Definitely not what I was expecting!
This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
After learning that Canada is home to two officially-designated nude beaches and that one of them was right in my own province, I had to check it out for myself.
Hanlan's Point Beach in Toronto is one of only two official nude beaches in the country, with the other being Wreck Beach in Vancouver.
It's located on the Toronto Islands and is just a short ferry or water taxi ride away from the city's waterfront.
On a hot (very hot, actually — think heat-warning hot), sunny Saturday, I ventured to the islands to see what a clothing-optional beach was like for myself. Here's what totally surprised me about it.
How to get to Hanlan's Point Beach
I ended up taking a water taxi from the Harbourfront Centre to Hanlan's Point ($12 for the ride) and expected the beach to be quite close to where the taxi docks on the island.
This was not the case.
Getting to the beach required a bit of a trek, although there is a path to follow and clearly marked signs so you know where you're going. I will say that on this 33-degree day, that walk felt like it took forever. But it might not be as bad if the temperature is a little cooler.
You'll come across a sign indicating the entrance to the "clothing-mandatory beach," and directions to continue on for those looking to ditch their bathing suits and let it all hang out.
You'll come to a long boardwalk that winds through trees and bushes. Take this to get to the beach.
At the end of the boardwalk, you'll see signs indicating the clothing-optional section of the beach.
The boardwalk to the beach.Katherine Caspersz | Narcity
A lot of people (mostly men) were fully nude
I knew before going that this was a pretty well-known beach, but I had no idea how many people would actually do the full monty. And I definitely didn't expect to see so many, ehm, penises on full display.
It appeared to be mostly men who were nude, although there were some women in their birthday suits, too.
That said, I definitely felt like the vibe of the beach was welcoming. No one was staring or leering in any way -- people were minding their business and enjoying the sunshine (just, naked).
The clothing-optional section is huge
The clothing-optional section of the beach is marked off by signs (tons of them, so don't worry about accidentally ending up there if you're looking for the clothing-mandatory section).
A sign for the clothing-optional section of the beach.Katherine Caspersz | Narcity
Before going, I expected the nude part of the beach to not be that big, but that isn't the case. From what I could tell, it seemed to go on for quite a long way down the shore, so if you do want to find a spot on the clothing-optional section, you'll have plenty of beach available. This brings me to my next point:
The beach is busy af
Even on a 33-degree day like the day I went, I expected the beach to only have a few people. This was absolutely not the case. The beach was packed, and finding a spot (or a place to avert your eyes to) was difficult.
There were people on towels, in tents and under umbrellas, all butt-naked and enjoying the weather.
You can swim at Hanlan's Point Beach
I found the water at the beach to actually be really inviting, and the shoreline is quite nice and clean. The water isn't too cold either, and was especially refreshing to wade into on a super hot summer day.
Hanlan's Point Beach is actually a Blue Flag Beach for 2022, meaning it meets strict water quality and safety criteria. You can also find info on the water quality of a particular day from Toronto Public Health.
There's no pressure to bare it all
Before going, I was wondering if there would be this unspoken rule that you had to go nude on the clothing-optional side of the beach, but there definitely wasn't!
I decided to keep my swimsuit on, but I didn't feel pressured one way or the other. Lots of other people also wore swimsuits on the nude side of the beach, and no one seemed to mind.
If you are interested in going au naturel, go right ahead! Just make sure you do so on the right side of the beach. Otherwise, both sides are a great place to escape the city for a little bit and kick back in the sand.
Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.
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