Sunny Isles, Florida
South Florida's World Famous Clothing Optional Beach
By Steven Skelley & Thomas Routzong
Haulover Beach in South Florida is a) one of the most beautiful beaches in the world b) one of the most popular of Florida's many beautiful beaches c) a huge income source for the Miami Dade Park system and d) legally clothing optional!
Nude recreation is nothing new. Canadians, Europeans and South Americans have had clothing optional beaches for decades. Historians attest that the Olympics were originally contested in the nude.
More than twenty years ago, the Miami Dade park system responded positively to resident and visitor requests for a clothing optional beach at Haulover. The decision to designate Haulover Beach as clothing optional was a good one. Haulover Beach has been listed as one of the top ten beaches in the world by numerous travel publications.
South Florida Free Beaches/Florida Naturist Association, Inc. founded the clothing optional section of Haulover Beach Park in Miami in 1991 and mentors it through its volunteer Beach Ambassador program, establishing the model for an urban nude beach.
Though local officials originally balked at allowing a clothing optional beach, the South Florida Free Beaches/Florida Naturist Association, Inc. was able to prove public support, the legal right of beachgoers to equal access facilities for clothing optional recreation, and millions of dollars in unused funding that was specifically designated for the beach park. The efforts of the South Florida Free Beaches/Florida Naturist Association, Inc. resulted in huge financial and tourism gains for South Florida - Haulover Beach is the most visited tourist attraction in South Florida!
On some days, Haulover Beach draws as many as many as 10,000 beachgoers - that's with a $6.00 parking fee per car! Parking fees alone bring in more than $1,500,000 annually. Tourists coming to Haulover Beach spend an estimated $500,000,000 in South Florida during their visit. How many other Florida beaches generate that kind of income just by being open-minded and responding to the desires of residents and vacationers?
Haulover Beach is just yards from the busy traffic of A1A and yet it is completely unnoticeable because of foliage and sand dunes. Visitors park on the west side of A1A and walk through a tunnel under A1A to the beach. There is ample parking but the beach is so popular that it may be difficult to find a space on weekends or holidays.
According to the Miami Dade Parks Department, Haulover Beach has "pristine white sand shores, open ocean surf, various shaded picnic facilities, beautifully landscaped sand dunes, and concession stands. The beach is ideal for surfing as well as swimming...The entire beach is guarded by well trained lifeguards, who will inform beach patrons of existing weather and surf conditions. Across the street from the beach, Haulover Park has a full-service marina, tennis courts, sundries shop and kite shops."
Why kite shops? There is an annual Kite Festival! According to the Miami Dade Parks Department website, "Kites of all shapes and sizes from around the world will fill the sky for this...annual seaside kite festival... featuring food, music and activities for kite-lovers of all ages, including kite competitions, kite-building classes and kites for purchase. Festival Admission is FREE. Parking is $6."
The clothing optional section of Haulover Beach is clearly marked with signs stating, "Beyond this point you may encounter nude sunbathers." There are multiple, manned lifeguard towers for swimmers' safety. Vendors selling food and renting beach umbrellas and beach chairs line the rear of the beach area. Volleyball courts are available and beachgoers of all ages, sizes and shapes join in impromptu volleyball games more for fun than competition.
The North and South sections of the clothing optional area of the beach are separated by a lifeguard tower. Traditionally, couples and families seem to set up their blankets, umbrellas and chairs to the South of the lifeguard tower while GLBT beachgoers seem to set up just North of the lifeguard tower.
Everyone is welcome to sit wherever they like though and people from all backgrounds, ages, races, sizes and shapes walk the shoreline and talk freely. One beachgoer told us, "It is a very liberating feeling. Everyone is the same here. People don't hide behind their clothes or judge anyone because of their clothes here. People just walk up and start a conversation. I wish there were more places like this!"
Michael Kush of South Florida Free Beaches/Florida Naturist Association, Inc., believes that nudity has been a part of civilized human culture for thousands of years. "The Greeks held the willingness to appear nude as a hallmark of 'civilized' culture.Greek historians Herodotos and Thukydides state unequivocally that the Olympics were held in the nude. It is widely attested by ancient sources that both the athletes and their coaches were required to be nude for the Olylmpic events," he said.
Haulover Beach is located at 10800 Collins Avenue, Miami, FL. For more information visit - http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/parks/haulover_park.asp
Parking is free for those who display a Handicap placard.
The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau welcomes LGBT travelers. Their website states, "Miami has a thriving Gay and Lesbian Visitors Center that promotes Miami as a year-round, gay and gay-friendly tourist destination. One of the world's hottest gay destinations, Miami Beach is high-energy and high fashion with exciting nightlife and 7 signature events throughout the year."
They offer a webpage dedicated to LGBT travelers at http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/camp/lgbt11/index.asp?ucid=MM2011-000332
For more information on South Florida Free Beaches/Florida Naturist Association, Inc., visit - http://www.sffb.com
Directions to Haulover Beach:
From the North:
- Take I-95 south
- Exit East (left) onto Ives Dairy Rd. Go 1.2 miles to Biscayne Blvd. (Use right lane because there is a barricade separating the right turn lane).
- Turn South (right) onto Biscayne Blvd (US-1). Go 2.2 miles.
- Turn East (left) onto SR 826 Sunny Isles Blvd. Go 1.6 miles.
- Turn South (right) onto Collins Ave Rt. A1A. Go 0.8 mile to first parking lot on right.
- Take I-95 or US-1 north.
- Exit East (right) onto NW 125 St (SR 922) across Broad Causeway to Collins Ave.
- Turn North (left) onto Collins Ave (Rt. A1A). Drive 1.4 miles through Bal Harbour and cross bridge to Haulover Parking Lot.
Haulover Photograph by Albert Pantaleon - Courtesy of South Florida Free Beaches/Florida Naturist Association, Inc., http://www.sffb.com
Article by Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong. Copyright 2011 Sunny Harbor Publishing. PO Box 560318 Rockledge, FL 32956. Phone: 321044607552. Email: SunnyHarborPublishing@yahoo.com
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