It all began in 1969…
…when the hippies began showing up on Maui to create a handful of settlements with colorful names such as Banana Patch, Soul Acres and Trouble Gulch.
At Makena, a shantytown was carved into the thick kiawe forest on the edge of Oneloa Beach, commonly called Big Beach, and at several neighboring beaches. In those days, nudity was the norm.
Off the beach, the strange newcomers clashed with the establishment and were accused of freeloading and stealing. Mayor Elmer Cravalho scolded both sides at a Kihei Community Association meeting in March 1970.
To those who didn’t like the newcomers, Cravalho said that his own grandfather might have been called a hippie and shipped back to Portugal if he had been judged on his appearance when he first came to Hawai’i.
To the hippies, he said hiding in the “boondocks at Makena” was cowardly and that they should get involved in the community.
By late 1969, the police were raiding the place on a regular basis, looking for runaways, draft-dodgers and nude sunbathers.
U.S. Marshal Howard Tagomori, a former Maui Police Department vice officer, remembers driving on the dirt road to Makena in the early 1970s with a handful of officers to make busts.
“We were friends with most of the guys,” recalled Tagomori, who later became Maui’s police chief. “It was like a game. We would talk story with them.”
The Makena colony grew to 300 to 400 people before it was largely evicted in 1972.
But nude sunbathing persisted at Makena’s more remote beach, Little Beach, which is tucked behind Pu’u Ola’i and separated from Big Beach by a 30-foot bluff.