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According to a poll for British Naturism in 2001, 25 per cent of British people have gone skinny-dipping and one in seven has sunbathed for an all-over tan.
European and Caribbean resorts, tourist boards and even large hotels are now welcoming the casual bare bather. At the resort of Playa de las Americas in Tenerife, more than 10 of the biggest hotels have recently introduced nude bathing areas.
Just a generation ago this would have been unthinkable. Mainland Spain didn't have a single official nudist beach until 1979. Now, according to the Spanish tourist board, virtually every resort has one nearby. There are also hundreds of nudist beaches in France, Greece and Croatia.
The appeal is pretty much universal - families longing for some stress-free time together, young couples curious to see what an all-over tan looks like and the elderly wanting to do things their own way.
Diehard naturists may have led the way, risking arrest and ridicule to promote their cause, but nowadays nude bathing is as accessible as a round of golf or a sauna.
1 Orient Bay, St Martin, Caribbean
This mile-long sweep of white sand lapped by an aquamarine sea is considered by naturist sun-seekers to be the ideal tropical treat. Club Orient naturist resort is at the southern end of the bay, the most popular section of beach for bare bathing.
2 Plakias, Crete
A fabulous setting of mountains, cliffs and a huge sweep of golden sand make this a wonderful place for all-over sunbathing and snorkeling. The sea shelves gently, making it suitable for families. The nude area is the last section, to the left as you face the sea.
3 Valalta, Croatia
With its two miles of sandy and rocky beaches, including secluded coves, Valalta in Istria has everything naturists could wish for. The nudist campsite in Valalta was voted the best in Croatia last year - among all sites, not just bare ones.
4 Haulover Beach, Florida
With a glorious climate and the vibrant city of Miami on the doorstep, it's easy to see why this bare sandy beach has a huge global following. The nude area is more than 800 yards long and protected by its own lifeguards and police patrols.
5 Euronat, France
The south-west coast of France is almost one vast nudist beach, interrupted only by the occasional non-naturist town. Euronat beach resort stands out for its clean golden sands, supervised swimming and friendly family atmosphere. Situated two miles north of Montalivet-les-Bains.
6 Leucate Plage, France
The classic nudist beach, with golden sand, sparkling waters and countless happily naked holidaymakers. The water is calm and the shore shelves gently into the sea, making it popular with families. Three naturist resorts share the coastline but the beach is open to all.
7 Playa de Maspalomas, Gran Canaria
Hundreds of acres of sand dunes frame the beautiful beach between Maspalomas and the popular resort of Playa del Ingles. It is two miles from one end to the other and more than half a mile deep.
8 Banana Beach, Skiathos, Greece
Banana Beach is the collective name for three lovely sandy bays on Skiathos (the name refers to the fact the beaches are yellow and curved). During peak season bare bathers mainly use Little Banana, one of the smaller coves, as clothed holidaymakers descend on the main beach.
9 Plakias Beach, Greece
10 Les Grottes Plage, France