As the products of nature ourselves, sometimes we have the human urge to bask in the arms of nature and connect to it on a deeper level. For a lot of people, this connection comes in the form of naturism. Naturism on beaches, to be precise.
Other times, it’s not even that deep and you just want to have fun and let off steam with some of your friends on a terrific vacation and make some memories.
Kaua’i – one of Hawaii’s islands – just so happens to be home to a few unofficial nude beaches. What does ‘unofficial’ even mean in this scenario you may be wondering? Don’t worry, stick with us and we’ll tell you all about it.
However, before we get into the technical and lawful side of things, let’s take a look at these nude beaches of Kauai and see what all the fuss is about, shall we?
Kauapea Beach: Kauai’s Bad-Kept Secret
Kauapea Beach – on the northern shores – is mostly known to people as the Secret Beach of Kauai (or just Secrets for short) and is sometimes even considered to be one and only unofficial nudist beach on the island, which is completely false but still further highlights its popular status and utter unfitness of its nickname.
Kauapea is all soft sand, lush palm tree-lined summer landscapes, big deep blue waves and massive cliffs. The eastern part of the beach also houses a stunning waterfall that pools at the base and offers a refreshing little soaking hole where you can lounge.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not exactly a best-kept secret, nor is it actually classed as a nude beach. People only refer to Kauapea as ‘secret’ because of its remoteness and not-so-easy-to-get-to location, which makes it more of a hidden treasure as opposed to a secret one. It’s secluded to the point that you may even think that it’s deserted a lot of the time.
Kauapea is not nude but rather clothing-optional and even that’s a bit tricky (scroll down to learn more).
Keep In Mind That:
The nudist part occupies the eastern side of the coast whereas the suited up sunbathers are on the western part.
This tropical paradise comes with the territory. Apart from being a blissful getaway, it’s also one of the most dangerous beaches in Hawaii, seeing as it offers absolutely no amenities whatsoever. Most importantly, you won’t find any lifeguards there which is red flag no.1, because the waters of Kauapea are not recommended for swimming unless you’re really skilled at it.
You won’t find any marked trails, directions or facilities. Just a faraway parking lot and a short but steep hiking trail that requires proper footwear.
With that said, visit at your own risk.
Take the Kuhio Highway past Kilauea and turn right on Kalihiwai Rd. Then follow the road for about 50 yards and turn right into an unmarked, dirty road. Drive to the end until you see a parking lot. You’ll see a footpath nearby that will lead you to the west end of the beach. The path is steep so wear hiking shoes.
Larsen’s Beach: Another Hidden Gem Of The Northern Shores
Larsen’s Beach – for locals Ka’aka’aniu Beach – shares many of the same qualities as the Secret Beach. It’s again an unofficial clothing-optional beach where nudity is mostly looked over due to its secluded and remote location.
Larsen’s isn’t easy to access which means that it doesn’t draw a lot of traffic, so if you’re up for a hike and a bit of an inconvenient journey to get there, then you’ll have a big chance to have the somewhat rural scenery and turquoise waters of this particular summer gem all to yourself.
There you’ll also find plenty of trees to offer you some much needed shade when the heat gets too much to handle.
Keep In Mind That:
The waters of Larsen’s aren’t recommended for swimming. The currents are too strong and tides too high.
It also can become too shallow for snorkeling.
There’s no rescue team on duty so in case of an emergency you’ll have to wait for at least an hour for professional help, so this is why it’s highly urged to enjoy Larsen’s Beach with on-land activities such as picnicking, exploring or just sunbathing.
Naturally, you’ll encounter quite a few people lounging there in their birthday suits and some even disregarding the nudity etiquette by being very in-your-face about it, which is obviously a them-problem and not a you-problem but in any case, keep it in mind.
From Hwy 56, turn onto the north end of Ko’olau Road (near mile marker 20). Drive for about 1.2 miles and then turn onto the unpaved beach access road (a dirt road), which goes for about 0.9 miles. After that you’ll see a trail leading straight to the beach.
Paliku Beach: From A Nudist Paradise To A Nudist Hideaway
The large waves of Paliku Beach are a nightmare for inexperienced swimmers and a dream for the surfers. But only if they get lucky.
Paliku Beach – also known as Donkey Beach – obviously shares no resemblance to a donkey (of all things) and instead is an absolutely stunning blend of emerald tropical scenery and crystal blue waters.
Just like its companions up there, Paliku Beach harbors real deceptive waves that aren’t to be messed with, especially since there are absolutely no amenities on site, including any lifeguard services.
At one point in history, Paliku Beach – located on the eastern side of Kauai – was an extremely popular nudist beach but overtime, due to the gradual increase in land developers, anti-nudity laws were strengthened.
Nowadays, though, it doesn’t see that many regular beach-goers because of its remote location. And despite the laws, you’ll still find nude sunbathers there.
Is It Legal?
So here comes the long-awaited question: is nudity legal in Hawaii?
Well… no, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Hawaiian state law states that “intentionally exposing your genitals to someone, but your spouse, under circumstances that are likely to cause affront is a petty misdemeanor.” However, if you squint and reread this again you’ll notice that it says absolutely nothing about being topless.
So, friends, it’s all about semantics. While you’re not allowed to enjoy beaches fully nude, it is absolutely legal to enjoy them topless because you won’t find any genitals on the upper body, right? Even though it changes absolutely nothing for men, considering that they have this privilege wherever they go, it is a game-changer for you, ladies. So as a wise person once said: the law is hard but it’s also flexible.
Obviously, there are people who disregard said law and are hell-bent on flashing where and with whom they shouldn’t, which brings us to the next section of this article.
While it is always nice to just let it all go and let your anxieties soar away from your mind for that short period of time that you spend on nudist beaches, you’ll also need to know that there are places that require a different level of decorum and respect towards local customs.
So if you decide to enjoy the beaches in your birthday suits be sure to:
- Respect other people’s privacy and space because some may not be comfortable with nudity.
- Not stare or point at beach-goers.
- Not do anything that would make other people uncomfortable.
- Not harass anyone. Fully exposed skin isn’t an automatic green-light for any kind of non-consensual behavior.
- Be discreet. On these particular beaches it’s recommended not to be flashy.
- Keep your cameras out of the way of others.
- Familiarize yourselves with the local culture, customs and rules.
There are people lucky enough to sidestep the indecent exposure mandate of Hawaii without any repercussions (hence the unofficial nudist status of all the beaches mentioned above), but it’s still vital to know that disobeying this regulation is punishable by law.
Everyone wants to have a slice of Hawaii’s heavenly beaches. The nude beaches on Kauai are at the top of our lists. However, if you still feel like Kauai is not your cup of tea we suggest you give a shot to the nude beaches on Oahu and even hit up some of the best tide pools on the way.
Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned nude-beach goer, it’s important to respect the local decorum all the same. So once you familiarize yourself with the etiquette and obey the culture of said beaches, you should be just fine.
So do your research, plan ahead, and enjoy what may be one of the best vacations of your life on the nude beaches of Kauai.
While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the latest information about tourist destinations, sometimes life happens, weather happens, property owners happen, etc. We always recommend you go to the official web page and/or the relevant state authority page of your destination to check conditions, times and prices (where relevant) before you head out. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your adventure!