Just Another Day On The (Nude) Beach

Michelle Stimpson & Bill Stimpson_Honeymoon

Many of you who know Bill and me have heard this story before, and many of you have even graciously paid it forward and re-counted the legendary tale to friends; everyone enjoying a good laugh at our expense.

Through the years, we’ve had people who meet us for the first time say, “Oh! So you’re the couple who…” Yep, it’s us. So at your urging to share this story again—and because it definitely ties-in with following your joy—here it is in print.

Following our wedding day in 1994 we embarked on a honeymoon cruise to the Caribbean. The week of vacation was magnificent, and it was a wonderful way to start our new lives together, especially after all the fanfare of a big, traditional wedding.

On the cruise ship following our first day at sea, we attended a big meeting led by the Cruise Director telling us what to expect on our first port of call—the West Indian island of St. Maarten/St. Martin.

Getting “briefed” on the nude beach

“The island is half French and half Dutch,” he said, “And you may have heard about the nude beaches on the French side…” The group of about a hundred of us seated in the glitzy Las Vegas-style lounge snickered and giggled at the idea, but the voice behind the microphone abruptly stopped us: “Don’t get excited,” he said, “It’s not like you’ll see Bo Derek on the beach; it’s gonna be more like Bo Diddley.”

More laughter.

Then in addition to explaining a bit about shopping, taxis, and customs, the Cruise Director further explained that cameras would not be allowed on the clothing-optional section of the beach.

Everyone had a chance to ask their questions and on the way back to our cabin, my new husband of four days said to me, “So what do you think?”

Michelle Stimpson & Bill Stimpson_Honeymoon Cruise

That night before we fell asleep, we talked and nervously giggled some more about the possibility of visiting a nude beach. As the ship’s engine hummed through the starlit sea that night, we were rocked to sleep and drifted off into slumber, preparing for the next day’s adventures.

Ready to check it out

Morning came and St. Martin awaited us! After breakfast on the deck, we hailed a cab to the beach on the French side which came highly recommended: Orient Beach. And, just in case we got up the courage to see what all the hype was about…we were assured that yes, there was a nude section on that particular beach.

After a wild cab ride across the island, we got dropped off at this glorious stretch of beach. We began our excursion on the clothed side, and it was beautiful! The soft sand melted underneath our feet and the sun beat down on our tanned faces. We found a spot in the sand and planted ourselves.

But curiosity got the best of us! So off we went and made our way up the beach and eventually walked past a sign that warned visitors to leave their cameras behind.

There we were on the much talked about nude side of the beach. Lots of vacationers sans suits—sunbathing, swimming, or walking along the shore. And the Cruise Director was right: sexy film star Bo Derek was nowhere to be found.

Curious about this new experience—and hiding behind our sunglasses—we walked and we walked and we walked, taking it all in. And when we came to the end of the beach, we were at a sort of crossroads with a decision to make.

“What do you think?” “Do you want to?” “Should we?” we asked one another, knowing full well the reference of these vague inquiries. Back and forth, we conversed through uneasy laughter, realizing that this could be a priceless opportunity to get in on the fun, half-way across the world. After all, it was no big deal—this was the way they did it here. There were lots of nude families relaxing with their children, and no one seemed to care either way.

We chose to seize the opportunity.

Being brave

But wait! How and where do we strip down, we wondered? We didn’t see anyone else taking off their suits—they just sort of appeared naked.

More anxious chatter between us newlyweds ensued: “Do we go in the water and take off our suits and then walk around? Or should we go behind a tree and take them off, or what?” What was the etiquette here? We felt silly and weren’t sure how to proceed. After more fruitless discussion, I grew frustrated and said, “Okay, let’s stop this and just do it here!”

And so off came our suits.

We started walking hand-in-hand, with ear-to-ear smiles on our bright young faces. While my groom scrunched up his trunks neatly into a ball in his fist, I clutched my neon tropical bikini top complete with starchy underwire that measured a foot in length (that would not fold or give) with floral straps and all dangling in the breeze. It was obvious we were first-timers.

The Caribbean air felt incredible on our skin! What a rare opportunity to shed the beliefs we both held so tightly back home—to hide our bodies and their imperfections. These folks down here sure did it right!

About half a minute into our stroll and just starting to enjoy our newfound freedom, I squinted off into the distance and was horrified by an unnatural sight that jolted this perfect moment into a state of panic. “SH*T!” I shouted and squeezed my partner’s hand so tight that it almost cut off his circulation.

Leisurely strolling toward us on the beach was my husband’s co-worker and his wife…both with their suits ON!

Sheer panic

Do you ever hear about a defining moment in one’s life that makes time literally stand still? Well, this was one of them. In hindsight, the logical thing to do would have been to simply turn around and walk the other way; no problem. Instead, however, the panic button was fully activated inside both of us and we freaked. The “fight or flight” human response kicked into full gear. And so we ran! We ran up the beach, suits in hand, fearfully looking over our shoulders and hoping the couple didn’t see us.

A few minutes earlier we marveled at how wonderful it was that no one was looking at us, but now…everyone was looking at us. It was not fun to run naked. We made our way up the beach, dodging coolers and beach chairs, jumping over picnics, until we were safely away and could get those all-important suits back on ASAP! To put it mildly, our heart rates climbed up to danger levels.

Now clothed and exhausted from the adrenaline rush, we made our way back to our towels, packed up, and got our cab back to the ship. We were embarrassed and flustered.

At our table of six that evening at dinner—and during the nightly ritual of going around and answering the question, “What did you do today?”—we sheepishly recounted our experience to the group. And to our surprise, we were cheered on by our tablemates! They wished they had had the courage to do what we did! That new perspective helped us move from sheer embarrassment to now feeling a bit proud.

Michelle Stimpson & Bill Stimpson_Honeymoon Cruise

As our group dug into dessert, my hubby kicked me under the table. From across the dining room, the co-worker and his wife spotted us and rushed over with warm hellos and hugs! It turned out that this couple was also on their honeymoon and got married the same day we did. Who knew?! To this day, we still wonder if they saw us on the beach in St. Martin.

Moral of the story: It is a small world, after all.

Feeling proud

The couple walked away, and our tablemates busted up laughing, making a mess of their chocolate mousse. My true love and I exchanged glances across the table that needed no explaining. We were proud of ourselves for being brave and liked the idea that we had a story ‘to write home about.’

Fifteen years later, this tale lives on, and still reminds us to be bold and have some fun in life. And it’s a story that seems to bring joy to our friends who love (a little too much) to pass it along.

What crazy thing are you willing to try that would make your friends proud?!

*Note: Remember when you share your joy, the joy multiplies. This post was published in the May 2010 issue of Caribbean Travel + Life - exciting! However, the illustration is not us. :)

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30 Responses to “Just Another Day On The (Nude) Beach”

  • Bill says:

    What an adventure that was! And if we could do it all over again…I wouldn't change a thing! :)

  • Char says:

    You two were brave enough to do what so many of us never do, climb out of our shells and live in the moment!
    I laughed as I read and thought how fun and adrenaline surging that must have been! Look at the fun and laughter you have given so many over the years listening to your story!
    Thanks again for sharing! On a beautiful Texas morning reading your story put a smile on my face to start my day! Love you both!

  • Jane says:

    How wild! Just fifteen minutes ago I was thinking that I need to laugh more. Thanks for taking care of that this morning!!! :) Your account of it made me smile the whole way through. With Love!!

  • Anna says:

    You guys! That is so great! Every time I hear it it reminds me of a few times in my young adulthood . . . no specifics just sand pits and police lights!!!
    Thanks for reminding me!!!

  • Liv Lane says:

    That is hilarious! You are, indeed, brave souls. Maybe it's good that your skin wasn't exposed to the tropical sun for long. I remember being in France as a teen and one of the girls I was with decided to go topless on the beach…without sunscreen. That skin had never seen the sunlight so it burned in a flash. Needless to say, she spent the rest of the trip in a great deal of pain! Ouch!

  • Liv Lane says:

    And by the way – from the looks of this picture, it's obvious you got married when you were what, 14!?

  • Anonymous says:

    Bravo! What a fun story, Michelle!

  • Tracy says:

    What a great story…and one that I now will have the joy of passing on :-)

  • Faith says:

    I always love this story, Michelle. It certainly proves that most of what's holding us back is in only in our own mind!

  • Char says:

    I dare anyone to read and not smile and laugh at the joy of living life in the moment! Thanks for sharing!

  • Heidi says:

    I have one for you….My honeymoon…Jamaica…they had a little "nude island" off the shore as part of our resort. You took a little boat over there, small island with a tower and a tiny stocked bar on it, one rule, must be nude. Steve and I had befriended a couple from Switzerland, and they looked like swiss god and goddess…they would SWIM to the island every day. Steve spent 3 days trying to convince me to go to "the island". Finally I conceded. We took the boat, dreading the arrival of the God and goddess from their swim over, I removed my swimsuit and quickly flipped over and layed on my stomach, FREAKING out that I was doing this. As I lay there trying to quietly blend in with the rocks, hoping to have the time pass quickly and anonymously, I hear my husband's voice. I look up in horror as he is standing at the bar with the god and goddess, all naked, yelling "honey…c'mon over here!!!". I wanted to kill him…but I braved it, got up, white as a ghost I'm sure, and joined them. 5 minutes of horror and humility, were quickly replaced with laughter and completely "not caring"…and we ended up going back every day. it was freeing, and fun…with a little side of naughty. I still have pics of the hermit crab races they had on my back and butt."

  • Michele says:

    This is the best story, Michelle! I was grinning after just reading the title, knowing what was coming next. Hope you and Bill continue to make great memories! The rest of us who aren't quite so brave need some more good stories to tell. ;-)

  • Krista says:

    This is one of the funniest stories ever. I often tell it to people! :)

  • Hi! So glad to know you enjoyed this story and it gave you a good laugh!

    Anna, your story totally made me smile, and Heidi–your recount of the nude island is killin' me!!! Thanks, guys, for sharing your own stories.

    Liv, we have actually been back to that beach a few times throughout the years, so I do have a funny sunscreen story (another time). :)

    I'm enjoying smiling and laughing with all of you!

  • SHARON says:

    I could not even begin to think of a better story, Michelle! Here's to celebrating life at it's fullest!! ;) Love you, Sharon

  • Andrea says:

    I've heard this story & yet I still laughed reading it in your blog. Keep 'em coming!!!

  • Marilyn says:

    Michelle, I just read this hilarious recounting of your first time on Orient Beach. Love that story and, as one who has been there, I could smell and taste it! Felt like I was there. You both look about 12 in the picture. Oh, another option – you could have gone straight into the ocean. Running nude – ouch!

  • Bill L. says:

    As you said yourself…be bold and have a little fun in life. It’s like I said during our conversation, “I find myself blurting things out more and more”. Nothing ventured, nothing gained I guess. Kinda hard for an old farm boy from Iowa. Thanks for making my day last week, and again today with the story!

  • Ron W. says:

    B&M, the story is still fun to hear. After Marilyn and I traipsed past the jetty, and I dropped suit, Marilyn just had to do the same. Very freeing, but one that at our ages will likely not be repeated. Love you both…

  • I could absolutely picture you running and jumping over coolers, sans suits, and what that must have looked like. My gosh, that’s the stuff movies are made of!
    I loved reading this!

  • Great story, Michelle, and seriously, what are the odds of that happening!? Oh my goodness!! I think my reaction would be like your tablemates, I’m proud of you for being so bold. You definitely can hold your head high!! Thanks for sharing the story with us!

  • Hinda says:

    Loved the story, of course! And I thought it quite risque when I modeled a tiny bikini for my then new husband and the gorgeous Greek man in the bikini shop when we were in St. Thomas for our honeymoon! I have since said, “When I could, I wouldn’t and now that I can’t, I would!”
    Thanks for letting me live vicariously! Love you guys! Miss you! Hinda

  • Carol says:

    Still get a chuckle from your story, but even more, I’m impressed with your bravery to live a little with your hubby!

  • Connie Nelson says:

    I am laughing so hard as I’m reading your blog. I just called Joe to try and help me remember if we went to the nude beach on the 90th Trail cruise or if it was the Cardinal cruise or the time we went, just him and I. Whenever the fun was had, I remember having Joe say “C’mon…no big deal!…lets just do it!”…..I remember walking down the beach and desperately not wanting to make eye contact with ANYONE! Then we approached an outdoor resteraunt/bar. We wanted to go in and sit. We had noticed that a couple was leaving but we also noticed that they hadnt put down anything on the chairs before they put their nude butt on them. The thought of sitting on someone elses…….elses……well….you know….I just couldnt do it. We decided it was best to get back to the ship and eat/drink there :)
    Thanks again for the good memories………..

  • Shelly says:

    OHMYGOSH!!! I’m laughing out loud over here!!! That is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a while and so thankful you shared it again for those of us who haven’t seen it before! Too funny!

  • Best. Story. Ever.

    Love your blog!!!

  • Now YOU are all making me laugh and smile. Thanks for joining in on all the fun!!!

  • debbie & lowell says:

    You made us laugh alot!!!!That was a great story and very inspiring! You were so descriptive telling your experience, we felt like we were right there. We are happy to share in your new NUDE ESCAPADE!!!!!

  • Laura Carlson says:

    Your story just cracks me up. It brings me back to my 20′s. I was on a vacation with my boyfriend in the Dominican Replublic and the entire time before we left he kept talking about the beaches and how people don’t wear there tops on the beaches. Before we left I said sure I will go topless (not sure about the whole time) but what the heck. We were at our resort for a few hours and on the beach, sure enough I ran into a girl on the beach I went to college with and her husband that we ended up hanging out with on the trip. Needless to say my boyfriend was disappointed that I had to know someone because this girl wasn’t laying topless on the beach with friends there. So one day we walked down the beach to a private area and hung out for a few hours. Luckily I was not busted in action like you all were but what a great story for the rest of your lifes. Love it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kayla says:

    I’ve never heard this story, but I LOVE IT!!! You guys are so amazing and inspiring. Can’t wait for our next adventure:)

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Michelle Stimpson: Editor/Writer

Michelle Stimpson Hi and thanks for visiting - so glad you're here! This blog is especially for cool people who want to experience joy and live a life of purpose. Welcome!

Here you'll find great stories that will inspire you and remind you that life is good, and there's an abundance of joy all around us. Simply put: When you follow the things in life that make you come alive and bring you joy...the magic begins to unfold.

Start by checking out the "Best Of" page and be sure to consider subscribing above. Thank you and cheers to joy!

Michelle Joy Stimpson
Executive Editor & Writer
Life Coach, LifeShine

Bill Stimpson: Partner-In-Crime

Bill Stimpson Hi! Not only will you see me “show up” in many of Michelle’s stories and posts here, but I also serve as Michelle’s editor, helping her clarify intentions and make her posts shine.

One of the great joys in my life is being involved with this blog! It’s a constant reminder for me to focus on the things that bring me joy. It also feels great to be sharing so many of these joys with you - in hopes that you, too, will find ways to focus on your own joyful experiences.

Here's to an abundance of joy in your life!

Bill Stimpson
Hubby & Associate Editor

The Parent Company



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