Kathy Blanchard and Mark Storey
The Gulf Islands nestled throughout the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and British Columbia’s main land have more clothing-optional beaches than any other region of North America. A few, like Little Tribune Bay on Hornby Island and Blackburn Lake on Salt Spring Island are familiar to many naturists. Others are enjoyed only by locals as the island’s quiet, little-known “nude beach.” The driving distance and multiple ferry rides needed to reach most of these islands prevent large crowds and unwanted attention from forming, and help keep these idyllic locales clothing-optional.We’ve explored these islands by car, bike, and kayak for years, and have never failed to find multiple places to sit naked in the sun, skinny-dip in chilly water, and explore the coastline’s wonderland free of clothes.
There are two ways of approaching such a day, weekend, or extended stay. The more traditional manner is to research the area to find an established, recognized clothing-optional beach. When one exists, that’s fantastic. There’s a good chance you’ll find like-minded folk there who—like you—appreciate social clothes-freedom. There is a healthy sense of comradery, as well as security, in sitting amidst others who share your values. But those sites are getting harder to find. With rising human populations and increased development putting pressure on every stretch of public coastline, it’s become more challenging every year to find beaches locally accepted for nude use.
For one island trip during the summer of 2017, we aimed for Texada Island, the largest of the Gulf Islands. Sitting in a rain shadow provided by the mountains of Vancouver Island to the west, Texada is drier and sunnier than many locations up and down the Salish Sea. It takes the larger part of a day to drive from the U.S. border near the city of Vancouver, as you require three ferry rides to reach the island. Once there, the 300 square kilometers offer two shoreline campground options, numerous B&Bs, and a couple inns.Food is limited to one or two restaurants, two small grocery stores, and a snack shack that’s open intermittently. What you do find is lots of open,unpopulated space for hiking, and miles of undeveloped shoreline for exploring.To our knowledge, there is no sanctioned “nude beach,” but there was little problem enjoying the island as nature intended.
We aimed to camp at the larger, more developed and centrally located of the two parks: Shelter Point Regional Campground. The other more primitive campground at Shingle Beach would be great for those wanting a laid-back, pack-it-in-pack-it-out, youthful (we don’t quite want to say “hippie”) vibe. You could probably get away with some nudity in camp at Shingle Beach, if you surrounded yourself with a like-minded group. Also, the shoreline south of Shingle Beach is undeveloped, and in a short walk you should feel free to grab a full dose of sunshine. We did so there, but via kayak.Shelter Point, however, is a bustling family-oriented camp that did not cry out for nudification. Our naturist leanings were satisfied by paddling naked up and down the peaceful coastline, finding little beaches invisible to all but eagles and sea lions.