Moshup BeachLocated on Gay Head Point, Martha's Vineyard. It is what every nude beach should be: open and tolerant about its nudity, not to mention breath-takingly beautiful. You could easily spend the entire day here, lingering to watch the sun slip slowly into the sea.
At the entrance to the beach, most of the swimmers are clad, and there are a lot of families with young children. Down the beach, off to the right, though, the scene quickly changes. The farther down the beach you go, the less bathing suits there are. This is a nude beach for everybody, and everybody goes here. Men, women, couples, families, gay, straight -- everybody.
Unlike the beaches on the Cape mainland, law enforcement seems non-existent here. Rangers do patrol the beach, but unless you are breaking some other law, they do not bother nude swimmers.
On a clear day, you may see Cutty Hunk and other Elizabeth Islands, when looking out to sea. And, if very clear, the New Bedford area of the Massachusetts coast, and looking left or east, maybe NoMans Land Island, which is off shore.
The surf is terrific, some of the strongest on the island. The water is cold but swimmable, and warmer than the Vineyard's Northern coast beaches. The beach is mostly soft white sand, with some small rocks, and is very clean. Large boulders strewn about mark the beginning of the nude area of the beach, and provide a little privacy if you want it, and in the late afternoon they are the only shade to be found. Looming starkly over the beach are creviced brownish-red, white, and tan clay cliffs, which look almost out of place, like something transplanted from the Badlands of South Dakota.
On a hot day in July, as many as 150 or more nude sunbathers may be at the beach, lolling about and swimming in the surf. This is an impressive number of sunbathers by the standards of other New England nude beaches.
Other than a few over-used porta-johns, there are no amenities at the beach itself. Near the parking lot, there is a restaurant, gift shop, and more public restrooms. But, this is a healthy hike from where you will be sunning. Bring everything you need with you, especially sun-block, toilet paper, and plenty of liquids.
Take the ferry from Woods Hole, MA, to Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard. Unless you booked months in advance, do not count on bringing your car on-board the ferry unless you are willing to wait for a long time.
It is probably not worth bothering since transportation to the beach from Vineyard Haven is easy. Buses make frequent runs to the beaches, and there are bicycles, mopeds and cars available for rent, all across the street or a short walk from where the ferry docks.
You do not even need a map. There are very few roads on the island, and they are all clearly marked with directional arrows. Head out to Gay Head point. The entrance to Moshup beach is on a road called the Moshup Trail, and there is a parking lot available. The parking fee is $10 per day. To get to the beach, follow the trail from the parking lot, which is about 1/2 mile long. At the beach, turn right (you have no other choice since there is private property to the left). Once you see the large boulders, find a comfortable spot among the many other nudists.
TruroArtists have been drawn to Truro for decades, perhaps for the subtle quality of the light. Or maybe it is the wide expanse of white sand beach stretching out without any sign of human development. Or perhaps the dunes, which slope gently back away from the sea, rising 80 feet in some places, blocking out the world beyond. Whatever it may be, Truro has become special, to many people.
No doubt recognizing its beauty, nudists have been drawn to Truro for decades too . It is now home to one of the liveliest nude beaches on Cape Cod.
At Truro you can quietly watch the sunrise, and by mid-day be joined by dozens of other nudists, sunning or playing in the gentle ocean surf. The crowd here is mixed, men and women.
On the weekends, the beach can be crowded. The traditionally nude beach is on the ocean side of the Cape, between Long Nook Beach and Ballston Beach. Parking is by permit only. Weekly permits can be obtained from the town, which has a special office open during the summer months to issue parking permits. The office is in the small village of Truro. There are no amenities or facilities on or near the beach. If you need it, bring it. Like all beaches on the Cape, stay off of the dunes (not just a good idea, it's the law).
South Cape Beach State ParkGentle waves caresses the soft white sands of this beach. It is tranquil here, and there are not many people, nude or otherwise. Sunbathers have been coming here for years, as it is quite "serene and quiet". No loud radios and screaming kids are encountered here, as is the case at the other beaches on the Cape.
This isn't actually a bonafide nudist area, but it is a place to go skinny dipping. Most people cover up when the occasional beach comber from the state park wanders by. During a recent visit on a perfect mid-week beach day (hot, sunny, and cloudless), only one man was buffing it as almost no one ever goes nude during the weekends when the beach gets crowded. A quiet beach on Cape Cod is a rare find, and worth the trip. South Cape Beach is a treasure.
The dunes on the backside of the beach are fragile and cannot be walked on. Also, bring everything you need. There are no stores near the beach. Plenty of liquids, good sunblock, and an umbrella are the bare essentials. The sun can be ferocious, and there is no shade. Also, nude swimmers and sunbathers may be reprimanded by life guards on duty, according to recent reports.
Herring Cove BeachThis beach is located at the tip of Cape Cod, near the quaint village of Provincetown, on the inside of the Cape. The beach is in the National Seashore area, under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. It is a broad, white sand beach, with low slung, grass covered dunes. This is definitely an adult beach, and it is predominantly gay -- both men and women.
Upon entering the nude area of the beach, most of the sun worshippers were women, and many of whom are topless. Farther down the beach, the gender switched over to almost exclusively male. Here too, the crowd was a mix of the clad and unclad.
Recently, Provincetown passed a by-law decriminalizing nudity, recognizing long standing clothing optional use at the beach. However, since Herring Cove is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, nudity is still illegal, and can net you a $50 fine. Illegal or not, on a scorcher of a day in July, plenty of people were out, both in and out of bathing suits all along the beach.
The Park Service tacitly recognizes nude use at the beach, and despite official pronouncements and prominent signage to the contrary, the park service seems reluctant in its role as enforcer. Their enforcement efforts are perfunctory, and obvious. When they do patrol the beach, they do so in a dune buggy, allowing the "ranger, ranger" warning to precede them.
Westfield River BeachThe nude beach on the Westfield River in Cummington, MA, is private, beautiful and exceptionally clean, attracting regulars from as far away as Connecticut and Boston.
Naturists have been shedding their clothes at Cummington for at least 20 years. They love it here. And it only takes one trip to Cummington to understand why. The place is right out of an Audubon calendar. The main beach is wide, and sandy, with plenty of space, even when the river is high. The river forms a deep, cool (but not cold) pool at the beach, perfect for swimming about, or lazing on with a float. Surrounding the beach is a young pine and maple forest. And there are smaller beaches and pools both upstream and downstream.
Cummington is usually crowded. Even mid-week, the parking lot (actually a turn-out on the roadside) is nearly full to capacity. It is particularly popular with men, both gay and straight. Downstream is almost exclusively for gay men.
Wear shoes that are both comfortable for a small walk in the woods, and that can also get wet. Parking is on Route 9 in Cummington, just outside of Goshen, in a state-owned and maintained pull-off. Access is off this turn-out, and you have to cross the Westfield River in water that can be from knee to waist deep to get to the traditional nude area. Note that in the spring and after rainfalls, the river can have a swift current. It's not recommended that you try to make a crossing when the river is in this state.
Bring bug repellent, especially if you go during the dawn or dusk hours. And bring some sun block. The sun can be deceptively strong. The paths are well-worn and clean of underbrush, but there is poison ivy about. Like most naturist areas, the draw is not just nudism, but nature. This means: keep the radios at home, and do your part to keep the site clean. Pack out what you pack in, and if you see any garbage, be a good sport and pick it up.
It appears that popularity of the site has taken its toll, and early in the spring of 1999 the state "beautified" the roadway turnout and erected "No Parking" signs, which would affect any car parked off the pavement. Parking off the pavement, even a wheel or two, originally led to a $5.00 ticket issued from the local police. Apparently many were more than willing to pay that much for a day at Cummington, so this method of limiting or stopping access to the river site went widely ignored. In late May 1999, new signs were erected stating that no unattended parking was allowed, and unattended vehicles would be ticketed and towed from the site. Given its remote nature, that's a long hike back to the tow yard, not to mention the expense of redeeming your car. It's obvious that the police are trying to prevent usage of the site by making parking impossible.
Some have reported that other parking sites at a distance exist in either direction, and on a nice day a short hike is not a bad thing. Some suggest bicycling in and chaining your transportation to a tree. At least one area resident-turned-entrepreneur has occasionaly erected a sign allowing parking in his yard for $5.00 (same as the original ticket fee), but how long the township will tolerate this is uncertain.
C.M. Gargner State ParkThere have been reports that this State Park on Route 112 in Huntington, MA, is a site for nude swimming. But, unless you are absolutely desperate, we would not recommend swimming here, especially given the variety of other choices near by.
Gardner State Park is on the East Branch of the Westfield River. The river is pretty, and there is a roped off swimming area, with a life guard. The park has picnic tables and barbecue grills. But the park suffers from overuse, and the din from park-goers, with their loud radios, and screaming kids running about, can be overwhelming. We wonder why anyone would go here to swim at all, much less swim nude. It is much like a city park, despite its rural location.
The nude sunbathing spot, if you can call it that, is at the far upstream border of the park, where a nice deep pool of water buttresses a few large boulders. The only good news about C.M. Gardner State Park is that there have been no reports of anyone receiving a ticket for skinny-dipping. When asked about enforcement efforts, the young life guard on duty shrugged his shoulders and seemed genuinely unaware of any rules or regulations against nudity. Indeed, none were posted.
Knightsville DamIf you want to see beaver, then the ponds below the Knightsville Dam in Huntington, MA, are the place to go. On a recent visit, we spotted five in just one swimming hole! The ponds are home to both beaver and a melange of other wildlife.
No surprise, since the area is a nature preserve, jointly managed by the Army Corp. of Engineers and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Conservation.
The ponds are great if you are seeking peace, and solitude, and nature. Chances are you will not find another nudist here, and the only people you will meet will be a lone hiker, or a few L.L. Bean clad fly fishermen.
The walk to the upper pool is along an access road (closed to vehicles), and winds through forest and meadow. It is a pleasant hike, quiet of all noise except those of the birds and bugs and the breeze through the trees. The upper pool is a wonderful place to strip down and cool off. The entire area, both up and downstream from the main pool, is ripe for exploring.
The ponds are down a long, dusty, unpaved road, far from any development. The parking area is large, and can accommodate more than 30 cars. Near the parking area, there is a large, deep pool of water. This pool is used mostly by clad swimmers. Up stream about 3/4 of a mile, however, is another large pool, reportedly popular with nudists. The bank of the river is fairly sharp, making getting down a little challenging. The far bank, however, is flat, rocky and grass covered, and there are sandy beach areas on both banks. Bring bug repellent and everything else you might need. There are no stores nearby. You must leave the area by dusk.