Discover more from Planet Nude
Big trouble at Little Beach
One group’s efforts to preserve Little Beach's free-spirited legacy
“Little Beach” at Pu‘u Ola‘i on Maui, Hawaii, has a long history as a counter-cultural beach that has attracted nude sunbathers, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other free-spirited visitors for decades. However, recent actions by the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) represent a relatively new threat the future of this historic clothing optional beach.
Nude sunbathing at Little Beach goes back to at least 1969.1 The beach is remote and isolated, making it difficult to access and out of view of the public. The beach's geography, surrounded by a steep cinder cone and the Pacific Ocean, makes it difficult for outsiders to stumble upon it. Despite this, Little Beach has drawn people from all over the world. It's been estimated that an average of 300 people visit Little Beach every day, with roughly 50% of them going nude. Little Beach's status as an inclusive clothes free space has also contributed to its popularity among the LGBTQ+ community. Over more than thirty years, roughly three million estimated day-visits occurred with no complaints and no citations issued. Despite this history, since the COVID-19 pandemic, park management has ordered the DLNR police to begin cracking down on some of the activity there.
A storm brewing
In 2020, the first citation in over 30 years was issued at the beach. Then in 2021, the DLNR abruptly closed the beach and began issuing citations for alcohol violations.2 Soon after, a steel gate was installed to block passage over the narrow, rocky path leading to the beach. According to beach activists, it was an illegal closure under HRS §115-9, HRS §115-5, HRS §205A-28, HRS §184-6, and State Park rule HAR §13-146-4.3 The gate was later cut down by vandals and tossed into the ocean, but has since been replaced with another gate along with new signage stating that nudity, fires, and alcohol are prohibited. The gate has been locked periodically to enforce beach closures ever since, including every Saturday and Sunday when DLNR officers clear the beach and lock the gate at 4:00 p.m.4
Citations have been issued under Hawaii Revised Statute 184, which prohibits the desecration of monuments and park land, and is not an anti-nudity ordinance.5 This crackdown has led to concerns among Little Beach regulars, who argue that clothing-optional recreation does no harm and that Little Beach is a small portion of Maui's beaches.
A little help from Friends
The Friends of Little Beach, a nonprofit organization, has started a petition requesting the DLNR amend the operational status of Pu'u Ola'i (Little) Beach, Maui. The petition asks for authorized clothing-optional status with official signage and the restoration of pre-Covid opening hours: 5AM - 7:45PM, 365 days per year. The group argues that authorized clothing-optional beaches are common and necessary for the happiness of those who prefer to be clothing-free in nature, and that those who use Little Beach are considerate and care for the environment.
The petition points out that Little Beach is only 0.3% of Maui's beaches and reducing or eliminating clothing-optional situations on the remaining 99.7% of Maui's beaches. The DLNR has recorded considerable demand for clothing-optional beach recreation, with an overwhelming 68:1 demand for/against clothing-optional beach recreation in the 2021 statewide SCORP "Report on Public Participation." Furthermore, authorized clothing-optional beaches are common worldwide, and Little Beach is a top-10 naturist destination internationally, bringing visitors from all over the world and contributing to Maui's economy and the state's GDP. The petition notes that clothing-optional beach recreation is non-sexual, and that the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right under the Hawaiian Constitution.
The petition also points out that clothing-optional users of Little Beach are being unfairly criminalized. Fine, upstanding citizens with no criminal record and doing no harm are in fear of being dragged through the courts and being accused of a petty misdemeanor. The petition argues that authorized signage would help prevent this and recognize that those who prefer clothing-optional beaches are law-abiding citizens.
The Friends of Little Beach petition ends with a call to action for people to sign if they support authorized clothing-optional status. As of this writing, they have collected over 3,650 signatures, with an initial goal to reach of 5,000. If you support the cause, please sign the petition and help preserve the unique character of Little Beach. 🪐
Become a friend. Sign the petition.
Support the Friends of Little Beach with a financial donation on their website.
Planet Nude is a reader-supported publication. To receive exclusive content and support our work, please consider becoming a paid subscriber.