Skinny Dipping through the Southern U.S.A.

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As the anthem says, America is “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Yes, even in the heart of its so-called “Bible Belt”, America offers ample opportunity to embrace a healthful lifestyle which includes sunbathing nude! In our current segment, Part I-D, Spanking FIT continues its comprehensive nude beach evaluation of North America with an appraisal of the two most important southern states from a naturist perspective: Texas and Mississippi. We begin with the state of Texas.

Skinny Dipping in Texas

The state of Texas is world famous for its cowboys and bodacious “babes”, the Astrodome, oilmen, cattlemen, and unbeatable steaks. Politically, however, it is among the most conservative states in the U.S., where Christian evangelicals play a significant role in shaping public policy and the law. For the latter reason, readers are often surprised to learn that a significant number of “lone star State” residents practice nude sunbathing; and, that the State is even home to one of the nation’s few legally-sanctioned nude beaches called Hippie Hollow Park. There is also another  beach on  South Padre Island in the Texas Gulf where nudity is unofficially permitted. It’s called U.F.O.. We begin with a Hippie Hollow nude beach evaluation:

Hippie Hollow Park- McGregor County, Texas

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About twenty miles northwest of the Texas capitol Austin is one of the nation’s few legally-sanctioned nude beaches officially named Hippy Hollow. (Prior to the American “hippie movement” of the 1960s, the park was known as plain old McGregor County Park.) Today the beach attracts very few hippies; instead, it has become a  favorite with clean-cut athletic “frat boys” and “sorority sisters” from nearby Austin colleges. The beach itself is on Lake Travis, a part of a federal nature reserve that is maintained by the Texas Department of Parks. Here’s how Spanking FIT rates Hippie Hollow in the categories of health, safety, and enjoy-ability:

Health (A-)

We noted ample and clean rest facilities in the parking lot right before the path leading down to the beach. There were few parasite problems including mosquitoes and flies on the warm sunny day in April in which we visited (Ambient temperatures were about 80 F ). Keep in mind that mosquito season in Central Texas usually starts in April and may last until late September or even October.  Water quality in the lake was good and invited swimming. (Lake Travis is fed by the Colorado River.) According to an official source, lcra.org/water/quality, the bacteria count was “low”, and quantity of “dissolved solids” was within the “acceptable” health range. The beach itself, if you can call it that (shoreline consists mainly of rocks and gravel), was relatively liter-free owing to the presence of trash cans at lake side.

Safety (A)

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Hippie Hollow is patrolled regularly by park police making it relatively safe.  No reports of robberies or even car break-ins were recorded in the police logs we checked. Because the entire park, except for the parking lot, is legally nude-sanctioned, there is little chance of arrest or citation unless one engages in “lewd conduct”. At Hippie Hollow, “lewd conduct”  generally means public sex. Be careful when swimming. There are no lifeguards. Fortunately, the trail leading down to the lake is paved eliminating the sprained ankle hazard common at most nude beaches where it is not.

Enjoy-ability (A+)

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The mid-summer weather in Texas can be, to use a local expression, “hotter than Hades”, so  take necessary precautions if visiting then. Expect intense sunshine. Temperatures which commonly reach 100 F in summer, cool down to around 60 F in winter. A nice feature of Hippie Hollow, however, is an abundance  around the lake of shade trees that can be used for shelter. Be sure to bring plenty of liquids with you before heading down the trail. The only water fountains are in the parking area.

As previously noted, the beach here isn’t sandy and cozy. Instead you will find boulders and pebbles at lake’s edge. Bring a yoga or a camping mat with you for comfort. People with pets are also out of luck. The park has a strict “no pets allowed” policy. Also, park regulations prohibit “public display of consumption of alcohol” meaning, keep a low profile.

Hippie Hollow Park is nature-abundant and protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Naturalists will be delighted by the presence of such rare species as “golden-checked warblers” and “black-capped vireos” which were hiding when we visited.

Park opens a bit late in the morning (9A.M.) and closes early (at dusk). This makes it unsuitable for early morning or evening skinny dipping. Families with kids shall be disappointed to learn that no one under the age of eighteen is allowed. The latter rule is the result of a major lobbying effort on the part of a Texas preachers’ group. God forbid that the young should grow up physically healthy!

When we were there, not all beach participants were in the greatest physical condition; and, the gender distribution was heavily skewed towards men. Fortunately, “the Hollow” is popular among lots of college students and the “eye candy” factor can be strong depending on seasonal factors (e.g., occurrence of semester breaks). As previously noted, nudity is even permitted on the walk way from the parking lot to the lake,  and many recreationers prefer to bare all, all the way down.

In short, we found our Hippie Hollow excursion to be exceptionally conducive to physical and mental health,  and recommend a trip without reservation and without clothes, of course. For more on the health benefits of nude sunbathing, please be sure to read”Nude Sunbathing- It Does a Body Good Spanking FIT, Aug. 2015, if you haven’t already.

U.F.O. Nude Beach on South Padre Island, Texas

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U.F.O. Beach, called officially North Beach, is on South Padre Island located about twenty miles south east of Corpus Christi, Texas. To get to it, take highway 77 south and then veer north on highway 48 at Brownsville. The beach got its name from the presence of an emergency evacuation pod that washed ashore in 2010 and which has remained there ever since. U.F.O. is perhaps the most popular unofficial Texas nude beach due to the thousands who pay it a visit each year, especially college students from all over the South on Spring break. Here’s Spanking FIT‘s evaluation in the three important categories:

Health (B)

Water quality can be a problem at times throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Watch for posted advisory signs at beach access points. They are posted courtesy of the Texas General Land Office (G.L.O.)  Swimming may not be recommended based on stated conditions. To worsen things, there are no shower facilities near the nude area. We observed debris, dead fish, and “sea wood”, all presumably washed up from the Gulf.  As a consequence, there were numerous flies. Mosquitoes, however, were not present in abundance on the hot April day on which we visited. You may expect their numbers to increase with the arrival of summer. Also, there was a lack of bathroom facilities and potable water in the nude place.

Safety (B)

U.F.O. Beach is a part of a five mile stretch of South Padre Island known as North Beach that is not to be confused with North Padre Island. To access it, it is necessary to drive over wet sand in a four- wheel drive vehicle. The alternative is a somewhat invigorating or possibly exhausting ten mile hike along the hot beach depending on your physical condition. Hey, you’ve heard the phrase: “there’s no such thing as a free beach”.

The entire beach is patrolled on a regular basis by the rangers which makes it relatively safe with respect to crime. However, there are inconsistent reports regarding ranger attitudes towards nude sunbathers, so that it’s better to cover up when you see them approach. Bummer!

Enjoy-ability (A)

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This island belonging to the Padre Island National Seashore possesses abundant natural beauty. The latter includes several bird species (duck, pelican, etc.), brilliant butterflies, wild flowers, and multi-colored sea shells.

The atmosphere was very lively, if not exhilarating, at the times in which we visited. The relatively young crowd definitely adds energy and excitement. We also found an exciting night life that included excellent restaurants, bars,  and clubs. Believe me, there is plenty to do on this island in addition to sunbathing nude, provided you have enough energy remaining after hiking to and from the beach.

West Ship Island Nude Beach (Mississippi,U.S.A.)

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An even more unlikely place in which to find an enjoyable and healthful nude sunbathing opportunity is West Ship Island, located near Biloxi-Gulfport, Mississippi. It’s part of the Gulf Island National Seashore which is what makes nudity possible despite Mississippi state law explicitly prohibiting “indecent exposure”. West Ship Island is approximately twelve miles off the Mississippi coast in the Gulf of Mexico, so that it is necessary to access it by boat. (Ferry service to and from the island is provided from March through October by the privately owned company- Ship Island Excursions.) The island is approximately two miles long, and its nude section is located on the east end. Here’s how we rated it in our three evaluation categories:

Health (B+)

Restrooms, showers, and drinking fountains are located near the ferry landing.  There’s also a concession snack bar. Take plenty of drinking water with you before heading out to the beach. Intense heat is the norm during the months of June, July, and August. There are few shade trees on the island, so you may need to take advantage of beach umbrella rental opportunities. Although the beach itself is beautiful sandy white, and the offshore waters turquoise blue, there is a familiar problem with debris which floats up from the Gulf. There were also some annoying sand flies present.

Safety (A)

West Ship Island appears to be adequately patrolled by the National Park Service. Since there are no federal U.S. laws against nudity, feel free to completely disrobe.

Enjoy-ability (A)

Since the nude beach is at the island’s end, the experience is well suited for those in good physical condition and who enjoy hiking. As previously noted, summer time temperatures are high. Bring protective gear including hats and sunglasses.

Scenery including wildlife is fantastic. Anticipate observing dolphin and menhaden (mossbunker)schools. In addition to tanning your backside, enrich your history background by visiting Fort Massachusetts– an authentic American Civil War era fort.  Fort Mass is historically famous for being one of the  staging grounds for the Union capture of the city of New Orleans in 1862. (For the benefit of non-American readers, “the Union” was the name taken by the northern forces that won the war.)

As previously mentioned, West Ship Island is accessible by boat only. Ferry hours do limit the amount of time you may stay. For non-locals, chartering a private boat is another, albeit costlier, option.  No overnight camping is allowed on the island.

Conclusion

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Despite its well-deserved reputation for social conservatism, America’s deep south offers ample opportunity to acquire the health benefits of nude sunbathing. The South offers “a leg up” on those  parts of the U.S. where, although the practice is more prevalent, it is still not legally sanctioned. Legality enhances both the safety and enjoy-ability of the experience.  Contrast this situation with that at  some of the beaches in southern California or in Mexico, for example, where one simultaneously risks robbery and arrest. (See “Dangerously Naked-Nude Beaches of Mexico“, Spanking FIT, April 2016) In conclusion, your  southern U.S. style-skinny dipping experience should be one to provide you with fond future memories, in addition to the associated health benefits of sunbathing naked. Thank you again. Be sure to provide me with your feedback. Sincerely,  Doctor Garrett

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