Where You Can Go Naked Surfing on Moloka’i

First order of business is the possibility of scoring a little freebie on your way to naked surfing beach, a.k.a Papohaku Beach: Pay attention to the available flight schedules on the smaller, inter-island airlines like Mokulele or Pacific Wings. They sometimes make quick stops in Kalaupapa to pick up mail or the occasional passenger, before continuing on to the main airport. The tiny outpost of Kalaupapa sits at the base of some of the tallest (2,000 feet) sea cliffs in the world, making it nearly inaccessible except by boat or plane. Its “airport” with a handful of chairs and one decrepit payphone against the backdrop of wild green feels like going back in time 100 years.  Very few people in the world get to see this piece of paradise, and you might just plop down here for a brief, free stop.

Oh, and that’s our plane back there. Look ma, rock star parking!

So there is a catch to Kalaupapa’s remoteness: its geographic isolation, cut off from the rest of the island by towering cliffs, made it the perfect place to house and contain a leper colony. But don’t worry, there are only 8 active cases of leprosy these days and Kalaupapa is now a national historic park.

If you time it to fly to Moloka’i by way of Kalaupapa after a storm, the tiny plane windows will fill with waterfalls thousands of feet long, glinting into the ocean. 

Okay, well that was fun. This is a black lava field where Kalaupapa meets the ocean.

Okay, once you leave Kalaupapa, fly to the main airport and deplane in Kaunakakai, the first manner of business is to stock up on goodies from Moloka’i’s only health food store, The Outpost. 

And stop to pet the mushrooms! Which, my dad the mycologist informs me, are a fungus called coprinus. What does that mean dad? “Well, it means shit-eater, honey.”


“And they’re edible.”

Can’t wait.

So Papohaku beach is a three mile long stretch of unbroken sand. It’s one of Hawaii’s longest white sand beaches, and the sand is so freaking perfect that Waikiki once bought a bunch to amp up their supply. 

Now, not only is Papohaku vast and gorgeous, it’s virtually yours. It’s rare to pass someone on Papohaku. And yet, it has bathrooms and picnic tables. And waves.

But, if there was a crowd of locals, you’d keep your pants on, right? I hope I’m being Captain Obvious. But chances are, it’ll be only you. And if it’s not, just walk a few more minutes.

If we were staying for more than a day, I might try a place like this:


Sometimes the high tide comes up high enough to leave water in between banks of sand that warm up in the sun. The tide only changes by 3 feet every day in Hawaii, but that’s enough. It makes perfect calm pools to chill in if waves aren’t your thing.

So, we look up the beach. Glaring sun, blue water.. nobody. Down the beach. We eye each other. Screw bathing suits!

Were there waves? Where they even good? Well, yes and no. In that order. But who cares? I was too busy being gloriously naked on a beach in Hawaii.


Comments 3

  1. Sunow Bradley

    Great site/writing, Marina. There’s nothing that I’ve found as enjoyable as swimming naked at Little Beach on Maui.

    I swam in similar water pools as a 5-yr old in Galveston. Not naked though. I believe in Texas they shoot naked people on sight. <3

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  3. Kamalani

    Cool beans, be thankful that none of the locals caught you surfing naked, or bumbye would have gotten “crowded,” lol 😉

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