In 1778 Capt. James Cook was the first European to discover Hawaii, about 1500 years after the first Hawaiians. The 1700s in Europe marked the erosion of the freedom to bathe nude, which continued through the 1800s, assisted by the introduction of swimsuits as fashion.
Hawaiian culture had no body shame and bathing and surfing nude was normal for both sexes in mixed company, and it was non-sexual. This normality continued until the arrival of missionaries in 1820. Their biggest victory was the conversion of Queen Kaahumanu in 1825, who imposed Christianity on the rest of the kingdom. Western prudery and bigotry were assimilated into the new Hawaiian culture.
As many as 10,000 Hawaiians are estimated to have lived in the Makena area pre-contact. It is unclear if nude bathing was ever completely eliminated at Little Beach. In 1866, Mark Twain, visiting the Islands including Maui, recorded that Hawaiian women were bathing/surfing nude - sometimes in mixed company. He also lamented that the missionaries had come to make the Hawaiians permanently miserable with their substituted lifestyle. 1866-1950 requires further research.
Talking story at Little Beach in the late 1980s, one woman recounted being taken to Little Beach as a child by her grandparents from 1950 onward. The rough road and difficult access kept everyone except dedicated nudists away. She said there were no more than 10-15 nudists on the beach and no one ever bothered them. She said the arrival of the hippies in the late 1960s spoiled it for everyone. Although the hippies were camped at the back of Big Beach, they caused a surge of nudists at Little Beach and attracted unwelcome attention of police and anti-nudity locals.
Talking story at Little Beach in 2021, one man recounted being on Little Beach as a child in the late 1950s and as a teenager after the hippies arrived. He said haole bashing was a sport for anti-nudity and anti-hippy Hawaiian thugs. One day he was in the water at Little Beach when 4 huge thugs started stoning a girl with lava rocks, a younger teenager shouted to stop and the thugs got him on the ground and were kicking him. The teenager came out of the water and shouted to stop and then was severely beaten. He escaped and ran naked and bleeding all the way to the Maui Prince for help. The girl was admitted to hospital.
Such violent acts were an aberration from the blissful ambiance of Little Beach before, during and after the short hippie era.
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