**Warning: Some of the photos in this article err on the NSFW side… but I was at a nude beach after all**
Given the fact that Montreal is an island, one thing it is seriously lacking in is a soft, sandy beach for tanning by day and all-night beach parties complete with the most liberating summertime activity of all: skinny dipping. Sure, there’s the wimpy man-made “beach” at Ile Notre-Dame, but you can tell the scratchy sand was just brought in on a giant truck, the water is so murky and unappealing and it’s always overcrowded with screaming children. There are a few notable pools and secret swimming holes scattered throughout the island, but none come close to the sublime paradise of Oka Beach on the shore of the Lake of Two Mountains.
Oka National Park is easily accessible by car, at about an hour’s drive out on highways 13 and 360. However, if you’re vehicular-challenged like me and pretty much all my friends, two wheels will get you there almost as easily. You can opt for the 50 kilometer bike ride along the scenic Route Verte, part of Quebec’s intricate system of cycling trails. Instead, we chose to take the AMT train to suburban big-box wasteland of Vaudreuil. After that, we biked about 10 kilometers to Hudson and took the ferry across the lake to Oka for a total cost of $9. After that it was only about a 20 minute ride to the campsite, through the tree-laden path to the National Park.
No Tan Lines!
The beach at Oka has two distinct sections: the family-friendly side near the campsite that is littered with brightly-colored umbrellas. Finding a prime spot can be difficult, especially during summer weekends as the sandy real estate becomes densely populated with towels and suntanners. A short walk to the left of the main beach is where the fun begins – there’s a magical yellow pole that welcomes you into a public space where it’s completely legal to remove your clothes and frolic in the sun, sand and surf.
You’ll know you’ve reached the nude section of the beach when you spot boats and jetskis docked near the shore, as they are not permitted to park on the main beach. Another dead giveaway is the buck naked middle-aged men with leather skin tans that proudly walk the shoreline, stealing glances at the swimmers and sunbathers. One of the best things about a nude beach is no tan lines, but make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen so you have enough to cover all your bits for the nude beach – nothing hurts more than sunburnt nipples.
Beware the Rustling Bushes
When I mentioned to a friend that I was spending the weekend at Oka, she told me last time she was on the nude beach, she was openly propositioned by a man who asked if she wanted to have sex with right there on the sand. “It really put a damper on my nude frolicking,” she lamented. I wasn’t going to let any of those unabashed perverts ruin my naked fun… but luckily I didn’t encounter any of them. I did see many groups of happy people of all ages in various states of undress. Every once in awhile, my eyes would drift to the tree-lined edge of the beach where I would see a rustling in behind the leaves that I was pretty sure wasn’t the racoons that roamed the campsites when darkness fell.
Do Not Feed The Raccoons, As They Will Eat Anything
Camping facilities were standard at the National Park – we opted for the cheapest type of site without electricity. I noticed signs throughout the park that offered the standard “do not feed the wildlife” refrain, and as such we tried to keep a very close watch on our food… however we soon learned that hungry raccoons will eat almost anything.
After having a little too much to drink, one of my friends threw up all that excess liquor into a clearing at the side of our campsite. When the raccoons arrived that night, they must have been intrigued by the vomit’s sweet smell, as they proceeded to chow down. Word to the wise – if you thought raccoons were crazy, you’ve never met a drunken raccoon. Luckily we had consumed the rest of the booze and with our food safely stowed away, the raccoons stumbled off into the night to look for more puddles of alcoholic vomit.
Photos: Top by Jessica Klein, others by Marlon Francescini.