Beach bums: Naturist package holiday to Croatia

Britain's first mainstream naturist package holiday to Istria, Croatia offers a chance to try the continental tradition of going au naturel. Tristan Rutherford grins and bares it

I dropped a squishy tomato on my thigh earlier. No matter. Last night my wife splashed red wine down her front. Again, not a problem. Indeed, this holiday we haven't had to worry about dressing up, dressing down, or even washing a pair of socks in the sink. That's because we haven't worn a stitch of clothing all week.

It was with some trepidation that we signed up for Britain's first mainstream all-naked package tour to Croatia. But this Adriatic nation's 3,500-mile coastline was the birthplace of naturism, so it offers an assured entrance for nudist camp novices like ourselves.

Yes, there are a lot of naked Germans. Yes, it's a bit weird at first. And yes, I've got a lot of explaining to do when I see my mother-in-law next week. But after seven days in Istria's two leading naturist retreats, I feel like Adam in the Garden of Eden, not Kenneth Williams in Carry on Camping.

Our first morning at Naturist Resort Solaris is like a regular holiday-camp experience. Sun-tanned guests sport tennis visors, golf gloves or jelly shoes, depending on their day's activities. Yet it seems as though they've simply forgotten to put on any clothes.

We stroll beachward fully dressed, which is permissible under resort rules. Around us, nude dog-walkers wish us guten morgen, as nude families chat at the waterside café. Our T-shirts and Zara skirts suddenly seem cumbersome, not cool.

Solaris resort Solaris resort We strip off at Solaris' two-mile Blue Flag coastline. Only 600 early-season guests are present, out of a summer high of 4,000, making it a shade easier to grin and bare all. We're in and out of the sea all day. There's no wet swimwear to worry about, just a lot of Factor 30. The gentle sweep of water over our naked bodies seems, well, natural.

Truly, the term "naturist" rather than "nudist" seems apt here. A lack of clothes induces an aura of calm – leave your ego in your hotel room, along with your Bermuda shorts. There's young and old, and quite possibly rich and poor, as Solaris is as nakedly egalitarian as your local swimming-bath's changing rooms. The wildlife seems unafraid of us natural-state humans. Blackbirds sing mere feet from our beach mats. A squadron of seagulls curves lazily through the trees. It's Shangri-la, not sangria, on these Adriatic shores.

We're staying half-board in a south-facing room, its private sun terrace choked with flowering jasmine. There are larger self-catering apartments, too. Plus pricey beachside pitches for caravans, and pastoral tent pitches on the perimeter of this 120-acre resort, from just €9 per person, per night. Dinner is a delight. Dalmatian fish soup, prosciutto-wrapped pork and sea bass grilled to order. And you can pour your own complimentary beer and wine.

Let me explain the whole concept one more time. You can swim nude, go on a naked bike ride, then drink as many alcoholic beverages as you like, all for as little as €21 per person per day. Who could possibly have a problem with that?

Yet many Britons do. According to Nives Matic, marketing specialist at Naturist Resort Solaris's parent campsite company Valamar, we British "are just a small percentage" of holidaymakers at her firm's three naturist resorts. She thinks we should give it a go. "You could fly to Pula or Trieste (both a 60-minute drive away) with only the clothes you're wearing," she laughs. "It wouldn't even matter if Ryanair lost your luggage!"

She wonders why more Brits don't come. "Germans, Slovenes and Austrians don't wear clothes at the beach on a hot summer day," explains Matic, so why should we?

Well, I'm going to stand naked and proud for Britain. We drive 30 minutes south through vineyards ("Buy Vino Here") and farms ("Taste Sample Chees") to Naturist Park Koversada. Inaugurated in 1961, and hosting up to 8,000 guests over 300 acres, it's Croatia's oldest and largest all-nude retreat.

Solaris apartments Solaris apartments It's more permanent in every way. Aleppo pines and holm oaks tower over long-term pitches. Some German caravans have been here for decades. Their proprietors preside over a naked domain of fairy lights, sun loungers and garden gnomes. As in Britain, it's Europe's retirees who apparently have the time and money to travel. These guys chase down the sun with a bottle of supermarket chardonnay for three months at a time.

My wife and I spend our days on a wooded island offshore which is joined to Koversada by a causeway. It's a naked utopia where one can snorkel off the rocks, doze on the beach, or sip beer in a simple waterside bar. Our fellow sunbathers are less sexually alluring than they would be wearing skimpy swimsuits; it's just naked families and retirees.

Each evening we wander into the nearby village of Vrsar for a £10 platter of mussels, clams and langoustine with a jug of iced Malvasia wine. We pass a fully clothed campsite en-route. Even prudes can enjoy this bargain bucolia too.

I shouldn't mock, as it's taken me seven days to pluck up the courage for my first naked massage. I'm cool with it, I tell myself. Chillaxed. Would she be naked too? Would things get "awkward"? This conundrum is solved when a man escorts me into the massage studio and tells me to lie on my back.

I may be a quinoa-eating, Birkenstock-wearing, 21st-century kinda guy. But it's still a bit weird. The deep-tissue massage is, however, the best I've ever had. I sigh as several months' worth of toxins spill from my liver (which he gently massages) and joints. Then I stumble across to the island for a kip under an olive tree. I wake up with yellow butterflies fluttering above me, as a family of lime-green lizards parades slowly past my towel.

I feel like a new man. Not to mention a very naked man.

As converted naturists, would we return? You bet. We'll probably go alone, though. After all, eating oysters stark naked with my in-laws may be taking it too far. But I have another Ryanair return to Istria planned. There won't be a problem with my hand luggage allowance: all I need bring is my birthday suit.

Getting there

Tristan Rutherford travelled as a guest of Prestige Holidays (01425 480 400; prestigeholidays.co.uk) and the Istria Tourist Office (istra.hr). A week's stay including three nights B&B at Koversada in an apartment and four nights B&B in a Pavilion room at Solaris Resort costs from £545 per person, including flights from Stansted to Pula with Ryanair and seven days' car hire. Naturist Resort Solaris (valamar.com) and Naturist Park Koversada (maistra.com) are each 60 minutes from Trieste and Pula airports, which are served by Ryanair (ryanair.com) from £24.99 one way.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea