Although cottagers have long known the joys of skinny dipping and (secluded) nude sunbathing, public nudity has been tucked carefully away—until recently. More and more people are discovering the freedom of baring it all, and where better to get an all-over tan than at one of Canada’s clothing-optional beaches?
Although being naked in public is technically illegal (except in designated locations, as you’ll see), local authorities tend to tolerate nudity at the following locations.
Crystal Crescent Beach – Sambro, Nova Scotia
Twenty-nine kilometres south of Halifax, Crystal Crescent Beach has lovely white sand and a gorgeous view of the Atlantic. Before you get too excited about skinny dipping, though, be warned: the water is very, very cold for almost the entire year, and the beach itself doesn’t warm up until the summer hits. Chilliness notwithstanding, it’s a peaceful spot, with the clothing-optional section a short walk from the main entrance. If you choose to put your clothes on, explore the 13-km trail loop that hugs the coastline.
Kouchibouguac National Park – Kouchibouguac, New Brunswick
Kelly’s Beach in Kouchibouguac National Park has a long, sandy beach with a section away from the lifeguard station that has been popular with clothing-optional enthusiasts for many years. If you’d like to explore the park beyond the beach (clothed, of course), there are several bogs, eight hiking trails, and a network of bike trails as well.
Oka National Park – Oka, Quebec
Just slightly west of Montreal, and known affectionately as “Oka-pulco,” Oka is home to a beach on the shores of the Lac Des Deux Montagnes with growing popularity; on warm summer weekends, more than 300 people take advantage of the opportunity to get a tan everywhere. Just be aware: there are no services on that portion of the beach, so pack everything you’re going to need.
Hanlan’s Point – Toronto Island, Ontario
Hanlan’s Point on the Toronto Isands is designated as an officially legal clothing-optional beach for a one-kilometre stretch. Just keep an eye on the signs if you’re unsure where it’s safe to strip down. A short ferry ride from the city’s harbourfront, Hanlan’s Point is a little less developed than Centre Island, however, the beach is said to have increased ferry traffic somewhat! Pack a picnic, bring a lot of sunscreen, and enjoy the view across Lake Ontario.
Patricia/Beaconia Beach – Beaconia, Manitoba
High flood waters earlier this summer prompted the Regional Municipality of St. Clements to declare a state of emergency for Patricia Beach, about an hour north of Winnipeg — so check conditions before visiting the area, located on the southern end of Lake Winnipeg. Patricia Beach is located within Patricia Beach Provincial Park, but if you walk north from the parking lots, you’ll soon come to a clothing-optional section. On busy weekends, you may have to cross a narrow channel over to Beaconia Beach to enjoy being nude without upsetting anyone.
Paradise Beach – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Perhaps better known by its users as “Bare-Ass Beach,” Paradise Beach is about 20 kilometres south of Saskatoon on the South Saskatchewan River. The beach’s growing popularity has been a mixed blessing—while more folks are discovering the pleasures of an all-over tan, garbage and crowding has been an issue recently. If you go, be respectful and clean up your trash.
Wreck Beach, Pacific Spirit Regional Park – Vancouver, British Columbia
The grandfather of clothing-optional beaches in Canada—and the only one besides Toronto’s Hanlan Point where nudity is actually legal—Wreck Beach is North America’s longest naturist beach and the busiest beach in Canada. There are limited facilities, though—portable toilets, but no running water—so bring you might want to bring your own water. And, of course, sunscreen. Lots and lots of sunscreen.
If you’re curious about going clothing-free, but feeling shy, just remember: the same etiquette applies as at a regular beach. Don’t stare, don’t take pictures of strangers, and make sure you clean up after yourself. Also, be aware that if you’re clothed in a clothing-optional section, you’ll likely end up feeling like the odd one out, so you may as well relax and join in. Just make sure you put sunscreen everywhere.