I traveled around Australia with five friends during spring break 2005. We were spending our last three days in the Gold Coast, just south of Brisbane. We had some plans set- like a pub crawl and a XXXX Brewery tour- but first we had to see the ocean.
We walked from our hostel to the beach. I understood immediately why it was called the Gold Coast; there was golden skin showing everywhere. People in this part of Australia seemed to find clothing to be optional. As I looked across the beach, all I could see was bronzed butts, small bulges under men’s Speedos, and the occasional set of bare breasts.
When I took a break from admiring the miles of skin, I noticed that the beach was perfect too. The teal ocean and white sand made Australia look like a Corona ad.
My friends and I laid out our towels and lightly doused ourselves with sunscreen. I thought the day couldn’t get any better, and then I went into the ocean. It felt like bathwater.
I had found an abandoned boogie board while walking to the beach, and now we all took turns riding the waves to shore.
I had just had a successful cruise on the board, and I stood up in the ankle-deep water, smiling. Matt was watching me from his towel. He shouted, “Hey Anna! Put your tit away!” I looked down, and sure enough, my boob had popped out of my swimsuit during my boogie board ride to shore.
I laughed and shoved my boob back under the fabric. Matt shook his head. I started walking back to my towel, and as I did, I untied the knot at the nape of my neck. “What are you doing?” Matt asked.
“Well, when in Australia…” I said, pulling off my bikini top. Matt shook his head again and looked away, and his girlfriend laughed at me. I flopped onto my back, threw a towel on my face, and relaxed under the sun. I could feel the ocean water across my body drying instantly.
Kyle had come out from the water also. He sat next to me smoking and drying off. Suddenly he laughed. I peeked at him from under my face-towel. “What?”
“Those guys over there have been staring at you this whole time,” he said. “Now they’re pretending to take pictures of each other but they’re just taking pictures of you.”
I laughed. “Do you think I should sit up, give them a different angle of my body?”
Eventually I put my shirt on, and we walked back to our hostel. As dusk approached, Kyle and I made a secret pact… we would skinny dip before the trip ended. Our goal was to spring it on everyone else and make them all skinny dip with us. If asked ahead of time, none of them would agree to baring all, so we had to act like it was a spur of the moment thing.
We showered up before going out that night. All of us had tans emerging from our one day in the sun. Kyle had used a spray bottle of sunscreen, and hadn’t asked anyone to help him rub it in. As a result, he had a red back with splotches of white-boy skin. He looked very giraffe-like.
Later that night after dinner and drinks four of us went for a walk to the beach. Kyle had brought his backpack with our towels, but he was usually backpacked so it wasn’t suspicious. We sat in the sand for a while, talking, and then Kyle said, “Hey, anyone want to swim?”
“I do!” I said, faking spontaneity.
“Um, I would,” said Mal, “but I don’t have a swimsuit.”
“So what?” I said. “We’re on vacation!”
Kyle patted his backpack. “And I think I might have a towel or two in here.”
Our friends were quiet for a second. Then Matt said, “You guys totally planned this.”
We laughed. Busted.
“I’m NOT skinny dipping,” Mal told Matt.
“Me neither.” They stood up and slid their flip flops back on. “We’ll see you guys later,” they said, heading towards our hostel.
“Well that didn’t work,” I said. “But I’m still swimming!”
Kyle and I stripped down, dropping our clothes in a pile, and then we ran into the sea. It was cooler than it’d been in the daytime, but it still felt nice. We bobbed in the water, getting splashed in the face by the salty waves. He was braver than me and ventured out further. I stayed waist deep for the most part.
Oddly, I felt a little creeped out. The waves were black at night, and slapped at my skin with more force than the gentle foamy waves had in the daytime. “Hey, ready to go back,” I called out.
Kyle was just a white blur in the distance. “Yeah, it’s about that time,” he said, turning to come back.
We made our way to the towels and started sorting through our clothes. “Hey, we should walk back to the hostel like this,” Kyle said. Our hostel was about ten minutes away.
“You mean… naked?” I asked. He nodded and I smiled. “Why not? We skinny dipped, might as well streak too.”
We put our clothes in Kyle’s backpack. He passed me a cautionary towel, and I threw it over one shoulder… just in case.
As soon as we reached the sidewalk, we started passing some businesses. Luckily there were few people outside. We were walking past a hotel when we spotted two men walking in our direction on the same sidewalk. Kyle pushed me towards the hotel entrance. “Let’s wait ‘til they pass,” he said.
We sat together on a small concrete ledge and I tried to cover my breasts with my hair, like a mermaid. It didn’t work. My dreadlocks were about five inches too short. I wasn’t sure mermaids had dreadlocks anyway, so I opted to slide the towel further down my shoulder until it covered my torso and rested on my lap.
The men didn’t pass by; they turned to walk into the hotel that we were sitting beside. They had been wobbling as they walked and I thought they might go into the lobby without noticing the two naked people outside. No such luck.
“Hi ya,” one of the men slurred at us. “How you doing a’night?”
“Pretty good,” Kyle said casually. I choked back laughter.
The other man leaned back a bit, squinted, and seemed to notice we were dripping all over the sidewalk. “Were yous swimmin’?”
“Yeah,” I said.
He gestured to the hotel, which presumably had a pool. “In there?”
“No,” said Kyle. He waved his hand in the direction of the ocean. “Over there.”
The first man lit a cigar and looked at us, as if for the first time. “In the ocean?”
“Well I hope you wasn’t bonkin’ in the shallows,” he said.
“No,” Kyle said quickly.
I couldn’t help smiling though. “What’s wrong with bonkin’ in the shallows?”
“Oh nuthin’. I reckon it’s a fine idea. Except the bait fish come out at night and that attracts sharks.”
My jaw dropped. Stupid Midwestern me had been too familiar with freshwater to have consider the dangers of the ocean. Sharks!?
Kyle played it much cooler. He stood up, exposing his front to the men. “Well, goodnight,” he said. He flipped his towel over his shoulder and marched off. His white butt glowed in the moonlight, shifting below his backpack with every step he took.
I giggled and followed him, my butt jiggling as I tried to catch up.
Seven minutes later we neared our hostel. As we passed the gas station out front, a woman stared at us. Realizing that she was looking at naked people, she nudged her friends and pointed.
(written in 2011)