A wide-ranging global poll reveals interesting cultural differences when it comes to beach behavior around the world, including the countries most likely to go topless, and the country where skimpy Speedos are most culturally acceptable.
In Expedia’s annual “Flip Flop Report,” more than 8,600 people across 21 countries answered questions about everything from their comfort with nudity to fear of sharks and favorite beach activities.
For the second year in a row, Germans have emerged as the most open-minded when it comes to wearing nothing more than their birthday suit on the beach, with 17 percent admitting to having sunbathed naked.
Interestingly, while three-quarters -- 73 percent -- of French beachgoers said they were “somewhat or very comfortable” with topless beaches, they were also among the least likely Europeans to strip off as 42 percent balked at the idea, saying they would “never” go topless or nude.
Among North American respondents, despite having significantly less beach real estate than their neighbors to the south, Canadian women seem to be less conservative than their American counterparts, as they were about twice as likely to have gone topless, at 15 percent versus eight.
Not surprisingly, countries that were the least comfortable with topless and nudie beaches are those that are culturally conservative or where religion plays a large role in people’s daily lives in Asia and South East Asia such as India, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.
Europeans are the most tolerant of nudist behavior.
Meanwhile, while the rest of the world found Speedo-style swimwear to be acceptable, it seems to be a highly polarizing issue among Americans as results were nearly evenly split down the middle: 52 percent said Speedos were acceptable, while for the remaining 48 percent, the men’s swimwear attire which leaves little to the imagination, said it’s not fit for public consumption.
Speedos are the most accepted in France, where 91 percent gave their approval, followed by Italy (87 percent). Japanese (29 percent) and Norwegian beachgoers (34 percent) find Speedos particularly unpalatable.
Walks on the beach, people watching, swimming and sunbathing were ranked among the most popular beach activities among Americans, while respondents in Malaysia and Singapore -- where concerns of sun-related aging is particularly high -- are the least likely to sunbathe.
And the world’s busiest sand castle maker? India, where more than half of beachgoers build mini castles in the sand.
Globally, while beach vacations are ranked the most popular vacation type among American respondents over historical and cultural sightseeing, the inverse was true for French, Spanish, Dutch, Australian, Japanese and Singaporeans, who elevated cultural vacations over lounging on the beach.