If you’re a certain type of cottager, you know about skinny-dipping—you know, those dips in the lake accompanied by embarrassed giggles, a little too much beer, and a whole lot of darkness.
For those who’d prefer to be naked without the blushes and the beer, there are several clothing-optional beaches in Ontario, where skinny and not-so-skinny dippers alike enjoy the feeling of being at one with nature, no clothes in the way.
With the exception of Hanlan’s Point on the Toronto Island, which is officially sanctioned, all these beaches are unofficially clothing-optional, meaning they’re either on private land or secluded enough that authorities aren’t concerned. In some cases, established naturist groups maintain the areas, while others are public property.
If you’re interested in going to a clothing-optional beach, but aren’t sure of the etiquette, relax—use good manners (it’s never OK to stare, right?) and rest assured that everyone’s too busy enjoying themselves to take notice of you. Enjoy the sunshine—but don’t forget the sunscreen!
Beechgrove Beach, Toronto
This beach is at the eastern edge of the Scarborough Bluffs, about 100 metres east of the parking lot at the foot of Beechgrove Avenue. Most people wait to take their clothes off until they’re well west of the point. Be careful when walking on city beaches—broken glass buried in the sand is an unfortunate danger, so always wear your shoes.
Hanlan’s Point, Toronto Island
This is one of only two officially legal clothing-optional beaches in Canada (the other is in Vancouver), and only portions of the beach are designated, so keep an eye on the signs. Hanlan’s Point is somewhat less developed than Centre Island, so pack a picnic and plenty of water. (And again—don’t forget the sunscreen!) To get there, take the Hanlan’s Point ferry from the Toronto Ferry Docks at the foot of Bay Street.
Port Burwell Provincial Park, Lake Erie
The clothing-optional area is west of the official park boundary, which has a busy day-use area with plenty of clothed swimmers. Walk 15 minutes west from parking lot 5, and you’ll cross over onto private land, where nude sunbathing and swimming is OK. (Just don’t get frisky—this isn’t the place to re-enact that watery kissing scene in From Here to Eternity.)
Sandbanks Provincial Park, Trenton/Belleville
There are lots of signs posting against nudity, but the western end of the west sector of the beach has been unofficially clothing-optional for many years. Walk a few hundred metres west of the parking lot, and chances are you won’t run into many people who aren’t there for the same reason you are.
Remember—being self-conscious is the quickest way to ruin what could be a lovely experience. After all, when was the last time you felt the sun on all of your skin, or swam without a bathing suit getting in the way? Relax, and enjoy. Just remember the sunscreen—and put it everywhere.