Nude beaches first became popular in the 1950s along the French coast and have since spread around the world, though they are still few and far between. Some nude beaches are part of a larger nude area, such as the Cap d'Agde area. Most beaches in Denmark and some beaches in Norway are clothing-optional. In Germany there are clothes optional sunbathing areas in public parks, e.g., in Munich and Berlin. Beaches in some holiday destinations, such as Crete, are also clothing-optional, except some central urban beaches. There are two centrally located clothes-optional beaches in Barcelona.
Though free beaches developed separately from national naturist bodies, some of these bodies have taken an interest and helped to protect them legally, and through the publication of guidelines of acceptable behaviour. In North America, the Free Beach Movement was the name of a group that was opposed to the direction of the official nudist organisation, the American Association for Nude Recreation, and set up the rival body The Naturist Society. Clothes free organizations and free beach associations, such as the Naturist Action Committee, lobby for the removal of laws which prohibit nude swimming and sunbathing or the increase in the number of nude beaches and sometimes to improve the amenities at nude beaches.