During a time when apparently more people are getting nude during the novel Coronavirus, we thought we’d delve into the world of the nude lifestyle, or what many call family-friendly clothing optional recreation. There is the World Naked Gardening Day held each May and there are many naked bike ride and running events held around the United States each year. So Americans seem to be getting more comfortable sans clothing. We even watch popular national television shows such as Naked and Afraid, Dating Naked and Buying Naked.
Family-friendly nude recreation has been a long-standing activity for decades in the United States, and Florida is no different. In fact, the State of Florida’s official tourism arm, Visit Florida, has several postings about how Florida is a positive destination for those seeking a clothing-optional vacation in the Sunshine State.
Most residents know of Haulover’s clothing-optional beach in Miami-Dade and another officially sanctioned family-friendly clothing-optional beach to our north is Blind Creek Beach in St. Lucie County. And throughout the State of Florida there are many resorts, bed and breakfasts, and beaches catering to the clothing-optional growing masses. There are 5,100 total rooms at nudist resorts and in 2016, 1.2 million rooms were sold with 2.2 million visitors coming into the state. Since the average nude tourist stays an average of 10 days, that equated to 22 million visitor nights.
In 2017, the American Association for Nude Recreation compiled a report noting the impact of tourism dollars coming into the State of Florida because of those seeking a clothing-optional vacation. In that report, they found clothing-optional tourists were bringing in $4.3 billion directly and had a total financial impact of $7.4 billion for Florida. Those are some big bucks that Palm Beach and Broward counties are missing out by sending those tourism dollars to our north and to our south.
It may surprise some that the simple act of being nude in Florida is not a crime as it is separate from being lewd and lascivious, which is a crime. Such behaviour is often quelled on clothing-optional beaches by “Beach Ambassadors” which are volunteers who clamp down on such activity should it arise. Public nudity is legal so long as an area is designated by a government entity, an organization, or a group of citizens.
It remains to be seen as Florida re-opens to more tourists if we will see a growth of family-friendly clothing-optional beaches in Palm Beach or Broward counties. Nude recreation is often a misunderstood activity, as many Americans equate nudity with sex when that is not what these beaches and resorts are about.
In Kissimmee, Florida, there is a popular resort called Cypress Cove, which is a 300 acre facility with a small-town feel. It boasts over 200 mobile homes, almost 100 RV slots, dozens of hotel rooms, a library, volleyball, game room, two restaurants, gym, etc. People go there and don’t want to leave as it is a safe, natural environment, and it is all family-friendly nude recreation.
Here in Palm Beach County, the only place for those seeking a family-friendly clothing-optional experience without fear of arrest by overzealous police is at Sunsport Gardens in Loxahatchee Groves. It has been well run for decades and is an asset to Palm Beach County, both for tourists and residents alike. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park used to have a clothing-optional section on its north beach; however, the State of Florida ended that when they took it over. John D. MacArthur’s estate donated the property to the State of Florida, and included in the donation’s intent was that part of the park be designated clothing-optional, as MacArthur was an avid nudist.
Nude tourism is growing for Florida. Prior to the pandemic, nude-themed cruises departing Florida ports were booming and it will be no surprise they will continue once cruises start up again in 2021.
Nudity is becoming more accepted in the United States, but some remain cautious about it. That said, most of the population does not have a problem with nude beaches or resorts, so long as it designates them and/or there is proper signage so people do not unexpectedly see something they don’t want to see. According to a 2015 Zogby poll, 65 percent of Americans are fine with those that want to sunbath nude at a beach or park so long as that area is designated for that activity. In the same poll, when respondents were asked, “Local and state governments now set aside public land for special types of recreation such as camping, off leash dog running, bird watching, snowmobiling, surfing, fishing and hunting. Do you agree or disagree that areas should be set aside for people who enjoy clothing-optional recreation such as nude sunbathing and swimming?” 57 percent favored there should be such a place for nude recreation.
So, for now, Palm Beach County residents will need to spend the day north or south to enjoy a family-friendly clothing-optional beach. Residents and tourists alike will spend their dollars at restaurants, convenience stores, and other businesses around Haulover Beach and Blind Creek Beach, leaving Palm Beach County businesses out in the cold; that is until Palm Beach County designates its own family-friendly clothing-optional beach and/or the State of Florida makes a change at MacArthur Beach State Park.