tourism, while not a new concept has really begun to take off. Especially for naturists. While most nude resorts have a surcharge for the privilege of being naked (up to 40% extra in our experience), we have really started looking into other warm places where we could be naked outdoors while experiencing different cultures.

We went looking for these examples of Green and naked Mexico during a recent eco-minded trip to Tulum. Known as the “eco coast”, Tulum is home to a few large resorts and many small, six to 20 room boutique hotels. It is an area of authentic Mexican feel, lots more wilderness, and a bohemian, Jimmy Buffet laid back lifestyle. Many of the Tulum resorts have an emphasis on being green. Driven by the close proximity to the Mayan land preserve and the indigenous “spirit led” Mayan Shamans, there is a movement afoot to respect the land. Tulum is in the heart of Mayan (native Mexican) country.

This part of the Yucatan is home to beatnik travelers, authentic Mexican music and amazingly fresh and healthy food. We stayed at the adult-only Azulik resort, one of the three resorts that makes up Eco Tulum (along with Zahra, and Copal resorts located side by side). Azulik has 15 private villas ($260-320 a night), Zahra has 22 more traditional rooms, and the large Copal has 47 different kinds of cabanas. Copal’s huts range in size from family quad size, at $250 a night to a tiny hut at $35 a night without a bathroom. It was what we would call “high end beach camping”.

Eco Tulum’s concept is to provide huts on the beach, and blend in as closely as possible with the natural environment. In fact, the whole resort fits into the landscape better than anyplace we’ve ever visited. There are no lights, no outlets (so leave your hair dryer at home), and a generator powers a ceiling fan during the day. The rest of the time you are feeling a bit like you are in an episode of Gilligan’s Island. If you are looking for an accessible, convenient, well groomed hotel- this isn’t it. Eco Tulum is the opposite of a “big box resort” and we heard again and again how much guests were looking to stay anywhere but at one of the typical all inclusive’s. Each hut was unique, the pathways were made of sand and the stairways to climb into the hut were not for anyone with a disability. Some of the stairs were downright scary, but they had muted lighting at night, and the area had a very safe feel. The rooms were beautiful, clean, entirely made of wood (including a huge bathtub made out of a hollowed log) and offered a secluded beach that would rival anywhere in the world for white sand and wildlife.

There are iguanas on your deck, and gekkos in your room. The pelicans, ospreys and other large sea faring birds cast shadows over the patio canopy beds all day. We were woken up by spider monkeys on the thatch roof along with the nocturnal Kinkajou (a monkey-like mammal). Dolphins are known to swim up and down the coast, and crocodiles are common in the neighbouring mangrove swamps.

There are two relatively secluded beaches affiliated with the resort. When we inquired about nudity, we were told that yes, nudity is allowed on the beaches and on individual decks. Although not advertised as such, we saw a good fifth of the beach users naked, with a large proportion of the remaining women topless. As a rule, beaches are public property in Mexico, and while nudity is still formally illegal there are more resorts becoming increasingly more tolerant of naturism. There was a casual acceptance of clothing optional even among the textiles at Azulik and Copal. We certainly didn’t feel self conscious or frowned upon in any stage of undress on the beaches.

The huts are incredibly romantic. It has the South Sea feeling, built on stilts over the rocks right at the ocean’s edge. It is the romance holiday everyone imagines. Think white sand, turquoise water, iguanas lazily sunning themselves on the rocks outside your deck, canopy bed with mosquito netting, and a huge bathtub made out of a hollowed out tree. We watched the moon come up over the deck in an outdoor tub, and star gazed on a suspended swinging deck bed that allowed a clear view of the sky and ocean. We spent much of the week naked on the deck and were disinclined to move far off it (even to go the 20 meters to the beach) throughout our stay. The wind blows constantly from the sea, and the waves ranged from gentle to spectacular during the week long visit. It would be an astounding place to be in a mild storm. It was that great feeling of wind over bare skin that makes tropical nudity so appealing.

Azulik is the perfect spot for eco-minded nudist honeymooners. Azulik does many weddings performed by Mayan holy men, and the ceremonies are absolutely unique. They are comfortable doing same sex, and pagan weddings as well. While they hadn’t done a nude wedding, Laura the wedding coordinator was open to the possibility.

In keeping with the green theme, you can rent a bike and easily cycle the four kilometers into Tulum for dinner or shopping. For pedestrians six restaurants and some stores make up the Boca Paila cluster where Azulik is located. The small hub of stores, hotels and restaurants gives you a sense of authentic Mexico and community, but is not enough to disturb the tranquil feeling of being naked and private in your eco-hut.

Azulik resort took the eco theme seriously. In Mexico where litter is prevalent, the resort has recycling boxes (including one for batteries), located at regular intervals. And you needed to bring batteries. The downside of rooms with no power is that you had to set up your candles in advance of going for dinner otherwise you returned to pioneer-like blackness. It is a way to get in touch with your circadian rhythm (we were in bed by 9 pm and up with the sun). We found the candle light too dim to read by, and would strongly recommend packing flashlights or head lamps for walking.

One of the most notable things about a movement towards more eco-understanding in the Yucatan is the appreciation of the native Mayan peoples. The Eco Tulum resort and the adjoining Mayan Spa had both a Shaman and holistic healer on staff. They use only organic products, and many of the treatments are done with natural plants picked from the spa garden just minutes before treatments. They are known throughout the area for their traditional Mayan Temascal. A Temascal is a native sweat lodge that has been used for both healing and ritual purposes in Mexico for thousands of years. Throughout the Temascal, the Shaman used different herbs in conjunction with red-hot stones, misting, chanting and singing to cleanse the body and spirit. It is an interesting two hour (or longer) process that is to leave you feeling re-born.

The municipality of Tulum has been putting in bike paths to encourage this form of transportation. Biking really is the way to get around the Tulum area. Bikes are for rent inexpensively all over. You can tour the Tulum ruins, or head off to discover one of the 3,000 cenotes or fresh water sinkholes in the area. Think of a limestone lagoon that open up into underwater caves as part of the underground water table. Cenotes are all different, and the one we visited was like a small, deep lake filled with fish. It reminded us of swimming in a fish tank. We were able to snorkel, and see the entrance to the underwater caves that are so popular with divers.

In keeping with the eco-theme of this trip, we opted to go on the highly recommended Sian Ka’an community tour. This tour absolutely made our trip. Sian Ka’an is a protected natural reserve of 630,000 hectares that crosses traditional Mayan land and is now a UNESCO heritage site as well as a wildlife reserve. Sian Ka’an Community Tours is an international success story. With the aid of a couple of non-profit NGO’s (including Equator Initiatives) that help indigenous peoples with sustainable development, the Mayan community near the Sian Ka’an reserve got together and started a business giving tours. All of the money from this low cost tour ($99 per person including lunch, snacks, park fees, and transportation) stays in the community. Our guide Alberto’s English was impeccable and his knowledge outstanding.

Our seven hour tour included a guided hike through secluded jungle ruins. It followed with an adventure into an underground Mayan passageway built in 300 BC (where we got up close and personal with some fruit bats). We then went into the jungle on the Mayan reservation where we tasted edible roots, smelled copal bark, and burned dead termite mounds as a bug repellent. We climbed a 17 meter tower to observe all eight biospheres in the park before jumping into boats to re-enact a 1000 year old trade route crossing accross crystal clear lakes. After lunch we did a river float along a natural passageway through the grass savannah. We floated peacefully four kilometers an hour for a few kilometers at the edge of the mangrove trees- nursery to millions of baby fish. During our section of the river we saw vultures, a variety of multi-coloured song birds, and countless tropical fish. We ended the day with a snorkeling trip to a nearby cenote with an opportunity to hand feed schools of fish.

Our eco holiday was affordable, personal, and left us feeling healthy (actually down a pound or two given the exercise and fresh foods). It was a great place to be naked, and an incredible place to recharge and be romantic. It’s also a feel good story as we left feeling we had connected to the people, culture and land that is Tulum.



Why everyone should try a nude vacation

nude1
We loved this article in Islands magazine about trying your first nude vacation. We thought it had some great suggestions (like bringing a white board for your friends to leave you messages on). We’ve been on nude beaches, resorts all over the world and we think a nude vacation experience should be on eveyone’s bucket list. Check out the article at:

http://www.islands.com/gallery/how-survive-your-first-nude-vacation?cmpid=enews082113&spPodID=020&spMailingID=5662185&spUserID=MTA1NDIzNTA0MDIS1&spJobID=330769241&spReportId=MzMwNzY5MjQxS0

Spring is in the Air! And a girl’s fancy turns to….

Eating Easter chocolate, and waxing poetic about the one you love. What is it about spring that encourages a renewed desire for intimacy? The increased Vitamin D from more sunshine? The extra magnesium and zinc from spring foods? Either way, spring is an excuse to eat large amounts of rhubarb (great for trace minerals and very high in Calcium and Vitamin C), fiddleheads and asparagus. According to the Sex in Springtime article in Psychology Today, there is a peak conception rate in late March or early April. The article goes on to say that semen quality is highest in the spring, and menopause may be delayed during the spring and summer. No matter what the reason, the days are longer, we are able to show a little more skin, and love is in the air. It may also be a great time to take your sweetie away for a romantic get away. According to the Travel News, the website for travel agents, Easter is moving up as a popular travel destination. In Orlando, the alligators are mating and Downtown Disney is hopping. Cuba is still an inexpensive 5 day destination holiday from any of the Canadian border cities. And its a great time to visit New York before best of Broadway goes on holidays, and the crowds descend on Time’s Square. Whatever you decide to do this weekend do it with love and oomph. You deserve it.

Happy Spring, Happy Easter and let’s hope there the warmer air puts a bounce in your step.spring1

Hedonism, Jamaican Tourism and how the bus ride to Negril is forever changed

One of our most vivid memories of our first trip to Hedonism stared in the SuperClubs holding room in the Montego Bay Airport. We were handed a bottle of water and asked where we were going. Hedonism 2 was our tentative answer. “Ah the Zoo” said the Jamaican porter. “You get the narley bus”.

It was a bus ride to remember. Three hours of windy roads, small fishing village, goats in the middle of the road, a couple of beer and bathroom stops and a gaggle of Jimmy Buffet wannabees singing Bob Marley songs at the top of their lungs. Unlike the ride back to the airport where everyone left double fisting banana daiquiris before falling into an exhausted stupor most of the way. All with sunburns and in various stages of undress.

The bus trip now may be the way have gone the way of the dodo.
Hedonism has dropped the free airport transfers. In response to a new tourism tax that the Ministry of Tourism has levied on Jamaican resorts.

Here’s the skinny.
“As part of the agreement, all arriving visitors will be required to pay a US$20 fee, which will be included in the ticket cost, effective Aug. 1, 2012. The agreement will also see the introduction of a new daily accommodation tax per occupied room, per night of US$1 for properties with less than 51 rooms, US$2 for hotels with 51 to 100 rooms and US$4 for hotels with 101 rooms and above, effective Sept. 1, 2012. Currently, unlike most destinations, hotels in Jamaica do not charge an accommodation tax.”

But how do you get there you may ask? You can still pay to get ground transportation. Or as Chris Santilli says in her book “Tales from the Naked City”

Earth Day and Eco Tourism

Eco Mexico- Earth Day article
By Sue McGarvie and Blaik Spratt, Clinical Relationship Therapists, Travel Journalists

Mexico in the past hasn’t been known for its recycling programs or environmental concerns. Recently that has been changing in a big way. Eco tourism, while not a new concept has really begun to take off.

As the planet celebrates Earth Day we went looking for examples of Green Mexico during a recent eco-minded trip to Tulum. Known as the “eco coast”, Tulum is home to a few large resorts and many small, six to 20 room boutique hotels. It is an area of authentic Mexican feel, lots more wilderness, and a bohemian, Jimmy Buffet laid back lifestyle. Many of the Tulum resorts have an emphasis on being green. Driven by the close proximity to the Mayan reservation and the indigenous “spirit led” Mayan Shamans, there is a movement afoot to respect the land. Tulum is in the heart of Mayan (or native Mexican) country.

This part of the Yucatan is home to beatnik travelers, authentic Mexican music and amazingly fresh and healthy food. The Eco Tulum is a chain of resorts made up by three villa hotels Azulik, Copal, and Zahra. The concept is to provide huts on the beach, and blend in as closely as possible with the natural environment. In fact, the whole resort fits into the landscape better than anyplace we’ve ever visited. There are no lights, no outlets (so leave your hair dryer at home), and a generator powers a ceiling fan during the day. The rest of the time you are feeling a bit like you are in an episode of Gilligan’s Island. If you are looking for an accessible, convenient, well groomed hotel- this isn’t it. Eco Tulum is the opposite of a “big box resort” and we heard again and again how much guests were looking to stay anywhere but at one of the typical all inclusives. Each hut was unique, the pathways were made of sand and the stairways to climb into the hut were not for anyone with a disability. Some of the stairs were downright scary, but they had muted lighting at night, and the area had a very safe feel. The rooms were beautiful, clean, entirely made of wood (including a huge bathtub made out of a hollowed log) and offered a beach that would rival anywhere in the world.

There are iguanas on your deck, and gekkos in your room. The pelicans, ospreys and other large sea faring birds cast shadows over the patio canopy beds all day. We were woken up by spider monkeys on the thatch roof along with the nocturnal Kinkajou (a monkey-like mammal). Dolphins are known to swim up and down the coast, and crocodiles are common in the neighbouring mangrove swamps.

Eco Tulum has now introduced a recycling program and had separate recycling boxes out for batteries. And you needed to bring batteries. The downside of rooms with no power is that you had to set up your candles in advance of going for dinner otherwise you returned to pioneer-like blackness. It is a way to get in touch with your circadian rhythm (we were in bed by 9 pm and up with the sun). We found the candle light too dim to read by, and would strongly recommend packing flashlights or head lamps for walking. The wind blows constantly from the sea, and the waves ranged from gentle to spectacular during the week long visit. With Tulum’s wild coastline, it would be an astounding place to be in a mild storm.

One of the most notable things about a movement to more eco understanding in the Yucatan is the appreciation of the native Mayan peoples. The eco Tulum resorts and it’s adjoining Mayan Spa had both a Shaman and holistic healer on staff. They use only organic products, and many of the treatments are done with natural plants picked from the spa garden just minutes before treatments. They are known throughout the area for their traditional Mayan Temascal. A Temascal is a native sweat lodge that has been used for both healing and ritual purposes in Mexico for thousands of years. Throughout the Temascal, the Shaman used different herbs in conjunction with red-hot stones, misting, chanting and singing to cleanse the body and spirit. It is an interesting two hour (or longer) process that is to leave you feeling re-born.

The municipality of Tulum has been putting in bike paths to encourage this form of transportation. Biking really is the way to get around eco Tulum. They have them for rent inexpensively all over. You can tour the Tulum ruins, or head off to discover one of the 3,000 cenotes (fresh water sinkholes) in the area. Think of a limestone lagoon that opens up into underwater caves as part of the underground water table. They are all different, and the one we visited was like a small, deep lake filled with fish. It reminded us of swimming in a fish tank. We were able to snorkel, and see the entrance to the underwater caves that are so popular with divers.

In keeping with the eco-theme of this trip, we opted to go on the highly recommended Sian Ka’an community tour. This tour absolutely made our trip. Sian Ka’an is a protected natural reserve of 630,000 hectares that crosses traditional Mayan land and is now a UNESCO heritage site as well as a wildlife reserve. Sian Ka’an Community Tours is an international success story. Many Mayan’s had been living in “reservation-like” communities in the jungle without a source of income. Many Mayans didn’t speak Spanish (only their local Mayan dialect), and despite vast knowledge of the jungle and various biospheres, they were just eeking out an existence. With the aid of a couple of non-profit NGO’s (including Equator Initiatives) that help indigenous peoples with sustainable development, the Mayan community near the Sian Ka’an reserve got together and started a business giving tours. They did intensive training in English, and business management. All of the money from this low cost tour ($99 per person including lunch, snacks, park fees, and transportation) stayed locally. It was a great education and we left feeling like we contributed to the local community.

Our seven hour tour included a guided hike through secluded jungle ruins. It followed with an adventure into an underground Mayan passageway built in 300 BC (where we got up close and personal with some fruit bats). We then went into the jungle on the Mayan reservation where we tasted edible roots, smelled copal bark, and burned dead termite mounds as a bug repellent. We climbed a 17 meter tower to observe all eight biospheres in the park before jumping into boats to re-enact a 1000 year old trade route crossing across two crystal clear lakes. After lunch we did a river float along a natural passageway through the grass savannah. We floated peacefully four kilometers an hour for a few kilometers at the edge of the mangrove trees- nursery to millions of baby fish. During our section of the river we saw vultures, a variety of multi-coloured song birds, and countless tropical fish. We ended the day with a snorkeling trip to a nearby cenote with an opportunity to hand feed schools of fish.

The final piece to our eco holiday came in a unexpected place as we made our way back up the coast to Cancun. We made a point to stay overnight at the El Dorado Royale resort in the Mayan Riviera to see their organic greenhouses. The El Dorado is one of those huge all inclusives and is changing the way produce is grown in Mexico. They currently produce over 1.5 tons of fresh vegetables a day. They supply all of their El Dorado and Azul chain of hotels, sell vegetables and herbs at reduced cost to employees and are now able to sell more to other neighbouring hotels. Besides the awe inspiring volume of food produced in the automated greenhouses, what is cool is that the growing medium is crushed up coconut shells and beach sand. The agronomist on staff is using abundant natural products to produce tomatoes the size of grapefruit along with a plenary of other herbs and vegetables.

Our eco holiday was affordable, personal, and left us feeling healthy (actually down a pound or two given the exercise and fresh foods). It was also a feel good story as we left Mexico feeling we had connected to the people, culture and land that is Tulum.