Thursday, 22 September 2011

Es Trenc (nudist?)

Is Es Trenc beach still a naturist paradise...?

Es Trenc is a well-known beach on the South Eastern coast of the Balearic Island of Majorca. It is located between two villages: Ses Covetes and Colonia de Sant Jordi. Considered by many as the most beautiful beach in the Balearics and often featured as one of the best naturist beaches in Spain, Europe or even the world, a distinctive characteristic of Es Trenc is that it is a "non urbanised" beach, that is, unspoilt by urban development: no hotels or apartments are allowed to be built along its more than 3kms of coastline. The beach is secluded, bounded by a nature reserve, with protected vegetation and dunes.

I believe there are 3 main points of entry to Es Trenc:
  • From the village of Colonia de Sant Jordi, past Estanys beach (this is how I always accessed Es Trenc)
  • From the small village of Ses Covetes (where many of the visitors seemingly park their cars)
  • From a car park located a few meters from the beach, behind its main bar/restaurant (a point of access that I have not tried myself)

Regardless of how one accesses Es Trenc, a question that seems to be unresolved is whether it really is a naturist beach nowadays. Of course, it always depends on what one classes as "nudist", I suppose. Based on various reports on the internet, there seem to be 3 schools of thought on the matter:
  • For some, it is an unspoilt nude paradise
  • For others, it used to be a clothing-optional paradise until it became too popular (especially with locals) and swimsuit-wearing beach users took over (or rather invaded) the beach, taking away from it its Eden-like, naturist atmosphere
  • Most reports seem to describe it as a beach which has a “nude section”

Although all three versions hold some element of truth, my personal experience in 2011 presented a more complex picture.

I will describe what I saw and experienced when I visited Es Trenc (and Majorca) for the first time at the end of August 2011.

As noted, I always accessed Es Trenc from Colonia de San Jordi, the village where I stayed for the 5 days of my visit. To reach Es Trenc from this village one first needs to walk along Estanys beach, which can be easily accessed from Hotel Marqués.  Estanys is a densely populated beach, long and fairly narrow, with fine white sand and calm clear waters. I guess it is the kind of beach people refer to as a “family beach”, with many toddlers and grannies. This beach is 100% “textile”, that is, everybody is wearing swimsuits (except for some of the toddlers). Some women sunbathe topless but that’s standard at any Spanish beach. This beach has a bar/restaurant called The Pine Trees.

Past Estanys, one encounters a relatively long pathway, snaking along the seaside.  The dunes and nature reserve are on one’s right as one walks towards Es Trenc. This rough path is sometimes rocky, sometimes sandy, often covered in algae but always an easy ride. The colour of the rocks is mostly pale, similar to the colour of the sand. A few yachts can be seen anchored nearby.

After walking for about ten minutes, one reaches a smaller beach, less populated than Estanys. The beach feels secluded and a bit wilder than the previous beach. Many of the people one encounters here are walking on their way to (or from) Es Trenc. Of those who stay to sunbathe and swim at this beach, the majority (I’d say more than 75%) are nude. Many of them are middle-aged German couples. Past this predominantly nudist beach, one can find a sandy path between rocks, which leads to what I believe is the beginning of Es Trenc proper.

The sand in Es Trenc is fine and light coloured, the water clean and quiet. Algae often pile up where the waves break gently on the sand.

The first few yards of Es Trenc could be described as no man’s land. This stretch of the beach is not very populated. Some people wear swimsuits, some don’t.

One can soon distinguish a beach bar/restaurant in the short distance. As one approaches the bar, past the first set of bunkers and a lifeguard tower, the beach gets busier and busier. The bar, rather large and decorated as a cabana, hosts a restaurant with wooden tables. The most populated part is the area surrounding the bar and the long row of sun loungers and umbrellas for rent on its right hand side. The crowd here is generally younger and less “family-oriented” than at Estanys beach, but the vibe is predominantly “textile”. In this section of the beach, everybody wears swimsuits apart from a few isolated nude sunbathers at the far end of the row of sun loungers and the surroundings of the first set of bunkers.

This section of the beach ends in a rather scenic point, a few rocks marking the separation between this and the next section, with a short sandy path leading to a second bar, past a deserted construction (an old mill?). As one looks in over the low walls which surround the old construction, one is faced with a little pond. On one of the walls of the derelict building, a faded spray sign pleads in Catalan: “Salvem Es Trenc” (“Let’s save Es Trenc”).   

The second bar (called “The Bar in the Middle”) is next to a lifeguard tower and is a bit smaller (and somewhat pricier) than the previous bar. No loungers or umbrellas for rent here. The stretch of beach around this bar is less populated than the previous section but is still busy and predominantly textile. However as one moves away from this area, in the direction of a second set of bunkers, more and more nude sunbathers can be seen amidst the swimsuit-clad beach users.

From now on, the beach becomes more sparsely populated and the vibe is clearly “clothing optional”: nude and swimsuit-wearing punters co-exist. The second set of bunkers mark an area with a larger proportion of people, including families. Sprayed on the walls of the bunkers read signs like: “Nude only" or "Zone Sex . Couples”.  Past the bunkers, the beach takes a slight turn to the left. The long stretch of beach which lies ahead (all the way to Ses Covetes) is predominantly nudist and comprises at least half of Es Trenc beach. This section feels closer to nature, more relaxed.

As one walks on, in the direction of the third set of bunkers, one even comes across a section which is clearly used mainly by gay men…

There is a new concentration of beach users (both nude and textile) around the third set of bunkers.

A few yards ahead of this set of bunkers, at the far end of the beach, one bumps into a new row of sun loungers and umbrellas that announce the third bar/restaurant of the beach. This area is popular with families and the vibe is predominantly textile. But, still, some of the sun loungers closest to the bunkers are used by nudists.

From this end of Es Trenc one can access directly the small village of Ses Covetes. I never ventured into the village but the houses one can see from the beach all seem uninhabited and derelict… It is a picturesque view.

In summary, Es Trenc is an established clothing-optional resort. One is free to go naked anywhere on the beach. One can even have a drink at the bars in the nude without any hassle (unlike bars by nudist beaches in e.g. Ibiza). Obviously, it can be intimidating to be naked in the busiest textile-dominated sections. However, apart from the odd raised eyebrow or nervous giggle, beach users in those areas seem to be relaxed about other people’s nudity even if they don’t practice it themselves.

Es Trenc is a beautiful beach and, arguably, it caters to the many tastes of diverse holiday makers. Whether you like your beach busy and lively or sexy and adventurous or secluded and natural, you are likely to find a spot on the beach that suits your preference. One could even say that Es Trenc is gay-friendly and family-friendly at the same time – that is, of course, if one goes with the right set of mind… and finds the right spot.