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The Big Nude Boat 2015 – Saint Barthelemy

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boatIt’s like a moment from the TV show “Cheers”—only instead of Norm entering the Boston-based watering hole, I’m walking down the path to Grande Saline, a nude beach on Saint-Barth, to hear a crowd purr my name.

Earlier, I took the morning to drive around the island with my friend Lee, stopping for croissants and coffee served with a view of the port, followed by shopping in St. Jean.

Now, here we are on what is quite possibly the Caribbean’s most perfect beach for nudists. Guidebooks say that on a typical day, only the right side is for the clothes-free, but today, it’s a takeover of sorts: left, right and center, it’s all boobs and butts.

My friends have packed a picnic of Champagne, juice, cheese and crackers, and they share their spread before we splash into the water. Unlike CocoCay, which was shallow for yards, here, it gets deep fast. You haven’t truly enjoyed a good wave until you’ve bodysurfed nude.

When we tire of riding big waves, we bob closer to shore. Floating among us are patches of sargassum seaweed. I’m playing with one when something hits me in the face and I scream. Everyone turns. This small thing keeps flying from the water, smacking our arms and bodies. Soon I’m not the only one squealing.

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It’s a fish, no more than two inches wide. I’ve never seen anything like it. We lean in, trying to get a good look, but it’s airborne more than it’s still enough to inspect. With a few more flicks of its tail, it tortures Michael enough to send him flailing and running from the sea all the way back to our spread-out towels. He’s kidding, of course, but his outburst has us all laughing.

As the sun sinks lower, slowly the beach empties of BN cruisers who leave in packs to taxi back to the port.

It makes me sad. I don’t want this beach party to break up. It gets quieter and quieter, with fewer naked bodies strolling the sand. As I watch the locals in bikinis and board shorts walking their dogs and riding skim boards across the sand, I remember that it’s Glitz and Glam night in the disco later on. This party’s not over at all—for now, it’s just on pause.

Photo credit: Michael Cooney