Topless sunbathing is almost the norm on Gran Canaria among both tourists and the locals. Nudism is perfectly acceptable but you might get a few stares if you take your bathers off in the wrong place.
If you fancy letting it all hang out on Gran Canaria the easy option is to head to the main beach in front of the Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles tourist resorts. To find the nudist section, simply walk from either end towards the middle and stop when you find all the naked people in front of the sand dunes. The nude area even has a specific gay nude zone centred on the snack hut flying the big rainbow flag.
It has to be said that nude sunbathing on the Maspalomas beach is a bit surreal. A constant stream of fully clothed tourists walks along the water front and pretends not to stare at the naked people trying to get past them for a swim.
For a more discreet nude beach experience, head around the coast by bus from Maspalomas towards Arguiniguin and get off at the Montaña de Arena stop. A short walk along an old track brings you to the island’s local nude beach, set in front of a huge sand dune. Don’t go snap happy on Montaña de Arena beach as many of the locals don’t want their dangly bits turning up on Flickr. Take supplies as there are no facilities.
Most of the smaller beaches between Maspalomas and Mogan are clothing optional. You might need a car to get to them and you will have to hike down from the road. The simple rule to follow is to see what other people are doing and to tuck yourself away behind a rock if you are shy.
To really get away from it hike down from Tasartico to Gui Gui beach on the remote west coast of the island. The walk will take about three hours but you will probably have the beach all to yourself (apart from the resident hermit). Recently, a new Water Taxi service to Gui Gui has started running from Puerto de Las Nieves in the north west of the island. The trip takes 20 minutes and you can stay for as long as your water supply lasts. While camping is not allowed on Canarian beaches nobody ever checks Gui Gui because it is so remote. The Water Taxi will also drop you at nudist Guayedra, or you can walk there in an hour along the cliff path from Puerto de las Nieves.
Images: © 2010 Alex Bramwell