Is It Legal to be Nude on Little Beach?


Many people who come to Maui are confused about whether nudity on Little Beach is actually legal or not. My name is Richard Spacer, President of Kauai Naturists, and I’m here to help answer your questions.


Hawaii State Obscenity Code


Simple, non-lewd, non-sexual nudity on the beach in Hawaii is not illegal, contrary to what 95% of people believe. It is only illegal at state park beaches. Now you may say, Makena is a state park, and yes that’s true, but the boundary line is where Big Beach is divided from Little Beach. So while nudity is illegal on Big Beach, it’s actually legal on Little Beach.

There is a Hawaii State Obscenity Code that deals with public nudity, but two unanimous State Supreme Court decisions in September 2000 settled the issue. In the rulings for two cases, Hawaii v. Milford and Hawaii v. Kalama, justices ruled the “cult” of nude sunbathing was not affected by the law. One case dealt with men sunbathing nude at Polo Beach (near Mokuleia) on Oahu in the late 1990’s – they were arrested before being tried on Oahu at the First Circuit Court and eventually convicted. After deciding to appeal the decision, they hired three female attorneys and at the State Supreme Court, won.

Nudity at state park beaches like Big Beach and Diamond Head in Honolulu is illegal because of a DLNR administrative rule against nudity inside state parks. The vast majority of Hawaii’s beaches, however, are not within state parks.

fire spinning maui


Rule of Thumb


One would not take this ruling and be advised to go nude on Waikiki or other crowded beaches, as the prosecutors and judges would see you as intentionally trying to offend. A general rule of thumb is that if the beach is not visible from hotels, homes or roads and requires a hike to get to, you will likely encounter some nudity.

Top-free, the correct way to describe topless sunbathing for females, has been legal since a 1979 court ruling in State v. Crenshaw. The case from Diamond Head drew two legal conclusions – breasts are not genitalia and thus their exposure is not illegal, and, such exposure is not lewd. Hawaii also has an open lewdness statute, and the Crenshaw case and two cases in 2000 ruled top-free and non-sexual nude sunbathing as not lewd conduct.

waikiki beach




I, Richard Spacer, have been unanimously appointed to serve as Area Representative for the Naturist Action Committee with responsibility for Hawaii. All issues of clothing-optional recreation in Hawaii are on my plate. Naturists and the public interested in learning more about beaches for this recreational choice may contact me to ask where to go, the legalities, etc. I also formed a group called Kauai Naturists, of which I am President, which serves as a learning source and action group for naturists on The Garden Island.

big beach sunset


*This blog is not necessarily the opinions of the Naturist Action Committee. It is the opinion of me and of Kauai Naturists.

Questions? Please feel free to email me at [email protected] or visit the Kauai Naturists blog. Mahalo for reading!

10 thoughts on “Is It Legal to be Nude on Little Beach?”

  1. Little beach on Maui has been gated and closed by DLNR . They are using the virus and the nudity issues to some how enforce it. They have been trying to do this for years. There is a group of people on Maui that are lloking to file lawsuits against them . Beach access and DNLR jurisdiction is the issue at hand. MPD is again giving out tickets for nudity again as well. Looking for any information on these issues as well as any attorneys that might be interested in fighting this case. any info on the Supreme court cases you mentioned would also be appreciated. Mahalo

  2. Aloha, the new (2019) no nudity was added to park rules sign to entrance of Little Beach top of trail. Also a $5 parking charge for non residents!! Sign is at the top of Pu’uOla’i trail above Little Beach that separates From Big Beach Makena. Reminds me of the Polo Beach no nudity sign?! Please Check on that. Mahalo.

    • Thank you. That is a negative development. There is a DLNR administrative rule banning nudity in state park units. Polo Beach on Oahu is a City and County of Honolulu park, not a state park. The sign mentioning nudity was not allowed was changed out with a sign not mentioning nudity when it was pointed out to the HNL Parks Director that the two 2000 unanimous HI state supreme court cases interpreted the obscenity statute not applying to mere nude sunbathing.

  3. I’ve been doing the Nude Beach thing since 1983 in Southern California. My first experience to Little Beach was 1989, Back then, there was no parking lot. You got to drive your car right up to the sand and park under the trees. Then you would walk over to Little Beach. It wasn’t crowded at all. Sometimes I was the first one there and only a few people would show up. The in the 90’s the paved parking lot was put in. You would then have to get there early to get a parking space. I quit going to Maui in the mid 90’s and went to Kauai. They still have a nice uncrowded Nude Beach. My last trip to Kauai was in 2008. I moved to Florida and now Spend my time at Apollo Nude Beach which is about 30 miles south of Daytona Beach.

  4. Personally, I have no problems with nudity at beaches where it is considered acceptable. However, my issue is that these places are almost always filled with
    naked guys and very few women. One could say it’s a 10 to 1 ratio where the women comprise the smallest number of nude beach goer’s. Hence, it’s always a dam sausage fest!! Come on guys, no one really wants to see your junk, especially the women you find at a nude beach. One rule to best adhere to is, if you see mostly naked guys running around, please don’t join the crowd.

    • Aloha John. Sorry for the delay in replying. Beaches, including naturist beaches, are public property recreation areas where all are allowed to go. So, who decides on a given day to go to Little Beach is what it is. I would prefer to see naturist beaches roughly gender balanced, but the reality is that at most, not all, naturist beaches, males do outnumber females. Telling your female friends and colleagues that you are a naturist and that you patronize Little Beach, and why don’t you ladies try it, would be a way to encourage more females to go. Certainly on Sundays when I have been there the percentage of females was way more than 10%. The problem with Sundays at Little Beach is most of the attendees are spectators for the drum circle, and oddly enough remain clothed. Why people go out of their way to Little Beach to remain clothed eludes me.

      Richard Spacer
      President, Kauai Naturists.
      Area Representative, Naturist Action Committee with responsibility for Hawaii.

    • John you’re a d1CLC. It’s about the freedom to feel the air and sun on your body without judgment. Male or female makes no difference. I hope you get well soon. You’ve been assimilated.


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