A nude beach, sometimes called a clothing-optional or free beach, is a beach where users are legally at liberty to be nude. Nude beaches usually have mixed bathing. As beaches are usually on public lands, any member of the public is entitled to use the facilities without membership in any movement or subscription to any philosophy. The use of the beach facilities is normally anonymous. Unlike a naturist resort or facility, there is normally no membership or vetting requirement for the use of a nude beach. The use of nude beach facilities is usually casual, not requiring pre-booking. Nude beaches may be official (legally sanctioned), unofficial (tolerated by residents and law enforcement), or illegal. However, nude beaches are relatively few and are usually at some distance from cities, and access is at times more difficult than at a regular beach and the facilities at these beaches tend to be very basic with a few notable exceptions. Nude bathing is one of the most common forms of nudity in public. A nude beach should not be confused with a topless beach (or top-free beach), where upper body clothing is not required for women or men, although a swimming costume covering the genital area is required for both men and women. A nude beach should be considered as a clothes-free beach.
Nude beaches tend to be separate or isolated physically from non-nude bathing areas. In other instances people maintain a comfortable space between beach users. Signage is often used to warn unfamiliar beach users about the specially designated areas on the beach. This accommodates people who are not comfortable with nudity, as well as nude beach users who do not like to be watched by clothed individuals.