Virginia Key

SFFB's 1st nude beach, 1980 - 1983

Not that long ago, in the days of apartheid and Jim Crow, Virginia Key (a small island between Miami & Key Biscayne) was the site of the "colored" beach.
Later, a portion of Virginia Key came to be used as a clothing-optional beach. This was South Florida Free Beaches' first "home".
In 1981, Dade County transferred control of Virginia Key to the City of Miami, which soon began to enforce its anti-nudity ordinance there. SFFB filed suit to retain naturist use (SFFB v. City of Miami), but was unsuccessful in obtaining relief.
From 1981, until the creation of Haulover's clothing-optional beach, there was no recognized clothing-optional beach in the area, although thongs and top-free sunbathing became increasingly common on Miami Beach.

  • View from Rickenbacker Causeway, 1980.

  • Virginia Key was used as an unofficial naturist beach until 1983-1984.

  • Water volleyball game, mid-1980's.

  • Setting up the net.

  • The police still weren't overly eager to enforce the City of Miami's nudity ban, and nude use continued for awhile.

  • SFFB sued the City of Miami to keep naturist use at Virginia Key, without success, and sought out the media to tell its story.

  • After land access to Virginia Key was closed, naturists sometimes boated out to remote areas around Biscayne Bay to skinny-dip.

  • Naturists temporarily take over a remote beach, mid-1980's.

  • In 1981, the City of Miami took control of Virginia Key and announced it would be enforcing its anti-nudity ordinance.

  • Tom Chittenden, SFFB's first president (left), and Lee Baxandall, Naturist Society Founder, on Virginia Key, 1980 (on a cold day).

  • Rowdies and gawkers could be a problem at Viginia Key.

  • Police were finally compelled by the City of Miami to enforce the nudity ban, before it closed the beach altogether. 1984 photo, shortly before the beach was closed.

  • Volleyball at Virginia Key, circa 1982

  • Road access to Virginia Key beaches was closed to the public by the City of Miami in 1984.

  • Nude? No problem. Police didn't enforce the nudity ban until compelled to.

  • Virginia Key sunbathers in 1980.

  • Friendly police often warned off gawkers in the early days at Virginia Key.

  • A day at the beach with friends, 1980.