A few years ago, I spent a week staying at both Desire Riviera Maya Resort and Desire Pearl — two clothing optional couples only all inclusive resorts located just outside Cancun, Mexico.
The plan was simple: meet up with one of my best friends, Mark, and two other friends (a couple) for some much needed R&R under the sun. Bathing suits optional.
I was there as a journalist to write about the properties, but over the course of the week I ended up falling in love with the clothing optional resort experience.
Truth be told, inaugural visit to the Desire resorts wasn’t my first “nakation.” Before Covid, I spent 10 months traveling from Mexico to Jamaica and back again, visiting clothing optional resorts — including Desire’s sister property Temptation Cancun — to write about them for my weekly Toronto Sun column.
People always have questions about what it’s like to visit clothing optional adult resorts and go skinny dipping in the tropics. If you’re reading this, you probably do too!
So, let’s start with the most frequently asked questions about going to Desire for the first time.
Are people naked all the time?
Desire resorts are clothing-optional. This means that you have the option of being naked in most areas of the resort. However, if you’re worried you’ll see errant appendages pressed against the sneeze-guard at the morning omelette station, fear not. Clothing is required in the main dining areas for obvious reasons.
Should I go to Desire Riviera Maya or Desire Pearl?
This is probably the most common question I get. My answer: it all depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for.
Before I arrived, I was told that Desire Riviera Maya has a more lively party atmosphere, whereas Desire Pearl is quieter and more retreat-like. This generally held true.
If you’re looking to make new friends (or playmates), Desire Riviera Maya is where it’s at. Designed to feel like a village, the property consists of a cluster of low rises that face tropical gardens and the Caribbean sea. Dreamy daybeds with flowing white curtains flank the beach and pool areas, where you can lounge nude. The rooms are on the smaller side, but we found we spent most of our time poolside (during the day) or enjoying the restaurants & bars (in the evening) anyways, so it wasn’t an issue.
In comparison, the atmosphere at Pearl is noticeably more mellow and has a quiet, romantic feel. While you can definitely still meet people at Desire Pearl, the resort is larger and more spread out, which means it’s easier to keep to yourself. While Pearl has a nightclub and jacuzzi lounge, it seemed much less busy than at Maya. The vibe was that of a secluded, couples-only romantic retreat (sans clothes).
I like to break it down like this:
Desire Maya: couple oriented, sexy and romantic. Has a lively party scene and lots of opportunities to socialize. Clothing optional. Couples only.
Desire Pearl: couple oriented, sexy and romantic. Has a more relaxed, serene, retreat-like vibe but still with opportunities to meet people/socialize. Clothing optional. Couples only.
Temptation: Sexy, fun, raucous party vibe with lots of opportunities to socialize. Topless optional. Couples and singles.
Can I suntan nude on the beach?
Yes! The beach area directly in front of the Desire properties is perfect for nude sunbathing. However, if you decide to move further down the beach — for example, to the public areas — you’ll need to put on a bathing suit or clothing of some kind.
Will I feel self-conscious?
Not going to lie, if you’ve never been to a nude resort, stripping down feels weird at first. However, that feeling quickly goes away when you look around you and see bodies of every shape and size. It almost feels more weird to have clothes on!
Here’s something most people don’t realize about clothing optional resorts: they’re incredibly body positive. You will literally see every kind of body possible.
And when in doubt, a few margaritas help!
Is it okay to wear a bathing suit if I feel more comfortable in one?
Definitely. As I mentioned above, it’s clothing optional. This may surprise you, but I can be a bit shy when it comes to showing off my body! The first time I visited Desire, I started off wearing a bathing suit and then slowly shed the layers as I became more comfortable. While the majority of the guests are (at the very least) topless, the crowd is extremely non-judgemental, so no one will fault you for wanting to ease into the experience by wearing a bathing suit.
Are Desire Resorts just for swingers?
Both Maya and Pearl are “swinger friendly” and you’ll meet a lot of people who are in the lifestyle. However, you’ll also meet couples who are there to try something new and like the idea of potentially playing with other couples (or being in an environment where spicy fun is happening in the midst). There’s also folks who go to the resort for the simple reason that they like lounging around in the sun naked. There’s no “one” kind of guest!
What if I just want to relax and not get hit on?
While the guests at Desire tend to be very friendly (there’s something about shedding clothing that just makes conversation flow!), the resorts are governed by a very strict, consent driven “no means no” code of conduct that everyone is asked to sign at check in. Anyone who violates it is removed from the resort.
This is a huge part of why I love going to resorts like Desire and Temptation — it’s very much an “ask before you touch” kind of scene. We made tons of new friends around the resort and never once felt pressured to do anything.
So, if you’re not looking to play with other couples, you can rest assured that you and your significant other will be left alone to enjoy your vacation together. However, if you’re looking to fulfill a fantasy with another couple, you have a very good chance of meeting like-minded people at Desire. Even if you’re only there for a few nights, connections tend to form quickly in an open and uninhibited environment like Desire.
Is there places to relax, tan and read without music blasting?
Definitely! Both Desire Maya and Desire Pearl have quieter areas. While the pool area at Desire Maya tends to be very lively during the day, the beach is very chill and relaxing. You can also relax on your balcony or in other pockets around the resort.
As I mentioned above, Desire Pearl is a larger property and it was much quieter when I visited, so if you’re looking for a very laid back experience you might want to consider Pearl — even for a night or two.
Can I go to Desire Resorts if I’m single?
Both Desire resorts are for adventurous heterosexual couples only. If you’re single and looking for a sexy vacation, you might want to consider Temptation, Cancun which is a topless optional resort.
Is it just going to be a bunch of twenty year olds?
Nope! This is a more mature crowd, with the average guest age being around 35-45. I met plenty of attractive couples in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. However, you’ll also meet folks in their 60’s, 70’s and beyond! If you’re looking for a slightly younger crowd, Temptation, Cancun might be more what you’re looking for.
Will I see people having sex in public?
Yes. While public sex is only (officially) allowed in the jacuzzi lounge, there’s a good chance you’ll see couples boning in public — like in the SIN room or on their balconies, terraces etc.
(FYI, I spent a very memorable afternoon in the pool stealing glances in between sips of Pina Colada of a very hot couple who were having sex on their nearby patio for all to see).
What’s the food like?
Whether you’re staying at Desire Riviera Maya or Desire Pearl, the food is what you’d expect from an upscale all inclusive resort. Both properties have a combination of buffet, casual dining and sit-down restaurants.
I have great memories of my dinner at Sahlo (the Aphrodisiac restaurant at Desire Maya) and the steak fajitas at Aphrodite (Desire Pearl’s casual dining restaurant — my go-to lunch spot!) And don’t forget the endless poolside nachos and guacamole! I know it seems weird to talk about the food at a clothing optional resort, but it’s really good!
Let Desire take you wherever it takes you!
Whether you are a newbie or experienced nude traveller, Desire resorts gives you the flexibility to make the experience whatever you want it to be. If you want to get frisky and explore your sexuality in a safe environment, you can. However, if all you want to do is lounge around the pool and stuff your face with endless guacamole while wearing minimal clothing, you can do that too.
While I never would have pegged myself for someone who enjoys a clothing optional vacation, the fact that I can go somewhere and be myself without judgement or the risk of unwanted sexual harassment, is a huge selling point for me.
Even Joe the Intern had a good time in the buff!
And if you’re not sure whether you’re ready for a full-on clothing optional vacation, there’s always Temptation — Desire’s sister property that’s perfect for dipping your toes (or other body parts) into the world of nude travel.
If you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out [skinnydipblog AT gmail.com]. I’d be happy to answer them!