Love The Skin You’re In

“There is an element of risk to skinny dipping and taking risks can sometimes make you feel very much Alive! And folks love feeling alive! Blood’s pumping, adrenaline at an all-time high.” Caroline Lavigne 

I grew up ashamed of my body. We covered up. Showing private parts was forbidden.  

So, when my sister’s boyfriend introduced me, aged 19, to naked couples-paddling, skin on skin, my breasts balancing on his bottom on the emerald waters of Maslin’s Nude Beach, on the Fleurieu Coast of South Australia, I was scandalised.  

I was lying on Skip, her bf’s mate, who was an experienced surfer, 10 years my senior, and quite a hunk. It was wicked fun.  

A few years later my then husband introduced me to naturist camping, where I discovered that playing nude tennis and chatting to nude strangers, while naked middle-aged men tossed meat on the barbie, really wasn’t my thing.  

Apart from being very worried about having to administer wilderness first aid to an accidentally singed penis, I felt vulnerable. It was icky. I hated it. 

It wasn’t until I started hiking with wild women nearly 20 years later that I fell in love with naked.   

The kind of naked that provides that fabulously delicious feeling of being at one with nature, skin tingling, exquisitely alive, as the delicate liquid glides over your skin… that most intimate connection with water.  

The kind of naked that can’t be achieved paddling on a man’s bum or joining a tribe of naturists. 

The kind of naked where the water gently caresses your body – a loving embrace – and creates the freest and most gravity-defying feeling you will ever experience.  

Sometimes, all you need for a swim is the right hat!
Sometimes, all you need for a swim is the right hat!

Fully connected. Fully immersed

It was with wild women that I learned the fine art of skinny dipping: throwing off my kit and plunging into a refreshing mountain stream, a pristine lake, a secluded waterfall, a natural rockpool, a remote beach. 

One of Mother Nature’s most sensational pleasures, it simply can’t be appreciated when your skin is wrapped in fabric.  

Skinny dipping is one of the most magical moments a wild woman can have. 

It’s not about naturism, it’s not about nudism and it’s not about sex. It’s about having a nudie plunge while you’re out hiking with wild women. 

It’s also good for you

Skinny dipping has been linked with  improving body image, enhancing self-esteem, improving life-satisfaction, boosting immunity, reducing inflammation, providing a mega-dose of Vitamin D.  

Over the years, wild women have fine-tuned this therapeutic practice, resulting in countless marvellous magic moments, as well as a few big fat fails.  

One occurred in the forest on our journey back from Mt Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest peak, where we didn’t realise the gorgeous, secluded meandering stream we discovered in the jungle was opposite a main through-trail until a busload of tourists came strolling along.  

Another time, while skinny dipping in a hidden cove on the Coxs River in the Blue Mountains, NSW, we were suddenly interrupted by a random hiker who wandered off the main trail to offer us his excess bacon. Who does that?  

And then on the South Coast Track in Tasmania, when our post rockpool skinny-dip sunbake was interrupted by a young man appearing out of the bush with a frypan full of freshly caught & sautéed, buttered abalone. Actually! 

On the Overland Track, also in Tassie, we stripped stark naked by a small stream before realising we were disrobing in a leech lounge. There was no time to dress as the leeches attacked. We just grabbed our clothes and sprinted back to the safety of the trail.  

All these skinny dips were hilariously embarrassing for some and mortifying for others, so here’s a few tips if you’re keen to take up the fine art of skinny dipping.   

Di Westaway takes a cheeky dip in an icy river
Di Westaway takes a cheeky dip in a refreshing (read: icy!) river.

Top Tips for Safe Dips 

  • It can be done solo or with friends, in daylight or by moonlight, at sunrise or sunset, in the wilderness or at your local beach, in any season or weather. The critical components are seclusion, bare skin and pristine water. 
  • Always do a leech inspection BEFORE you get your gear off.  
  • Prize locations include your local harbourside cove, a riverside beach, a beautiful billabong, a spectacular canyon, a private rockpool, a natural hot spring, a mountain lake, a remote tarn, an ocean beach or a hillside stream. 
  • You can do it with wild women, your partner or with close friends but don’t try it with your teens or workmates, they’ll be mortified. 
  • Check the area to ensure its secluded and private, especially if you’re in a country such as Australia, where nude bathing in only partially legal. If you’re in France, Spain, the UK or Thailand, you’re ok. In the US, beware, and in the Middle East, just don’t.  
  • If you’re on an iconic hiking trail, regardless of how remote, it’s always prudent to nominate a scout to keep an eye out for visitors, lest you embarrass the locals, or worse still, offend them.  
  • Check for hazards as you would for any nature-based activity.  
  • Keep your clothes handy for when you get out. 
  • Don’t forget your trekking towel. 
  • If it’s too far out of your comfort zone, keep your undies on till you’re under the water and then whip them off, or plan your dip in the dark.  

Skinny dipping isn’t for every wild woman. It takes courage to step outside your comfort zone, but with the support of your team, it’s awesome fun.  

So, what have you got to lose? Dip for it girls!  

“The sense of freedom you get from baring all in a public place. It is very invigorating, and you feel at one with nature. Suffering acutely from anxiety and depression, I find this a natural therapy and better than ANY medication.” Andrew King 

Read more: The Best (Secret) Rock Pools in Australia


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