Contributor Review – Charlee Peterson
Local Expert. Visited 2023
Our latest beach escapade brought us to the legendary Little Beach in Maui, a secluded slice of heaven tucked between the Makena caldera and the Pacific. It’s not as remote as Maui’s Kaihalulu (Red Sand) Beach, yet it feels worlds apart from the busy 5-star resorts just up the road. Compared to the lengthy drive to Hana, accessing Little Beach is a breeze, making it an easily reachable hideaway for a day of sun and sea.
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Little Beach, also known as Puu Olai, is a golden-sand oasis that manages to balance popularity with a sense of intimacy. The beach’s fine, rock-free sand stands out as the best among Maui’s numerous beaches. However when you’re in the water beware of large lava rocks and shore breaks. Its modest size ensures you’re never too crowded, yet there’s enough buzz to create a lively atmosphere. The waves here are inviting – strong enough for fun in the water but usually gentle enough for everyone to enjoy. And when the sun begins to set, the whole beach is bathed in golden hues, offering one of the most stunning sunset views in Maui. Just remember that the beaches closes at 4pm on the weekend (way too early and a very controversial topic around these parts!). Read more about Little Beach politics and the current situation at the Friends of Little Beach site.
Little Beach is all about freedom and acceptance. The clothing-optional policy is embraced warmly, making it perfect for first-timers to the nude beach scene. You’ll find yourself in the middle of spontaneous music and friendly chatter – a true community feel. Despite its reputation as a free-spirited haven, it’s important to note that Little Beach experienced a closure in 2021 due to issues related to its famous Sunday Drum Circle, which has now been relocated to Chang’s Beach. Although the beach has reopened, there’s now official signage that prohibits nudity, alcohol, fires, and other illegal activities. However, Little Beach still holds on to its essence as a haven for nude beach lovers, subtly defying the formal restrictions with an unspoken understanding among its visitors… just no drum circles anymore!
Reaching this secluded paradise involves a 0.3-mile hike from the Big Beach parking area, which charges $10 per vehicle and an additional $5 per-person entry fee for non-residents. The beach is accessible from 5 AM to 7 PM on weekdays and 5 AM to 4 PM on weekends. The afternoon is the best time to visit, as the cove is beautifully illuminated, free from the morning shadows of the Makena caldera. Police will occasionally show up on the beach to ensure everyone exits the area at 4pm on weekends, but this happens less and less since the busy drum circle no longer happens here.
Our visit to Little Beach was an unforgettable experience. From its superb sandy shore to the dynamic yet relaxed atmosphere, it’s a haven for anyone seeking both adventure and tranquility. We found Little Beach to be a testament to Maui’s diverse culture, offering a deeply connecting and liberating experience. Check it out! The beach is arguable one of the best nude beaches in Hawaii and regularly makes worldwide top 10 lists.
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Little Beach in Maui, nestled in the Wailea-Makena area, is accessible via Makena State Park, known as Big Beach. For non-residents, parking costs $10 per vehicle, with an additional $5 per person entry fee. The beach is open from 5 AM to 4 PM on weekends and till 7 PM on weekdays. The short trail is steep and a little slippery but only 0.3 miles long.
By Car: Drive south along Makena Road, turn right at the Makena State Park sign, and park. From Big Beach, follow the trail on the right leading to Little Beach.
By Public Transport: Take a bus to Wailea and then a taxi or ride-sharing service to Makena State Park. Follow the same trail from Big Beach to reach Little Beach.