Any wild swim is a hugely liberating experience, but there’s nothing more freeing than shedding the last barrier between you and nature, and going skinny dipping. While it’s legal to wear nothing but your birthday suit for a dip in Britain, it’s best to avoid potential upset by seeking out quiet swim spots or best of all, picking a beach where nudism is allowed. From South Cornwall to the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, these are ten of the best coastal swimming spots where you can bare all on the beach, chosen by Chelsea Davies and Sian Lewis.
The best skinny dipping beaches in the UK
FISHING COVE, CORNWALL
The crescent-shaped bay isn’t the only moon you’ll find at this hidden, nudist-friendly beach in Cornwall. Fishing Cove in Gwithian feels truly wild; a pretty, secret place with turquoise waters that’s sheltered from the worst of the wind by craggy cliffs. You’ll have to pick your way down the narrow path to get here, but your reward is one of the most private naturist beaches in the country.
Swim here: To get there, park on the slip road just before Hell’s Mouth at TR27 5EG and follow the coast path.
BERNERAY BEACH, OUTER HEBRIDES
Welcome to the tiny island of Berneray, about as far north as you can get in the UK and part of the string of islands of the Outer Hebrides. The benefit of being so remote? There’s nothing around but wildlife to see you strip off and streak across the blinding white sand and slip into the teal sea of the island’s West Beach. The water here is always cold despite this beach’s tropical appearance, but it’s exhilarating to enjoy a wild swim and unburden yourself (figuratively and literally) from the real world.
Swim there: Berneray Beach’s nearest car park is at Borve Village Hall.
PENHALE SANDS, CORNWALL
Pasties, scones, surf and…a nudist beach? Cornwall’s coastline attracts holidaymakers from all over – Penhale Sands’ visitors just happen to be in the buff. And why not, when you can enjoy white-tipped waves before drying off on the sand and working on a nice tan unburdened by straplines.
Swim there: Penhale Sands’ nudists are invited to use the northern part of the three-mile-long beach. You can find paid-for parking in Perranporth.
BRIGHTON BEACH, EAST SUSSEX
Brighton is already well-known for being a free-spirited, liberal and gay-friendly city, and its naturist beach follows suit, and has been officially nudism-friendly since the eighties. Feeling brave? Find the nudist section right on the main drag, just a fifteen-minute walk from the pier and with plenty of amenities nearby (although you’ll have to put your kit back on if you pop into Tesco). It’s a pebble beach so while foregoing clothes is encouraged, shoes are a good idea when walking to the water.
Swim here: The naturist beach can be found at the eastern end of the main Brighton beach – approximately a one mile walk east of Brighton Pier.
WILD PEAR BEACH, DEVON
Get your pears out on one of my favourite nudist beaches in all of England, Wild Pear beach may be close to bucket-and-spade Devon hotspots, but it’s still very peaceful, partly due to the fact that it’s a steep descent on the coast path and then a hefty scramble down a rockfall to get yourself down to this rocky cove. It’s well worth the clamber, though – this gorgeous sweeping bay has rocky coves to sunbathe in and cool clear water, which are best for swimming at high tide.
Swim here: Reach Wild Pear Beach from Combe Martin via the coast path.
MORFA DYFFRYN, WALES
An unspoiled landscape of rolling white dunes, fronds of beach grass and on a clear day, views out over the Llyn Peninsula and Snowdon: if you haven’t already guessed, Morfa Dyffryn can be found in wild North West Wales. The naturist area of the beach is around a mile long and while the water’s a little chilly, it’s a seriously idyllic location for a swim and a sunbathe.
Swim here: There’s free parking at Ffordd Benar Lane, LL44 2RX.
CRAKAIG BEACH, SCOTLAND
Is there a better spot in Britain to embrace the endorphin rush of cold water swimming? Crakaig Beach in the Highlands is the only official naturist beach in mainland Scotland, and its nudist section runs from the mouth of the river to Lothbeg Point. If you also want to tick river skinny dipping off your bucket list, follow the river upstream and you’ll find a secret pool tucked under the railway bridge.
Swim here: Drive north of Brora (on the A9) about 5 miles and watch for the sign to Crakaig.
STUDLAND BAY, DORSET
Heading to the Jurassic Coast? Squeeze in a dip at Studland Bay, one of the most well-known official naturist beaches in the UK. The National Trust oversees this nine-hundred-metre stretch, banked by sand dunes on one side and a sparkling blue sea on the other. A great place to feel part of Britain’s friendly naturist community.
Swim here: Knoll Beach or Shell Bay have parking, and it’s around a half-hour walk around the headland to the designated nudist area (which is clearly signposted).
HOLKHAM BEACH, NORFOLK
Shakespeare In Love fans will recognise this picture-perfect beach from the film’s closing scene – if you could see anything through the tears, of course. Holkham Beach is popular with naturists, and rightly so: the horizon meets a seemingly unending sweep of golden sand, the water’s lovely and it’s a bit of a walk to the nudist area, so you’re likely to have peace and quiet while you get your kit off.
Swim here: It’s a half-hour walk to get to the nudey area in the west from the car park at Lady Anne’s Drive.
PEDN VOUNDER, CORNWALL
Not just one of the best nudist-friendly beaches in the UK but also one of my favourite places on the planet. Pedn Vounder is so far south in Cornwall that your phone might just ping to welcome you to France. It looks more like the Caribbean than the UK here, with sugar-fine white sand, golden cliffs and turquoise, tempting water. Be warned – it’s a stiff climb down rocks to reach this beach, so it isn’t suitable for everyone, and you can only access it at low tide.
Swim here: Walk to Pedn Vounder on the South West Coast Path from Porthcurno, and scramble down steep rocks to reach the beach.