Your guide to nude beach etiquette

Nude beach

There are only two officially sanctioned nude beaches in Canada: Wreck Beach in Vancouver and Hanlan’s Point on the Toronto Island. But, as you’ll see from our post last year, there are lots of other places to strip down and bare it all.

Being naked in front of strangers isn’t a frequent occurrence for most of us, but there are ways to enjoy the clothing-optional experience safely and politely—with as little awkwardness for you and others as possible.

Here’s how to take advantage of these clothing-optional spaces without committing any nude beach faux pas.

If you’re going to hang out at a nude beach, be nude

You don’t have to strip down if you really don’t want to, but there are lots of beaches you can go to if you want to keep your bathing suit on. If you choose to go to a beach where nudity is the norm, you’ll make the people around you a lot more comfortable if you’re naked too. Otherwise, you may be mistake for a gawker—and no one likes to be stared at, nude or not.

Ask before you take pictures of anything (and keep the photography to a minimum)

Respecting people’s privacy is a lot more important when everyone is naked, so make sure you ask before snapping. Getting a picture of the sunset is OK. Taking a sweeping panorama of everyone at the beach—not so much. Be respectful of other people’s space, and don’t invade it with a lens.

Don’t stare

This is common courtesy even when people are clothed, but it’s especially important when folks are in the altogether. Folks at a nude beach have the same right to privacy as others—and no one wants to feel harassed at the beach. And if someone’s making you uncomfortable? Ask them to move, or talk to a lifeguard.

Remember you’re on a beach, not in a hotel room

Yes, everyone’s naked, but a nude beach isn’t meant to be a sexualized environment. Over-the-top PDA probably isn’t appropriate.

Put your clothes back on when you leave the “clothing optional” section of the beach

Yeah, don’t wander over to the ice cream stand in the altogether. Many nude beaches have signs marking the “clothes on/clothes off” line, or there may be info online about which sections are traditionally naked and which aren’t. Just make sure you look into those boundaries before stripping down.

Keep the beach clean and respect ecologically sensitive areas

Like any beach, you should pack out everything you pack in. Be aware that many nude beaches don’t have much in the way of amenities, so be prepared to bring your own food, water, and other beachy items. Also, stick to the beach—don’t go wandering off through wild areas. Some may be environmentally fragile, and some may just be crawling with poison ivy—not something you want to run into with no clothes on.

Keep your clothes close at hand—just in case!

You never know when you’re going to run into someone you might not want to see you naked.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Your first nude beach experience may be intimidating, but don’t let self-consciousness spoil your fun. No one else is watching you, so just relax and enjoy the feeling of the sun on your skin—only please use lots of sunscreen.