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It’s Time to Learn Some Nude Beach Etiquette!

How to Not Be a Jerk and/or a Creep at Sauvie Island

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Each year around late April, when the sun finally decides to grace us with her presence, it’s time for every Portlander with a pulse to make the 40-minute trek up Highway 30 to Sauvie Island. Sauvie Island has lots of attractions, like beach-going, berry-picking, nurseries, fishing, boating, kayaking, and the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area, which boasts “11,543 acres of state-owned wildlife habitat.” Oh, and there’s also a massive clothing-optional part of the island called Collins Beach! It’s superior to the island’s other beaches for myriad reasons, and everyone (who isn’t a creep) should go there and check it out. Here are a few tips on how to not be a jerk and/or creep on that beach.

DON’T sell Jell-O shots! From now through September 30, alcohol is banned at Sauvie Island beaches and wildlife areas. The rule is to lower the number of DUIs, drownings, and other dangers, which sounds like a buzzkill until you realize that last year, police arrested 17 people who were suspected of driving under the influence from Sauvie Island. Sure, people will always find discreet ways to drink, but maybe putting a restriction on open containers will limit the amount of assholes being extra on the beach and they’ll go back to partying at Splash Bar instead.

DON’T blast bad or inappropriate music from the ridiculously loud sound system in your boat. Or really, don’t blast music at all? A little music for your immediate area is fine, but don’t be a jerk. Lil Jon and the East Side Boys is not the vibe the entirety of Collins Beach would like. We came here for peace and quiet, not skeet skeet skeet, motherfuckers!

DON’T attempt to approach women who are liberated by the clothing-optional beach. Ever. Collins Beach is not the place to pick up women or make friends with bathing beauties, and women are not here to seek attention. We came here for some semblance of a sunny vacation and to enjoy the company of the people we came with, not to make friends with randoms.

I once watched a man—who was wearing a shirt but no pants—approach a woman sunbathing nude by herself. I continued watching as he stood way too close to her, towered over her, casually dangling his penis at eye level while trying (for too long) to strike up a conversation. Though she seemed to be handling herself just fine, the woman didn’t have any friends around, so me and mine had no choice but to make sure nothing weirder happened. STOP RUINING EVERYONE’S GOOD TIME BY MAKING EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU, CREEP.

MAYBE DON’T bring your prepubescent teen daughters and 10-year-old boys to this part of the beach? This is more of a suggestion, as you can clearly do whatever the hell you want with your kids. And while I think it’s super cool that you’re teaching your offspring that nudity is natural and not a big deal, it’s kind of uncomfortable (and counter-intuitive) for some people (me) to expose their bare-naked titties and snatch when minors are running around. There’s a family-friendly beach down the road for a reason. Please use it!


DO refrain from Snapchatting/taking too many photos/holding your phone in a way that could make someone uncomfortable. Obviously everyone wants to take a pic of the beach for the ’gram; just make sure you’re not exposing anyone in the background or holding your phone up too much. No one wants to be put on blast, and it’ll make people nervous if they see you snapping every single thing. Just be aware and respectful of the other bodies around you, and give people their space. Which reminds me....

DO be mindful of how you’re situated among others—this includes parking, since there’s a good chance you’ll get a ticket if you block someone in. And it also includes you; please be aware of how close you lay your blanket to other beach goers! If you’re a single 50-something man enjoying the sun in the buff, maybe don’t come lay your blanket right behind me. I don’t need your junk in my immediate line of sight.

DO be careful letting your dog off leash—it’s technically against the rules to let your pup run free, though I’d be lying if I said I haven’t done it. There are some risks that come with letting your dog off leash, like having your dog get hurt by someone else’s or, as was the case in a Sauvie Island cautionary tale from April, you could risk pissing off a naked beachgoer, being held down, and repeatedly punched! That aside, it’s not nice when some random person’s pet nudges your genitals, or comes barreling over to your picnic blanket, dragging sand all over your summer spread. If you know your dog doesn’t always listen to you or mind its own business in public, don’t allow him/her/hir to disrupt other people who are minding their own business.

DO bring your own trash/recycling bag, and DO pick up your dog’s pile of hot, steaming shit and take it with you. (This also goes for everyone who lives or frequents the blocks surrounding North Mississippi.) It sucks that there are barely any trash cans or doggy clean-up areas at the island’s beaches, but you gotta do something with that shit. Some people have taken to leaving piles of bagged doggy doo next to the outhouses (again, I’d be lying if I said I’ve never done it). If you don’t want to bring a poop bag all the way home with you, maybe throw a small shovel in the car so you can bury the stuff in the woods? I don’t care what you do with it, just don’t leave it sitting there.

DO be respectful of the man who lives in the river. You’ll know him when you see him.