We have both been to some topless and nude beaches before. A nude beach can range from one where you occasionally see topless women (Miami’s South Beach or the beach at the Sheraton Algarve in Albufeira, Portugal) to one where there are a mix of topless women, fully nude individuals, and those wearing clothes (many beaches in the Caribbean). And then at the south end of Orient Bay in St. Martin, there is Club Orient where almost everyone is in their birthday suit.
Let me tell you about our first nude beach experience in St. Martin and share a few nude beach tips…
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Nude Beaches in the Caribbean
Many (but not all) Caribbean Islands have beaches were nude sunbathing is allowed. It makes sense that you’ll find more nude beaches on French and Dutch islands (i.e. St. Martin) and fewer in the islands formerly ruled by the United Kingdom which tends to be more culturally conservative when it comes to nudity. For example, going al natural in St. Barths is not out of the ordinary, but it the Bahamas they don’t like tourists wearing a bikini anywhere other than the beach.
It’s best to do a bit of research before you go so that you know what to expect. Be sure to check for signs or ask other people to confirm what is allowed. If you get it wrong, it could be quite embarrassing.
Walk Through Club Orient
Since we were staying at a vacation rental on Orient Beach, our morning walk would take us through Club Orient in St. Martin, one of the best known nudist resorts in the Caribbean. It’s been around for over 40 years! This St. Martin nude resort even has its own restaurant, Papagayo, which serves an international menu.
Men significantly outnumbered the women at this resort and we would estimate the vast majority of the clientele was over 50 years old. We saw all sorts of body types, skin colors, sunburns, and hairstyles at this nude beach in St. Martin.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and carrying on as if nothing were different. It was clear they were comfortable in their own skin, no one really seemed shy about it. One guy even sat spread eagle on his lounge chair.
Our Nude Beach Experience
At first, we felt a little uncomfortable and concerned that others might think that we were being disrespectful by being clothed at a nude beach. In our experience, no one really cared that we kept our clothes on. We felt reassured that some of the workers at the naturist beach resort were fully clothed as well.
Still, for us, we weren’t sure the best way to act around the other guests. Is it ok to look at them – they are naked? At first, we tried to act like we didn’t see them. But most would say hi as they passed us, so it would be rude to not at least make eye contact and acknowledge them, right? There is definitely a difference between making eye contact and looking and gawking.
The more people that we passed the more comfortable we felt. They chose to come to this nude beach in St. Martin and avoid tan lines, and are comfortable in their decision, so we should treat them as we would other beach goers.
However, we were hesitant to go out of the way to speak to a naked person. We walked past a couple that had a Texas A&M flag in the sand by their beach chair. Ordinarily, I would have gone up to them and said gig ’em and perhaps started a conversation, but since they were naked and we were clothed, I instead opted for a gig ’em hand signal and continued down the St. Martin nude beach.
Nude Beach Photography – Don’t do it!
Also, as soon as you entered the resort, there were signs banning photography. Some people may argue since it is a public beach, photography should be allowed. We disagree and would not support any nude beach photography and this includes incognito cell phone video and drones. It is common courtesy to be respectful and not photograph those that choose not to wear clothes on a beach (sorry paparazzi).
Limits to Traveling Nude (even in the Caribbean)
Lastly, just because you are on a Caribbean island, it is not appropriate to go wherever you want topless (especially as a woman). We did spot a topless woman sitting at Sunset Bar on Maho Beach. We think that was taking things a little too far.
By the last day of our Orient Beach vacation, we felt much more comfortable on our morning walks although we probably will not be staying at a nude beach resort anytime soon.
Have you ever gone to a nude beach or stayed at a nude resort? We would love to hear about your nude beach adventures.
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Expert Tips for St. Maarten Nude Beaches
- Based on our nude beach experiences, we found that it was ok for you to be at a nude beach and keep your clothes on.
- There are also some clothing-optional beaches on St. Barts, which can be visited as a day trip from St. Martin.
- Please be respectful, no nude beach photography!
- If you are going to partake in a nude beach adventure, remember to pack extra sunblock!