Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Second Beach

The small European country of Belgium has several naturist club areas inside the country, open to club members but rarely visited by outsiders.

Until a few years ago, its 66-km coastline didn't have a single beach for naturists, who had to 'exile' themselves just across the border, to Bray-Dunes in France to the south, or to Groede in the Netherlands to the north - I have been a frequent visitor to the latter.

But then, a few years ago, the small seaside village of Bredene finally picked up the courage to go naturist and reserve a stretch of beach and dunes for naturists.

The initiative has been such a success that now a second Belgian coastal resort wants to follow suit. Middelkerke, a large town slightly to the south of the coast's main center, Ostend, is contemplating opening a naturist beach and dune area next year.

However, there is still one major problem and it's called politics. The local government is divided between Liberals, proponents of the new beach, and Christian Democrats, who complain the area now planned on what used to be a popular camping site lies too close to areas frequented by children.

It now remains to be seen whether naturism will prevail and Belgians will have their second naturist beach ready by the summer of 2009.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Italian Way

I just returned from a holiday in Europe and what do I find in my mailbox? The magazine of the official Italian naturist association. I have no idea how they got my name and address. Actually, they didn't get my name, because the name on the envelope was completely wrong, but still, the magazine reached me.

Info Naturista is a well produced, colorful publication with the kind of content you've come to expect from a national naturist magazine.

The chairman explains how his organization now counts 12 naturist associations and 10 naturist sites, which are listed on a handy map of Italy. Articles feature the Italian organization's presence at a travel fair in the Netherlands in January - I seem to remember I mentioned that fair in an early posting on this blog - and the difference between naturism and mere nudism.

Another article gives a historical overview of naturism, with special emphasis on the persecution of early naturists and their families by Nazi Germany. That article also expresses regret that naturism is less popular in Italy than in similarly Catholic, Mediterranean Spain. Then there's a humorous list of 13 types of naturists and nudists illustrated by cartoons, and then there's the obligatory reporting on what the 12 local associations have been up to. The magazine also includes many advertisements, mostly for naturist resorts in Croatia, across the Adriatic from Italy.

I'm not sure if the next edition of the magazine will reach me as well, but if you're interested, you can check out the website at

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Once a Year

Living in Asia, once a year I get the opportunity to visit a nude beach or naturist resort. By traveling to another continent.

This year is no different, and Europe is my continent of choice. While April and May can still be too cold for nudity of any form, I was lucky this time around.

Late April was extremely cold, with daytime temperatures of 14 degrees and rapidly interchanging spells of sunshine and torrential rain.

But after May 1, everything changed. The mercury rose to 19 degrees, then hopped over the 20 mark to stay at around 25 for more than a week. And I'm only talking about two countries in Europe, Belgium and the Netherlands, who by some twist of fate turned out to be Europe's hottest area for almost two weeks. While Spain and Southern Italy were hit by rain, the two low countries basked in the summery sunshine.

And I took the opportunity to spend two days at my favorite nude beach, near the village of Groede in the far southwest corner of the Netherlands. It consists of three stretches of beach, delineated by the rows of poles you see on the picture. There was one major addition: a snackbar-type installation right at the place where you enter the beach. Before, naturists had to take a swimsuit with them to walk to an adjacent area for lunch, but that's no longer the case. As usual, the beach was packed on weekends, despite the presence of a newer naturist beach down along the Belgian coast at Bredene. Most visitors at Groede are either young couples with children, and elderly couples, but everyone is welcome. I'm just sorry I'll have to miss it for another year.

Otherwise, there was more good news for naturists in Belgium. Local politicians in the resort town of Middelkerke are proposing to open the country's second nude beach next year, while a current bestseller available in most stores is a breast book for women. More about those topics in my next postings.