Baja's saucy salsa

A dip into less than frigid waters

“Now the gringos can be seen naked in Mexico,” chuckles Veronica, a Baja California hair stylist. “And we Mexicans go to the beaches to see them.”

Madre Mia. Social nudity—now acceptable even in such unlikely climes as Canada—has arrived in Catholic, covered-up Mexico. From the Maya Riviera to the Pacific coast, “clothing optional” is the new salsa in Mexican tourism.

At the pool at the all-inclusive, all-adult, all-couples Desire, a resort south of Cabo San Lucas on the Baja Peninsula, breasts and bums undulate like coastal dunes.

The resort itself is a handsome stucco complex sloping downhill towards Pacific rollers and golden beaches that stretch on forever.

Its cactus gardens, with a dozen species of succulents, are lovely and useful. “It’s the naked and the red,” chortles one guest. “All you have to do is cut some aloe from a cactus and you’re healed.”

“Nudity is a big thing at first,” explains Desire general manager Rudolfo Cibrian. “It’s new—like watching whales for the first time—and wow. Then it becomes normal.”

Nudes are confined to the pool and Jacuzzi areas. Both areas come flanked by palapas, thatched-roof lounging areas where guests sprawl languidly on king-size mattresses.

While Cibrian is cautious in defining his clientele as happy nudes, he admits Desire plays its salsa card one giant step further. “We also welcome the swing community,” he adds.

Canadians have been known to blush plaid in such places. “I was told it was a resort with a nude swimming area,” says Oliver, from Edmonton. “Fine. I like bodies, especially when they belong to somebody else.”

But here: My wife and I went to the Jacuzzi. There was a sign saying no sex anywhere in that area. We get there and I’m laying out the towels and my wife is whispering…‘They’re f…….g!’

I look around and yeah, about 30 people are having sex. Naturally, I cover my wife’s eyes. Me, all I can think is, “My boyhood nightmare has come true. I’m a wallflower at an orgy.”

But non-swingers also find much to like. The spa offers treatments from massages to wraps that leave you looking like a black bean ragout. The couples massage, conducted by two masseuses, sends guests into cat-like trances.

The big surprise is the food. Of three restaurants, the star is Suki, a gorgeous room in Chinese red and black. Its walls are simulated starscapes. A smashingly elegant onyx- topped table seats 12. Gleaming teppan grills sizzle in one corner.

Since when does an all-inclusive boast a sommelier? The diminutive Julia Pcetz directs guests to hard-to-find labels representing the best of Mexico’s Baja-based wine industry.

At the teppan, chef Pedro Alverado brings Latino swash and buckle to Japanese ritual, flipping shrimps and flaming fresh tuna in tequila.

But the restaurant really struts its Mexican-Asian fusion with the apps: Spring roll arrives stuffed with shrimp and chicken with papaya relish that knocks your socks off. Blood-red tuna sits in a pool of pale green coriander sauce, finished with a drizzle of chili oil. Racy, indeed.

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