It had been a long morning rambling around LokrumIsland.The midday heat was now steadily rising and I was ready to take a plunge into the sparkling water. In search of a quiet beach I followed a small stony track through the pine woods to a large metal gate with an unignorable sign reading FKK and another stating that no cameras were allowed. It seemed a little odd but the sea was in sight and I didn’t want to walk any further.
Once inside the gate it was all too clear why cameras were forbidden. I was pleased to have my sunglasses on to hide my shocked expression and involuntary wondering eyes as I found myself on one of Croatia’s many nudist beaches.
Keen to get to a private spot as quickly as possible I scrambled down a rock face to a flat sun-bathing area: A rocky ledge about two meters wide with high rocky walls all around and only one more short cliff face between me and the sea; perfect. I spread out my towel, stripped down to my bikini and lay down.
But after a few minutes I heard voices and opened my eyes to see two pairs of impossibly brown legs walk along the edge of the rock face above me. Suddenly I felt conspicuous and out of place. Wearing my bikini, I felt like I was violating an unwritten code: As though my shameless modesty was an act of grievous public indecency. I suddenly felt that a thousand eyes were watching me. Fingers were surely pointing. Tongues were undoubtedly wagging. I could no longer relax. Each time I heard a voice I began to blush. My bikini made me feel naked: I had no choice but to remove it.
After a brief period of acclimatisation, I was ready to brave the short walk over to the edge of the rock to take a much needed dip in the sea. I stood up, anticipating an audience of uncomfortable stares, but instead felt almost invisible. Normally it would have taken me at least a few minutes to find a safe place to lower myself into the water and to check for sea urchins on the rocks but my naked backside pointing towards the sunbathers and my full frontal display of nudity to those already in the water quickly motivated me to leap from the rock and crash into the otherwise peaceful sea. This in itself drew more attention than my nudity ever would have done.
Once in the water my anxiety washed away. The sea was warm but refreshingly cool compared to the hot air. I floated silently on the gentle waves and enjoyed the stillness of staring up at the sky. But soon the silence was interrupted. I heard the roar of a speed-boat passing. It was only a matter of time before the violent waves reached me. Frantically I swam as fast as I could back over to the rock face and desperately tried to find a ledge to climb up on, but the rocks were steep and, as it turned out, covered in urchins. I swam along the edge until I found an urchin-free ledge. With great relief I clambered out of the water before the first big wave crashed onto the rocks. But I then found myself enclosed on a small ledge with high rock faces all around. I looked back at the sea but the waves were now coming faster and bigger. The only way was up.
I reached up and put my right hand into a crack about six inches above my head. I put my right foot into a small groove and stretched my left arm up to search for another grip. I scrambled to get my left foot into a secure position.
“Can I help you?” a Germanic voice enquired from above my head.
“No, I’m ok; thank you!” I replied as I grasped hold of the top ledge and ungracefully dragged my body over, scraping and grazing my knees and bruising my elbows on the way.
The fear I had had of the crashing waves and spiky sea urchins was now outdone by the uneasiness of having to make polite conversation with a naked stranger. I dashed back along the beach to where my clothes were, chucked them on and made for the exit. As I passed back out of the metal gates I felt a sense of liberation that those inside no doubt experienced as they entered.