Have you ever gone skinny dipping?

One summer on Martha’s Vineyard I was out with an islander dude I’d known for quite a few years. The night was hot and muggy, so we decided to go swimming, but not at the beach. We drove to a pond in the woods that only the locals seemed to know about. With the dark night air as our camouflage, we stripped down to our birthday suits and slipped into the cool, still water.

But skinny dipping in the dark is easy. Have you ever done it in broad daylight? Martha’s Vineyard has a section of beach that is clothing optional. While in my late teens and early twenties I was intrigued with the notion of laying on the beach completely nude – no tan lines, no sand in your bottoms. But the thought of being nude in public, and in broad daylight? The thought was unnerving to say the least.

But I did it. I walked so far down the beach that I was virtually alone. Every now and then some folks would walk by as I laid naked on my towel, but I’d just keep my head down and wait for them to pass by. I got used to them after a while. I have to admit that I enjoyed the experience.

Problem was, I was only on Martha’s Vineyard for a few weeks each summer. Where was I going to get my nude beach fix in New Jersey?

At Sandy Hook, of course! I cannot recall how I heard of Gunnison Beach, but when I got wind that there was a nude beach on the Jersey shore I had to give it a shot. I drove down on a Saturday morning – Sandy Hook is a rather large park, so I had to ask the ticket booth attendant which beach was clothing optional. It was embarrassing.

The parking lot for Gunnison beach was full. Hmmm, I guess you have to get here super early… it wasn’t even noon yet. I parked in the next available lot and walked dragging my chair and cooler and beach bag. Once you reached the beach, you had to walk another 1/4 mile or so to get to the nude part. I was beginning to wonder if this was worth it. Once I was knee deep in nudists, I dropped my stuff and set up camp.

This was different from the beach at Martha’s Vineyard. For one it was packed. There had to be a couple hundred people, all in various degrees of nudity, of all different shapes and sizes. On the Vineyard, you might see a dozen nudists over the span of 100 yards or so. But this beach? It was more like 100 people every dozen yards. All nude.

I didn’t stay all that long my first day. I kept getting hit on. I tried to ignore everyone by sticking my nose in a book while simultaneously blasting my Walkman (yes, Walkman – it was the 80’s), but greasy, repulsive dudes kept approaching me. And they approached me in a hard to ignore way. They would squat next to my sand chair, which would put their “junk” at right about eye level.

Ew. Time to pack up and leave.

This happened to me the next 2 or 3 times I went, until a group of regulars took me under their wing. They saw that I was relentlessly being bothered by every horn-bag on the beach and suggested I sit near them from now on. Seems when you are part of a larger group the pick-up artists leave you alone – Kind of like in the animal kingdom. The lone gazelle often falls prey to the predator – but there is safety in numbers.

After that I became a regular. I was up at 6 am on Saturday and Sunday, and on the beach no later than 8 or 9 depending on the traffic. I’d stay until 4 or 5 and drive the hour plus back up to my home. I rarely went totally nude – I preferred just going topless. But on a few occasions I did bare all, and was called “cotton tail” due to my very white fanny cheeks.

That beach was a tight knit community. They would berate gawkers – men who walked down the beach just to stare at boobs and butts, and if you weren’t a regular, using a camera was like a federal offense. I’ve seen a pack of naked men surround a gawker and demand his film. One guy tried to hide his camera inside a styrofoam cooler with a hole cut in it. His camera and his nose came close to being broken. I was a regular, so I could use my camera. I only have a few photos, but they certainly add some spice to my photo album!


I left in a couple of fannies just to make it fun!

I was a regular for a few summers, and then I moved out of state. When I moved back I went a few more times, but the folks I knew had stopped going or just weren’t there when I was. Somehow it wasn’t as much fun sitting by myself, once again open to attack by the greasy, repulsive dudes who relentlessly prowl the beach.

If I weren’t such a lard-ass, I’d make it a point to go back. When I was young and thin, with boobs that still defied gravity, it was easy. Oh, there were women on the beach who looked like I do now, nude as the day they were born. But they are made of different stuff. I could never entertain the idea of even going topless at this point in my life.

But that’s okay. I did it then, and it was a blast.