Travel Report on Swim Free Hawaii
By Andy Walden
Everybody needs some saltwater therapy from time to time. It’s been a trying few weeks for me personally so, when I had a rare moment for myself one January weekend, I serendipitously found my way to the docks for my “appointment.”
Months ago, Jeff Baldasarre, AANR’s Director of Marketing and Communications in Kissimmee, Florida, told me about a new boat charter based at Honokōhau. Captain Chuck Haupert has been conducting fishing charters for 30 years and intimately knows these waters as well as its sea life. He and his partner, Nova Neri, established Swim Free Hawaii last year to offer visitors and locals the opportunity to explore the Kona Coast off the Island of Hawaii in an exciting, safe, and comfortable clothing-optional environment.
Our adventure started on a clear, calm Saturday afternoon. We motored from port in search of spinner dolphins, which didn’t take long. Two ladies from the mainland and a young Maui couple hired to take drone photographs of the adventure were my company aboard. As the captain slowly circled a pod of dolphins, four passengers jumped into the water to snorkel — dressed! I figured this may not be a nude cruise after all, judging by my fellow passengers’ lack of knowledge with the American Association for Nude Recreation and their “that’s...interesting” response to my advocacy.
As I had no swimming costume at the ready, I graciously (reluctantly) declined to join them. After the dolphins lost interest and left, we spotted a humpback whale near the horizon and gave chase but to no avail. Captain Chuck turned back toward shore and headed for a cove near Kohanaiki, an aptly named stretch of coast which means Small Naked (area) in Hawaiian.
Nova doffed her bikini, and dove into the crystal blue water to tie the boat to a mooring buoy. Chuck climbed down from his captain’s chair already as nature intended, donned mask and fins, and disappeared into the soft waves. “Hey, I’m in for a penny!”
The water was fantastic; warm enough to endure yet cool enough to refresh. One of the ladies tossed in some Cheerios which caught the fish’s attention. The bottom was about 20 feet down with lots of coral heads, arches, and lava caves to explore.
Of the seven aboard, only Chuck, Nova, and I were skinnydippers; we defined the harmony of clothing-optional. With the drone hovering overhead, Nova posed for some “floating” photographs. I even got the opportunity to pilot the mini-aircraft — I see a new toy!
Our cruise lasted about three hours, but its memories will last forever. As the captain says, “We create our own clichés!” When planning a visit to the Big Island of Hawaii, be sure to book a cruise with Swim Free Hawaii. They’re located at Honokōhau, halfway between the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport and the town of Kailua-Kona. Contact Chuck and Nova on www.swimfreehawaii.com and reserve your saltwater therapy...naturally.
The American Association for Nude Recreation - Western Region