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Turtle Cove Resort, Australia. Photo: Gareth Johnson Turtle Cove Resort, Australia. Photo: Gareth Johnson

Destinations

A gay clothing-optional resort

Turtle Cove Resort, Australia. Photo: Gareth Johnson

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There’s not many gay resorts in Australia.

There are lots of gay and lesbian friendly places — on the whole Australia is a pretty liberal country and most accommodation providers are keen for your business, whatever your sexuality.

Turtle Cove is exclusively gay. No straights allowed.

I’m not sure how they screen for that, if you wanted to try and smuggle a straight guy in I don’t think it would be too hard, but in principle it is gay only.

My stay at Turtle Cove was the first time that I’d stayed at a gay-only resort or hotel of any kind. I’d never even done a gay cruise. I was travelling by myself, staying for a couple of days to do some thorough research.

The best way to access this region is to fly in to Cairns, on the northeast coast of Australia. There are shuttle services that operate from the airport, but it’s much more convenient to hire a car. I picked up my hire car from the airport and headed north.

Discreetly sign-posted, Turtle Cove is just off the picturesque Captain Cook Highway that runs along the coast between Cairns and Port Douglas.

As you drive in, first impressions are a little underwhelming, but as I walked through into the reception area I could already begin to glimpse the clear blue ocean that the resort looks out upon.

It’s a unique setting, right on the beach. They don’t really do private beaches in Queensland, so technically anyone can come and use the beach. But, protected by rocks at either end, Turtle Cove is effectively blessed with its own beautiful stretch of sand.

The room was modern and functional. Not over-the-top luxurious, but very comfortable. Free, non-stop gay porn on channel one — extra points for that.

I’d arrived in the early afternoon and everything seemed pretty quiet. I quickly got changed into a pair of shorts and a tank-top and headed down to the beach. It was clearly sign-posted as clothing optional.

Perhaps emboldened by the fact that I couldn’t see anyone else on the beach, with only a moment’s hesitation I stripped off and made myself comfortable on the sand. It will sound naff, but there’s something incredibly liberating about sunbathing naked.

Stupidly I didn’t bring any sunblock with me, so I couldn’t stay out too long — there were parts of my body that hadn’t seen the sun in a long time. No one wants a sun-burnt butt.

While the beaches along this coast are spectacular, and the water a magical clear blue, I’m always a bit apprehensive about jumping into the waves in this part of the world — there are big signs everywhere warning about the dangers of jellyfish and crocodiles.

The coastal forest runs right down to the beach in most places, and I guess there must be a few crocodiles around, though I haven’t really heard of any floating around out in the sea — but no one wants to be that swimmer.

The jellyfish around here are a bit more ubiquitous. There are two types of jellyfish to watch out for — the Irukandji Jellyfish are really small at about 2cm in diameter, but their sting packs a real punch and will cause severe pain, nausea, and vomiting. The other one to watch out for is the Box Jellyfish. These are quite enormous — a small bucket-like body that trails incredibly long stingers. If you get stung it’s extremely painful and will scar.

I was visiting in mid-July, which technically is not jellyfish season, however I didn’t venture any further into the water than my ankles. I was already feeling a bit vulnerable being naked, I didn’t want to get stung or bitten on any of my more sensitive areas.

Of course, one of the reasons to come to this part of the world is to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Once you’re out on the reef you can swim safely and without fear of attack from anything too life-threatening. Even the reef sharks won’t try and take a bite out of you.

Having topped up my all-over tan, I headed back up to the resort buildings and took a swim in the pool. This was all clothing optional too, I was really getting into the swing of this.

I grabbed a drink in the bar and chatted with the resort’s manager Bert Gerbrands. It was Bert who first established Turtle Cove. The current owners purchased the property in 2009 — one of the first things that they did was track Bert down in Thailand and bring him back to manage the resort.

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Turtle Cove is not a five star, luxurious, eco-friendly lodge. It’s clear that in its recent past, the resort has been through a relatively dark period of under-investment.

However, the new owners are enthusiastic about the future of Turtle Cove as a gay-only vacation destination, and are keen to restore it to its former glories.

You don’t have to be staying at the resort to enjoy access to the beach, the pool, and the bar. Bert and the team are very welcoming to anyone staying in the area who fancies calling in for a bit of clothing optional tanning, swimming, and socializing.

Dinner that evening was a BBQ, most people chose to sit around the communal tables — a mixture of couples and people traveling by themselves, it was a really social and friendly atmosphere, everyone chatting, laughing, and trading stories.

I’d been a bit apprehensive that an exclusively gay, clothing optional resort would somehow be a bit sleazy. It really wasn’t. If you were looking for sex with other guys then that was clearly an option. However, there were also plenty of guys there who just wanted to enjoy the spectacular surroundings and hang out in a friendly resort where you can just relax and be yourself.

Maybe this is what gay heaven will be like. I hope so.

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Destinations

Travel Tuesday: Faro and Algarve

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The beaches of Faro and Algarve (image published via Pixabay)
The beaches of Faro and Algarve (image published via Pixabay)

By Lionel Hierso - LH Travel Designer

In today’s Travel Tuesday destination guide, we take a look at Faro and Algarve in Portugal.

When to go

The Algarve is one of the most beautiful regions in Portugal. Very friendly but also very gay friendly. The best time to go there is between April and November when you can have really nice temperatures. This region is known for its Atlantic beaches and golf resorts. Discover fishing villages on low cliffs overlooking sandy coves, and the central coast between Lagos and Faro is lined with villas, hotels, bars and restaurants.

Dating

Faro and its surrounding area offers loads of possibilities to meet people. You have the choice of bars and dance clubs around Faro. After Lisbon and Porto, Faro is without a doubt the new gay destination to discover in Portugal.

  • Zablucha, Cupido and Afrodite (sex shops)
  • Prestige dance club
  • Connection bar
  • The loft gay bar
  • Heaven club

If you enjoy being naked and enjoy an all-over tan, the following gay nudist beaches are the perfect places to also meet new friends and enjoy yourself!

Clothing-optional beaches around Faro:

  • Praia Grande
  • Praira do cavalota Preto
  • Praia do Submarino
  • Manta Rora

Unofficial nudist beaches:

  • Praia Da Bordeira
  • Praia do Beliche
  • Praia Cabana Velhas
  • Praia Das Furnas
  • Praia Do Zavial
  • Praia Dos Pinheiros and Meia Praia in Lagos
  • Praia Do Trafal
  • Praia Da Futeza
  • Praia De Ancao reached by boat from Sitio da Fabrica in Vila Real de Santo
  • Antonio just west from Monte Gordo

Accommodation

In terms of accommodation in Faro, I would strongly recommend the Pine Cliff Resort. I had the chance to stay there for a couple of days last year and I really enjoyed it. This amazing resort is very well situated in the Algarve. The resort is what I would call an affordable luxury resort. With your other half or a group of friends, the Pine Cliff offers standard rooms but also townhouses, standard villas, deluxe villas with private pool, suites and penthouses, and golf suites. Your private transfer and breakfast is included and you can also request a private cook. The resort also organises cooking classes. There’s also a private beach, and of course a swimming pool and spa. Experience the Pine Cliff you won’t regret it!

Pine Cliff Resort, Faro (image supplied)
Pine Cliff Resort, Faro (image supplied)
Pine Cliff Resort, Faro (image supplied)

As an alternative, I would also suggest the Thermas Pride Guest House and Spa for men in Albufeira.

Food

Traditional food in Algarve includes:

  • Conquilhas a Algarvia (succulent clams fresh from the sea in a garlic sauce.
  • Cataplana de Marisco (mixed sea food and vegetables)
  • Petiscos de Taberna (Similar to Spanish tapas)
  • Feijoada (bean stew with pork and beans)
  • Dom Rodrigos (Tarts and pastries very popular in Potugal)
  • Leitao (suckling pig smothered in herb and roasted)
  • Caldo verde (succulent soup with potatoes, kale, bacon and sausages)
  • Queijo (local cheese)

Don’t forget to try the Portuguese wine which is one of the best in the world!

Gay restaurants in Algarve:

  • Aperitivo bar (Faro)
  • Cocktail and wine bar Columbus (Faro)

What to do

  • Bus tours
  • Horse riding
  • Kite Surf
  • Surf
  • Diving
  • Yachts and private boats for parties
  • Reef fishing
  • Big game fishing
  • 2-hour boat ride to see the coastline and caves
  • Jeep safaris
  • Karting
  • Museums
  • Theme parks
  • Cooking classes
  • Wine testing
  • Tours
  • Yoga classes

Contact Lionel Hierso - LH Travel Designer to start planning your next expedition or email [email protected]

Read more from Gareth Johnson

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