Nudist Hawk Cliff

Nudist Hawk Cliff – A brief history of Dublin’s Nude Riviera

In 1896 the Vico Bathing Place Swimming Club was formed by a group of prominent local residents. They initiated the construction of the Vico baths (as it was known back then) and a small swimming shelter.

Due to prevailing Victorian attitudes of the time women were not permitted to swim naked at Hawk Cliff, they could however access the sea via nearby Whiterock beach. In 1903, Dalkey Urban Council acquired ‘The Ramparts’, a grassy plateau just above the bathing area to ensure continued public access down.

The swimming club organised social events and swimming galas, the last of which took place in 1913. In 1920 the club lapsed and ceased to function but the location continued to remain popular for sea swimming for many decades after.

In 1939, The Coast Watch Service was set up to guard Ireland’s neutrality against invasion from either Allied or Axis forces, via the sea. More than 80 sites around the coast from north Louth to Donegal were selected, and look out posts were located on these sites. The same year the Coastal Watch commandeered Hawk Cliff as ‘lookout post 7’.

In 1942-43, the team of men stationed at these posts were tasked with the building of marker signs near their look out posts. In 2018, Dalkey Tidy Towns ( undertook a restoration project to rejuvenate LOP7. What followed over a six-month period was the unearthing and lifting and cleaning of an estimated 100 tons of stones laid out in trenches in the precise shape of EIRE. Over 60 volunteers committed 1,692 hrs to the project. Also, DTT rebuilt the old picnic table and benches, landscaped the surroundings for the public to enjoy and planted a wide area with Irish Wildflowers.

By 1959 it was noted that up to 80 people used the facility all year round, being particularly popular on Sunday mornings. However, by this time it had dilapidated into a chronic state of disrepair. Also, in same year, the original swimming club was revived. Its primary goal was to liaise with Dun Laoghaire Borough to maintain the upkeep and maintenance of the swimming area and to work in harmony with near groups like Dalkey Swimming Club who met at Bullock Harbour.

Leading members of the club kept records of reconstruction works completed at Hawk Cliff and regularly wrote to Dun Laoghaire Borough concerning the removal of seaweed, painting of the metal railings on the steps and the erection of signage. At the request of the club benches were erected on ‘the Ramparts’. Residents and visitors were always warmly welcomed by the regular swimmers, this tradition ensured that Hawk Cliff continues to be enjoyed as a beautiful amenity to this day and is also arguably Dublin’s most scenic naturist spot with stunning views.

Panoramic View

In recent years, the Irish Naturist Association has been campaigning for Hawk Cliff to be Ireland’s first official ‘clothing optional’ location. In April 2018 Hawk Cliff was acknowledged as a naturist bathing area after the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council agreed to display signage making people aware that this was a designated area for nude sunbathing and swimming. Three poles were erected to facilitate the signage.

The Irish Naturist Association continues to lobby Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council on its commitment to follow through with the proposed signage.

Arguably Dublin’s most picturesque stretch of coastline, it’s easy to see why Hawk Cliff appeals to so many visitors: the breathtaking views, the history surrounding the recently revived EIRE sign and, of course, swimming with or without clothes.

See Video of Hawk Cliff

12 thoughts on “Nudist Hawk Cliff

  1. Donald Porter says:

    Lovely spot but has been overrun with people this year pushing out the local nudists. I personally think by advertising it as a nudist beach has created too much awareness and drawn multiple non nude people out of curiosity. The ratios of textile and nude has shifted and now theres hardly any nudists at all. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been lobbied so hard because previously no one batted an eyelid at nudists. Shame it has completely lost its zen.

  2. Leticia says:

    Donald, Hawk Cliff made headlines in spring 2018. Two years later we have seen this surge in textile turnout. To me it’s clear that it is directly related to the pandemic and the lack of other activity alternatives for young people. Now, if you are unhappy about the ratio textile/nude let’s do something about it! Please join our Hawk Cliff meetups, or organise your own ones!

    • Donald Porter says:

      Thank you for the response Leticia. I would love to join you for some swims when it suits. I swim in Whiterock on weekend mornings between 8 and 10 with some other nudists. It’s quiet and there’s no issue with ratios and over abundance of certain age groups who might be offended or might snigger and point. I suspect you are right on Hawk Cliff with the pandemic however I also believe there are a number of reasons one being that its now too well known. I venture there time to time with a desire to swim nude unfortunately the numbers of people and ratios do not make me feel comfortable. Please come to Whiterock in the mornings as I feel its a far better location for nudist bathers.

      • Event Organiser says:

        Donald, Leticia (event coordinator of Irish Naturist Association) again. I am organising these days what I call “Doublin Nudes” (Double Nude in Dublin): for example next Monday 20th July 2020 I’ll be at 10am at Hawk Cliff and at 11am at White Rock. Given the current “swim and go” policy one can only stay very shortly at Hawk Cliff. My goal is to extend the naturist community in both places, to grow by having open meetups and also extend the time where naturists don’t feel too outnumbered. Tomorrow Sunday 19th July we are having a free lesson of naked qigong at White Rock at 10am, everyone is welcome to join. Needless to say but I’ll write it here, it is legal to be naked on an Irish beach, Gardaí know that – and INA is officially liaising with An Garda Síochána to make sure of it.

        • Phil says:

          Really good article. I do think it’s hard to be the only naturist on the beach sometimes but I’m glad we’re finally moving away from those antiquated moral constraints around our bodies and being naked and that we are finally becoming more understanding and tolerant of each other. Personally I think it’s hard to feel so connected to nature or liberating than plunging into the cold sea. I use both places but I prefer the beach. I go there and swim and chat and nobody cares. I do think the pandemic has open people’s eyes to how important being out in nature is to our mental and physical health. This is a good thing and I love to see groups of people laughing and enjoying themselves as nature intended, no right, no wrong: all’s perfect evermore.

      • Thomas Graham says:

        Hi Donald where is Whiterock I’m from Drogheda would love to meet up also anyone from my area if you are reading this get in touch I’m a genuine naturist. Only discovered this wonderful gift 2014 shortly after my 55th birthday how I wish I had known about it sooner. Still I’m enjoying it now and spreading the word Wife and family not interested although my Brother in law says it’s on his bucket list to do
        I do hope so !

  3. Johnny Hollywood says:

    Hi, i am not a naturist/nudist myself but i have been swimming at the Vico and White Rock at least once weekly where ive witnessed many of naturists/nudists enjoying themselves. I just wanted to say that even though my preference is to swim textile i have no problem and share no judgement on those who swim more freely. I would hate to think that my presence could make others feel uncomfortable. Someone who has only discovered swimming here since early summer (partially due to more time due to covid/recovery from knee surgery) i accept that i am a guest at these places where many others have been frequenting for years. I witnessed a group of ‘lads’ at the Vico obnoxiously talking out loud about the nudists and laughing a few months back so i dont blame nudists choosing White Rock more often. I have chosen White Rock myself more recently over the Vico as some people dont seem to pick up after themselves and its definitely becoming more crowded. Just to note i am a 27 year old male, ive noticed that most nudists are of an older age in my experience. Maybe some day ill leave the togs behind.

    • Event Organiser says:

      Thanks for your comment, Johnny! Now with colder weather I suppose both Hawk Cliff and White Rock will become emptier, so perhaps that could be a good start to try naturism if you are not afraid of temperatures? We (hardcore naturists) will still be around for a while… Yesterday it was fantastic at White Rock… full moon swim… it deserves an article of its own… I’ll go for it now 🙂 Leticia, INA event coordinator

  4. Luke says:

    I am in Dublin for work tomorrow and was planning a swim around 4 or 5pm. Would white rocks or hawks cliff be more suitable for textile free swim at that time? Does anyone else swim at that time

  5. Katie says:

    Hi everyone, I came across this article whilst doing a bit of research for a friend living in Dublin.

    I live in Austria, where I came across `FKK‘ – Frei Körper Kultur for the first time. There are dedicated areas beside rivers and lakes for nudists, along with dedicated areas for those with dogs, kids and clothes! Everyone is kept happy.

    Also in Austria, the Therme or what we would call a spa but it is different as they have more types of saunas and pools from what I’ve seen. There are nude and non nude areas. The nude areas are nude swimming pools, saunas and whirlpools and you wear a towel going from a to b.

    Having grown up in Ireland and now as a 32 year old female, it was a big step to experience being nude in front of others but I must say it is so liberating and you really feel at one with nature. Contradictory to what one might expect when being nude, for me the `sexuality’ aspect of the body is removed and I feel like `it is what it is’.

    Growing up in Ireland, I always felt this shame about bodies and nudity. The influence of media on what a body is `supposed’ to look like, didn’t help either. Most of us would be too embarrassed to change our clothes in front of our friends, nevermind going nude at the beach!

    I think if we were all exposed to nudity from a younger age, it would encourage body acceptance, desexualise it and help remove the shame that we hold against bodies.

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