Naked in Paradise - Go Nude on Maui's Little Beach
When vacationing in the land of sand, sea and sun, many visitors find themselves wanting to doff their bathing suits and bare their bodies to the warm breeze and inviting ocean. Though none of the Hawaiian Islands officially permit public nudity, both tourists and locals have found a safe clothing optional haven on Maui’s Little Beach. County officials occasionally threaten a crackdown on nudity but are probably held at bay by the popularity of naked sunbathing by tourists. Requiring clothing might result in the loss of tourist dollars, which are a major component of the Maui economy.
Also known as Pu’u Ola'i Beach – named after the large cinder cone that looms behind it – Little Beach is gorgeous and inviting, easily one of the most scenic beaches on the island. Access is gained by entering Makena Beach (Big Beach), following the trail near the base of the cinder cone, then making an easy climb over a small lava outcropping at the east end of the beach.
Sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, body surfing and boogie boarding are popular on Little Beach. Weekends are very busy and cacophonous, with hordes of locals and visitors gathering to socialize, make raucous music, dance and play. The all-day festivities generally culminate with a rousing tribute to the Sun as it sinks below the horizon. Those seeking quieter moments and smaller crowds should visit mid-week. Since Hawaii has no “official” nude beaches, you are not required to go nude, and many visitors choose not to. Others can be found in various stages of wardrobe over the course of the day.
Directly behind and above the beach is a dirt and lava rock trail that follows the beach all the way to a large scrub-riddled rocky formation, part of Pu’u Ola'i, to the east. The trail is situated in the tree/shrub line and offers shady travel. It’s also a place for the occasional gawker to park and stare at the beach-goers frolicking below. At the east end of the beach the trail splits off into a series of trails, allowing free wandering, some seclusion, and access to cliffs overlooking the ocean. It’s a good idea to include footwear – sandals or flip flops will suffice - if you choose to explore. The trails can become rocky and sharp. The local vegetation can leave thorns and other debris that would make bare-foot travel uncomfortable. The same set of trails is also accessible from the beach. This area is worth a look. Tread carefully.
From about mid-November through March, whales visit Maui’s warm, shallow waters. To listen to their song, simply put your head in the water and float quietly for a bit. If whales are nearby you’ll hear them. Sounds include high-pitched squeals, grunts and moans. If you hear them let others know about it. A lot of people are on Maui for the first time and aren’t aware of this phenomenon. They are generally delighted to hear whale song while floating naked in the clear, warm water.
Spinner dolphins and turtles can frequently be seen in the area.Credit: StarbirdCredit: Starbird
If you plan on visiting Little Beach, keep the following in mind:
Lock your car and don’t leave valuables in plain sight. The area is somewhat isolated and infrequently patrolled (if at all), so some car prowling takes place. Be mindful of this. Also keep an eye on your belongings while on the beach. Don’t expect theft, but take reasonable precautions.
Remember that Hawaii is probably much closer to the equator than your home base. Though the temperatures can be pleasant and the trade winds soothing, the sun is at a more direct angle than at other latitudes. It can deliver a frightful burn quickly. This is especially true for those parts of your body that seldom see daylight. Remember to use sunblock generously and re-apply it frequently – everywhere on your body. Don’t try to second-guess the need for protection; it is imperative. Don’t worry that you won’t get a tan to brag about when you get back home. You’ll darken despite your precautions. If you want to tan faster by forgoing sunscreen, spend only short periods of time exposed to the sun. Give your body a chance to recover before going out again.
Drink plenty of water. You’ll be active, warm and sunbaked during your island stay. Don’t count on the ocean to keep you feeling properly hydrated. You can’t drink the salty water and playing in the ocean can be as dehydrating as any other activity. Take water with you wherever you go. To maintain the beauty of the islands be sure not to litter. Carry your water in a re-usable container. If you decide to drink bottled water, haul your empties away with you.
Remember to pay heed to the local flora, fauna and terrain. If you venture off the beach you may encounter thorny trees and plants or sharp lava formations. In the water keep an eye out for jellyfish. Many small species have a sting that is not deadly but can be very irritating for several days. Stay completely away from larger species.
Follow all water safety precautions. Little Beach has no lifeguards and, although generally safe for swimming, can sometimes have dangerous surf conditions. There is always safety in numbers. Swim with others, or within sight of someone you know. If you are alone and find yourself struggling, don’t be shy. Call for help. Patrons of Little Beach are usually quite friendly, helpful and concerned. Count on them for assistance if you need it.
Be very careful about using cameras on any clothing optional beach. People come to Little Beach to enjoy clothes freedom, not to worry about having nude pictures splashed on the internet. Indiscrete photography will certainly alienate beach users and may anger them.
Practice polite nude beach etiquette. Sex in the open is completely forbidden. Don’t gawk. Don’t make lewd comments. Don’t assume that you will find easy hook-ups. You’ll find lots of friendly, outgoing people here, but don’t assume their pleasant demeanor is due to your irresistibility. This is one of the last places you’ll want to practice aggressive mating behavior.
Little Beach has NO amenities: no showers, no rest rooms, and no water. Be prepared. Take everything you need with you. Be sure to pack out everything you bring. So where do people go when nature calls? The ocean is probably the primary repository of “number one.” Evidence of a lack of facilities can be found in the amount of solid waste deposited in the brush surrounding the beach. Watch your step!
Getting to Little Beach
Travelers to Little Beach are usually coming from one of three areas:
- Kahului, north shore or upcountry;
- Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kapalua and other West Maui locations; and
From points east of Kahului, such as Sprecklesville, Paia, or Haiku:
Follow Highway 36 (Hana Highway) west. Turn left on Hansen Road and follow Hansen Road to the Highway 311 (Mokulele Highway). Follow 311 to Highway 31 (Piilani Highway).The Piilani Highway terminates at Wailea Ike Drive, where you’ll make a sharp right turn. Follow Wailea Ike to Wailea Alanui Drive and turn left. Follow this road all the way to the Makena Beach parking lot (watch for the yellow emergency phone #17 on the left hand side of the road) and turn right into the parking lot.
From Kahului Airport:
Follow Kahului Airport Road and veer left onto Highway 380 (Dairy Road/Kuihelani Highway). Follow to Highway 311 (Puunene Ave. / Mokulele Highway). Follow 311 to Highway 31 (Piilani Highway).The Piilani Highway terminates at Wailea Ike Drive, where you’ll make a sharp right turn. Follow Wailea Ike to Wailea Alanui Drive and turn left. Follow Wailea Ike to Wailea Alanui Drive and turn left. Follow this road all the way to the Makena Beach parking lot (watch for the yellow emergency phone #17 on the left hand side of the road) and turn right into the parking lot.
From Lahaina / Kaanapali /Napili-Honokowai / Kapalua:
Follow Highway 30 (Honoapiilani) to Highway 310 (N. Kihei Rd.). Turn right and follow to Highway 31 (Piilani). The Piilani Highway terminates at Wailea Ike Drive, where you’ll make a sharp right turn. Follow Wailea Ike to Wailea Alanui Drive and turn left. Follow Wailea Ike to Wailea Alanui Drive and turn left. Follow this road all the way to the Makena Beach parking lot (watch for the yellow emergency phone #17 on the left hand side of the road) and turn right into the parking lot.
Follow S. Kihei Rd. east. Veer left onto Okolani Drive then right onto Wailea-Alanui Drive. Follow this road all the way to the Makena Beach parking lot (watch for the yellow emergency phone #17 on the left hand side of the road) and turn right into the parking lot.
From the Makena Beach parking lot enter the beach and turn right. Follow the beach to a lava wall, locate the path, and make an easy climb to the top. People with physical impairments may find the climb difficult, but it is usually an easy ascent for people of all ages. From the top the path slopes gently to Little Beach. The surf is most active near the beach entrance and becomes more manageable as you progress down the beach. Many areas have a smooth, sandy bottom, ideal for playing in the surf.
Enjoy your stay at beautiful Little Beach. You’ll be glad you visited.Credit: StarbirdCredit: Starbird