The final two entries on our Maui Beach Guide series are two beaches with possibly the least imaginative names of all. These two beaches are just separated by a small headland and one is quite big and the other quite little…so Big Beach and Little beach will do right! First up is Little Beach. This small protected cove has only one access point, which is pretty rough to get to, and is completely undeveloped so there are no prying eyes, meaning the usual rules of Maui beaches are somewhat ignored here.
Little Beach has a reputation then for being Clothing optional. In reality, clothing feels more like it’s outlawed completely. It’s not, you are free to wear clothes here if you like, but you will definitely be out of place, and you will definitely cop an eyeful. So really, unless bareback bathing is what you are looking for there is no real reason to visit Little Beach, which is a real shame as it’s a stunning and beautiful cove with more protected waters and wonderful scenery. Either way, you can find out everything you need to know about the beach in our Little Beach Maui Guide.
- Location – South Maui – Makena Road
- Amenities – Showers, Restrooms, Sunscreen, Entry Fee (At Big Beach)
- Beach Type – Protected Cove
- Life Guards – No
- Best For – Taking your kit off
- Entry: $5 per person + $10 Parking
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If we can ignore the nudity for a while, the beach is one of Maui’s best bathing options. Remote and untouched, it does not produce the same kind of pounding shore breaks as Big Beach. The Sea floor has a shallower slope and a fringing reef that takes some of the energy out of the breakers. There is a little more life around the rocky fringes for snorkeling and overall it’s just a prettier location and the seclusion is idyllic.
Unfortunately, we cannot ignore the Nudity for long.
Getting there and Parking at Little Beach
One of the reasons the beach has become a haven for nudists is its seclusion. The beach is really cut off from the world. There is just one single path leading to the beach and no buildings or other parts of land overlooking the beach. Once in the cove, no one can see you apart from others beachgoers…if you ignore the many tourist boats that cruise by the beach every hour…and the unsuspecting tourists making the hike over before realizing just how nudist the beach is!
There is no access from the road, and the path that leads to the beach is only accessible from Big Beach, also known as Makena Beach which sits in the Makena State Park. The park charges a $5 per person entry fee on top of $10 per car to park (Free for residents). More info on finding the park can be found here.
The path to Little Beach is located at the northern end of Big Beach. As you can see the path is pretty Rugged and can be quite slippy as the sand sits loosely on the rocks. Flip-Flops or Slippers also often lead to the dreaded stubbed toe! From the top of the trial, only as far as you can see in the above photo, you get fantastic views back along the stunning Big Beach.
The path then drops down towards Little Beach and you get the first hints of what is to come!
We said there is only one access point, but this is only partly true. There is another trail that runs from Oneuli Beach along the headland to the beach. It’s a long, rough, off-road hike, from a tiny parking lot accessed by a rough trail, and you still need to pay the entry fee. You are much better accessing via the Bi Beach Parking lot. It is however a pretty fun trail with some amazing views and does allow you to hike to the top of the Pu’u Olai Cindercone. It’s pretty rough and steep in places though.
Photos of Little Beach are pretty hard to come by, and even taking our own is not a solution as photography is not too widely appreciated. And any photos we did get needed to be HEAVILY edited. There really is a LOT on show.
Things to Know
The most important thing you need to know about Little Beach is there will be graphic displays of public nudity. We cannot stress this enough. There are people all over, splayed out in the sun, wandering up and down the beach, playing in the waves, or even just standing and sitting around chatting, all in a total state of undress.
You can’t ignore it, you can’t turn a blind eye… it’s there right in your face and often swinging in the breeze. You either have to be ok with it, accept it, maybe join in, or just go elsewhere. There are hundreds of beaches on Maui where this is totally unacceptable and just a couple where it’s tolerated. It is totally not our thing, but for those that enjoy this way of living, who are we to judge, they are certainly not harming anyone.
Public Nudity is actually illegal anywhere in Hawaii, and showing your bits at Little Beach is a criminal offense, however, it is unofficially tolerated. No One has ever been prosecuted simply for being naked on Little Beach.
We feel that the beach is considered a little bit of a joke. It’s said in a tone that suggests there might be the odd nipple or naked sunbather, that your sensibilities will not really be questioned. But this is not the case really. It’s a full-on nudist beach and unless you are comfortable having fully naked men and women wandering around, laying fully naked in the sun, and generally just bearing all, you would be advised to stay away.
We also noticed that by and large, it is mainly men. Sure there are some women, but on the whole, it’s slightly overweight, hairy dudes sunning their balls in the breeze. It’s not an overly pleasant sight really.
As we said, all power to them, if this is their, or your, thing, go for it. It is completely harmless, but we need to warn others less …free, as we see a lot of people heading over the hill, and turning back a little horrified as people really are not warned about the sheer level of graphic nudity on display!
Do we need to say this? Probably not, but in the interest of completeness, Don’t take your kids! Not unless you want them exposed to large amounts of swinging sausages. And if you do want to expose them to that, maybe you shouldn’t be allowed, kids? We suppose there is nothing wrong with the natural human form, but it feels deeply inappropriate to expose kids to this. Again, this is not a light amount of topless bathing, it is a large amount of full nudity.
Honestly, we are not sure what people do on the beach as we tend to stay away due to nudity. However, all the usual beach activities are possible. Just mainly in the nude.
The Ocean is a little calmer and people love taking an au-natural dip. Sunbathing is very popular as well as general relaxing and socializing.
The Snorkeling here is far better than over at Big Beach, but we really do suggest slipping some clothes on if you are seriously snorkeling. It’s not going to make our top snorkeling spots list, but it can be decent.
There is a large reef on the left-hand side that wraps right around the headland to Big Beach. This offers good snorkeling but only in calm conditions. To the right where the beach ends, there is some extensive reefs and rocky area in front of the cliffs that have good snorkeling in calm conditions, But we really have not snorkeled here extensively, and being a headland exposed to the open ocean and high surf on Big Bech the currents here are like problematic so explore with care and understand you may have a long swim to get out!
What to Eat?
Erm, avoid the sausages…
Seriously, there are no food options available at the beach. This is a completely natural beach and the only food you bring yourself will be available. Just outside Makena State Park are a couple of food trucks including the legendary Jaws Tacos. These are great options, but most people are wanting to spend a while enjoying “nature” on the beach so we highly recommend a picnic.
There is very little in the way of accommodation in this area. The whole Makena area is largely undeveloped and natural. The nearest resort is the Makena Golf and Beach Club, formerly the Makena Surf, but this does not operate as a hotel but as a private condominium complex.
You can Book condominiums through private owners on sites such as VRBO.
Other than this, the Beach is easily accessible from Wailea and Kihei so any accommodation in those areas is perfect. It is a long drive past a lot of fine beaches to get here from West Maui!
If you look at our Big Beach Guide, you can see there are real issues with the Shore Break over on Big Beach. Little Beach really does not suffer the same issues. The Sea floor is less aggressively sloped and the fringing reef offers a certain amount of protection. We have seen the Shore break Exploding over on Big Beach while gentle waves lap up on Little Beach.
This is not to say the shore break and conditions here are benign, just we only recommend the usual amount of caution we exhibit with surf in Maui. When it’s rough, Little Beach can still be very dangerous. The abundance of underwater rocks is a real hazard and this is still a pretty exposed portion of the coastline. But it just does not carry the same neck-breaking risks as Big Beach.
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Have Your Say
Have you visited Little Beach? How did you find the experience? Did you partake in the natural side of things or just observe from afar? Maybe you took one look and scarpered like many? Whatever your experience let us know in the comments.