recap of some naked surf fun and watching sea life at Black’s Beach

I’ve already written up about Black’s Beach twice – in general, and on our first nude surfing experience there specifically – but as I’m finishing the latest Californian series of blogposts, I can’t help adding some new footage from surfing there again, as well as photos of marine life.

Well, I guess I have to promise to post another video in the future when I improve both my surfing skills and using GoPro camera. It was my very first attempt to shoot a video with GoPro on a surfboard, so I’m pretty confident the next one will be better. In any case, it was still a lot of fun to play with the waves naked. And it was very liberating too, especially after that pretty long (especially when you carry a surfboard) hike down the dirt trail from the parking lot to the beach.

I was very happy to find quite a few other naked surfers (including one woman) on those days. And a couple of days ago, as I was preparing my footage for this post, I got across this recent video of a guy surfing naked at Black’s Beach.

Who knows, maybe some time soon those nude surfing contests will be back at Black’s Beach?!

naturist 0002 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Black’s Beach would be also perfect for a barefoot (or should I say bare all around?) running race, with its perfect flat wet sand (not necessarily submerged in water, as on the photo above, but running in water could be a sport of its own).

sand 0002 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Speaking of sand at Black’s Beach, it fascinated me quite a lot how those sand grains of different colors formed various patterns

sand 0000 Blacks Beach, California, USA

depending on the waves and tides.

sand 0001 Blacks Beach, California, USA

These patterns change from place to place as you walk along the beach,

sand 0003 Blacks Beach, California, USA

and throughout the day too.

sand 0004 Blacks Beach, California, USA

The symmetry of this pattern is amazing

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but inexplicable to me due to lack of enough knowledge in physics and geology 😎

Even more exciting view followed from the ocean, however!

dolphins 0000 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Well, it could also be a worrisome sight, if I thought those might be sharks… But dolphins are a lot commoner in these water, and the fountain from the blowhole revealed their identity with certainty.

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I’ve never seen wild dolphins in the ocean so close!

dolphins 0001 Blacks Beach, California, USA

(I have to specify “in the ocean”, because I did swim with wild river dolphins in the Amazon, and canoed next to sea dolphins in the mangroves in Florida.)

dolphins 0003 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Another time, dolphins appeared at sunset.

dolphins 0004 Blacks Beach, California, USA

They were even more active, probably feasting on a shoal of fish,

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and I hoped to get a picture of a dolphin jumping above the setting sun 😀 Was that too much to ask? Well, I got pretty close to it!

dolphins 0005 Blacks Beach, California, USA

As a bonus afterwards, a seal came by as well, but it was getting too dark to take a decent picture of it.

seal 0000 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Once again, Black’s Beach proved to be an amazing site for beach activities and marine life observation. I can’t wait to go back!

Wreck Beach, the largest nude beach in North America!

This is another guest entry, now from our devoted reader-turned-contributor Nat

Wreck Beach is North America’s largest nude beach. There are actually three nude beaches – Acadia Beach, Towers Beach and Wreck Beach – however most refer to the whole 8 kilometres around the Point Grey peninsula, as Wreck Beach.

naturist 0000 Wreck Beach, BC, Canada
The beach is located on the campus of University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It is easily accessible by transit, car or bike. It’s a 15 minute car ride from downtown to Acadia Beach which has a gentle slope for those that can’t do stairs.
As NW Marine Drive curves around the point, the slope get higher so that by the time you get to the main Trail 6 you have a few hundred steps to get down to the beach.
They are well built steps, however coming up is a good workout for some.

At the top of the trail you usually see lots of bikes and a concession stand selling snacks etc.
Trail 6 is the main section where you see thousands on a busy summer weekend, It is also one of the better places for swimming since when the tides are out you get large expanses of sand to run and play.

naturist 0001 Wreck Beach, BC, Canada
The beach has a breakwater. Near the breakwater is one of the area’s where gays like to hang out.
You will also see many licensed vendors selling food and non-alcoholic drinks. Alcohol is illegal on the beach. You will find people selling it, but when the police come down, it suddenly disappears. Be discreet, or if they see you, they will pour it out.
If you go continue to your left, you can find a trail that takes you to the gay beach.
You can also choose not to go down Trail 6, but continue on NW Marine, it turns into SW Marine Drive and go down Trail 7. You will need to look at a map if you plan to go to Trail 7, since it’s on Old Marine Drive, an offshoot of SW Marine Drive.
Once down Trail 7, again well maintained steps, you can go left for an older crowd (jokingly called Jurassic Park ) or right for a younger crowd. If you go right it’s about a ten minute walk or so to an area called Oasis.

naturist 0004 Wreck Beach, BC, Canada
The only thing that is not so great about Oasis and the beach along Trail 7 is that it is not good for swimming. Many just walk the trail towards Trail 6 and the main beach to do that. The area of Trail 7 is known for cruising.

naturist 0002 Wreck Beach, BC, Canada
There are no food vendors at Oasis, it is much quieter, but on some days you may find someone selling beer.

The great things I like about Wreck Beach are it’s size. You can strip down at Acadia Beach and walk for two hours around the point totally nude and still be within the city limits.

The views are of mountains and forest. When you stand on the beach, especially Oasis, you look at a fir tree covered hill tumbling down into the ocean. You feel very far away from the city.

naturist 0003 Wreck Beach, BC, Canada

hurricane flashback

In anticipation of the Frankenstorm, I can’t help recalling last year experience right before arrival of the hurricane Irene to New York City. A friend of mine got a reckless idea of running in the storm. Well, not that reckless, the storm was still a few hours away from the city, and it was a classic calm before the storm. The night was just more humid usual, but there was no wind. And I have never seen the streets of Manhattan so quiet and empty. We headed out to Riverside Park and it started pouring, but still there was no sign of wind.

Our only encounter in the park was a totally wet skunk that was running hastily away from the Hudson River.

Guess what we thought next. That seemed like a unique opportunity to jog in one of New York’s major parks naked, and we didn’t miss the chance!

We ran in the rain up to George Washington Bridge.

It felt fantastic, as if the city was just ours and nothing could stop us… But of course, we had to stop and go back. The storm never really hit Manhattan severely, but we wouldn’t know beforehand. So, luckily, our naked run remained the brightest memory from the hurricane Irene. Who knows what Sandy brings us this time. It is expected to be much longer (up to 36 hours, as opposed to 6 hours of Irene), and it’s definitely not going to be warm, especially if the tropical hurricane does merge with the wintry storm. Also, combination with full moon increases the chance of particularly strong surges, so we should stay away from the river…

Be safe and take care!

running barefoot and Vibram “Barefoot” shoes review

In continuation of my post about running, I would like to add my thoughts on running barefoot, which is an increasingly popular trend now. I definitely support the movement, especially if you run bare, why not run barefoot as well?

In my childhood, I was encouraged to walk barefoot by family during summers; they didn’t put much explanation to it, just said it was healthy. I didn’t really practice it seriously, and got interested in the idea again after I broke my foot almost 3 years ago. I quickly came to a webpage of a group from Harvard University that had been doing extensive studies on running. One of the conclusions of their work published in the most respected scientific journal Nature was that barefoot running style may actually “protect the feet and lower limbs from some of the impact-related injuries now experienced by a high percentage of runners”.  I would suggest you to go to the website of the Harvard Uni group for more details and videos explaining the benefits of barefoot running, and if that doesn’t convince you, there is a more graphic and visually pleasing website of a minimalist shoes producer Vibram, which is, I must add, also naturist-friendly 😉 The take-home message is that while running barefoot, you use all those muscles and tendons that are otherwise left untrained if you only walk and run in traditional shoes, AND the pattern of the foot strike changes from heel-strike to shock-absorbing and collision-reducing fore-foot strike. In other words, you make your feet and calves stronger and learn how to step more cautiously (without actually thinking about it).

When I did my search now before writing this post, I found several articles claiming the opposite, for example that ‘Doctors see uptick in foot injuries from barefoot running shoes‘ (also see this one). However, none of those articles has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and their claims that the new industry of the so-called minimalist shoes is nothing more but fashion do not have much base in my opinion, as the industry producing [currently] traditional running shoes is much bigger and has much higher capacities for advertisement. They acknowledge, however, that those injuries may be related to too sudden a transition from running in thick-sole to shoes to running barefoot or in minimalist shoes.

That’s where I totally agree with these articles: before running your first marathon barefoot, get some experience by first walking barefoot and only then running, slowly increasing the speed. I think the ultimate goal should be being able to run totally barefoot (if not totally bare ;-)), but you could use minimalist shoes as intermediate stage. That was why I wore them for my first trail race.

While I am now totally comfortable with hiking barefoot, I am not sure I could really run fast on a rough terrain like a forest trail with pebbles. That’s why I opted to stay in my Vibram Sprint shoes for the race, and I felt it gave advantage over runners in regular shoes.

First of all, such minimalist shoes are much lighter, and you do feel it! Every step you take just feels lighter. Second, having flexibility in your feet and toes being able to move, even though slightly, helps with the grip, which is especially helpful on an uneven terrain. Third, this flexibility allows you to use only fore-feet, which I found very helpful when running uphill.

There are several companies and numerous models of such minimalist shoes. I used to have Vibram FiveFingers Classic, probably the most minimalistic of all minimalist shoes.

I really liked them and they served fine for jogging and travel, but after I lost them in a trip, I decided to try another model and went for Vibram FiveFingers Sprint. They turned out to be much more flexible, and they have three velcro straps that allow very fine adjustment, so they fit the feet just perfectly.

In any case, I would strongly recommend to try those first, even if you find better deals online.

There are many other models that look more elaborate, but I think that makes them less minimalist, which defeats their purpose. In my last hike, I kept my Vibram shoes on for the first couple of hours, and after I took them off I actually felt a relief – compared to walking even in these light and flexible shoes, walking barefoot feels even lighter, not to mention that you feet don’t get sweaty. That’s why I consider minimalist shoes just an intermediate stage. Of course, all of this implies walking at warm temperatures. Also, I would rather wear such shoes in the city than walk totally barefoot; there’s just too much spit, chewing gums, and occasional dog poo or even broken glass (at least in New York City).

So, once you get used to walk barefoot or in minimalist shoes, learn about differences in running barefoot and shod. Maybe you will be able to break old habits and will re-learn how to run naturally, but I found it helpful to get some guidance from my friend Pétur who is an instructor of MovNat system. One of the techniques is basically seeing running as continuous fall forward with lifting your feet to prevent the actual fall; this technique is supposed to save a lot of energy. Perhaps following this technique was what helped me to run 7k trail race pretty fast without much previous training. Another reason could be that I got some natural ‘doping’ for breakfast: I ate some red beets, because I read they boosted stamina :p

running nude: the most human form of exercise

I have written many times that I like running naked, but after I came in third in my first ever naked race, it is a good time to tell why I think running naked is not only fun, but actually is the most natural activity for a human being. We just need to let the International Olympic Committee know. Actually, the Ancient Olympic committee must have known it.

Current evidence suggests that long-distance running was crucial in human evolution. Did you know that humans are the best long-distance runners among all animals? We can outrun even a horse! And one of the keys in our success as long distance runners has been our nakedness. Here are the links to a scientific peer-reviewed article on endurance running and the evolution of Homo [a genus to which our species, Homo sapiens, as well our ancestor and cousin species belong], as well as a short summary in the same journal, Nature, and another one from BBC.

Selection towards endurance running apparently shaped our body from bones to skin. It made us essentially two-legged and our legs longer than in any other ape. Not only skeleton changed, so did musculature, thanks to which we have prominent buttocks: we barely use gluteus maximus muscle for walking, but it is very active during running. Finally, our bare skin, as opposed to fur or feathers in other famous runners among animals, such as cheetahs, horses or ostriches, is an adaptation to prevent our body from overheating during running, as it allows us to sweat effectively with the whole surface of our body. So even though we are poor sprinters compared to many other animals, in the long run – quite literally – we could beat any of them! This ability was and still is used for hunting animals by exhausting them, the so-called persistence hunting.

Thus, people running in clothes, even light ‘professional running’ clothes, is evolutionary nonsense, a totally backward idea so to say. Sometimes you get questions how it feels with ‘things’ swaying and flopping. I’ve never had any issues or discomfort with that, and, at least from a male perspective when you think of it seriously, it’s difficult to see it as a real problem (you may get some insight on this issue from a female prospective from a blogpost on Young Naturists America). In the Bouncing Buns race almost all men ran totally bare, and most women without bras, so I assume most of the participants felt fine running naked. I could imagine it might be an issue for men who always wear tight underwear and for women always wearing bras, if their scrotum and breast are not used to supporting themselves, but that actually doesn’t sound healthy. On the other hand, when I told a friend about me participating in the naked race, he suggested that additional “pendulum” might be actually advantageous if you synchronise the swing with the forward move 😀

I suggest you to test this hypothesis on your own. Go for a good long run, naked run, like a real human 😉

Sandy Hook

Happy Independence Day! As a present for our US American readers, here is the post about Gunnison Beach at Sandy Hook. It is definitely one of the top clothing-optional beaches in the US, and for a good reason.

This beach is huge, even though large part of it is closed for protection of shorebirds, primarily plovers.

This part usually opens in the end of summer, when nesting season is over, but you can just go strolling or jogging in the protected area.

Once, the water was full of fish roe,

and it left beautiful crystal-like traces, or rather footprints, of the waves on the sand. And plovers were happy to feast on it.

But even the designated area is big enough to host numerous beach goers from NYC metropolitan area as well as Jersey shore.

Most people stay close to water, so there is a vast sandy part between people and dunes that may be used for  jogging

and of course nudists’ favorite volleyball.

The limiting factor is rather space at the parking lot which fills up quickly on weekends.

If you don’t mind spending more money – $45 0r $30 with this coupon on certain times – it is way better to get to Sandy Hook from Manhattan by ferry.

It leaves from two locations Midtown and Downtown, and you have an easy ride with fresh breeze and nice views.

Speaking of views, what makes Gunnison Beach very special is that there’s no other nudist beach that could boast with Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. You’ll definitely want a naked portrait with that background, just prepare a pair of glasses against the bright sun.

There you go!

Another option is to turn upside down 🙂

Oh wait, I think I did manage to get at least one ‘normal’ portrait. It is somewhat surreal to let it all hang out while seeing that crazy city so close.

Coming back to Manhattan after that feels like coming to another world.

Uchkuyevka beach, Sevastopol (Crimea)


Uchkuyevka (aka Lubimovka) is the only beach within Sevastopol city area with well established nudist area. This beach is very long, with nice soft sand and picturesque sandstone cliffs. You can get there from the main part of the city by boat directly (once an hour from Artilereyskaya bay) or by more frequent ferry to Severnaya side first (from Grafskaya pier) and then minibus.

Naturists gather at both southern and northern edges of the beach, but the latter is more popular. As soon as you pass these sandstone cliffs,

you will see most of the people enjoying the sun and the sea without swimsuits. So you can disrobe immediately and pick your spot, there is still a couple of miles of beach ahead!

So you can find a quiet spot for yourself, come with your family (like I did, but I will talk about it some time later), or a big group of friends.

How to turn your friend into a nudist + Moving naturally at Jones Beach, NY

Last summer I discovered yet another naked beach not far from New York City: a remote part to the east of Jones Beach. It’s a long (at least 15 min) walk from the main part/bus stop/parking, but given that it’s a walk at the beach, you can just as well enjoy this part of the deal. It’s much closer and easier to get to by public transport than the Lighthouse beach and is almost twice cheaper than the ferry to Sandy Hook, two official nudist beaches in NYC area. So I went there quite often and brought some of my friends visiting during summer. Most of that remote part of Jones beach is rather empty, except for a short stretch that gets busy on the weekends.

Natasha was eager to try her yoga poses at the beach, but for some reason she wasn’t ready to get rid of her clothes, although the idea of naturism is not foreign to her. I thought she just needed some booze boost.

Well, that menacingly blue concoction that we bought at the bar at the main part of Jones beach was non-alcoholic (and maybe that was why it failed to work).

The next step was to turn her upside down,

and after a couple of such twists, she turned into a nudist 😉

Not only did she let off her inhibitions,

she also braved the waves, that were quite rough on that day!

There was a couple of unexpected boomers, but it was part of the fun.

Since that remote part of Jones Beach is relatively empty, it’s perfect for jogging.

Once I brought there my new acquaintance Pétur, who is an instructor of MovNat in Iceland. MovNat (abbreviation of ‘moving naturally) is a system of movement skills that is based on natural patterns (taking into account our development – how toddlers start moving, evolution and comparative biology – how other animals move, etc.) as opposed to many modern running and fitness techniques that use artificial patterns (e.g., ‘hi tech’ shoes, all kinds of crazy gym equipment). Their logo is ‘Explore your true nature’, so needless to say, the first time I heard about it, I thought it should be done without clothes.

And there I was, learning to ‘run naturally’ at the Jones Beach. I’m definitely planning to explore more of MovNat in the future.

famous Black’s Beach!

In the mid-November, I was lucky to go with my new colleagues for the biggest conference in my field, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, and that time it was held in the sunny San Diego. Of course, it wouldn’t have been me, if I hadn’t planned to visit a nudist beach there, especially such a famous one as Black’s Beach. And I was double lucky that on the warmest day during my stay, when it was over 25ºC, the program seemed the least interesting so I skipped most of the day and headed to the beach (see the map for exact location).

As soon as I reached, it was pretty clear why this beach is so famous: it is, obviously, one of the biggest clothing-optional beaches and the view from the cliffs is stunning! It reminded me of the beaches of Meco in Portugal and Ga’ash in Israel.

I was surprised that on such an unusually warm day for November it was relatively empty, although it was Sunday, but I noticed some naked sunbathers immediately.

There are several trails leading down, and apparently I chose not the easiest one, but it was fun.

And I saw some lizards on the way down, apparently the enjoyed the sun too.
Soon I was walking on the soft beach sand, and look how the waves create a beautiful ornament of black and gold.
Then I saw that besides sunbathers there were surfers too!
But not naked :-/
Well, the water wasn’t too warm… But actually, first time I heard of Black’s Beach was because of the Nude Surfing Event. (check this link for more info)
Here is a video of one of the surfers.
Now, I’ve found that they actually arrange naked surfing lessons from July till September! I want to do that!!!
… but coming back to my calm day at the Black’s Beach, I was looking for a nice spot to lie down. I stayed near bushes and soon found that I had some neighbors: a rabbit (could not manage to take a photo of it) and a California ground squirrel that was quite tame and obviously was attracted to my nuts. (I mean I had some almonds with me 🙂

But then I got to know a bit more communicative neighbor, local visitor Alex. We chatted for a while, and it was him who disillusioned me by saying that such a hot day was not common that time of the year even in Southern California… But I still thought to myself that I might have made a mistake not applying for job at Salk Institute which is located practically on top of Black’s Beach, hehe. The idea that one can walk to such a beautiful beach for a lunch break sounds tantalizing! I did go to a lake for lunch breaks in my first year in Berlin until our lab moved, but even then my work was not that close to a naturist retreat like here.

Later in the afternoon I went jogging all along the beach and this gave me the real impression of how huge the beach is! But, apparently not all beach is officially a clothing optional area. When I ran in the northern direction one elderly man waived to me and told that I was way beyond the nude-friendly area and might get fined! If I understood correctly, the clothing optional part ends to the north of these rocks. But there was no sign. In any case, I didn’t feel bad, as only 2 or 3 people saw me in that section of the beach and there were either coming from or heading to the clothing-optional part, so I doubt they would be shocked by seeing a naked jogger.
Other people that I met gave me much more pleasant news. I saw one guy practicing some capoeira moves, but unfortunately he had to leave soon. I still haven’t mentioned that I did swim there too. The water was a little chilly, but I could stand it for 20-30min, amongst few others. And then, the only neighbor of mine, who went for long swims too, was coming from the sea almost crying. Don’t worry, he wasn’t bitten by a shark, those were tears of happiness as he saw a school of dolphins right next to him! He said it was one the most beautiful moments in his life, and I was very disappointed at myself that I left the ocean just about 10min earlier… I have swum with dolphins once, but that was in murky waters of Rio Negro in the Amazon basin so I couldn’t really see them underwater…
And when I was going back at sunset I saw a group of people playing volleyball, in the buff of course. This beach certainly seems to be perfect for many kinds of naturist activities 🙂

Before I was going to wear my clothes, I saw a threatening warning ‘Unstable Cliffs. Stay Back’
And I did so and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets 😎

One of the next (colder) days, I went there again with my colleagues for a short hike in Torrey Pines Park. When we went down to the beach I took some more photos, like this one with giant algae brought by waves on the shore.

And these are sandpipers; the smaller ones always run somewhat clumsily trying to escape the waves, while the bigger one stay calm.
And once in a while there were flocks of (probably) pelicans…
So overall, Black’s Beach seems to be perfect for nature lovers and active beach-goers. I hope to go there again, perhaps for a class of naked surfing!