How to Have Sex Outside, Which Is in Your Human Nature

TikTok's "sundress challenge" has people considering outdoor sex this summer. Here's what to know before you try it.

July 1, 2021 6:39 am
Pair of mating green geckos on spider lily leaf.
It's only natural.
Getty Images/Pete Orelup

Earlier this summer, a little thing called the “sundress challenge” briefly took over TikTok, encouraging adventurous fornicators everywhere to venture out into the great outdoors and get it on under the veil of their partner’s sundress, a garment that provides both ease of access and some degree of privacy under such circumstances. 

Naturally, the sundress challenge was not long for the internet, where any mention of it was swiftly banned from TikTok. Fortunately, you can’t ban outdoor sex from real life. You can make it illegal, sure — and in many locations, it most certainly is — but you can’t stop humans from doing what’s only natural in what is, after all, the most natural setting. As international educator and sex hacker Kenneth Play puts it, “It’s built into our primal animalistic response to want to have sex outdoors. That’s where humans had sex for a long time.”

Yes, our most distant ancestors were having sex outside, and if they hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here. It only seems right that we honor their legacy by taking our own sexual excursions outdoors from time to time. To help you take advantage of the many opportunities for sexual adventure the outdoors can provide this summer, we’ve consulted some experts to help you do so safely, legally and hopefully without getting poison ivy on body parts poison ivy should never make contact with. 

Why do we want to have sex outside?

As Play noted, it’s basically just human nature to want to fuck outdoors. “It’s an instinctual yearning. Shiny, sweaty skin glistening in the sun is an automatic turn on for many people,” he tells InsideHook. “Our bodies doing physical things in a natural setting is just naturally arousing for many. I love a good beach volleyball game, personally.”

For many people, having sex outside is partly about the novelty of having sex in unfamiliar environs, but it can also be about a desire to commune with nature and get in touch with one’s own primal state. “For some folks, having sex outside can feel incredibly liberating because the outdoors bring our senses to life, and combining that with sex and sensuality is a big turn on,” says Laura Borichevsky, founder and host of Sex Outside, a podcast about — wait for it — having sex outside. “There’s an element of being in nature that gets folks more into their bodies because they’re generally more disconnected from technology. Additionally, some folks feel more like themselves when they’re outside — so whether that’s feeling more comfortable and accepting of our bodies, learning about our gender identities and sexuality, or something else entirely, the outdoors can serve as a container for acceptance and exploration of ourselves.”

For others, of course — including sundress challenge participants — the appeal of outdoor sex may have its roots in the thrill of the illicit, or “the adrenaline rush of not getting caught,” as Taylor Sparks, erotic educator and founder of Organic Loven, puts it. “It can make you feel like a rebel as you go against the grain and do what many consider — and in some places is — against the law. It’s the thrill of not getting caught and being spontaneous that makes it all worth it. The sex itself may not even be as good as the thrill of having sex outside.”

Of course, as Borichevsky reminds us, “The truth is that not everyone is drawn to outdoor sex. It can be intimidating, or feel unsafe.” But for those who are into the idea, she says, “I think there’s a connection people generally feel to the natural state of the outdoors — the sex happening all around us, organically, when we’re outside — and the way sex is a natural part of being human.”

What are the best places for outdoor sex?

Like indoor sex, which can happen in a variety of places beyond the sanctity of the marriage bed, “outdoor sex” doesn’t mean just one thing. In fact, it can mean very different things depending on what part of the planet you currently find yourself in, as well as just how up close and personal you’re looking to get with nature. 

For city slickers, outdoor sex might mean getting busy on a rooftop. “For urban dwellers, it’s often our only outdoor spot,” says Play. But it happens to be a great option: “It’s great in sunshine, great in the dark, lit by moonlight.” And, of course, “there’s always the chance of getting caught, which can be hot for some.”

Sparks cautions against outdoor sexcursions that are water-based. “No sex in the hot tub,” she says. “The amount of chemicals and bacteria  in there can trigger yeast infections and/or bacterial vaginosis.” Not to mention, as we’ve previously established, hot tub sex almost universally sucks, sorry. Unfortunately, the ocean isn’t a great alternative. Why? Because, says Sparks, “Salt cures meat.” In other words, “It can be very drying to the vagina.”

According to Sparks, it’s best to stay out of the water, and ideally at least one degree of separation from the ground, whether that means putting down a blanket, hooking up on top of a car, setting up a tent or “if your partner is strong enough in their core,” experimenting with hammock sex. 

Most importantly, says Borichevsky, keep some level of privacy in mind, even if you have a bit of an exhibitionist streak. “Look for a spot that has the right amount of privacy that will make you and any partners you might be with feel safe and comfortable,” she suggests. “This includes being out of sight of trails and campsites, too, as other folks around you haven’t consented to being witness to someone else having sex.”

What are the risks of outdoor sex, and how can outdoor sex-havers mitigate them?

Look, it may be boring, but there’s a reason we usually have sex inside. It’s safer, healthier and, frankly, easier. Outdoor sex, while fun and novel and a little risqué, comes with some risks, of which any aspiring outside sex-havers should be aware. 

As we’ve established, “There’s some probability of getting caught,” says Play, “and laws against indecency do apply in many places.” To this end, “doing your research in advance to understand the risks that might be associated with your outdoor sex is important,” says Borichevsky. 

Again, having sex outside really isn’t all that different from most other things you’d do outside, and most of the same precautions remain in place. “Beware of the usual things you would when having a picnic outdoors,” says Play, including animals, bugs, poisonous plants and anything else you’d normally like to avoid when engaging in outdoor activities of a less salacious nature. 

It’s also important to remember that sex outside is still sex, which means all of the normal precautions you’d take during indoor sex still apply. Obviously, “Consent is number one,” says Borichevsky. “Do you know if they feel comfortable having sex in the outdoors? It’s important to find out before you start planning. Just because you know someone’s preferences in the bedroom doesn’t mean you know how their comfort level will translate to sex in the great outdoors.”

Normal sexual health practices are also important to keep in mind, particularly if your outdoor sex session takes you far from home, or even civilization. “Hygiene before, during and after sex is always essential, but especially when you’re outdoors, as many times, you’re further away from medical care in the event you need any,” says Borichevsky. “Using a spare rag or wipes, making sure you pee after intercourse and bringing a blanket to give yourself a cleaner space to have sex can serve you well.” In short, “Keep your reproductive parts as clean as possible!”

And remember, safe sex still matters outside. “Just like you would pack a picnic basket when trying to eat outside, you might want to pack your sex kit bag for outside sex, including my favorite trio: condoms, lube and a vibrator, or whatever else your erotic heart desires,” says Play.

It may feel like a novelty to us now, but having sex outside is something human beings have been doing since before inside was even a thing. It’s natural, normal and can be a lot of fun. Just be safe, be discreet and watch out for poison oak.

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