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    Going Natural in Croatia by Caroline

    I hadn't thought of naturism until I met my fiancé five years ago, and even when discovering his father was a long time naturist and he too had a preference to be without clothes, I didn't think much of it.

    Then aged 25, to say my knowledge of naturism was scarce would be an understatement, not only had I never heard of 'naturist clubs', but the whole 'being naked' thing was new to me. At some point in my life I must have gained a basic understanding of the term 'naturist' as I did know it referred to people who wondered around with their kit off, but I didn't know anything of the 'naturist ideal' and certainly had never imagined there would be official organisations and movements.

    I have always been a person that even in private would never think about wandering round the house naked when alone, or spending any time naked when not showering or changing. Even when on the beach abroad I would think twice about taking my bikini top off as I felt extremely self conscious of my body, it would be safe to say that nine times out of ten I preferred to remain covered and avoid the feeling people were staring at me.

    In April we decided it was time to take a break, and little known to me all the holiday locations my fiancé was suggesting stood a good chance of being naturist friendly. We finally decided on Croatia and due to a recommendation from the Internet, we obtained a brochure featuring the Hotel Istra situated on Red Island in Rovinj; it was only at this time that my fiancé finally admitted the motive behind the recommendation - it had it's own naturist island! Instantly I said 'no', I didn't want to be stared at and feel uncomfortable on my long awaited holiday. Feeling utter disappointment at my reaction he began to explain his utter dislike for wearing wet soggy costumes on beaches, and generally wearing clothes when in a hot climate - could I not give it a go? Feeling some sympathy and with the reassurance the main hotel and complex were textile, I agreed.

    In late May we arrived in Croatia and having endured the usual jokes about the naturist island from the tour rep we arrived at the dock side to catch our 20 minute boat ride to the island. After a most entertaining boat ride where our luggage nearly began a slow trip to Italy we ferried up to the hotel.

    After freshening up we decided to take a tour of the island. With two freshwater pools, table tennis, huge chess, basketball, tennis, spa (which had to be pre-booked) and much more there was plenty to do. Whilst walking around the main island we could see the small naturist island in the distance, connected by a thin concrete causeway the two only lay 1/4-mile apart.

    With some encouragement we took to the causeway and went to investigate the naturist island aptly signposted when reaching it's edge. It was at this point I began to feel a bit wary, it was my first time in a naturist environment and I didn't know what to expect; all different questions were going round in my head - what would I feel? How would I react?

    To my surprise the island wasn't sandy but rocky, although sometimes this is better as rock doesn't stick to the sun cream! By now it was quite late in the day and it wasn't that busy with naturists. As we were walking round I began to ask myself what the big deal was - normal people on holiday but without clothes. We went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner.

    Our first night was spent trying to find the restaurant in order to have our evening meal, after going round in circles a few times we found eventually on the lower floor. The remainder of our evening was spent in the local tavern and having several drinks with fellow Brits in the hotel bar.

    Next morning, with gentle persuasion, we made out way to go to the naturist island. Admittedly I was a bit unsure at this point but decided to give it a go, after all we were on holiday and the chance of anybody recognising me was a little remote!!

    Once we found our spot my fiancé just stripped off without a word, leaving me just stood there thinking what do I do now? In a slight state of panic my fiancé told me just to ‘do it and not think about it’. As I was starting to feel more out of place with my clothes on than without, I just stripped off and threw my clothes down. To be honest it was all a bit of an anti-climax at this point, and you start to wonder why you were making such a big fuss of it; it felt so natural and normal I just resumed the usual business of applying plenty of sun cream.

    Some time later it was time for a visit to the loo and to get some drinks, my fiancé got up (without dressing) with his towel and began walking towards the toilets and island restaurant, it was at this point I began to feel a bit strange as the prospect of 'walking around' openly naked in public was daunting - I hadn't done anything like this before. A few short gulps later I started on my way up to the main path, but as I grew closer I could see more and more people, panicked, and quickly rushed to put my summer dress on which I'd hidden under my arm.

    When returning down to the rocks we decided to go for a swim. I must admit I didn't know what to expect swimming naked, I was a bit apprehensive, it sounds stupid but what is anything bit me? Anyway, I bared all, gritted my teeth at the sea temperature and dived in. I can't explain what it feels like to swim naked - you have to try it to understand how great it feels. Of course you have the added bonus of not having to lie in a soggy bikini afterwards trying to get dry!

    As the day wore on, the island became more crowded, and more people walked around naked I began to feel more comfortable and it wasn't long before I was openly swimming in the sea and going for short explorations along the rocks without even realising I was naked.

    From that day on for the rest of our holiday and despite all the facilities and attractions on the main island, we spent most of our days on the naturist island naked - not fighting for sun loungers but fighting for the best rocks.

    From somebody who hadn't been in a naturist environment in her life, to then going on a holiday with a naturist island, I thought I would feel out of place, uncomfortable, and feel that people would be staring at me. However, I felt more out of place with my clothes on and looking back wouldn't have missed the experience and feeling of being naked for anything.

    Since returning from Croatia we have become members of YBN (Young British Naturists), our local sun club, and regularly try to go to nearby events; I find the more events I go to the more confident I become. I can't say I wander round naked all the time, certainly in England it's true to say I can take it or leave it - but give me a sunny day, a beach, a sauna, the open sea or even a swimming pool and I'm there and naked.

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