By Laura Van Antwerp
If you would have brought up the idea of hitting up a nude beach to me, say—er—four months ago, you would have most likely been bombarded by some combination of the following words:
“Gross… inappropriate… weird… uncomfortable… would never… saggy balls… creepy… [insert additional limiting perspective here].
Top 5 Nude Beaches in Tahoe:
1. Secret Cove
2. Whale Beach
3. Creek Beach
4. Boat Beach
5. Regan Beach. Just kidding.
Basically, I was not open to it.
Like, at all.
I was, however, curious about nude beaches.
What’s the deal with these beaches? Do people really get totally naked? What if they’re only filled with creepy old dudes and French tourists?
My mind was riddled with assumptions; hung up on baseless cliches and preconceived notions.
But I was curious.
I found myself mystified not only by the taboo nature of letting it all hang out in public, but by the fact that such a place (or few) actually existed in my own backyard.
For me, Tahoe’s nude beaches were as much an urban legend as Tahoe Tessie or a great sale price at Raley’s. Sure, I’d hear about them, but did they really exist?
So being the empirical researcher that I am, I did what any person would do.
I Googled that shit.
Unfortunately, the article results only left me wanting. It was time to move onto the next option: go find these beaches myself and see what they were all about.
So I grabbed three of my closest friends and embarked on a journey into the unknown.
What I’d hoped to gain was some insight on what the nude beach experience is all about.
What I left with were the following five realizations.
Lesson #1. Live like no one is watching. They usually aren’t.
Nude Beach Do’s and Don’ts
1. Don’t show up to a nude beach if you don’t intend to at least take off some of your clothes. It’s kind of a bitch-slap to everyone there.
2. Do sunscreen your privates if they’ve never seen the light of day. There’s nothing fun about an overcooked weiner (or an extra crispy box of cow-tongues).
3. Skip the PDA. Seriously, there’s plenty of forest 100 feet away, go have sex behind a tree somewhere and let us live.
4. Do take your trash home with you. Show a little respect for the beautiful beach that has welcomed your exposed Herman Von Long-schlongenstein.
5. No peeing in public. Just ‘cuz you’re halfway there doesn’t make it ok.
Secret Cove does not want to be found. The first beach on our list took us almost an hour to locate, and that’s with the assistance of a map, multiple phone calls, and asking for directions.
“Excuse me, could you direct us to the nearest nudie beach?”
As it turns out, Secret Cove is about a 15-20 minute trot south of Chimney Beach.
We finally stumbled upon a sprawling stairway that led down into the sandy oasis. It was as beautiful as it was elusive. The cove flaunted a carpet of white sand, turquoise water and, best of all, a plethora of balls, boobs, and hineys.
There were no ifs, ands, or buts about it (pun intended). We had arrived.
We descended the stairs and strolled in, trying our hardest to appear nonchalant.
The beach was decently populated. As we passed two naked men standing in the water chatting, I imagined what one would say to the other.
“So, how’s it hanging?”
We laid out our towels and set down our beach bags. The time had come.
There we stood, laughing nervously as our eyes scanned the scene. We were most certainly the only clothed people on the beach. It was impossible to decide if we felt more awkward for having bathing suits on or to just give these strangers free tickets to a nudie show.
A nudie show starring us.
Before we could give ourselves a chance to overthink it, we decided “screw it!” We ripped off our tops, dropped trou and brought out the pasty white buns.
Gone were the overpriced bathing suits designed by Calvin Klein and Michael Kors, replaced by the less pricey birthday suits designed by the more universally-known God almighty.
It was official. We were butt-naked at midday on a public beach.
We glanced around. Who was watching? Who was pointing? Who was getting ready to throw rotten tomatoes at us?
Not only was nobody oogling, nobody was even looking our way.
It appeared beach dwellers were much too busy enjoying themselves to pay any attention to us.
And that’s when I learned my first lesson: People generally don’t give a crap about what you are doing.
We tend to harbor a natural anxiety that “THEY’RE WATCHING US.” It’s why we avoid the weight room in the gym or attempting new things in front of others. We assume someone is waiting to pick us apart.
The fact of the matter is, people are usually so caught up in their own business they simply don’t have the time or energy to expend worrying about you.
So go do that thing that you’ve been wanting to do/learn, and don’t worry about whether anyone is watching. They usually aren’t.
Now isn’t that liberating?
Lesson #2. Our vulnerabilities connect us.
As soon as the bikini was off and the birthday suit was on, I was overcome by a newfound sense of freedom. Words can’t even begin to describe the cathartic nature of being fully exposed.
It’s not just a bathing suit you’re shedding. It’s a pile of fears, insecurities and weird-head-spaces that you’ve clung onto for years. The physical action only represents a more grandiose, metaphorical one.
Plus I had my own body-image issues to face.
If I had four words to describe my body type, it would be: Sponge-Bob Square-Pants.
Basically, I look like an apple perched on two toothpicks. Skinny arms, skinny legs and a prominent center.
But as soon as the bathing suit was removed and the apple was set free, my internal freak-out dissipated into thin air.
It was as though I had joined a club—a club of people with the courage to be completely real with not only themselves, but everyone around them.
And that’s when I realized my second lesson: Vulnerability is hard. It takes courage to reveal our imperfections, but it’s what connects us to each other.
Nobody can relate to perfection. Everybody can relate to the struggle.
When we see others own up to their own messy, imperfect realities, it’s refreshing. It makes us feel comfortable and connected, and inspires us to do the same for ourselves.
It’s honesty in action.
Lesson #3. We often make things a bigger deal than they need to be.
The time came for a skinny dip.
It was a scene straight out of Baywatch as we frolicked in slow motion into the water. Our now golden bosoms glistened in the setting sun—undeniable in their embodiment of youth and reckless abandon. It was smooth and romantic and effortless.
It was more like watching a couple of extras from the cast of Walking Dead. It was awkward, and the water was cold.
We eventually sought sanctuary on a smooth, granite boulder, where we camped out for a while.
I tried my hardest not to ponder how many asses had come into contact with this rock in the past, but I’m going to guess about 23,000.
The novelty of being nude on a nude beach quickly wore off. We were still naked, but it was no longer a big deal. In our new-found comfort with ourselves and our surroundings, it was hard to believe we were so freaked out about doing this a mere few hours ago.
We had exaggerated the nudie experience so much in our heads, but now that we were in it, it felt so…whatever.
Which led me to realize my third lesson: Most things in this world are not a big deal—it’s our fears that blow them up into one.
We fear judgement. We fear failure. We fear the unknown. And the longer we sit on these fears the more time we give them to inflate and fester, thus limiting ourselves in how rich of a life we lead.
Now’s the time to do the crazy stuff and make mistakes. Not only do those experiences make the best memories, but you’ll save yourself from a really shitty mid-life crisis down the line.
Lesson #4. Acceptance kicks ass. “I’ll accept your saggy balls if you accept my lopsided ta-tas.”
There seems to be this unwritten contract that nude beaches abide by. It reads, “I’ll accept and respect your exposed nether-regions if you accept and respect mine.”
At Secret Cove, I saw it all.
There were old folks and young folks. Guys and gals. Pancake chests and pendulous boobs. Wrinkly scrotums and tight little ball sacks. Dark tans and people who probably glowed in the dark. Stretch marks and six pack abs. Voluptuous curves and lanky edges. Furry kitties and waxed va-jay-jays. There were scars, stretch marks, and hair in places I didn’t even know could grow hair.
And, among them all, my fabulous apple on toothpicks.
It was all awesome, and it was all beautiful. And that’s when I realized my third lesson: Acceptance in ourselves, and each other, is empowering.
There’s something wildly refreshing in the authenticity of diversity. Too often we’re bombarded by the fake sameness that’s portrayed all over the media. There’s no truth or honesty in it. And it gets boring—fast.
“Oh, hey, I really hope Safeway has an entire aisle of the same brand of black beans!” said no one, ever.
Variety is the spice of life.
So the next time someone tells me, “Ew! A nude beach? Do you really want to see a bunch of saggy boobs and old man balls?” you know what I’m going to say?
“Hell yeah, I do! Because it’s authentic and awesome!”
Lesson #5. Being naked is fun!
The time to depart finally came. I found myself a bit despondent to see my first nudie experience come to an end.
Within the course of a few hours, I went from dubious to “check out my boob-ious!”
I felt more comfortable at this nude beach than I’ve ever felt at a regular beach. I was now a believer.
Come to find (lesson #5): being naked is a blast! It wasn’t just prancing around in the buff that I found liberating, but coming to a new understanding of myself and this world.
I used to think people who were comfortable walking around naked were just… weird.
The thought of a naked, dangling dong used to freak me out. Women who could let it all hang out, in my opinion, either belonged on the cover of National Geographic or in some hippy commune.
But I was neither of those things, and yet, now on the other side of the coin. I feel as though I’ve peered into a new, and very beautiful, aspect of our world. One that embraces courage, imperfection, and best of all—the goddamn honest truth.
Funny how life always has a way of proving us wrong.
So does this mean I’ll be moving to a nudist colony anytime soon? Probably not.
Am I planning to streak through my neighborhood this afternoon? Doubtful.
But you better believe I’ll be performing a naked robot for my roommates.
What was your first, or most memorable, nude beach experience? We would love to hear about it! Share your story in the comments section below!
Back in my 20’s we had Hippie Hollow in Austin. I remember that a big weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. True acceptance of ourselves is very liberating as you discovered.
My first experience came relatively late, in my 40’s. Having been curious for years, I adopted a “life is too short” attitude and made plans to go big or go home… so to speak. I booked a 7-day trip to Hedonism in Jamaica, knowing that it still gave me a last-minute out by having both nude and “prude” areas in the resort. And… I made the trip solo. Well once I arrived and got checked into my room, I dropped all my clothes before I had any time to overthink it… and never looked back. I spent the entire 7 days entirely in the nude area and loved every minute. The most amazing thing I found is how friendly all the other visitors are. I made several friends during the week and had the time of my life there. Virtually the only time that clothes came back on was for meals. Since that initial trip, I’ve returned 6 additional times along with discovering Secret Cove Beach in Tahoe. Now, I wish nude beaches and resorts were more commonplace!
It was in the carribean with a buddy. Definitely awkward at first but then liberating. Being clothed on a nude beach got more awkward glances …especially the guy with a camera. . Fyi…defiantly don’t forget the sunscreen. Luv your article…well said and respectful artsy photos
In the 60’s we used to call it Hidden Beach at Lake Tahoe East Shore. You had to park along the highway then walk down to the beach.
Hidden Beach and Secret Cove Beach are two different locations.
I actually went with my cousin (of the opposite sex). I as really cool.Famlies playing volleyball, just sitting and talking,I lost all of my inhibitions! People really don’t pay attention!somewhere near Capitols! It’s really beautiful at sunset.
Now, good luck with wearing a suit at the beach… it will accent all you are self conscious about! Try watering the yard naked and see what the neighbors say, after all, it is your yard!! Good article, glad you feel better about it all now!
Loved reading about your experience. I want to try it too! I need to feel free of the uptight B.S. In this crazy world of people we live in. We all need to chill. Thx for your story!
we met on EHarmony and hit it off! Later, Steve dropped the ‘bomb’! Said he was a naturist. I said, “That’s great, because I love trees, being outdoors and camping and such”. He said, “No, not a naturAList – a natURist or nudist.” Long story short, I really liked this guy so agreed to meet so he could explain the whole nudist thing. We met and we talked the whole day. He made it seem so perfectly natural and not scary that I told him I would take a trip to the nude beach with him to see what it was all about.
It took all of two minutes for me to shed clothing and couldn’t believe the freedom and confidence I felt. I curse him for that now because I hate having to turn back into a textile for the real world. I wish everyone could experience this but I know social mores prohibit this. did I mention that our first trip together to nude Mazo Beach in Wisconsin was in February and it was in the forties!?
Here’s a posting about that first visit! https://allnudist.wordpress.com/2008/01/29/our-first-time-nudist-together/ – Angie (We’ll be sharing this Tahoe article on our website soon!
You should try Creek Beach as well. Just a short walk further south from Secret Cove. The Tahoe Area Naturists take care of it and even groom the sand. There’s also a porta potty within easy distance.
When I was 6 years old my parents took me to a FKK beach near where dad was born. Since that experience, I have used every opportunity to be fabric less! Where I now live, they have closed the only nudist beach, so I am always looking for other beaches not too far from home.
The author of this article has covered the subject very well. It is an experience which makes you more in touch with yourself, and your body image, because every body is unique, asnd no-one is higher or lower in stature. Everyone nudist person is on the same level, whether they be bankers, car sales people, or a miriad of other occupations. Without clothing, there is no identifying factor apart from being either male, or female.
Great piece! Wonderful reflections and quite poetic, honestly. Two things, though: 1) you “realized [your] third lesson” twice (and thus didn’t realize a fourth one 🙂 and 2) colonies are for ants and lepers. Nudists/Naturists go to clubs, resorts, and campgrounds, and yes, some live there; in any case you could also call them communities.
Now you need to seek out other nude venues wherever you travel!
I was happily surprised to see that there are so many areas where nude beaches are happening in Lake Tahoe. I am a proactive optimist on Nudism I moved to Pasco, Country Florida the number one nudist per capita area of the United States to be closer to the resorts and places where people come together in that spirit. Though some of the resorts go beyond Nudism (Caliente and Paradise Lakes) have “Lifestyle” AKA Swingers in their culture also. And inside those resorts where people both live and recreate the two do exist together though not always in Harmony. Nude is not lewd but becoming a member of both resorts and visiting others I often found myself in-between the two groups. BTW no one is having sex in public at these places and those who say so have more than likely not ever been there. But I digress the first experience was when my wife and I took off to take our son to College in West Virginia I labeled the trip “New Avenues Of Self Discovery”. Our first stop was not yet at a nudist resort but a couple who practiced and taught Tantra and meditative type of treatment to sex. The woman and her partner lived in Ohio so it wasn’t a long trip from W. VA and we would do various couples exercises involving foreplay and fun and yes we did so sans clothing. It was not a “Swinger” experience but it was very sensual. The next day we would visit a special salt water pool where the Tantra teacher would show us WATSU a type of meditation and water yoga only the instructor holds you like a small child in the water taking you again we would be nude during this experience and after the night before my wife was more comfortable than she had been doing this. So our first nude experience was more of a small group experience that would lead us to a Nudist Resort in Wisconsin where by rule of the club once you passed a certain point all clothes had to come off. I have seen this at other resorts and I think it’s a bit draconian to the females who usually need the 45 minute experience to Nudism. That is where for the First 45 minutes you are self conscious of being nude and then from that moment on everything seems normal and you relax and find the experience very enlightening and freeing of body mind and soul. We talked with other couples there and heading back to the Twin Cities of Minnesota we would join or visit the two clubs in that area. We also established a nude night since we had become Empty Nestors so Thursday was come home from work and take your clothes off for the rest of the night. Women come to Nudism usually via the men in their lives I helped convert my wife and several women we knew who were curious and wanted to come along with us. It’s important for nudists to be proactive about what we do and doing our best to get others to find out what it’s like or at least engage them in some discussion.
Our first time was with a couple of our friends at a resort located next to a nude beach and we’d agree with your findinings. For the first time in years we found ourselves playing like kids and laughing harder than ever.
That was fourteen years ago and since then it’s been nude resorts, nude camping, nude islands, nude cities and nude cruises.
Been a blast and made some great friends. Highly recommend it as a life choice if only once.
We are Senior nudist in Eastern WA. We enjoy the life style We have two very nice resorts about an hour from Spokane and from home. We have secluded property and have our nudist friends come over Camp out and relax sunbathe and hot tubing with a small pool BBQ’s and pot lucks. as one comment sais try watering you lawn nude and see what the neighbors say, well we do but luckily they cant see us but do know we are home nudist and don’t bother us. We also like to do road trips & camping out where we can relax nude. We have traveled to Laguna del Sol stopping at Squaw Mountain ranch and the Willamettans in Oregon and planning a tip through Nevada to AZ this summer. Are there any Nude camping areas near the beaches.
National Nude beach day 1976, 19 in Pirates Cove Avila beach. I went down to the beach some guy offered me a joint laced with? There were many Cal Poly dollies and one invited me to play volleyball so I took off my clothes and never stopped playing naked. I’ve been in 24 countries nude, been on the cover of nude and natural and ran and won the Tahoe Whale Beach Biathlon not to mention running Bay to Breakers nude a few times! NUDE IS NATURAL I always have have my birthday suit on and ready to enjoy true FREEDOM!
I go to the nude beach alot and enjoy it but I do not like looking up at the main rock across from us and see a big sausage party going on with one guy in the middle of a bunch of other wacking junk on the main rocks were people lay not ok in my book.