Visiting a nude beach is not for everyone. It wasn’t the sort of thing I was in to, at least in the beginning. But actually being able to spend most of the day at one, and being comfortable with the au naturel mentality, ended up contributing to what would be an overly exhilarating day.
Indeed, what started with eggs and bacon at breakfast, and led to sunbathing as naked as the day I was born, eventually all culminated in a downtown block party.
This article is an account of that day, along with some of the things I learned along the way.
And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to try something you thought was outside of your comfort zone as well.
Without further ado…
Wakey Wakey, Eggs and Bakey!
There’s a little restaurant in downtown Pahoa we love to visit called Black Rock Cafe. They serve up your typical breakfast: eggs, bacon, hash browns, coffee. It’s also the home of a giant and fluffy pancake, guaranteed to force you to bring home leftovers.
There’s some nice paintings on the wall, the atmosphere is clean, and there’s a lovely view of some African Tulip Trees across the street.
The real reason we go, however, is due to their low-cost breakfasts. While most of their prices rival those back in the mainland, it’s one of the cheapest places to get a hearty breakfast here on the Big Island of Hawaii.
If I said that every great day didn’t start and end with an amazing meal, I’d probably be lying.
Once we were all fueled up and caffeinated, we were excited and ready to start the day.
In a few hour’s time, we knew we would be returning to downtown Pahoa for a block party being thrown in the evening. That charged us with finding something to do in order to fill the time.
Fortunately, not far from Pahoa, there’s a little “clothing-optional” beach called Kehena. It’s one of the best around, and also where hippies from every era coagulate to hang out on the shore in their naked glory.
A Coast for Hippies
We’ve self-identified as neo-hippies for a good long while now. We may not be into the Dead as much as our free-loving predecessors, and we don’t necessarily flash the peace symbol at every hello or goodbye.
But, we’re just as much into ushering in an age of art, where loving self-expression and an infrastructure of art reign supreme over the toxic currents of restrictive patriarchy.
With all that said, it only seems natural that we’d be frequently going au naturel with our bohemian brothers and sisters.
But in fact, this was the first time we had ever been to a nude beach. And it was the only time we’ve ever been comfortable enough with getting naked in the presence of strangers.
Kehena Beach has weekly drum circles every Sunday. People bring booze, others bring marijuana, and still others bring their kids. If that’s not enough to disrupt latent Puritan values, I don’t know what is.
But everyone is okay with everyone else. No one seems to mind the children running around amidst clouds of Hawaiian dope, bustling nudity, and tremendous waves.
The black sands are hot, and there’s quite a bit of an undercurrent in the ocean’s undulation, but as long as you’re careful, everyone is having a grand time.
Tossing Aside Our Cares
We weren’t particularly exploitative of our nudity. We mostly kept to ourselves, careful to ensure we didn’t overdo tanning our pallid bits, and content with the roaring waves crashing in.
In fact, for the few times that we did go in the water, we opted to put our bathing suits back on. Can’t risk getting scraped by the sand, you know?
But if you’ve never been nude on a beach before, I’d highly recommend it.
There’s something entirely freeing about letting go of cloaking the body with timidity. It’s rather gratifying to feel the wind and the sun in places you’re not so used to.
And as long as you’re actually at a nude beach, and not some public access beach where you’ll probably be arrested for throwing your bathing suit off, no one is really going to be conscious of your body any more than anyone else’s body.
Being nude on the beach (during the day) simply shows you that there’s little to be bothered by. For American citizens especially, it’s redeeming to be relaxed in the presence of public nudity, mostly so because the government suppresses it, and the markets flaunt it.
Smoothies From Uncle's
After getting a little toasty from the sun at Kehena, we drove southwest back towards Uncle Robert’s for some smoothies. On Wednesdays, Uncle Robert’s becomes a huge open-air market stocked with exotic foods, handmade jewelry, and live music.
Most days of the week, however, Uncle Robert’s is a quiet compound of beach shacks. A few of them remain open for the occasional wayfarer seeking a beer, a smoothie, or a poke bowl.
When we walked in, a few people sat at picnic tables eating some baked pie and enjoying conversation. There were also a few more people ordering colorful mixed drinks at the bar.
We ordered one java banana smoothie and a mango-pineapple passion smoothie.
While we walked around sipping on our cold drinks, we appreciated the warm ocean air breezing through the market.
I also grabbed a few books on ‘blogging secrets’ from a shelf in front of Karuna Foods, which I didn’t realize until after leaving that they weren’t supposed to be taken. If you’re from Karuna Foods…I promise to send them back.
Nestled next to Uncle Robert’s is the House of Fire, an art gallery featuring some beautiful, local hand-made crafts. As we finished our smoothies, we wandered in to look at hand-blown glass pieces, pictures of the erupting volcano, little statuettes, and jewelry made from seashells and Hawaiian hardwoods.
The "Activate Puna" Block Party
Once we left Uncle Robert’s, it was nearing four o’clock—the time the block party would be starting in downtown Pahoa. We wanted to be there for the very beginning of the “Activate Puna” gathering.
After a twenty-minute drive up highway 130, we were pressing in on the edge of town. Parked cars were already starting to fill up many of the common spots. With a short detour around the main street, we found a place to park and joined the party.
With tight curls of salty hair and sun-kissed skin, we walked into a sonorous evening gathering of hundreds of local Puna residents. The occasion was put on to celebrate the recovery of those living in the Puna district after the Kilauea eruption almost exactly one year prior.
At one end of the festival, ukulele music filled the street with a musician singing ‘What A Wonderful World.” At the other end of the block, a hip rock band performed some of their own originals while people in the street danced.
All along the side of the block, vendors selling local crafts raised money for the charitable cause of those who lost their homes to the lava flow.
In the park, hula dancers, both young and old, performed to native Hawaiian music. A number of food trucks were also situated at the opposite end of the hula stage.
Libations and Entertainment
Once we had walked around some to see everything that was going on, we decided to stop in for some kava tea at the La Hiki Ola Kava Bar. Kava tea is made from the root of the kava plant; it acts to curb anxiety and gives the user a general sense of pleasantness. It’s also non-addictive.
The great thing about La Hiki Ola is that they serve the brew in a hollowed-out half of a coconut sitting atop a ring of bamboo. It’s a classy (and legal) way to get a little buzzed.
Once we finished our kava drinks, we sauntered into some of the shops in Pahoa selling offbeat clothing and artisan jewelries. All the while, the sounds of local music and the subtle chatter of hundreds outside resonated through the air.
When we grew hungry, we stopped by Ning’s Thai Cuisine for some tofu Pad Thai and some Thai Panang Curry—god, I love Thai food.
To cap off the night, we got to hold a loving Silkie chicken wearing a little yellow lei around its body. Silkies, after all, are renown for being the best lap-chickens.
After that, we headed over to the Bananarama Bakery food truck to order a piece of pineapple upside-down cake, and a judiciously-sized slice of pandan sponge cake. Pandan cake is a dessert of southeast Asian origin made with the leaves of the pandan plant and coconut blossom sugar.
Bringing It All Home
From what would turn out to be one of the most exhilarating days we’ve had since we first arrived in Hawaii, we left the block party a little exhausted, but with happy hearts.
We decided to wait to crack open our appetizing desserts, despite the salivated outpourings of our yearning tongues, in order to enjoy them in the quiet abode of our own cabin.
Because I’m late to the whole “Game of Thrones” series, we binged a few episodes while ponderously consuming our sweets.
What an incredible thrill-ride the day had been. I tried to savor every last bit of the day, just as I casually spooned together bits of dainty sweets, making sure to deliberately conjoin frosting and cake together in their proper relative proportions.
Much of the time we spent in Hawaii, we spent taking on little tasks—either working online, or laying between to trees in a hammock. But this day was unlike any other.
I only wanted to lay claim to being there, and to share the extravagant story that came of the initial decision to travel some months ago.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed the story.
Aloha, and mahalo for reading.