Maui Sun Club

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A view of Wai‘ānapanapa from the Honokalani Ranch
Maui Sun Club was a rustic tropical nudist retreat on the Island of Maui near the town of Hāna. It was the dream of its owners that turned bittersweet just as the gate to their corner of paradise opened for business.

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Location

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Nestled on the lower slopes of Haleakalā and under the thick rainforest canopy of eastern Maui, the Maui Sun Club was on the 19-acre (7.7-hectare) Honokalani Ranch overlooking Keawaiki bay on the road to Wai‘ānapanapa State Park. The property featured groves of wild bananas, guavas, mangoes and papayas, all overgrown with creeping hou vines. Though the club was nine minutes outside the town of Hāna, the mailing address — Post Office Box 286, Pu‘unēnē — led many to believe they were in the old sugar town close to the Kahului Airport.

Tragedy

John and Georgianna Dryer had purchased Honokalani Ranch close to Hāna in 1993. Together, they raised livestock as well as grow fruits and vegetables. In July 1998, after working diligently to ready the property to become the island’s only nude resort, John applied for — and received — state certification for the Maui Sun Club.

Then, at 21:21 on the evening of Monday 9th November 1998, John collided with a teenager standing on the side of the dark road whilst bicycling along Kaumālapa‘u Highway near Miki Basin Road on the Island of Lāna‘i. The Maui County Police reported the boy never saw John before being hit and received minor injuries; however, the impact caused John to sustain a fatal head injury in the crash. He was 52.

Maui Sun Club

Aerial view of Maui Sun Club
Friends and family dressed in aloha attire gathered on Saturday 22nd November for a memorial service at Wai‘ānapanapa State Park with a reception afterwards at the ranch. Along with Georgianna, John was survived by son Joel and daughter Shawn Kaiwi; father Eldon, brothers Don and Doug; four grandchildren; and the ‘ohana of Hāna residence. The temptation to leave behind the new club never crossed Georgianna’s mind. This was their dream and she knew John wanted her to move forward.
The Hāna Highway
The Maui Sun Club was at the end of a narrow road and beyond a paddock gate, in a small clearing of a dense tropical rainforest. The only totally nude resort on Maui was unassuming and quiet about its existence in respect to local anti-nudity sentiments; the only adverts were found in naturist journals and the postal address was two-and-a-half hours away. Accommodations were limited to only three apartments and three small cabins, so rarely did Georgianna have more than ten people visiting at any time. Maui Sun Club was about as off the grid as it gets: no television, no pool, no bar, no clothes!

Hāna, itself, is one of the most isolated communities in Hawai‘i. It is reached via the famous Hāna Highway — a winding, narrow ribbon of pavement 46 of its 59 bridges are only one-lane wide — or the less travelled Pi‘ilani Highway. Maui Sun Club offered a convenient base for guests to explore the natural wonders of eastern Maui like Wai‘ānapanapa State Park, Red Sand Beach at Kaihalulu, Waioka pond — also known as the Venus Pool — and Makahiku waterfall and the Seven Pools on ‘Ohe‘o gulch stream to name a few.

Georgianna would occasionally take club guests in her “Maui cruiser” truck to the end of ‘Ula‘ino Road where they’d trek through the jungle and along the rugged beach to Helele‘ike‘ōhā — also known as the Blue Pool. The freshwater swimming hole with a waterfall backdrop and cascading impatiens was her favourite place to watch the sunrise. “Floating [nude] in the pool and listening to the waterfall as I watch the waves, I feel blessed with a simple abundance and completely connected to nature. That’s what my lifestyle is all about.”

An ānuenue arches over the Papaya Hut
The retreat would easily be described as rustic yet comfortable. Maui Sun Club was modeled after the small, quaint countryside clubs of Europe which offer a very different experience from almost any nudist resort in the world. The grounds were beautiful tropical gardens with fruit trees and vines providing instant snacks; a wood-burning hot tub, central barbecue area and sun deck were available in the common guest area. One and two bedroom apartments constructed with local woods offered kitchens, private decks and some rooms which could accommodate as many as four people. The Jungle Cabin whimsically featured a unique open air bathroom with all the appropriate facilities set on a private lānai in the great outdoors! Rates ranged between $95 and $145 per night.

Accolades and praises abounded for Maui Sun Club for its beauty, and Georgianna was the consummate hostess. Visitors from all points on the globe made this their holiday destination. Yet the emotional and financial strain of operating the retreat took its toll. By mid-2006, the decision was made to close and sell Honokalani Ranch. According to public records, it appears that Georgianna has moved to Utah and apparently remarried. Ironically, the state business registration for Maui Naturist Retreat d/b/a Maui Sun Club remains valid until the 30th September, 2013.

To-day

The cover for The Nude Traveller, volume two
The new owners of Honokalani Ranch continue to cultivate the land as an organic farm which supplies fresh fruits and vegetables for the local hotels, restaurants and co-operatives. Their produce may be as natural as possible but, alas, those tilling the soil or visiting the property are not!

Gallery

Andy Olvera Collection

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