What's New In Cancun

There are locations to "dónde se puede ir sin ropa" (where you can go clothing-optional). None are specifically for gays & lesbians however most naturalists don't care what your sexual orientation is.

A caveat: "Nude" in Cancun does not necessarily mean nude; to the locals it often means simply "topfree." Our sources also mentioned several beaches frequented by backpackers and young travelers on a budget, who slept in cheap beach cabañas or used campsites and tented. We visited several of these, and found out some of them do not really see any nude use.

Changing attitudes among young Mexicans are a major factor in the growth of Mexican naturism. While in the past it was for the hippies around Tulum and the budget crowd looking for alternative healing arts and yoga, there are more and more mainstream nudist venues these days. And these establishments are seeing not just foreign tourists but also Mexicans coming to the Riviera Maya for clothing-optional vacations. There definitely seems to be an emerging local nudist market.

Hidden Beach Resort is a new luxury nude resort in this region, and boasts that it is the only all-inclusive resort where one never needs to dress, not even for dining. Hidden Beach appears to cater to the partying crowd, offering liquor from dispensers in every hotel room 24 hours a day.

Caribbean Reef Club in Puerto Morelos has not changed much. The facilities are new, clean, and colorful, especially around the large pool and hot tub. The resort sells a day pass for $125 per couple which includes use of the facilities from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., plus lunch, dinner and all drinks, for those who want to check out the resort before staying overnight. The daytime atmosphere is very pleasant.

The Caribbean Reef Club resident dive master is Paul Hensey. Paul is happy to let you go nude scuba diving with him. A recent storm made the waters too rough for snorkeling or diving close to the coast, so a day of cave diving in one of the many famous cenotes is always a good option.

After testing the sparkling clear, subterranean waters at the entrance to the elaborate cave system, conveniently marked with guide ropes strung along the bottom, we put on our scuba gear and followed Paul into the caverns. We surfaced several times in enclosed openings, one of which was a breeding ground for bats. It was fascinating to see a sliver of light far ahead, and then coming up for air when there was but a tiny slit on the top of the cavern letting in light rays, dropping in shades of green, teal and azure. The scene was tropical outside and barren inside, with stalagtites and stalagmites in the caverns.

Later we visited, the ecological theme park of Xel-Ha, where I tested body acceptance by going topfree (I didn’t have a swimming suit, and wasn’t going to buy one). We walked the entire length of the park and enjoyed the swinging ropes into the water, blow holes, beach areas, and cliff-jumping. There were curious onlookers every now and then, but no one complained or said anything about my top-freedom.

There is a traditional nudist campground called Camping Santa Fe near Tulum (which changed owners in February and has been temporarily closed for the slow season). I walked the beach nude and the Mayan security guide took me across the property and showed me the dive shack. He told me that the month of June was the slowest, and the month of November the busiest. The nude beach then is frequented mostly by young people from Mexico City on vacation. It is segregated for the most part—single men go to the right, and single women go to the left. Couples may sit anywhere they wish. This way, the guard explained, they maintain a safe atmosphere for the single young women.

For the lowest budget, we recommend trying open-air beach cabañas at the camping areas Don Armando, El Mirador or Santa Fe. These are 2.5 and 2.7 kilometers respectively from the fork in the road.

Cabañas Copal Hotel Tulum, to the right at the same intersection, is where I would stay on my next trip to this area. It’s rustic, inexpensive, and clothing-optional except in the dining room. There are no electric lights or phones in the cabañas (though interestingly, they do offer wireless Internet access in their lounge, Internet Blue, from 8 a.m. to midnight). The simple cabañas have a large bed with mosquito netting, and are off a nice nude beach. The little outdoor bar is charming as well. I liked the fresh exotic fruit juices.

Near Tankah, where we were staying, we stopped by yet another clothing-optional retreat center, Playa Naturel. For our taste, the nude beach was tiny, and had rock groins going into the ocean, setting it apart from its immediate neighbor, which was within spitting distance. While we visited briefly, the resident caretaker gave us a tour, but there were no guests or staff on hand. It seems to be highly seasonal with reservations required.

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