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Archive for December, 2008

All Things Considered

So here I am moping about 50 degree weather in SoCal, when up north cities are getting pummeled.   And the sad part is none of them were really prepared for it, at least on my favorite coast.  So I suppose it’s not so bad to wander around a mildly chilly LA with a rented car and nothing but time, as opposed to bundling up against the cold in Seattle or Portland or Boston or anywhere in between.

White Christmases are for the birds.

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This past Friday I went to Howl at the Moon, a bar here in Houston where the audience requests songs and a couple of piano players on stage play them.  The idea is, the drunker people get, the wilder things become. I had three beers, a shot of tequila, and shared a bucket-o-sex-on-the-beach with a friend and all his friends (who interestingly enough all turned out to be lesbians…but that’s of no consequence here).

It had been a while since I’d talked at length with him and naturally the topic of “what are you up to these days” came up. I revealed my current passion for nude sunbathing and my quest to visit every nude beach on Earth.  It was me so he wasn’t very shocked (more on that later), but he did ask how I got into this in the first place.

A little background.  Visiting nude beaches is by far not the most scandalous thing I’ve done in life.  When I started this blog I planned on being perfectly open and honest about me, my activities, (some) of my background and also refrain from any anonymity (you had a right to know who was offering info on places I discuss).  Then I realized that all four could never be achieved.  I do have a day job, family, and social obligations I’d like to retain uncomplicated ties with.  So out went the photo and full name.  But at least you still have a first name to use.  Rest assured that all my past activities were perfectly legal and moral (in my opinion, which is the only one that matters, no?).

My point here is, at some point things are naturally going to come out eventually, mostly in context.  Take them as you will.  Case in point: I was first introduced to Hippie Hollow (my first nude sunbathing experience) in a swingers situation.  I myself am not, nor have I ever been, married. But when you are a single gal, that doesn’t much matter in a swingers situation.  The couple at issue said I would have a blast and invited me along.  There was still a prudish side to me then (ironic, no?) and I demurred. 

Three years later, curiosity got the best of me. 

I have a rather avid curiosity about many things, especially when it comes to things of a risqué nature.  Eventually, through a rather roundabout way, my trails led to Hippie Hollow, only because I had the prior reference. 

End Note: Do not read this as defining nude sunbathing as a sexual undertaking.  Just because my past led me there via that route, doesn’t mean that’s what it’s about.  For some that’s what it’s all about, and that’s fine. Despite it all, for me it isn’t.

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I’m a SoCal gal.  Meaning I hail from California.  Each year I go back for Christmas since I get at least a week off.  I like going back.  This is mostly because Houston gets damn cold in the winter. And I don’t want to hear it from you New Englanders and Midwesterners.  50 degrees is damn cold!

So I’m quite used to packing t-shirts and tank tops and shorts and perhaps the one pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and fully enjoying the warm sunny sunshine. Now it looks as though the reverse is true.  Apparently a rare 50 year Arctic Blast has hit my home state.  The irony is, the next few days here in Houston will be in the balmy 70s.  This after getting my first patch of snow last week.

This normally wouldn’t bother me, even though my mom has this thing about turning up the thermostat but apparently doesn’t have this thing about buying down comforters (a lessen I learned myself here in Houston the hard way early on).  However, I had this whole long trip planned down and up the PCH to the amazing array of nude beaches along the coast.  Blacks, Pfiefer, Red, White & Blue, etc….  And now those plans have been thwarted; because I love being nude on a beach as much as the next person, but even my nipples have their breaking point.  You might have wondered why I’d even plan such a thing in winter anyway.  But  that’s the beauty of not having seasons!!  It never ever changes.  That’s why so many people want to live there. 

So now I have to figure out what to do with my rental car for 2 weeks in LA.  What would you do with 100% free time, a rental car,  and limitless options in Cali?

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My flight back home from Puerto Rico was overbooked.  So naturally I, out of the kindness of my own heart, offered up my seat…in exchange for a stay in the airport hotel, free food, and a voucher for $350.   Actually I was sort of hoping something like that might happen since I have several trips planned this upcoming year.

Today I booked the first (after my trip back home for Christmas).  It’s a surprise that I don’t want to ruin here just yet, so I won’t say where to.  Since the city isn’t all that popular I was worried about the cost of the flight. But as usual Continental came through for me. 

Side Note: while in Puerto Rico on my conference I learned that my flights from Houston are much cheaper than flights from other parts of the country.  Generally speaking I’m spending about $300-$400 no matter where I go in the (continental) US and surrounding areas.  My fellow conference attendees were spending about $600 or so just to get to Puerto Rico (which only cost me about $350-$400).  I’m pretty sure this is due to the fact that Continental has a hub in Houston…and maybe the cheap cost of gas?

The round trip flight to [insert future destination here] was listed as $382.  OK so I’d be out a few bucks.  But the final tally?  $451.94!  Most of that was “fees and taxes.”  Out of curiosity I clicked the link discussing what exactly those “fees and taxes” were.  Most of it was rubbish about “passenger” this or “excise” that, etc. etc.  But this one caught my attention:

September 11th Security Fees of up to $10 per roundtrip. One way travel may incur fees in excess of $5.

I’m sure this is due to the “increased security” at all the airports.  I used quotes because I myself managed to get in and out (twice) of Puerto Rico with a bottle of pepper spray attached to my key chain. This after having my suitcase (but fortunately not my purse) actually unpacked and searched  twice; you know, because I look so much like a drug dealing terrorist. In my defense I had no idea it was on there until I got back.  But who would bomb a plane coming from Puerto Rico anyway?

Of course the tax may just be another attempt to stick it to Americans.  It probably goes to buy donuts  and a foosball table for the breakroom in TSA offices across the country.

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I was of course disappointed to leave the comfort and luxury of  the El Conquistador Resort, but I had another nude beach on my itinerary (and money to save), so I traded down to the Fajardo Inn and on my last day headed out to Seven Seas Beach, where the path begins.

I should point out right now that neither Playa Colora (see below) and Playa Escondida are “official” nude beaches.  But like most unofficial nude beaches they are fairly off the beaten track (even though both have trails leading to them) and, at least according to the Internet, seem to be known for occasional nude bathers.  Really it’s a matter of it taking so long and too much trouble for any tattle-tales to leave, find some authorities, come back, and site you that you should encounter no problems should you decide to use either as such.

This site gives a pretty good guide to both beaches, but they get the name of the second beach wrong.  It’s Playa Escondida, not Convent Beach. From Seven Seas Beach you can see the mountain/hill that blocks both Playa Colora and Playa Escondida from prying eyes:

It costs $4 to park at the Seven Seas Beach, which is a far cry less than that to get to Palomino Island.  There is (free) street parking as well. The day was a little less cloudy when I made my way to the beaches, but there were still only a handful of people at Seven Seas that day.  I bypassed the park and beach and headed towards the mountain above.

Along the way I ran into a man who was on his way back.  Seeing the direction I was headed in, he approached me and asked me in broken English if I was headed to the beaches that way.  I told him I was.

“You know, es nude, no?”

I laughed and nodded. “That’s why I’m going!”

His eyes brightened and he smiled, “Good! I’ll go with you!”

I wasn’t particularly thrilled about this.  I love being on nude beaches, but prefer anonymity and still get a bit self conscious.  Apparently there was already a nude couple at Playa Colora, but they were much older and he didn’t have much in common.  He was on his way out when he ran into me and decided to join me instead. I was even less eager when I found out he was a professional trainer and male “dancer.”  Not an ounce of fat on him:

If you are big on hiking, you can make your way around the mountain.  You will find yourself walking over mounds and mounds of hemp-like material:

Fortunately there are nicely cleared paths leading you towards both beaches.  It begins a little while after you turn the corner from Seven Seas Beach.  I missed it the first time around so be on the lookout for an unmarked path entrance.

You will run into Playa Colora first, which diverts off to your right:

Although I would have loved hanging out with other nudists, I was curious to see both beaches.  My original intent was to check out Playa Escondida and then head back to Playa Colora.  My impromptu partner didn’t entirely understand me once we got to Playa Escondida and we ended up setting up shop there instead.

The opening in the distance:

 

The beach:

 Video (es, I mispronounced the name, but only because I didn’t feel like hiking all the way back to get the correct one):

You can see the difference in sand in the photo above. That’s why I had to get two bottles.

We spent the next few hours conversing in Spanish and English, sitting in the water, reading, doing crosswords, sleeping, etc.  He jealously remarked how great my coloring was.  That’s no news; my coloring rocks! It was once remarked that many sunbathers spend days trying to get what I have naturally.  A healthy mix of genes and the occasional upkeep from the sun.

At one point he wanted me to take a video of him doing one of his routines for his girlfriend back home.  I found it slightly more amusing than sexy, especially when he faced forward and began whipping his penis around like a lasso. 

See? What other than a nude beach can you have this sort of fun?

There were a few couples who had made their way down there.  For the most part they left us alone and we them.  It helped that we had set up shop at the far south end of the beach instead of just in front of the path.  Only one couple immediately left after seeing us. According to my partner, most Puerto Ricans are pretty conservative.

As the hour for me to leave neared I told him I wanted to at least see the Playa Colora. 

When we got there the other couple was packing up in a distance.  They had found an area that was somewhat cut off from view by any visitors to the beach (just behind those rocks there:

Video:

It was actually a somewhat prettier beach.  I was tempted to spend at least a half hour there, but it started raining.  By the time I got back to my car it was actually pouring.  I gave him a lift to his motorcycle.  He thanked me with a free bottle of Boost from his backpack and we parted ways.

All in all, another wonderful day of nude sunbathing.

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There seems to be some sort of unwritten rule out there that “real” travelers avoid 4 star hotels and all the luxuries that go along with it.  I suppose it makes some sort of sense to spend money wisely and if all you are looking for is a place to rest your head then why not go for the $20 a night hostel as opposed to the $200 a night Hilton?

But sometimes the splurge is oh so worth it!

My only intent in making a reservation at the El Conquistador Resort & Spa in Fajardo, Puerto Rico was to visit Palomino Island, which I had been assured both (unofficially) through rumors on the Internet and (officially) through employees at the resort had a clothing optional beach. The bonus turned out to be the hotel itself.

I arrived later than intended after a late start in San Juan, GPS misguidance, lunch, and visiting other beaches.  So it was dark when I finally arrived and there was a long wait to get my room.  From there things went wonderfully.  I had pondered whether to visit Palomino Island, where the nude beach was,  the day of check-in or the morning I checked out. Each option gave me a limited amount of time on the beach as the island operates from 9-6 and check in is at 4pm, check out at 11 am. I probably shouldn’t point this out since I’m not sure if it’s standard procedure but the man checking me in offered me an extended stay until 2pm for free even though it normally runs $60.  You should just try asking at check-in. So I ended up paying “only” about $370 (which includes the taxes and “resort fee”).

The resort is so big that you literally have to use the services of a bell boy to take you to your room, lest you get completely lost.  We passed by several high end shops, bars (where I had a delicious pizza and mai tai later on underneath an umbrella in the rain), a casino (where I later won $5!), and a Starbucks (which is another supposed traveling no-no but screw it…I’m addicted). 

The room itself was quite a bit more chic than any hotel I’ve been to…not that I’m an expert.  But it felt delicious sleeping there, especially knowing that in only a few hours I’d be lying nude on a beach.  It was dark when I took these so forgive the quality:

My room overlooked one of the pools and the ocean:

 

I could also see Palomino Island from my room:

In the morning after my Chai Tea latte (shut up!) I packed everything I thought I’d need and headed down the tram to the catamaran dock.

The catamaran takes about 5 minutes to get to Palomino Island. 

At 10 we had to wait a bit while they loaded food and supplies up.  Note: none of the restaurants on the island open until about 11:30, and generally it’s really in your best interest to bring your own food and liquids.  I and one other guy had to plead with the bar tender to sell us bottled water early, which he generously did.

I checked with the guy in charge of horse rides to get directions to the “nude beach.”  I was disappointed when he informed me that I really couldn’t go right now since the trail was full of bushes.  I told him I didn’t care and he shrugged and pointed me in the direction of a trail leading up a large hill, making sure to point out that I was going at my own risk. Little did I know then that “bushes” meant spike infested DEATH TRAPS.  But more on that later.

This is the point at which I tell you exactly what you need to bring with you to Palomino Island:

  • Bottled water: for some reason nudism brings on the dehydration. Maybe because it’s usually such a trek to get to nude beaches, or because you have more pores exposed to the elements. Trust me…you don’t want to depend on the good graces of a bar tender opening shop early.
  • Food: not really necessary, especially if you are only sunning for a little while. But if you get the munchies it’s a long and treacherous trek back to civilization.
  • Towel: The resort offers you your own which is good enough.  Bring it.  If the bushes are as overgrown as they were with me, you can use it to cover them and push them away like I did. Plus, you don’t want to lie on the dinky abandoned chairs offered on the nude beach without one. Who knows who else had their nude ass on that very chair.
  • Thick soled, close-toed shoes:I wore these flimsy flats from Payless and one of the spikes from a branch on the ground went right through the sole and into my foot.  So make sure you are protected!
  • Entertainment: When I got there I was alone for a good 2 hours. If you enjoy the quiet and solitude then fine, otherwise you’ll get bored.  So a book, puzzle book, newspaper, magazine, ipod, etc. may come in handy.

The path up:

There was a small little chapel and altar at the top, obviously meant for wedding ceremonies.  I thought about the stories I’d heard of nude weddings and had a chuckle.  Still, how ideal would it be to have a nude wedding and then make your way down to a nude beach right there!  Something to consider should I ever take the leap. 

Making my way down to the beach is where I began to encounter trouble…in the form of nasty spiked bushes blocking the way.  It was even worse because I also had to watch my step considering the incident with my shoe. 

But eventually I saw the opening and was happy to find the beach was all mine. 

There were a few well used lounge chairs that looked as though they’d been brought there at the opening of the resort and left alone since then.  Half of them were unusable (causing one couple later on to give up and go back). But I found one that was in decent shape and dragged it away from the others.  I had heard an exchange between two men on the way in about “hiking to a beach” and had no desire to be the object of a couple of oglers up close and personal.

Clothes off!

For several hours the beach was all mine and I wandered around collecting sand, sea glass, and shells (I found a very big one in perfect condition), and walking in the water.  The water itself was not very swimmable, being quite shallow and filled with rocks.  There was another level to the beach further on above some rocks with sand that was a bright red color.  I nearly broke my ankle collecting some.  You can see the contrast here:

Later on as I was turning on my stomach a couple came down the path.  The man was holding a video camera and I think he was surprised to find me as he panned around.  I gave him a hard stare until he realized he still had the camera up and brought it down giving me a wave.  I was far enough away and had sunglasses and a hat on so I wasn’t too upset, especially since he obviously wasn’t expecting to capture me on film when he made his way around the corner.  So I politely waved back.  Something fun for the folks back home I guess. Still, it’s a well understood rule that cameras are a big no-no on nude beaches.

Of course both of them stayed in their swimsuits, but they at least left me alone.  Eventually it was nearing my 2pm check out time and I still had to get back to the mainland, shower, change and pack, so I called it a day and left the two textiled indivuals on their own.  Despite it all it had been a gloriously nude day!

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After dodging my way around frustratingly slow drivers on the 3, my coworker and I finally made it to Fajardo. We took the 987 exit and were surprised to find it a fairly straightforward shot to El Conquistador Resort & Spa (where I would be spending the night), Passion Fruit Bed and Breakfast (where she would be spending the night), and Seven Seas Beach.  El Conquistador and Seven Seas Beach are both located right off of the 987 (there is a Seven Seas camping site you get to before the actual beach, skip that one if you are looking for the beach) and Passion Fruit B&B (a reasonably priced hotel with complimentary breakfast) was on a road right off of it.

The marina:

 

We were both tired and hungry so we parked by the marina and ate lunch at a place called Blue Bahia. I had coconut shrimp and a lobster turnover.

The shrimp was so-so, the lobster turnover to die for.  The beer (a Puerto Rican brand) was terrific…but I’m a sucker for booze from south of the border.

Then we headed to the beach.  It was a cloudy day so there weren’t too many people around.

Later that night I had scheduled a kayaking trip into the bioluminescent bay.  My coworker bailed on me so I was paired with another girl. Unfortunately neither of us was any good at kayaking and spent the entire first leg of the trip turned around or slowing down the single file formation. It got so bad that one of the guides decided to tie our kayak to his and tow us to the cove.  Actually this turned out just fine since we got to experience the whole thing without all the work.  Going through the mangroves to the cove was like floating through a rain forest at midnight. 

The luminescence started gradually enough with what looked like foam appearing each time the oars hit the water.  At some point the guide shouted that the glowing had started and I figured it out.  In the bay they gave us a little spiel about the ecosystem there and let us play with our hands in the water.  It was surreal watching as you dipped your hand in, shaking it all about and watching the water glow around it.  Definitely worth the $45 I spent.  Of course my partner and I had to be towed back since our rowing skills had not improved.  This time around he asked us not to help him out by rowing…yes we were both that bad.  Unfortunately it was dark and my camera was not water proof so I didn’t get any pics.  Supposedly the luminescence doesn’t show up anyway.

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