For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, the middle of winter can mean cold and miserable days that are too short and too dark. How good a sunny, hot beach would be right now! Well, that’s what our fellow gays are enjoying right now in the southern hemisphere.
For those of us slumbering through a northern winter, and with the time and means to do so, even a short holiday down in the southern hemisphere may be just the tonic. And, this being Hanky, it seems only appropriate that we focus on those beaches and locales of sun worship (not to mention some pretty hot local men) in places that are popular with gay men. Argentina, South Africa, Australia – these comprise our suggested holy trinity for frozen gay men in need of some defrosting.
Buenos Aires (“BAs”) is one of the most popular gay destinations in the world. And with good reason – it’s a beautiful city with great food and places to see, that is rich in cosmopolitan culture and sophistication and some incredibly sexy, handsome men. The city itself has no beaches to speak of, although semi-naked men can be ogled at as they sun themselves in the parks of Recoleta and Palermo.
For the beaches, it’s best to drive the four or so hours out of BAs to Mar del Plata, a large resort city on the Atlantic coast. The city has a terrific gay life, which during the hot summer days congregates around the gay beaches of Playa Chica, near downtown, and Playa Escondida, further out and which includes a gay nudist beach. Mar del Plata is appealing because it’s not some pretentious jetset ripoff but is popular with a cross-section of Argentine society, whilst still being incredibly gay-friendly.
Cape Town, on the other hand, does veer into pretentiousness. It can hardly help it as it is both the oldest and most beautiful city in South Africa, with an amazing diversity of architecture, cultures, cuisine and neighbourhoods. More so even than Buenos Aires, one needs to be careful where one drives or walks in Cape Town, as the city looks deceptively safe, which some parts of it are most certainly not.
But safety and even more beauty settle in as one meanders out of the city along Victoria Drive. If your idea of beach life is being packed into a tiny beach so that you can perv the male body beautiful, then Clifton’s Fourth Beach is for you. For those who prefer a more languid and spacious beach experience then Sandy Bay is for you. The walk from your car to the beach is a trek of note but it’s beautiful and the far side of the nudist beach is gay. Cape Town’s Mediterranean climate can get very windy but there are few things less stunning than Sandy Bay on a perfect summer’s day.
Australia or New Zealand? Australia is gay-friendly enough, although it should be noted that New Zealand is still less homophobic, naturally as beautiful and slightly cheaper than its bigger and brasher cousin. So perhaps you’ll be wanting a Kiwi adventure. However, the gay scene in Auckland is not as big and as well-known to international gay travellers as, say, Buenos Aires or Cape Town, albeit a lot safer. Nudism is widely accepted on most beaches, although some of the beaches can be rather lousy-looking, as blackish-brown volcanic ash for sand just isn’t the same as the powdery white stuff we think of when dreaming about beaches. And the weather in New Zealand, even in summer, can be quite lousy too.
Then of course there’s the most famous gay destination in the southern hemisphere – yes, good ol’ Sydney. You don’t get a more obvious choice for the frozen northern gay traveller seeking sun, sand and hot surfers than the largest city in Oz. World-famous for its Mardi Gras, this is a vibrant city with a huge gay population that deserves its reputation with gay travellers. Lady Jane beach is nudist and well-known for gawping the hot bod and North Bondi is also for the body beautiful, whilst Obelisk Beach is more secluded and less frantic. To be a gay man in Sydney and not revel in its superb summer vibe is to lack imagination.
Yes, I’m sure there are those of you who have been to all these destinations, perhaps even more than once. Lucky you. May they bring happy memories – and perhaps a yearning to return. For the rest of us who don’t know any or all of these southern gay meccas, it’s a chance to dream a little of hot climes and hot bodies on hot beaches. And for those of us freezing our butts through a northern winter, just remember: in a few months time it will be the shivering southerners who will be wanting to escape to our hot beaches and hot men up here in the north. Ah, the wonders of the seasons.