A Study in Contrast
By: Jerry and Becky Edmundson
While the harshness of winters in our current home state of Maryland doesn’t rank among our nations most brutal,they are cold enough to give us nature-loving nudists a touch of cabin fever.So when the circumstance presented itself for a mid-winter trip to Miami,Becky and I jumped at the opportunity.
On any trip, we try to look for naturist venues. Having made numerous trips to Miami over the years, Haulover Beach Park and its well-known clothing-optional beach is a “must” on our itinerary for every visit. Haulover is arguably the most successful and best-known clothing-optional beach in the United States. Recently, we learned of another clothing-optional beach in southern Florida—Blind Creek Beach. We owed it to ourselves to check this beach out on this trip as well.
Haulover Beach Park is a Miami-Dade County Park in the Sunny Isles community on Collins Avenue also known as State Highway A1A. The park is a small green space surrounded to the north and south by high rise skyscrapers. This urban sprawl threatens the long term viability of the beach park, however. The park has paid parking on the west side of A1A, while the beach is on the east side. Parking is currently $6 for weekdays and $7 on weekends and holidays, and is paid through unattended self-service kiosks that accept credit/debit cards or cash (but gives no change). Though the lots are fairly large, they do fill up on weekends before noon, so early arrival is a must. A1A is a busy highway in the area around Haulover, and since the highway separates the beach and parking lot, the park provides a pedestrian tunnel that passes under the highway between the two.
When emerging from the tunnel, you come to an oval shaped restroom/ changing facility painted in art-deco pastel hues. Outdoor showers are provided at the restrooms, but this is a strictly clothed area. Leaving the restrooms and crossing a pedestrian roadway, a wide path passes through a stand of sea grape plants which shield the beach from traffic on A1A.
This path opens out onto the beach itself. More outdoor showers have been installed where the path enters the beach—and these showers can be used nude. This is an incredibly nice feature that allows the nude sunbathers to wash off the ocean’s salt before dressing to leave the beach, or just cool off from the hot Florida sun withoutthe hassle of covering up to walk the extra distance to the restroom’s showers.
The beach itself is quite wide from sea grapes to ocean waves. The clothing-optional portion of Haulover occupies the northern 4/10 of a mile of beach. Each end of the clothing-optional beach is delineated by wood slat snow fencing (though we’re fairly sure the fences have never seen snow) and permanent signage clearly warning beach strollers that they are entering a nude-use area. The beach is groomed several days each week by park employees using large tractors. The beach is kept extremely clean largely through the efforts of the South Florida Free Beaches Ambassadors. This group also polices the beach to ensure that the highest standards of naturist behavior are enforced and all beach users feels safe and comfortable. On weekends the group also hosts kiosks providing information on the naturist lifestyle.
The Miami-Dade County Parks department provides lifeguard services. Four large permanent lifeguard stands are within the boundaries of the nude beach. All are painted in the art-deco pastel hues so popular in south Florida. Commercial vendors have beach chairs and umbrellas for rent to make your beach outing comfortable, and food vendors are available with hot dogs, hamburgers, and cold drinks to satisfy hungry beach goers. Haulover has been officially recognized as a clothing-optional beach since the early 1990s.
The Haulover Beach community is an ethnically diverse, multi-lingual group spanning all age groups and sexual orientations in a harmonious mix with no apparent conflicts. Really, how can anyone not be happy and mellow lying naked in the warm tropical sun?
Blind Creek Beach Park is about100 miles north of Haulover Beach Park (or a little over two hours by car) in St Lucie County on Hutchinson Island, near Fort Pierce, Florida. Interestingly enough, this park is also located on Florida Highway A1A. Other than that coincidence, Blind Creek Park stands in stark contrast to Haulover Park.
Though it reportedly has a long history of nude use, the beach has been officially recognized as clothing-optional only since 2014. To date, there is no permanent signage declaring the beach’s clothing-optional status. The designated nude use area is more than 1.15 miles long. There are moderately sized parking lots at each end of this area. The lots are unpaved, crushed shell, and the parking is free. Apparently, the lot at the southern end is the preferred parking area. Immediately south of the park is the St Lucie Nuclear Power Plant. The Power Plant property is strictly off limits, but there is apparently no problem with walking the beach up to the high water point. This gives nude strollers more than two miles of beach to explore.
Blind Creek Beach
Unlike Haulover’s urban setting, Blind Creek is a remote beach with few amenities. In fact the only accommodations are portable toilets in the south parking lot provided by the beach’s support group, the Treasure Coast Naturists. The beach has no lifeguards, and no chair or food vendors.This is strictly a bring-what-you need beach experience. But for us, that’s a big part of its charm—this is remote, unspoiled beach front that is increasingly rare in Florida.
On the mid-week day we visited,it was a relatively cool (by Florida standards) 65 degrees, but beautifully sunny. Having recently arrived from a cold Maryland, this was a great beach day. I’m sure the weather dissuaded most locals from visiting the beach this day, but there were a handful of hardy souls happy to bare all to the plentiful sunshine. Most placed their towels, chairs, and umbrellas near to where the path from the parking lot opened out to the beach. With just a short walk down the beach we felt we were the only people there. This remoteness made for some good shelling. I’m sure we were the first humans to search through the last tide’s offering of new shells.
On this day, our good friends,Tom and Regina, drove the three hours down from their Jacksonville home to join us on the beach. Tom is the current president of the Northeast Florida Naturist travel club in Jacksonville, Florida (nfnaturist.org). Before moving from Washington, DC, to Jacksonville a few years ago, Tom and Regina and we were members of the same naturist/nudist groups. In fact, we first met them through the now defunct Bare Buns travel club out of DC. We quickly became fast friends and miss them very much. It was so good to get together at Blind Creek for the day. It’s hard to ignore the social aspect of naturism. We feel that the very best people we’ve met over our lives are those we’ve met through naturist activities. The openness and vulnerability inherent to naturism promotes quick bonding and trust. Let’s face it, true nudists are special people.
It’s hard to explain, but we’ve always felt more secure on a nude beach and the bigger the crowd the higher that feeling of security. For example, we have little anxiety from leaving all of our belongings at our towel to take a long nude stroll on a crowded beach. We don’t seem to have the same level of trust when there are very few people on the beach, especially when it’s a first visit to a beach. So, it was great to have friends join us to allow us to enjoy an exploratory walk on the beach. And Blind Creek’s expanse demands a long stroll.
So, which was our favorite beach— Haulover or Blind Creek? That’s a hard question and one we couldn’t begin to answer. Both are great destinations for the nude beach lover. Haulover is urban with large crowds on any sunny day. It has available amenities to rival any popular textile beach—chair and food vendors, modern restrooms, showers on the beach, and lifeguards on duty. In stark contrast, Blind Creek has none of these amenities. But, the beauty of Blind Creek comes from its remoteness. Pristine natural beaches are rare in southern Florida and a true joy to experience. Both beaches are now permanent additions to our itineraries for any future Florida visits.
Any successful nude beach needs a strong and active support group. Both beaches seem to have that. For Haulover, it’s the South Florida Free Beaches group (sffb.com). Blind Creek gets watched over by the Treasure Coast Naturists (treasurecoastnaturists.org).
Both beaches have our highest recommendation and believe neither would disappoint a nude beach aficionado. N