Clothing Optional Curious? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Clothing Optional All Inclusive Vacations

New to vacationing Au Naturel? Curious about what to expect at a Clothing Optional Resort or a Nude Resort? Read our Frequently Asked Questions for some straight answers from our experts.

Clothing Optional Questions:

  1. What does “Clothing Optional” mean?
  2. What’s the difference between a “Clothing Optional resort” and “nude resort”?
  3. Am I required to go nude if I stay at a Clothing Optional resort (or a nude resort)?
  4. Will I see nude people on the “prude” side of a Clothing Optional resort?
  5. Are people nude in the restaurants and other common areas of a nude resort?
  6. I want to go to a nude resort, but I’ve heard stories about “public displays”, and that’s not what I’m looking for – is that really what happens?
  7. I’ve heard that most nude resorts are for swingers – is that true?
  8. Are there any ‘unspoken rules’ at a Clothing Optional resort that I should know about?
  9. Can I bring my kids to a Nude Resort or a Clothing Optional Resort?

Answers:

1. What does “Clothing Optional” mean?
Clothing Optional means just that – it’s your option to wear clothes, or not, at your discretion based on whichever feels right to you. At a Clothing Optional Resort you’ll see a mix of folks both dressed and partially or fully nude, however it’s important that you don’t make those who are unclothed feel uncomfortable by gawking at them while you remain clothed. If you’re uncomfortable disrobing around others, it’s probably best to steer clear of Clothing Optional resorts.

2. What’s the difference between a “Clothing Optional resort” and “nude resort”?
There are 4 categories of these types of resorts – Au Naturel-Friendly Resort, Clothing Optional Resorts, Nude Resorts, and Nude/Prude Resorts.

    • Au Naturel-Friendly Resorts are normal “clothing required” (aka “textile”) resorts that have a separate, private area for au naturel (nude) sunbathing – typically a nude beach or pool or both, and in all other areas of the resort clothing is required. Resorts offer these au naturel areas because they recognize that many vacationers – typically Europeans – simply prefer to sunbathe topless or fully nude, but don’t necessarily want to eat or socialize nude.
    • Typically a Clothing Optional resort is Clothing Optional for most areas of the resort, but some Clothing Optional resorts will have separate designated areas for nudity, and requirements for clothing in some areas, such as restaurants. Depending upon the amount of nudity allowed in some areas, and clothing required in other areas, these resorts can also fall into the Nude/Prude category. Be sure to check with your travel agent before booking so you’re aware of the resorts’ Clothing Optional areas and policies.
  • Generally speaking, at a Nude Resort, you’ll find that most people are nude most, if not all, of the time. Although it is never required that you go nude at a Nude Resort, it is commonly expected that you will, primarily so that you don’t make others feel uncomfortable (no one wants to have a “watcher” around who gawks at them but doesn’t participate). A Nude Resort will have few, if any, areas where clothing is required, if they do it’s typically in the restaurants, which may be to comply with local health codes.
  • And at a Nude/Prude Resort you’ll find distinctly separate areas of the resort, a “nude” side and a “prude (clothed)” side, which includes accommodations as well as separate beaches and pools, and sometimes restaurants. However, it’s important to note that if you specifically request a room in the “prude” side of the resort, there is still a remote possibility that due to circumstances beyond the control of the resort or your travel agent, you may be put into the nude side instead. This doesn’t mean you have to disrobe and go nude, but you will certainly be exposed to others who are. The resort and your travel agent will take precautions against this, but on rare occasions it happens… so be prepared!

    It’s also important to note that you still may encounter nude people on the “prude” side, so if this is something you find offensive, then you’re better off to vacation at a resort where guests are expected to remain clothed at all times.

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3. Am I required to go nude if I stay at a Clothing Optional resort (or a nude resort)?
Never. You are never expected to do anything that you are truly uncomfortable with. But if you are going to keep your clothes on, please don’t just hang around and gawk at others who are nude, because this will make them uncomfortable, and they may complain about you.

And if you’re going to a Nude Resort, why not give the whole nude thing a try? Remember, no one is going to gawk at you either. In fact, no one will really care, or pay any attention. Embarrassed about your less-than-perfect body? Don’t be. A quick glance around and you’ll be relieved to see that no one else is perfect either – just a lot of very real, normal people with real, normal bodies – of all shapes and sizes. If no one else cares about the effects of age, gravity, or too many banana-split sundaes, why should you?

The most important thing to remember about going to a Nude Resort is that it’s NOT about looking, judging, or comparing – it’s about enjoying the freedom from the everyday barriers represented by clothing. It’s about enjoying nature in a very natural way. It’s about getting that perfect all-over tan (well for some people it is anyway).

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4. Will I see nude people on the “prude” side of a Clothing Optional resort?
Quite likely. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Even if a restaurant requires clothing, you may see someone (who is nude) walk up to check out the menu before deciding if it’s good enough to warrant going to get their clothes on. And occasionally, folks from the nude side will have a few too many drinks and run amok. Remember, they went there so that they can be nude – if this offends you, then you really should not be at a Clothing Optional resort.

5. Are people nude in the restaurants and other common areas of a nude resort?
That depends upon the resort. In a true “Nude Resort” most facilities are enjoyed in the nude, including restaurants, however, many Clothing Optional resorts require clothing in restaurants, as do most Nude/Prude resorts. Those that do require clothing in restaurants also may have dress codes for some of their dining establishments. It is advisable to check out the rules before you book your trip, so that you can choose what best suits you and so that you can be properly prepared and pack appropriately.

As far as other common areas, such as pools, bars, beaches, etc. – keep in mind the category of resort you are vacationing at. Nude Resorts do indeed attract and cater to nudists, so many common areas are full of nude people. Clothing Optional Resorts will often have separate common areas for those who are clothed and unclothed. And Nude/Prude Resorts will almost always have distinctly separated areas – such as with fences, hedges, or other visual barriers – that are clearly marked.

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6. I want to go to a nude resort, but I’ve heard stories about “public displays”, and that’s not what I’m looking for – is that really what happens?
What you’re really asking is, are people having sex in public. SOME resorts have policies AGAINST public sex, or even just overly indecent behavior, where failure to comply can, and will, bring complaints and people have been asked to leave a resort for such behavior. SOME resorts do have a more free-wheeling attitude towards that, but will generally have specific areas in which it’s allowed, and other areas where it’s not. It’s best to inquire before booking about a resort’s policy.

However, keep in mind that people do frequently get “romantic” – they’re on vacation after all – and it’s not uncommon to see couples kissing or embracing, especially after a few drinks and an afternoon of sun and fun. Generally speaking most couples will retreat to their room to take things further, but there are exhibitionists all over the world, and a Nude Resort seems to attract more than a few of them. A resort’s management or security staff can’t be everywhere at once, so sometimes enforcement of policies is lacking. If you witness inappropriate behavior in a public area, you’re free to report it, but if you wander down a secluded beach and happen upon someone else’s private moment, just turn around and walk back the way you came and leave them alone.

Some resorts are wilder than others, meaning the likelihood of witnessing public displays of indecent behaviour may be higher at some resorts. It’s extremely important to share with us your feelings on this issue so that we can match you with the resort that will be most likely to ensure that you have a wonderful nude vacation experience.

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7. I’ve heard that most nude resorts are for swingers – is that true?
No, most Nude Resorts are not exclusively for swingers, BUT some groups of swingers (who also commonly use the euphemism “lifestyle” groups) DO book large group events at some nude resorts. If you go during those weeks, you will certainly be sharing the resort with a large number of swingers. You may even be approached by others and asked if you’d like to participate – if this is not for you, simply politely decline. You could also ask the person/couple who approached you to spread the word that you’re not interested, and you should then be left alone. You have every right to feel flattered – after all, you wouldn’t have been asked if they didn’t find you attractive – but you are not obligated to join in. If this behavior truly offends you, it’s best to find out the resort’s activities agenda before you book, so that you don’t wind up going during one of these weeks.

Or simply try another nude resort – some are much more “laid back” and don’t seem to attract swingers, at least not in large groups, and some (such as Check PricesCheck PricesHidden Beach Resort in Mexico) don’t allow it at all. It’s crucial that you and your partner agree on exactly what you are (and aren’t) looking for in your nude vacation, and ask questions up front in order to choose the right resort.

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8. Are there any ‘unspoken rules’ at a Clothing Optional resort that I should know about?
In addition to the resort’s rules of the house, there is commonly accepted “etiquette” that is mostly just common sense stuff, like:

  • Don’t make others uncomfortable by doing things like staring, making loud comments (rude or not) about others, or taking pictures of others without their permission;
  • Be sure you use a towel to sit on – would you want to sit down somewhere that someone else’s bare bottom has just departed?
  • Respect the “prude” side of a resort if there is one – there’s a reason it’s classified as a “prude” side;

Be aware of any rules the resort may have as to exactly where and when nudity is allowed and where or when clothing is required, and be sure to comply.

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9. Can I bring my kids to a Nude Resort or a Clothing Optional Resort?
It depends on the resort. Some Clothing Optional Resorts do have designated “family” areas, with separate Clothing Optional/nude areas that are “no children allowed” areas. Some Clothing Optional resorts are adults-only or couples-only. Most Nude Resorts are adults-only.

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About Trisha Miller 49 Articles
Trisha is the Editor-in-Chief at Travel Writers Exchange, a community for travel writers & bloggers. She's also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, and a former member of the IFWTWA, serving on their Board of Directors from 2009 through 2015. When not traveling the world visiting the many all-inclusive resorts she loves, Trisha spends her time writing, mainly about travel and technology, sometimes both at the same time.
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