Want to know one of Crimea's best-kept secrets? Nude beaches

The World
Natalia Antonova at the beach in Crimea with her child, 2011.

You might have a mental picture of Crimea, the peninsula in the Black Sea that Russia has officially annexed. It's famous for its coastline, its old Soviet-era spas, the Black Sea Fleet. Bet you didn't know Crimea's also famous for its nude beaches.

Natalia Antonova, editor of the Moscow News, says one of the most famous nude beaches in Crimea is a place called Fox Bay (the answer to our Geo Quiz).

"Lisya (Fox) Bay is so named because of the red clay in the area. I don't think it has any foxy-ish connotations," Antonova says. "The last time I was there was a couple of years ago. It's mostly a place for hippies and people with children, so it's fun."

Fox Bay is one of the most well-known nude beaches in the Crimea. There's also a pretty famous one called Koktebel which also hosts an annual jazz festival. Antanova says the beaches have their own relaxed vibe.

"It's not that you have to be nude, but they are 'clothing optional' and lots of people tend to bathe in the nude," she says. "The first time I went was because I was just curious about it. Then I realized that the best thing about the place is that there are little islands of civilization in Crimea."

Antanova says there's not a lot of "cheesy pop music, there's not a lot of drinking going on there. They are more European, I would say, in their atmosphere. When people are swimming, fishing or grilling fish, there's this kind of Eden-like atmosphere to it ... because it's all on display and yet, nobody seems to care."

Antonova's tweet caught our attention.

So does she think Russia banning nude beaches in Crimea is a real possibility? Not likely.

"I really can't see Russia stepping in and saying you can't have these [nude beaches] anymore," she says. "I mean, maybe some businessmen may move in and develop these areas."

But she says many of her Crimean friends, especially the ones who identify with Russia, are very excited about the prospects for development and investment in tourism infrastructure. 

"They are really tired of the general chaos because successive Ukrainian regimes have mismanaged the Ukrainian economy, and particularly Crimea's economy," Antonova says. "Crimea during the Soviet Union was once the jewel of Soviet tourism."

Antonova says it is where everyone went. But now, many of the Soviet buildings have gone to seed.

"I think Crimeans really want a resurgence, they want normal tourism money, better tourism infrastructure, and yes, they want Russia to help out with that. I don't know how it will work out, but there is that hope there."

Her final advice about this unique place in the world?

"Everyone should definitely, at least once in their life, go to Crimea, go to a nude beach, camp out there for a week. It's a fun experience. It's definitely something I will remember for the rest of my life."

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