Why Going to a Nude Resort Is the Most Freeing Experience (In More Ways Than One)
Sure, stripping down with strangers might feel weird at first, but it's totally worth it—trust me.
A few summers ago, I landed a story assignment to cover Hedonism II in Negril, Jamaica. Considered the granddaddy of nudist resorts, 'Hedo' as it's nicknamed, is a getaway for sex-positive people or, according to the resort's website, "the world's most iconic adult playground".
As one of those sex-positive people, the thought of going to a clothing-optional resort didn't really faze me. Despite growing up in a family that didn't promote body positivity, I've been undressing in public settings most of my adult life. First, as a nude model for art classes in college, then at clothing-optional hot springs along the West Coast, and dropping into downward dog at naked yoga in Seattle.
Stripping down with strangers? NBD. Going buff at this beach resort? A bit of a bigger deal than I expected. I soon realized that no matter my resume of naked experiences, being nude in such a sexually-charged proved to be far more challenging and, in turn, pushed me out of my comfort zone. (Related: How to Use Travel to Spark a Personal Breakthrough)
First, A Bit About Hedo…
Guests have the option of staying on the "nude" or "clothing-optional" side of the resort. The former requires nudity at all times. In the "optional" area, guests can wear as much (or little) as they'd like. There is one rule, though: nipples and genitals must be covered up in dining areas. (I've now stayed in both sides; it doesn't make a difference for me since I'm going to strip down either way.)
People who go to Hedonism come from all walks of life. Singles and couples go because they want to be in an open-minded, adults-only environment. In some cases (on the clothing-optional side), they may never take their clothes off, which is okay. Then, there are those who are in the "lifestyle" (aka swingers), who can live out their fantasies however "mild or wild" they may be. Even still, others may be drawn in simply by the resort's naked (or, naked-ish) setting and remain strictly monogamous. That's okay, too. Whatever people want to explore, Hedo provides a no-judgment environment for people to pursue pleasure—with consent, of course. (Related: 6 Things Monogamous People Can Learn from Open Relationships)
Broadening My Sexual Horizons
I've always been a highly sexual being. Sure, it took some 30 or so years until I learned to own and prioritize my pleasure, but once I did, I was able to better connect with my body and, in turn, more confidently pursue a variety of sexual experiences from kink parties to group sex dynamics. (Related: How I Taught Myself Mindful Masturbation—and Why You Should Too)
Safe to say, I'm not new to the concept of people getting it on in the open. Still, the idea of people experiencing pleasure, in an anything-goes public setting, seemed like a utopian concept, even to me.
Up until I first visited Hedo, my sexual endeavors had been tied to specific social events and planned scenarios. So that the sweet freedom of being able to have a spontaneous orgy on your patio, receive oral sex on a pool chaise, or have literal sex on the beach at any hour seemed almost too decadent. I felt like a kid in a very (erotic) candy shop tempted to try all of the flavors of fun. Still, I feigned at least some restraint since I was "on the job" while visiting, so I kept it PG as possible. This left me with a heavy dose of FOMO and a growing sense of pressure to find the perfect threesome or swap spit with the right person for the article, rather than for myself.
That all changed, however, when I returned on my own time and my own dime. It was then, that my stressors slipped away, my inner sexual self was able to properly shine, and I became hooked, returning twice a year, be it solo, partnered, or with platonic friends. I always have a good time and a big part of that is spending time naked with like-minded people, whether or not I participate in anything sexual. (Psst, with these mini, travel-sized vibrators every trip can feel oh-so-good.)
Finding New Strength In Stripping Down
While it took some time to find ease with the ever-present PDA, I ultimately came to recognize and revere Hedo as a beloved getaway where I feel the most like myself—something that is hard to achieve on a daily basis. As a woman who writes about sex for a living, I constantly receive unsolicited comments scrutinizing my sexuality from internet strangers and even well-meaning friends. Many people don't understand my non-monogamous lifestyle, so the idea of having multiple lovers at any given time is completely unfathomable to them. Meanwhile, online trolls are quick to slut-shame me the second I talk about women owning their sexual pleasure. (Hey, even the best of BFFs can use a primer on polyamorous relationships.)
At Hedo, however, I can be naked (or not), wear glitter 24/7, dress up in outrageous costumes for theme nights, and be the intrepid sexual woman I am without judgment or shame from others. These getaways in the buff always make me feel super strong and sexy and give me a boost of self-confidence. (Self-talk and positive affirmations can also be super empowering.)
When I'm naked in Negril, I'm able to appreciate my body, feel free to be myself, and explore experiences. At Hedo, I've met doctors, politicians, and PTA moms. These free spirits come from different parts of the world, socioeconomic backgrounds, religious beliefs, and political views. The common denominator was shared respect and a sense of open-mindedness. Stripping down is a great equalizer.