Want to know one of Crimea's best-kept secrets? Nude beaches

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Aaron Schachter: As we heard earlier, Crimea was officially annexed by Russia today. For our next story we're looking far beyond that headline to one specific part of life on the Crimean Peninsula - tourism. There are lots of tourist attractions in Crimea. There's Yalta with its royal palaces and resorts, there's Sevastopol where Russia's Black Sea fleet hangs out, and then there's the place we want you to name in our snap Geo-quiz today. It's a bay on the shores of the Black Sea and it's famous for, get this, its nude beaches. Want to hazard a guess? I'll give you just one more second as we turn to Natalia Antonova with the Moscow News for the answer.

Natalia Antonova: So, yeah, it is Fox Bay, "Lisya Buhta", and I think it's named Fox Bay because of the red clay in the area. I don't think it has any foxy-ish connotations.

Schachter: OK. Has it taken on the foxy connotations?

Antonova: I don't know. The last time I was there was a couple of years ago and it's mostly a place for hippies and people with children. Possibly some people do go there to kind of experience a more, I don't know, informal atmosphere, so it's fun. I don't think people go there to hook up, if that's what you're asking.

Schachter: You know, there are all sorts of images of what a naked beach is and then there's often a very different reality. How well-known are these beaches? And describe them for us.

Antonova: Fox Bay is one of the most well-known one just first and formal atmosphere. There's also a pretty famous nude beach at Koktebel. It's not that you have to be nude, but they are "clothing optional" and lots of people tend to bathe in the nude. The first time I went to one was a few years ago and I was just curious about it and then I realized that the best thing about the place is that there are little islands of civilization in Crimea. There's not a whole lot of cheesy pop music, there's not a lot of drinking going on there. They're actually kind of more European I would say in their atmosphere. When people are just out and about and they're naked and they're swimming or they're fishing and grilling fish over the fire or whatever, there's this kind of an Eden-like atmosphere to it that it's a little bit more innocent because it's all on display and nobody seems to care.

Schachter: And you put out a tweet saying "Russia better not ban nude beaches." Do you think that's a real possibility?

Antonova: I think so with everything kind of focusing on the bigger aspects of this now, foreign policy, pivot, "What does this mean?", "Is Russia going to get close to China now?". I guess this whole discussion used to be a little bit more fun because Crimea is a fun place. That's what people forget because of all the latest developments. I really can't see the Russian government stepping in and saying, "Well, you can't have this anymore." I mean maybe some businessmen may move in and develop some of these areas. One of the people I think so many people living in Crimea wanted to join Russia is because they want more development, they want more business and more money flowing in. There's also people living in poverty there. So yeah, I think we will see changes.

Schachter: Well, in some ways it sounds like what you're saying the change might be for the better.

Antonova: I mean I can tell you from years of traveling in Crimea and having lots and lots of friends there, the ones who identify with Russia are very excited about this because they are really tired of the general chaos because successive Ukrainian regimes have mismanaged the Ukrainian economy, and particularly mismanaged Crimea. Crimea during the Soviet Union was once the jewel of Soviet tourism and that's where everyone went. Lots of those buildings have now gone to seed and I think Crimeans just really want a resurgence. They want normal tourism money, they want a better established infrastructure, and yeah, they're looking to Russia to help them out with that. I don't know how it will work out, whether or not they'll be successful, but there is that hope there, a tremendous amount of hope. I mean I think everyone who listens to this, you, everyone, should definitely, at least for once in their life, just go to Crimea, go to a nude beach, camp out there for a week. It's a fun experience. It's definitely something I will remember for the rest of my life.

Schachter: Natalia Antonova is with the Moscow News. Thank you as always.

Antonova: Thank you.