French comedy show Nude depicts a near-future where clothes are outlawed. We look to the nude beach for a primer on the etiquette of getting around nude with other people.
Lachlan Hibbert-Wells

26 Sep 2018 - 9:43 AM  UPDATED 26 Sep 2018 - 9:44 AM

“The first thing is, yeah, the sand will get everywhere.”

Over the years, I’ve found myself falling into the role of "nude beach guide" – or clothes-free chaperone or starkas sherpa, if you will – to a range of friends. It makes sense. I do life drawing modelling and I’m "that housemate" who is often only wearing a towel. So what has getting naked in nature with friends taught me?

One of the first experiences was taking my then long-term girlfriend; my oldest female friend, Lauren; and her then boyfriend, who I’ll call Guy, to my favourite Sydney nude beach, Cobblers. It’s small, beautiful and protected, just around the spit from the much more famous Obelisk. Unlike the latter, it's usually full of older couples and families, giving it a really friendly atmosphere.

The girls were too nervous to strip at first, but insisted us guys disrobe “so that we fit in”. And so, just an hour after meeting one another, Guy and I stood completely naked next to one another applying sunscreen like good Australians.

Which is when I noticed a problem. 


Nude beach tip #1: Sunscreen everywhere, then everywhere again

When you’re new to letting it all hang out in public, you can be extremely aware of avoiding touching your junk. A nude beach isn’t any sexier than a clothed one after you acclimatise, but newbies are often conscious of not seeming like a creep. I presume this is why I noticed Guy wasn’t applying sunscreen down under.

“Hey mate, you’ll want to slather the sausage.”

“It’s all good.”

“It’s just, that skin doesn’t see much sun so it’s even more sensi-”

“I’ve got it!”

Spoiler: he did not.

Let me tell you, red, sore, peeling skin and water blisters are no fun at the best of times, let alone when they make a penis look like a reject from German MasterChef.

Nude beach tip #2: Don't overthink the undressing

I never saw Guy again, but Lauren and I went back for years, followed by a slew of friends I guided on their first naked expeditions. There’s sometimes a moment just after you arrive but before you undress where you both… pause. Neither wants to be the first to start. Don’t get lost here! If you draw it out, it’s just going to be weirder. I suggest simply staring out at the water and begin undoing buttons, chatting normally.

The most surprising thing people find is how quickly the whole set-up feels normal. There’s something about the lack of clothes that facilitates profounder conversations, too. I’ve found myself having the kind of deep and meaningful convos about life and love that normally need a bottle of wine to tease out. Shedding your clothes seems to shed the inhibitions and topics flow more freely. Don’t get too relaxed, though...


Nude beach tip #3: Your body is beautiful but know its limitations

As Seinfeld attested, there are things best avoided while baring it all. Few of you will look like scenes from that film where a young Helen Mirren skinny dipped and should keep this in mind. Bending over or stretching can benefit from forethought here. As a chubby guy, I learnt this all too well when I ran towards the little boat that sells ice creams and saw my friends' faces – faces which didn’t ever need to see that much unrestrained flopping and jiggling.

Nude beach tip #4: Beware the nude goggles

There is one other danger – there’s something powerful and heady about taking someone you love to the nude beach, something I learnt all too well when I took a serious girlfriend there for the first time.

The sun was shining, the water was clear and she was beautiful. Suddenly, right there in the surf, I found myself asking her to marry me. No, I didn’t hide a ring in my bottom like Bear Grylls did for his beach proposal, but we both got wholly swept up in the moment.

There’s something pure, connective and true about being naked with one another in nature, but it can also be intoxicating. Knee-jerk proposals can be great, but this one was not, and I doubt it would have happened if we hadn’t been at that beach. We broke up a few short months later.


If you’ve never been to a nude beach I encourage you to go, just remember that sunburn, friendships and relationships all continue once your undies slide back up. 


Get an eyeful of French comedy Nude every Friday night on SBS VICELAND at 9:30pm. The entire first season is streaming now on SBS On Demand:

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