Breasts are wonderful works of art that are almost as lovely as the ladies to whom they belong. If you want to stare at a great pair, however, don’t do it at a nudist resort.
Seems counterintuitive, right? After all, you’re surrounded by breasts—as well as plenty of other bare body parts—everywhere you look. Your eyes are bound to land on a few sterling sets. But if you spend your whole stay at a nudist destination gawking at (or trying to hook up with) your fellow guests, you’re missing the point entirely, says Jeff Bowman, owner of Living Waters Spa in Desert Hot Springs, California, one of the top-rated European-style clothing optional spas in the country.
“Americans have had a hard time understanding that nude doesn’t equal lewd,” Bowman says. “In other parts of the world, like Germany and France, they are very well aware that the naked body is simply just that: a body.”
If you want to get your freak on with throngs of naked people, that’s what swingers clubs are for, says Bowman. “And I’m happy those places exist—but that’s not what we’re about.”
Before you book a reservation for somewhere you can be in the buff, you’ll need to know a few ground rules.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Living Waters is a spa first and a nudist resort second, and the same is true for many legitimate clothing-optional destinations, Bowman says. (Find a complete list of American Association of Nude Recreation-approved clubs near you.) Guests flock to his spa to get killer massages and relax in the natural hot springs, and just so happen to enjoy stripping down while they treat their bodies to a little TLC.
You need to have a firm understanding of what your resort offers—and more importantly, what it doesn’t—before scheduling your stay. Call the club first and ask as many questions as you can. “We talk to our guests on the phone before they book, and we weed out those who think this is a swingers hotel,” Bowman says.
If you go in blind with the wrong intentions, you’ll be sorely disappointed. As Bowman puts it, “A swinger showing up to my spa is like if you went to a vegetarian restaurant and asked, ‘Where’s the beef’?”
KNOW THE CLIENTELE
Bowman says many of his guests are older people who are checking off their bucket lists. “This is is something all Americans secretly want to do,” he says. “We have found that as Americans age, they realize they don’t have a lot of time left, and so they try old-fashioned skinny dipping.”
As a result, when you visit a nudist resort like Living Waters, expect to see “all sizes, shapes, colors and ages of people,” Bowman says. “We get everyone from police to pastors, to lawyers and truck drivers.”
And while you’ll certainly spot attractive women, they may be in the minority. “That’s why I always bristle when someone asks me the question, ‘How many beautiful women are there?’” says Bowman. “I’m like, ‘Dude, it doesn’t matter.’ This is a spa. If you’re coming for the right reasons, you don’t even ask that question.”
DON’T TRY ANY FUNNY BUSINESS
You won’t find any egregious rules at Living Waters or similar spas, says Bowman. The only simple stipulation: “If you can’t do it on your front lawn in front of your neighbors, you can’t do it here,” he says. “The only difference is here you just happen to be naked.”
In other words, just because your clothes are off, that doesn’t mean you should stop acting decently. “Like, the Hilton doesn’t really have rules,” Bowman says, “but it’s obvious that if you go to the Hilton at four in the morning and you’re drunk off your common sense, you’re going to get kicked out. But that doesn’t happen here, because people get the concept.”
JUST BE NAKED ALREADY
Old-school nudist organizations from back in the day actually required you to be naked at all times, because they didn’t want voyeurs. Modern resorts are more lax, “but if you don’t want to be naked,” Bowman asks, “then why are you coming here?” (Living Waters is one of the few nudist clubs in the country that accepts single males, but in that case, they do require nudity, he says.)
If you’re a first-timer and you’re a little skittish to slip out of your skivvies, make like Nike and just do it. “It’s like any first experience where you just have to try it,” says Bowman. “But the nice thing is that nobody knows if this is your first time in a clothing-optional context or not.”
Bowman says men are usually reluctant to strip down because they’re afraid they’ll get an erection. “But that just doesn’t happen,” he says. “You know why? Because you’re a participant here—not a voyeur.”
As for the ladies, some women may be hesitant to bare it all because they feel like they’re going to be stared at. The reality: “When your clothes are off, all the mystery is gone,” says Bowman. “Nobody is wondering, ‘What do her breasts look like?’ because they’re right there.”
In fact, the longer you stay in your bathing suit, the more you stick out like a sore thumb. “You’re an eye magnet until your suit is off,” Bowman says. “But once you’re naked, absolutely nobody cares.”
EMBRACE THE BREEZE
Now that you’re nude, it’s time to take advantage. “There’s nothing that beats skinny dipping in pure mineral water,” says Bowman. Easy enough for him to say, but it’s a hell of a pitch: “For the first time, you’re experiencing water on parts of your body that you’ve previously only gotten wet while in the shower,” he says. “And you’re allowing the sun to hit those body parts that we never let hit in America.”
Old-school nudists used to call this a sun (or wind) bath. “Just wait until all the elements hit your completely exposed body,” says Bowman. “The breeze is just wonderful.”
5 NUDIST RESORTS IN AMERICA YOU SHOULD VISIT
SEA MOUNTAIN RESORT
Desert Hot Springs, California Located just a stone’s throw from Living Waters, this sultry spa offers many of the same amenities, including unreal natural mineral water whirlpools. But it’s a bit rowdier at night, where you can dance to bass-thumping, blood-pumping jams at the world’s only 24-hour lounge club, Taboo Gardens. For bonus style points, take a limo, Rolls Royce, or private plane (!) to your next destination. ($269/night, seamountaininn.com
ORVIS HOT SPRINGS
If you want to be one with nature—but, you know, also naked—stop at this spot in Colorado, a stargazer’s paradise. The grounds shut down at 10 p.m., but you can still soak in the hot springs and enjoy the vast dark sky in all its splendor (and maybe even catch a meteor shower). And while the six rooms on site don’t have phones or TVs, the stars will provide all the entertainment you need. ($169/night, orvishotsprings.com)
West Halifax, Vermont
This upscale slice of heaven in southern Vermont offers stunning views of the New England countryside, as well as cross-country ski trails and easy access to the nearby Mount Snow if you’re searching for gnarlier slopes. After shredding during the day, venture back inside to relax in Finnish wood-fired saunas, or cut a rug in the nightclub affectionately dubbed “Club SugarShack.” (Starting from $89/night, abbottsglenn.com)
Ever play tennis, shoot hoops, or hit the links in the nude? There’s a first time for everything at this nearly 300-acre destination. Of course you’ve got the standard luxuries like jacuzzis and massage parlors, but guests are encouraged to take advantage of the sprawling “unspoiled wilderness,” which is why you’ll find naked-and-proud patrons paddle boating, birdwatching, and even playing something called “pickleball.” We’ll leave that one up to your imagination. (Contact for rates, cypresscoveresort.com)
Leesville, South Carolina You’ll have plenty of places to stay on this beautiful, serene property, including rustic cabins and huts. Chill in the pool, catch some sun on the dock, or kick back on a raft and float down the Black Creek lazy river. But let’s be honest: Cedar Creek’s real calling card is its annual naked music festival held every September, called—what else?—Nudestock. (Starting from $40/night, cedarcreekresort.com).