Last week I asked Wanderlust readers to tell us their favorite nude beaches in the world. We would read the recommendations and choose one to spotlight as the Wanderlust Nude Beach of the Week. Well, the e-mails started flooding in almost immediately, so we've decided to make this a weekly Wanderlust offering until your enthusiasm wanes. Your well-traveled tales ranged around the world, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. Two in particular struck our fancy: an Aussie's passion for Little Beach on Maui and -- perhaps the oddest nude "beach" in the world -- a revealing account of Englischer Garden in Munich. Expose yourself: Keep those e-mail tales -- and photos -- coming to firstname.lastname@example.org. And watch where you step!
-- Don George
Little slice of heaven
The first time I discovered Little Beach, I had just arrived in Maui from Australia. It was winter in Oz, I was completely white and suffering from a severe case of SAD. I had heard that there was a nude beach on Maui, and I was on a mission to find it. I drove my rental car to where I thought it was, drove down small volcanic dirt roads, reversed my path and finally arrived at a large, crescent-shaped shore.
There were surfers but no nudists. I walked the length of the beach, but still, no nudists. Finally, I turned around. I had given up and decided to go get my things out of the car and settle for a "normal beach day." On my trek back, I noticed a thin strand of beach-goers climbing a rock at the far end of the beach. My heart rate increased. Was this indeed the elusive strip of sand?
I hurried. Finally, I came to the cinder cone at the far end of the beach, climbed to the top and voil`! The most beautiful cove of cornmeal-colored sand and aquamarine sea that I have come across. From that date on, all beaches are compared to Little Beach -- and nothing comes close. I have visited in the summer, the winter and the spring. I save my frequent-flier miles for Maui. I check for sale prices to Honolulu. I want to be reincarnated as a fish who lives in Hawaiian waters. I dream of swimming in that ocean. When I die, I want my ashes to be spread on Little Beach. It is the closest place to heaven on earth that I have seen.
-- Simon Farnworth
Marveling in Munich
For pure unmitigated Teutonic nudeness, there's nothing like the scenery in the Englischer Garden in the heart of Munich. I spent the summer in Munich after a long, dreary and deprived existence in drizzly Paris. Suddenly it was June and sunny and dry, and I thanked dieu that I didn't have to speak one more word of French.
My half-German boyfriend taught me the only three phrases I needed to know: "One beer, please," "A small subway ticket, please" and "I don't have any ID with me." He also found me a bike that had been left in the Studentenstadt -- "Student City," where we were camping out -- and painted it a racy black for me. Soon we were cruising down the dirt paths of the overgrown garden, on our way to an old castle or a beer hall or a museum. Marvelous, it seemed to me, to be able to hop on your bike and pedal anywhere you wanted to go, but still more marvelous were the people in the garden.
Everyone -- I mean, everyone -- was nude! People favored the banks of the tiny, frosty river that ran through the garden -- the Eis, I think it was called. Nude men and women lined the banks of the river, which ran parallel to the bike path. I almost wrecked many a time trying not to seem too obvious as I strained for a glimpse of the foreign wares.
The whole point, it seemed, was to unabashedly soak up as much sun as you possibly could before drizzly weather set in. Sometimes we picnicked in the garden, and I watched people as they loped up to a sparse patch of grass and immediately flung off every stitch of clothing they had on. There were no age limits. Sometimes we'd see whole families -- three or four generations -- barbecuing in the nude, throwing Frisbees and wielding weisswurst.
Of course I decided I had to work up my nerve to sunbathe in the nude as well. One day, when my boyfriend was not around, I strolled out to a semideserted patch of grass with an old curtain, a dog-eared Stephen King novel and a gigantic bottle of beer. As was the custom of my fellow sunbathers, I stashed my beer in the chilly little river, nestling it in some protruding branches. I settled onto my curtain and removed my tank top. I lay on my stomach. I was too chicken to expose anything more.
But this might be, I thought, my only opportunity to sunbathe nude for a long time. So I screwed up my courage and flipped over onto my back. Instantly, I felt shame and horror. I don't think I had ever had my clothes off in public before. I forced myself to feel casual.
It dawned on me that I would feel much, much cooler if I was sipping my brewsky, so I strolled over to retrieve it from the river, modestly cupping my wares under my folded arms. Suddenly, old dieu decided to punish me for my hubris. A searing pain shot up my leg, then into my other leg.
I looked down and discovered I had stepped squarely onto a bee's nest (some kind of ground-dwelling, German bees!). I howled at the top of my lungs, whereupon a bevy of nude, well-meaning Germans descended on me. If you have never had to try to make out hasty questions volleyed at you in German while you are at once trying to rub your bee stings and protect your nipples, well, my friend, you are a better woman than me. I convinced the crowd, finally, to leave me alone, and I spent the next few hours applying my ice cold beer to the stings of humiliation.
-- Cynthia Elizabeth Killough