Johannesburg - South African nudists on Thursday prepared for an Easter weekend of volleyball and sack races when the continent's first official naturist beach opens despite objections from some locals.
A 500-metre stretch of Mpenjati Beach, which lies on the Indian Ocean, received local government approval last year to become an official nudist venue.
South Africa has been home to unofficial nude beaches for decades, such as Cape Town's famous Sandy Bay.
Mpenjati Beach itself, located about 140km south of Durban, has been a popular strip-off spot for about 20 years.
"It feels a bit like a long road to Freedom, but we're very happy. We're ecstatic actually and very proud," said Serge Pavlovic, chairperson of the South African National Naturist Association (SANNA).
When asked about the number of people who have come down for the weekend Pavlovic said he thought it was about 100, saying the water is much warmer, with better access than Sandy Bay.
Also on the beach for the day was Christo Bothma, Chairperson of the KZN naturist association who said, "We're very excited and over the moon with the opening. Since the initial application with the municipality, up to the point where they approved it and we are here today to enjoy the naked beach is just fantastic."
"Plans are to keep the beach a naturist friendly area. People from KZN, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Eastern Cape have come to enjoy this weekend with us."
"The beach is there for everybody to enjoy."
Nudists risked arrest for indecent exposure on South Africa's beaches in the years of apartheid rule. Technically, public nudity is still banned.
The Hibiscus Coast local municipality approved SANNA's application in October and the beach was set to open officially Friday.
Last-minute objections by a local group secured a compromise from officials, who have designated the opening as a "trial run".
The residents' group said in its appeal that naked sun-lovers would have a "negative effect on a society that is striving for wholesome lifestyles".
It also said visitor facilities cannot be built as the beach is a marine protected area.
But local authorities deferred a decision on the appeal, allowing the opening to go ahead.
Pavlovic said planned weekend activities would include volleyball and sack races.
(Additional reporting Traveller24, ehowzit.co.za)