Nudist Beaches Down Under: Where’s Best to Bare All

See recent posts by Lara Parker

There’s no denying that for some the thought of going topless on a beach is nothing short of mortifying, but if you want to throw caution to the wind, what better way to liberate yourself than to feel the sea breeze on your bare skin. After all, you’re on holiday, surrounded by strangers -- why not get your kit off, embrace the all-natural, and avoid the tan lines. If you’re new to hitting the beach in your birthday suit there are some codes of conduct worth bearing in mind. Firstly, remember to slip, slop, slap (apply sunscreen): the sun is unforgiving south of the equator and some of your bare bits may not have been exposed to that kind of heat before. Pop a towel down before sitting on public chairs, don’t get pervy, and above all don’t take photos -- you’re likely to offend your neighbours, and some memories don’t need documenting. The Australian shores have a ton of beaches where nude is the norm, so here’s our advice of where to bare all and where's best to avoid.

Lady Bay Beach

Via Flickr/ Jian Kuang

Via Flickr/ Jian Kuang

Lady Bay Beach, also know as Lady Jane Beach by locals, is a laid-back sandy shore open to all. As Australia’s oldest nudist beach, first legalised in 1976 by sydney-siders, going nude on Lady Bay Beach is paying homage to history. Visitors can arrive either via ferry at the nearby Watsons Bay ferry wharf, by buses 324 and 325 which run regularly from Circular Quay, or, of course, in a car. Lady Bay Beach is a short walk along the clifftop walking track from Camp Cove beach — another tourist hot spot and one of Australia’s many wheelchair-accessible beaches. There’s said to be a shady viewing platform far above Lady Bay if you want a sneak peek before taking the plunge.

Where to Stay: Altamont Hotel Sydney

This Colonial mansion turned nightclub turned boutique hotel has a rock ‘n roll history, having been frequented by celebrities like Madonna and the Rolling Stones back when it was known as Cauldron Nightclub. The building has a slightly industrial feel, with exposed concrete floors, though wood furnishings help give it a homier vibe. The lobby lounge features a pool table and comfortable sofas, as well as conveniences like a toaster and hotplate (the hotel does offer a free daily breakfast as well). 

North Swanbourne Beach

Via Flickr/ Andrea Contino

Via Flickr/ Andrea Contino

North Swanbourne Beach is a 20-minute drive from Perth’s city center and is a popular summer sanctuary among the Western Australian nudist community. Only the north end, a 3km-stretch of Swanbourne beach, is clothing-optional, so visitors should pay close attention to the signposted nudist areas before getting their kit off. The beach, which looks out onto the Indian Ocean, is on military-owned land and backs onto a riffle range.When live firing exercises are taking place, the nearby guard towers will put out red flags and parts of the beach will be closed to the public. Visitors should keep their eye’s peeled for the flags before taking a dip — they’re not the type of flags you want to get caught swimming between!

Where to Stay: The Richardson Hotel & Spa

If you want to splash out, The Richardson Hotel & Spa is a luxury hotel located on the outskirts of Perth’s city center, a 16-minute drive from North Swanbourne Beach — but with a hotel this decadent, you may have trouble leaving. For a cheaper stay, the Ibis Perth is a mid-range hotel, and sits a 19-minute drive from North Swanbourne Beach. It’s been tastefully decorated with neutral tones and its Murray Street Grill hotel restaurant is popular among both guests and locals. 

Campbell's Cove Beach

Via Flickr/ Williewonker

Via Flickr/ Williewonker

Campbell’s Cove was the first nudist beach to be legalised in Victoria and was once a hot spot for gay men in particular. More than thirty years on most nudist will describe this beach as the one to avoid. Its mostly rocky, with more grass than sand and with no waves to wash out the tide, the shore is often lined with seaweed. An increase in housing around the Campbell’s Cove area has infringed on the privacy of naked beach goers and spectators parked above the beach is said to be quite common by regulars. Despite the bad rap, nudists undeterred and eager to dip their toe in Campbell’s Cove beach should get in quick as the ‘clothing optional’ status is currently under review by Wyndham Council.  

Where to Stay: St Kilda Road Parkview Hotel

The 206-room Parkview Hotel is a solid upper-middle-range option south of Melbourne’s city center. The hotel overlooks Albert Park, but reaching most sights will require a drive. Room decor is contemporary if chain-like: It’s a step above what one might find at a Holiday Inn, and includes with red striped bedding accents, IKEA-esque furniture, and work desks. Modern bathrooms have big walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads. All rooms have swivel flat-screen TVs with laptop hookups that are inset in the entertainment units, as well as free Wi-Fi. Hotel features include a small fitness center with floor-to-ceiling windows and city views; a jetted rooftop plunge pool and Jacuzzi under a domed glass ceiling, a sauna, and laundry facilities — all adding to its value.

Buchans Point

Via Flickr/ Ben Abel

Via Flickr/ Ben Abel

A state that falls into the category of where’s probably
best to avoid on a nude beach excursion is Queensland. Naturalism or nude
bathing is illegal in Queensland and people caught skinny dipping can be fined.
The Free Beach Association of Queensland is lobbying to legalise clothing
optional beaches but in the meantime it’s a matter of stripping off at your own
risk. There are some thrill seekers that despite the laws frequent the shores
of Buchans Point in Cairns. It’s said to be most popular among the local gay
group, coined the Sunboy’s, who protest there regularly by getting their kit off.

Where to Stay: Kewarra Beach Resort and Spa

Kewarra Beach Resort & Spa is a popular beachfront property that is a competitively priced alternative to the luxury retreats of Cairns and Port Douglas. The resort is located on a gorgeous private beach, and bungalows are integrated into the lush rainforest at the shoreline. It offers a back-to-nature experience with all the basic comforts that guests would expect, plus good dining and two inviting pools. However, this is not the place for urban luxury seekers; in some cases the rooms and bathrooms are looking tired and Wi-Fi can be unreliable. 

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