some memories from Florida Young Naturists’s Spring Bash and nature trail at Sunny Sands Resort

I thought I’d skip a report on this event entirely due to lack of photography, but when I mentioned it in the previous post, I realized I had to share with the world at least some of my good memories – so here are a few words about the Florida Young Naturists‘ Spring Bash and its venue, Sunny Sands Resort. It’s a spacious resort, mostly oriented to permanent or part-time residents; FYN certainly changes its pace! There are some basic amenities typical to a naturist resort, such as a pool, a hot tub, volleyball court; the restaurant seems to be open only during such events. The Spring Bash itself was very well organized, with numerous fun activities, seminars and workshops hosted by the participants: e.g., capoeira and acro-yoga (by yours truly), salsa, juggling, fire-spinning, discussions on polyamory… There were professional masseurs too, and needless to say they were very much in demand – one had to sign up for a session. I got probably the best deep tissue massage I had ever had (and to add a cherry on the cake, the masseur was my namesake!) All these activities were free, and there was a good sense of community and active participation. In the evening there was live music, and the band got naked too. When we gathered around the fire pit at night, one guy started singing a Swahili song, and then taught us all the chorus (which alternated between male and female voices) – it was a beautiful experience! Thus, it was a very busy event, but you could always leave for a walk on the nature trail if you wanted some quiet time.

As it often happens, naturist events and venues have prohibitive or very restrictive photo policies, so I cannot provide a full report from FYN Spring Bash in the same sense, as I do from Burning Man, for example. But here are some photos from Sunny Sands’ nature trail, which is worth a mention too (even with a risk of confusing naturists and naturalists 😀 )

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Woodpeckers seemed to be particularly active at the time.

woodpecker 0001 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

This one literally stuffed his beak with larvae (probably saving them for the chicks).

woodpecker 0002 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

But I’m not sure they’d touch this hairy caterpillar.

caterpillar 0000 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

There used to be a pond of a decent size, but most of the water has vanished now.

crane 0000 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

But what’s left still provides home for water lilies, frogs

crane 0001 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

and a family of cranes!

crane 0002 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

I’ve never seen wild cranes so close, though these ones are clearly used to human presence.

crane 0003 Sunny Sands Resort, Florida, USA

(And perhaps it makes them feel safer that the humans around them are naturally naked :-))

Playalinda beach… after Florida Young Naturists’ Spring Bash

Playalinda is one of the few official naturist beaches in Florida and is certainly one of the best overall. I visited it last April as part of the group outing at the Naked Spring Bash of Florida Young Naturists.

naturist 0001 Playalinda beach, Florida, USA

It’s a great beach with plenty of space whether you are with a big group or want to chill quietly enjoying the sound of waves.

view 0000 Playalinda beach, Florida, USA

If you want to enjoy the waves in a more active manner, Playalinda is known to have a pretty good swell for surfing, but it wasn’t the case at the time of my visit. However, the waves were perfect for body surfing.

naturist 0000 Playalinda beach, Florida, USA

Naked body surfing is as natural as it gets when it comes syncing with the ocean and feeling it power!

Unlike the urban Haulover Beach in Miami, where we went after FYN Spring Bash 4 years ago, Playalinda is set in a natural surrounding of the Cape Canaveral National Seashore.

naturist 0002 Playalinda beach, Florida, USA

Nudists usually congregate at the section near the farthest parking of Playalinda beach (and as the commentator indicated below, just a little further north there is an officially clothing-optional Apollo beach),

view 0001 Playalinda beach, Florida, USA

but even from there you can see well the NASA Shuttle Landing Facility… Those were the days, when you could sunbathe naked and watch the shuttle lift off into space! Nowadays you may be lucky to see the launch of a rocket by SpaceX though. So, next time I’ll try to time my visit well (and check the surf forecast too).

 

Russian and Turkish baths in NYC

When it is cold and gloomy, one of the best things you can do is to go to a bathhouse – as I did yesterday, while the cold spell is back to the US Northeast. New York City has several options. The biggest one is probably the Spa Castle with Korean saunas in Queens, but if you prefer a more central location, Russian & Turkish Baths in the East Village is a good choice. Some friends of mine don’t like its dated look, but I actually find that low key style appealing; the room of Russian sauna (banya) looks as if it has not been renovated since the opening of the bathhouse in 1892.

Although the bathhouse is called Russian & Turkish Baths, it has also two Finnish saunas (dry and hot), in addition to two hammams (Turkish steam room, relatively mild temperature), and a bigger banya (Russian sauna, very hot but with humid air, sort of a mix between Turkish and Finnish ones). There are also massage rooms with treatments (e.g. mud scrub). But my favorite treatment there is actually performed right in the Russian sauna room. It’s a traditional Russian banya massage (aka platza, a yiddish term). It is a whole body massage that includes soap wash and whipping with oak branches. It may look a little rough, but in fact it feels very relaxing. As they claim, “the oak leaves contain a natural astringent, which will open your pours, remove toxins, and actually take off layers of dead skin”. And it does feel so. Platza is finished with a dip in the cold water pool, which is supposed to train your vascular system. Yesterday, I used the birch broom which I brought from the Ivanovskie Bani in Kiev. I first massaged two Brazilian friends of mine, and then one of them massaged me. But if you don’t have such a broom and don’t know how to do platza, you can ask local masseurs – they are really good!

On a side note, coming to the US after Germany, I have to mention that saunas here are clothing-optional only in single-sex setting. (This is also increasingly common in Ukraine and Russia.) So unfortunately for heterosexual couples or mixed-gender groups, they will have to walk around in shorts soaked in sweat… If you want to hang out naked, Russian & Turkish Baths offer one women-only and two men-only time slots.

BTW, they regularly offer special deals and discounts through Groupon, kgbdeals.com and savelocal.com, so keep your eyes open.

beach Olho de Boi, Buzios, Brazil

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naturist 0002 praia Olho de Boi, Buzios, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Olho de Boi beach is located in Buzios, Rio de Janeiro state. It requires a bit of an effort, as you’ll have to walk for a bit on a trail (along two other beaches),

naturist 0003 praia Olho de Boi, Buzios, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

before you can descend to this tiny beach. You’ll be rewarded with calm waters, where you can sometimes even spot some turtles!

naturist 0001 praia Olho de Boi, Buzios, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

It’s a great naturist spot, and I wouldn’t go to any other beach around, especially if I had to wear a swimsuit there. Another beach of this kind in the state is Abrico. Swimming in the sea the natural way is one of the most pleasant ways to experience the contact with nature!

naturist 0000 praia Olho de Boi, Buzios, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

André

beaching in Fuerteventura

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To finish off out tour of the Canary Islands [for now] we turn to the island of Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is the second largest of the Canary Islands and is another popular destination for tourists wanting to get some year-round sun. The island can be quite windy (in fact Fuerteventura comes from the spanish words ‘strong wind’ ) and average temperatures range from 17˚C in January to 25˚C in August. It is particularly popular for surfers and windsurfers and there are many surfing schools dotted around the island. Towns and resorts tend to be on the coast as there are many mountains in land. With 152 beaches along its coastline, visitors are spoilt for choice on where to go.

naturist 0000 Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

One of the most popular areas for naturists to stay is the north-eastern town of Corralejo which has many hotels (including naturist friendly), restaurants and bars. The water here is good for swimming although can be rough at times if windy. It has 7 miles of golden sand which is almost entirely naturist friendly and has a large dune area which backs onto a nature reserve.

view Corralejo 0000 Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

In the south, the most popular destinations are Costa Calma and Morro Jable. Just south of Costa Calma is the Jandia stretch of beaches which has a wide area of beach to explore and is also very popular with naturists.

view Jandia beach0001 Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

The water here can be calmer than the north. Morro Jable is a large tourist town and resort and can be a good place to stay if you like lots of local amenities.

view Jandia 0002 Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Whether it’s Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote or Tenerife, the Canary Islands are an ideal place to visit for some sun and relaxation.

[text and photos by Dan]

Ivanovskie Bani (sauna) in Kiev

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On the recent visit to my homeland, I spent a few days in Kiev; pretty much the only option for a naturist experience in winter was to go to a sauna. My friend Sergey found a public sauna online that sounded particularly appealing, and we ventured there with two more mates.

Ivanovskie Bani indeed fulfilled our desire for a traditional Russian sauna (banya) experience. It is located literally on the  Dnieper River, in a modified boat. It has a traditional ambience, and already in the locker you can smell “venik”, a special sauna broom, typically made of birch or oak branches, which is used for massaging. After the lockers, there is a room with showers and a massage table, and then a steam room. You can hire a local masseur to do the banya ritual for you, but we just bought “veniki” and did it ourselves. Though one of the fellow visitors thought that our massage technique was too rough and showed a milder, calmer version with softer and slower moves (but it felt like the heat penetrated even deeper).

Regardless of the kind of massage you prefer in the steam room, after absorbing all that heat, you are supposed to cool down, and this is where Ivanovkie Bani truly stand out: you can splash in the waters of the Dnieper River right outside its doors, and if you are not too shocked you can meanwhile enjoy the views of the river banks with such landmarks as Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Kiev Monastery of the Caves) and the Motherland monument.

Well, it could only get more striking in much colder weather, when the river would be frozen, as it happened when we went to a banya in Moscow a couple of years ago.

After repeating the ritual a couple of times, we felt both relaxed and energized. We had some tea before leaving in the cafe (they don’t serve any meals there, but you can bring food with you or order something more exotic, like crayfish, in advance).

Even though the location is central, it’s not easy to get there without a car (and if you call a taxi, it may take a while for them to arrive), but it’s totally worth it, especially if you want a relaxing break from the busy city life without leaving the city!

PS Keep in mind that most banyas are gender-segregated, and in this one the only women day is Wednesday.

beach Tejita, Tenerife, Canary Islands

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view 0000 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

With his recent post about Mas Palomas dunes/beach of Gran Canaria, Juan reminded me of my trip to Canary Islands a few years ago – turns out I have been keeping some material from that trip that hasn’t been published, until now that is! It’s kind of inappropriate that I only had a story about hiking from Tenerife, so here is a post about one of the beaches of the island.

view 0002 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Besides the giant volcano Teide, on the approach to the island we could see a much smaller Mount Roja (“red mount”), and that is also where a naturist beach called Tejita is.

view 0013 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

It lies very close to the airport, and we headed there immediately after arrival.

naturist 0000 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

It was very windy, so we found a spot protected by the rocks. The water was clear and perfectly refreshing after the flight!

naturist beach Tejita 0000 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

And here is a photo with the view from the Mount Roja that my friend Sean took just a couple of months ago.

view 0014 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Too bad I missed it, but I’d like to go back to Tenerife again, so I’ll probably have another chance!

Canary Islands – MasPalomas

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Canary Islands is the paradise destination for European tourists during autumm-winter seasons. It is  20º-30ºC the whole year, so the warm and sunny weather is almost always guaranteed. One of the most popular islands is Gran Canaria. The island is divided into northern (with the main city) and southern (with the tourist areas) parts. The capital city, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, is almost permanently clouded, as the vapor from the ocean condenses at the mountains nearby. But in the south of the island, it’s sunny the whole year.

naturist volleyball & view 0000 Mas Palomas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

The most popular nudist area on the island is Maspalomas. These are natural dunes, with some protected areas (natural park) to keep the fauna and flora.

naturist view 0000 Mas Palomas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

That’s why it’s not allowed to build anything there. So the dunes are vast: a few kilometers of soft  sand.

naturist 0002 Mas Palomas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

Almost the entire coastline of MasPalomas is naturist or at least naturist-friendly. There are some clothed areas near the villages of Costa Meloneras and Playa del Ingles, but with a short (and nice) ten-minute walk, you can reach the nudist area.

The water is a little colder than in the Mediterranean, but it has a nice and soft sand floor.

naturist 0003 Mas Palomas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

I would like to come back every year!

Happy Nude Year! (after a somewhat pagan Xmas celebration)

naturist 0005 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

I rang in the New Year just as you’d expect me to do – in the nude! It was a fun Naked Comedy Show, and perhaps I’ll write about it in more detail later. But here’s a report from my Christmas day celebration, which came unexpected event to me – it was a naked hike in my beloved area of Pine Meadow Lake in Harriman State Park. With the current temperatures almost at their seasonal norm levels (cold!), it’s hard to imagine that we had those almost summer-warm days just a week ago. You might have heard that this December has seen record-high temperatures in NYC, so I decided to take advantage of the freak weather and get out for my first winter hike in Harriman park. I thought the previous post would be the last one about this place from 2015, but thanks to this winter adventure I can now say that it’s truly great any time of the year!

view 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Well, there were no blueberries or raspberries, but quite a lot of other small fruits decorates the bushes.

view 0002 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Otherwise the forest appeared pretty dead… which felt even weirder because it was as warm as in late spring. Just a few trees kept the leaves, while almost all were naked – and we followed the case 😉

view 0003 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

It was actually nice that the trees were leafless, because the sun could go through – in summer almost all of this hike is in shade, but this time it was good to feel sun rays throughout the hike.

naturist 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

The forest was very quiet and besides this friendly prehistoric crocodile that let me pose with him, we hardly saw or heard any animals.

view 0006 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Maybe he also put this rock up like this?

view 0005 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Mountain laurels were the only green bushes (besides coniferous), and they looked somewhat overoptimistic about the weather… Well, maybe they can keep their buds safe throughout the winter, but they looked like they were ready to open and grow.

We then noticed one tree had its tiny flowers open – most likely confused with the weather…

view 0008 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Others were decorated with fruits that seemed to be more suited for winter.

view 0007 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

But once we got to the lake, we decided to decorate a small “Christmas tree” – with what we had: food, and berries from the plants around.

naturist Xmas tree 0002 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Before you call our decoration blasphemous, you should know that it was approved by Jesus. And before you think I’m crazy, that’s a true name of my friend (too bad he didn’t want to appear on photos).

naturist Xmas tree 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

In any case, the tradition of decorating trees has pagan roots, and our phallic theme referred to fertility and revival…

naturist Xmas tree 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Too bad there weren’t many fellow hikers to appreciate that, and we soon ate our decorations. There was a small group of hikers though, who seemed to be genuinely interested in why we were naked. We explained a little about naturism, and how we wanted to enjoy the rare occasion of being able to be naked outdoors in December in NYC area. I have a feeling I may see them hike naked next summer! Otherwise, our company was limited to squirrels, chipmunks and a woodpecker.

woodpecker 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USAwoodpecker 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

We walked around Pine Meadow Lake a little more, and discovered two interesting places. One seemed to be like a secret meeting point of a Stone Age tribe… or dwarves?) With stone chairs around a fire pit, it should be a great spot to camp out with a group!

naturist 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Then we saw a strange structure on the neighboring hill. This was particularly surprising, as it was in a part of Harriman State Park that I knew very well, having hiked through these woods many times. But only now, with the forest being naked, did we notice it. When we got closer, we started guessing what it could be.

view 0009 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

It was not an abandoned mansion, as we first thought, but rather a water tower.  Just to make sure it wasn’t some kind of giant sacrifice place, like mayan cenotes, we wanted to look inside.

naturist 0004 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

There was a fallen tree leaning against the wall, so we could actually climb it and have a look. No, it was a water tower after all…

view 0010 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

or a Phallus temple?

We soon had to leave as it was getting dark and cold, but we still hiked naked all the way back. I think it might have been my most memorable Christmas day so far! And having spent the New Year’s Eve at the naked comedy show, I am sure this year is bound to have lots of fun in the buff, which I also wish to all of you!

PS Of course we also skinny-dipped, and the water was shocking-cold, so it was literally a dip. I plan to go to Sandy Hook on Sunday for Polar Bare Plunge for a more social winter skinny-dip – is anyone else up for it?

turkey and mushrooms in the woods of Harriman State Park

wild turkey 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

After seeing the title of this blogpost, you probably pictured a naturist picnic at Harriman State Park for Thanksgiving – but no, this wasn’t the case. I had a traditional (and clothed) dinner. However, the Thanksgiving meal reminded me of sighting a few wild turkeys in the woods of Harriman park this past summer, so this is kind of a bonus to the previous post about my favorite outdoors spot around NYC.

wild turkey 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

This was a fairly large group of adult females with the offspring – I shot just a few of them (I refer to photography). How many can you spot here? Turkeys camouflage pretty well, and if not the noise they had made running away from me, I wouldn’t have noticed them. I had seen wild turkeys on other occasions, but this was the first time I managed to take a photo of them. It could be sharper, but in my defense it was getting dark and they moved fast.

Another animal that I finally saw and photographed this summer was a snapping turtle.

snapping turtle 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

I can imagine a few male readers cringe thinking that this is the same lake where we swim naked, but snapping turtle is quite a secretive animal and wouldn’t try to hunt you. I was happy to snap a photo of this prehistoric-looking creature though.

And if we talk about ancient animals, there are some more peculiar creatures, like the pretty impressive moss animal Pectinatella magnifica!

sponge 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Here is a pretty big colony from the Turkey Pond (I have some photos of us swimming there in the previous post, but that time we didn’t have a waterproof camera).

sponge 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

These look somewhat like corals but are not related to them (well, not any more than us).

American five-lined skink 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

And here is an American five-lined skink. It’s a young individual, as it still has blue colors. Adult males apparently have a red head, similar to another species of skink that I showed in the previous post.

American five-lined skink 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Chipmunk is nothing special in North America, but I like this photo of one sneaking out from under the rock.

chipmunk 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

And again, with the reference to the previous post, I just mentioned there that I wished I had known local mushrooms – and this summer I finally started using the Audubon app to detect mushrooms, and we collected quite a lot of them on several hikes:

mushrooms 0004 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

e.g., chanterelles

mushrooms 0003 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

and various boletes in June around Pine Meadow lake. Actually I used some of the boletes right away for making a soup there.

In early October, Li and I ventured to a new lake for me – Island Pond, and one area on its shores was incredibly rich in boletes!

mushrooms 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

These are no magic mushrooms, but they make a great soup.

Well, enough of naturalist photos, here is a couple of naturist ones:

naturist 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

On the way to the Island Pond, there was a tree of a weird shape – almost perfect for taking a nap, if only it was softer.

naturist 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

And right by the lake, there was the most interesting ruin that I’ve seen in Harriman park so far – a pretty well preserved fireplace with a chimney.

naturist 0002 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

I see some more photo opportunities for the future 😉