What makes for a gorgeous beach? A great panorama, a unique setting, and of course the scantily clad patrons. The most stunning gay-popular beaches way down south are, not surprisingly, remote, undeveloped, and thus frequently clothing-optional?with a couple of urban choices for you city slickers. The perfect locales to tan away your Northern Hemisphere winter blues:
1. Sandy Bay Cape Town, South Africa
This roomy, secluded beach facing the Atlantic is one of the most picturesque in Africa. Close to upscale neighborhoods but occupying some of the last undeveloped coastline of the Cape Peninsula, Sandy Bay is a short drive from Cape Town. The bay is marked by huge granite outcrops that make natural wind buffers. Sloping mountains loom above, coated with virgin forests of the Table Mountain Nature Reserve. On a busy weekend, the southern part of this unofficial nude beach hosts hundreds of gay men but still doesn?t feel crowded.
2. Noosa Queensland, Australia
In the lush, tropical state of Queensland, Noosa is an upscale, gay-popular resort town butting up to Noosa National Park. Full of koalas, possums, birds, and wildflowers, the park is also home to Alexandria Bay Beach (call it ?A Bay? if you want to sound local). It?s here where a loyal following of gays, lesbians, and surfers enjoy the year-round bathtub warm water and the wide, private stretch of sand surrounded by untouched rain forest. And it wouldn?t be Australia without a party: A Bay is also home to the annual Alexandria Beach Carnival, with nude sack races, marathons, tugs-of-war, and conga lines. Crikey!
3. Plage de la Souris-Chaude R?union Island
Although unknown by most Americans, French tourists flock to the 970-square-mile, volcanically dramatic island of R?union in the Indian Ocean for its rugged scenery and upscale resorts. Located about 450 miles east of Madagascar, it?s the last place on earth you?d expect to find gay tourists, but congregate on this tolerant racially mixed isle they do?at not one but two beaches: La Souris Chaude (which literally means ?the Hot Mouse?) and to a lesser extent the black sand beach of L??tang-Sal?. Remote La Souris Chaude on the east coast of the island is scenically punctuated with black lava rocks jutting up from the yellow sand.
4. Little Palm Beach Waiheke Island, New Zealand
This quaint, gay-popular beach near Kiwiland?s big city of Auckland is a sandy inlet around the rocky corner from (larger) Palm Beach. Typically, 30 to 50 sunbathers show up?gay and straight, clothed and nude?to swim in the cool, clear water. Boats anchor offshore for nautical barbecues, only a few tasteful homes dot the landscape, and a small grocery store on one end of the beach dispenses ice cream. Little Palm Beach is a great reason for a day trip on vineyard- and mansion-filled Waiheke Island, which can be reached via a popular ferry ride from Auckland.
5. Farme Beach Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
You can?t leave Rio without spotting a ?Barbie??one of those bronzed, muscled, Speedo-clad demigods who naturally inhabit the sands of this gorgeous city the way other beaches collect seashells. Rio?s foremost ?Barbieland? is rainbow-flagged Farme Beach in Ipanema, close to the district?s gay caf?s and bars. Mixed in with Farme?s onslaught of perfect flesh are lesbians, twinks, and even closeted TV stars (or so they say). The scenery extends beyond the beachgoers themselves with Farme?s hazy, mountainous, painting-like backdrop.