El Portús, Spain: Easy on the naked eye
Nudity is permitted around the clock at Spain’s original naturist resort, where Metro’s nervous first-timer took a little time before fully appreciating the view.
Resort with a difference: El Portús is the most popular of Spain’s 500 nude beaches
It feels like I have X-ray vision. I see naked people. The view from our hilltop cabana is straightforward enough: a picturesque bay nestling in an amphitheatre of mountains.
Three swimming pools, some tennis courts. Palm trees. Mobile homes and caravans decorated with flowerpots.
And then I see my first bare bottom, as a fellow guest here at El Portús – a naturist resort in Murcia, south-east Spain – makes his way down a steep pathway to the beach.
‘Hola! How’s that for a view?’ shouts my neighbour from his porch, where he and his wife are sipping rioja, as naked as the day they were born. Naturism is going to take some getting used to.
I am with my friend, who has been holidaying in El Portús for years and has no compunction about getting her kit off. I do, however, and set off for a walk with my sarong wrapped around me. Everywhere we go – into the shop and the bar/restaurant, past cyclists and hikers, around the children’s playground – people have no clothes on.
A group of French pensioners are playing boules naked. Yikes.
Bare essentials: Jane Cornwell goes native
Beachside, I’ve never seen so many willies or boobs at once. The bodies they belong to are fat and thin, young and old, short and tall.
As I sit there, conspicuous in my bikini bottoms, I realise they are simply that – bodies. There is nothing erotic or pervy about it. The atmosphere is laid-back, friendly and overwhelmingly democratic.
The owners of the boats bobbing near the diving centre might be more flush than the rest of us, just like the clients of the resort’s day spa might be a bit more exfoliated, but without clothes we’re all essentially the same. I take off my pants and walk into the clear blue sea, disarmed and anonymous.
Boasting 500 camping pitches, 50 cabanas-cum-mobile-homes and a hotel with 15 air-conditioned apartments, El Portús is a paid-up member of the Spanish and International naturist federations, and part of an ever-growing sector in the tourism industry.
Spain has some 500 beaches where nudism is practised. El Portús, set in the protected Sierra de la Muelas and the country’s first naturist campsite, is the most popular.
‘In the beginning we had a lot of voyeurs,’ says resort manager Aurelio Vaquero. ‘The beach was like a circus. Fully dressed people would come over the mountain from the next beach expecting to see a show.
But the geography of this place means they always have to take the same way back again. Then the naturists would stand and slow clap them until they were the ones who felt naked.’
John and Clara Slater, from Dorset, spend a few weeks of each year in El Portus. Clara, 38, has just completed her 100th scuba dive with the resort’s grizzled, Neptune-like dive master, Juan Norte.
John, 42, is more into mini-tennis, which he plays with gusto on a purpose-built court. Naturism, they say as we whizz along in their motorboat, is energising and rejuvenating.
As John cuts the motor next to a tiny rocky landmass called Isla Paloma and Ruth springs overboard and on to the island like a tanned water nymph, we have to agree they’ve got a point.
Communing with nature becomes addictive. In nothing but our walking shoes we climb deserted mountain trails and marvel at the area’s geology, at the different coloured rocks running through the cliffs.
We see rock pigeons and wildflowers and, in the clear blue below, schools of fish. (El Portus regulars sometimes take long breadsticks into the water that are eaten from their hands by fish that mercifully leave other dangling bits alone).
We play tennis naked but for our trainers and bras (you have to put the balls somewhere) and watch the (clothed) rock climbers, too chicken to do it ourselves.
A week in, I sit on our porch and watch our new neighbours arrive. ‘Hola!’ I say, liberated from clothes and inhibitions. ‘How’s that for a view?’
Jane Cornwell flew to Murcia with Easyjet (www.easyjet.com). Returns from San Javier airport currently start from £200. She stayed in a self-catering bungalow at El Portus (www.elportus.com). Prices start from €50 per night.