Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning views of Diamond Head, and relaxed way of life. But one thing that is often overlooked by visitors (and really shouldn’t be!) is the amazing experience of camping in Hawaii.
The Hawaiian Islands are made up of eight main islands, including Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Kauai and Niihau. Each one offers unique camping experiences and different activities.
Oahu, home to the city of Honolulu, and the most populated island, offers a unique blend of city comforts and tropical vibes. The southernmost coast is where you’ll find popular tourist destinations like Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, and Hanauma Bay. Due to the number of people that live on this part of the island, there are limited camping areas, but just a short drive makes a big difference.
On Oahu’s Windward coast, expect stunning views of the Ko’olau mountains and the turquoise waters of Lanikai and Kailua. Bellows is a great camping spot right on the beach away from the bustle of Honolulu, and only a few minutes drive from the popular Maunawili hike trailhead. Permits are required to go camping in Hawaii, and sites usually book up in advance, so be sure to call a few weeks ahead if you want to get a spot.
If relaxing in nature and getting away from the crowd is what you’re after, Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area, located inland near Aiea, provides visitors with lush forest views, and is the site of a former temple of Hawaiian healing. It is also near the trailhead for the Aiea Loop Trail, a popular 4.5 mile hike with stunning mountain vistas, and is just a short drive away from Pearl Harbor.
The Big Island, the largest of the Hawaiian islands and known for its diverse landscape and constantly flowing lava, is another great option if you are looking to do some camping in Hawaii. Camping permits are available for Punalu’u, Hawaii’s famous black sand beach, which has a reputation for great snorkeling and fishing and for sea turtle sightings. You can also snag one of 16 campsites in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Sites are available on a first come, first served basis, and although it’s a little more rustic (there are restrooms but no showers), it’s probably worth it to be able to camp at “one of the most unique campsites to visit in the world”.
Whether you’re camping in Hawaii for the first time, or just looking for a new favorite spot, The Dyrt has you covered.
How can you complain about a campground in paradise?!
On the Na Pali Coast trail at the halfway point near Hanakoa Falls is a few primitive spots to call home before venturing on. Warning: The ground is wet (duh, it's Kauai) and "locals" tend to squat in the area. There's a 3-sided shelter to get out of the rain, but that happened to be where a kidding was more or less living. He was sweet and watched out things while we hiked to the waterfall - although he could have easily stolen everything we had.
The area feels so sacred and special that even if you may be miserable and wet, you can't help but feel at peace.
This is a must-see in Maui! From the base of the mountain, it will take you about 30 minutes to drive to the top of Haleakala.
The roads are very twisty, and there are sections where there are no guardrails. Be sure to drive at a pace that is comfortable for you, and utilize the pullover areas to let faster traffic pass. There is no need to make a reservation to enter the park unless you’re showing up early to watch the sunrise. You’ll just have to pay a park entry fee when you arrive at the base of the mountain(don’t worry you can’t miss the payment booth).
The summit is over 10,000 ft from sea level. Due to the elevation, it is pretty darn cold and the air is noticeably thinner. When we went, the base of the mountain was about 90F(32C) and the top of Haleakala is around 50F(10C). Also, it is very very windy at the summit. You should bring a sweater and a windbreaker to make sure you’re able to walk around comfortably.
The view of the surrounding islands and the crater are absolutely stunning! Check out some pictures here: https://creditcarrots.com/haleakala-crater/))
I would recommend the beach camping spots. We had a site a ways back and in the trees. It was private and nice. Gates close at 7:00 pm. Watch out for centipedes; I got bit and it was extremely painful. Outdoor showers by the beach. There are toilets. Beach beach in all of Oahu!
This is a GREAT campground with a beautiful beach that is tucked away. It's way up the west side of the island but worth the trip to get away from the more touristy areas. The sites were clean and clear and there was a nice amount of privacy. The sites are right up to the beach but be careful because the rip tide can be killer! It's one of the scariest experiences to get stuck out in the ocean and not have the capability of swimming to shore - it's just not possible. Please be careful because there are no lifeguards out there and stop at a store before you drive out because it's pretty far from everything. It's the farthest you can drive clockwise before you hit the N'Pali Coast.
Stayed here during the week and this is absolute best place to camp. Has cell reception, bathrooms, showers, ocean access, and overall great campground. I did a camp site which is in dirt which kinda sucks but that’s is only complaint but won’t rate it down for this. Food and drink access is close by too!
This campground is beautiful. The best sites are waterfront. You need to book early, the good sites go very fast! The campground is only open Friday-Monday. The camp sites are large and that makes it nice, because sometimes it can get crowded. There is plenty of shade too! I have camped here twice and would go back next time I am in Oahu.
Unreal! It’s like your on the moon. O! Watch for a NeNe, this bird is very rare and lives on at the top of this mountain . Beware the road it going up is all twists and turns. Be careful if you get carsick or are severely hungover 🤢
Bellows is a military recreation facility on the Windward side of Oahu near the town of Waimanalo. Bellows has a section open to the public and a military area that requires a US Government ID and window stickers. The campsite is one one of the highest rated beaches in the USA Waimanalo Beach. The white sandy beach is a local favorite and must see while on Oahu. You can visit in the day or stay at the campground. The campground is for tent campers for individuals or large groups. You will need to come early on a Friday to get a spot for the weekend. During holidays you can expect large crowds. We like to go here during the week and get a section of the beach all to ourselves. The surfing here is not great since the reef is not along the shoreline. It’s popular for swimming, body surfing, and kite surfing. You can get supplies and food in Waimanalo or Kailua to the north. President Obama was known to play golf here and swim with his family.
We lived in nearby Hauula Oahu for five years and this campsite was one of our favorites. The campsite is on Malaekahana Beach one of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii. The site is just north of Laie on Kamehameha Highway. The campground was recently put under new management and has invested in new cabins and facilities. You may not find a better site on Oahu. You will need to make a reservations for the cabins which are very popular with local residents. You can find supplies in nearby Laie or Kahuku. The cabins are very basic with screen and bunk bed setups. The site has an automatic gate for security and helpful resident staff. You can ride horses across the highway. The camp store has some basic items as well. This is a great choice for students or other visitors looking for a low cost option in a beautiful location.
We lived in Hauula Oahu for 3 years. This was one of our favorite campgrounds. The park is along Kamehameha Highway on the Windward side of Oahu. The site is one on the beautiful Kahana Bay. The Bay has a beautiful sandy beach which is great for beginner surfers and kayaking. You can also kayak in the river which runs through the park. They have camp sites on both sides of the highway and a boat dock. The site is run by the county and very popular on weekends.
far, hard to get there. hot and no confessions there. closed wednesdays before. don't know present conditions. could have changed.
Ok, you twisted my arm…
Hosmer Grove Campground is a small set of primitive sites located in the Kīpahulu region of Haleakalā National Park, at the cloud line. This means it will get cold, especially at night, and even in the summer. Come prepared for this nice break from the Maui beach heat. The spaces are first come first serve, summer will likely be busier so come early. No permit needed. Fairly easy to pack in as well.
There are grills and nice picnic tables available at each site, but no campfires are allowed, so you must use the grills for your cooking. All the better to see the stars at night, right? Portable water is available and there are also put toilets only. Please be respectful of other campers since the area is so small.
Be prepared to be woken early to the sound of an array of birds, and even a clearly lost rooster up before dawn. The best thing about Maui, is that it’s an island formed out of nothing from a volcano, meaning it did not break off from a land mass carrying with it all the variety of animals and insects campers often find troubling. In fact, typical tropical concerns like venomous snakes and large cats are nonexistent here. A very safe place, animal wise, to camp, but do be warned of flash floods when hiking the area and come aware of the conditions and also prepared with a first aid kit, as outside help is far and difficult to reach. Towers were recently put in to assist with calls out, but in the valleys and at high elevations you will often find it hard to get reception. And help us an hour or more away. So hike with caution.
Sites are fairly level, close to each other, and on soft grass. The route to this area via the Hāna Hwy is almost worth the trip in and of itself, it’s truly a gorgeous area at all elevations.
Be sure to take advantage of the many guided hikes (also for safety reasons) offered by the national park and local private companies. We took a GREAT waterfall rappelling trip with Rappel Maui and enjoyed all their info about the area and expertise in rappelling. Be prepared for mosquitos, however we really didn’t encounter too many in June.
Check out the Pools at ‘Ohe’o and the many many waterfalls around the Nat Park as well as the state park while there. And the rocky, rough-waved cost on that side of the island (not great for swimming but so so beautiful).
I have done the hike to this campsite 4 times in 4 years. Each year I anticipate going and each time I do it I find myself asking myself, "why am I putting myself through this torture?" Then I am rewarded with the my goal, The kalalau beach. Campsites are spread out with camping available anywhere in the treeline running the whole length of the nearly half mile long beach. The campsites are fare for being so remote but the real treasure here is in the beach. Sit for a sunset and you will understand. Be aware is an 11 mile hike in and an 11 mile hike out. Do your research and get your permits.
This campground was the largest by far we saw on Maui - it was a large grassy area down a road past the visitor's center for Kipahulu. The area is for both tent and car camping, and there's no separate parking lot for tent campers since it is a bit of a walk from the visitor's parking lot. There's no running water, but two small buildings with pit toilets inside and hand sanitizer. There's also a group area that I believe needs to be reserved ahead of time and is at the back of the main camping area, as well as a trail off the campground that leads to shady tent camping spots (you definitely couldn't get a car in there) under large trees. We liked the campground a lot, especially how grassy it was (rather than dirt, like at Olowalu) but unfortunately we stayed on a Friday and Saturday night - and boy did the other people there like to party. We spent the first night stuck next to a HUGE party that didn't quiet down til late at night. Even after moving our van to a spot farther away from them, we realized that there were quite a number of groups partying til late at the site. I bet this wouldn't be the same case on a weekday night, but it's good to know that this campground is popular with the locals/residents on Maui and from other islands - probably because it's so cheap and accessible ($25 for 3 nights, which is essentially your entrance fee to get into the 7 sacred pools and hike the Pipiwai Trail).
As for Kipahulu itself, it's a beautiful place. we swam in the 7 sacred pools (which get pretty crowded in the afternoon from day tourists) and hiked the Pipiwai Trail. We LOVED Pipiwai - it's a bit grueling, and is 4 miles there and back, but the 100 foot waterfall at the end of it is incredible and a must-see. For the price, Kipahulu is a great place to camp at, and to make the most of your money, I'd suggest spending a night or two here and then heading to Hosmer Grove on your way to the summit. Note that there's no running water here, so come prepared with water jugs. While there's running water in the bathrooms at the service center, as well as a water fountain to fill up your water bottle there, there's no faucet or anything that you could use to fill up a big water jug. One of the major downsides to the site, in addition to the noise.
I read seriously conflicting reviews about this place before coming here, so I was super on the fence. We ended up camping in our campervan for our first night here, and it was just what we needed. The campervan site is just a dirt lot, but it's pretty big and right next to the showers and toilets. The amenities are GREAT. The showers are enclosed, they have benches and hooks to put your things down on and they have hot and cold water. The bathrooms are REAL bathrooms, with flushing toilets, running water sinks, toilet paper, mirrors, hooks and a ledge to put your things down on. Really well maintained too. In addition, there's also a cell phone charging station, and large sinks to wash your pots and pans. We came back here after camping on the East side of Maui in the state parks, and had an even deeper appreciation for it. Our second time around we camped in the tent area. Each tent spot has its own grill and picnic table, and is close to garbage bins, the beach and showers/toilets. My only complaint is that both the campervan area and the tent area are pretty much just dirt, rather than grass, which especially in the tent area makes you and your things quite dirty. The wood chips that line the pathways in the tent area are also pretty sharp, and my foot actually got cut on one even when I was wearing shoes - so be careful. Overall it was a great campground, and while it's expensive for adults ($20/person), let's just say that the people that run this place aren't that interested in checking that your party is actually the size you say it is or that you have the correct number of adults vs. kids (kids are $5)..compared to Papalaua Park ($10/person on weekdays, $20 on weekends and no amenities except for porta potties) this place blows that one out of the water.
We hiked through here on a day hike through the crater, and stopped here to rest and chat with some campers. The campground has one cabin available to reserve online (but reservations fill up fast) and then a grassy area to camp with a tent in. The guys we talked to said it was constantly raining the night before, so they camped in a small lava cave near the campground. It was a beautiful area of the crater to be in - truly 'in the clouds' - but it was misting the whole time we were there and I'm not sure I'd want to spend a night there if it was in a tent. The cabin seemed well maintained. There's an outhouse/toilet there, as well as water that must be treated/filtered. It was about 6-7 miles in, starting from the Sliding Sands Trail, or about 4 miles from Halemau'u Trailhead.
This was probably our favorite campground in a state park on Maui. We camped in a campervan, and there's a separate section for RV/campervans and tents. Campervans park in a mostly dirt (so it does get a bit muddy when it rains) lot adjacent to the bathrooms/beach shower and the grassy area for tent camping. The black sand beach is small and has rough waves but it is absolutely beautiful, and there's an incredibly lava tube (a cave, basically) that you'll have to do a little searching for (when you walk down the stairs that lead to the beach, look to your right when you get to the bottom and search along the rocks for an opening. You'll have to duck in, but once in the lava tube opens up far above your head and leads to an opening that touches the ocean).
You *definitely* need to get a reservation ahead of time for the park - it's easy to reserve online, but you must do it as soon as possible and print out your reservation to show once you're camping - they do have people come around and check.
The campsite for campervans has no picnic tables and just one old grill made out of bricks that looked a bit gross, but there's picnic tables near the parking lot where day visitors park, and near the trail along the coastline. There's a bathroom building at the center of the campground that includes separate women's & men's rooms with running water toilets (2 stalls in the women's), a changing area (basically just a bench) and 1 sink (with no soap or mirror). Outside of the restroom are soda machines and an open-air shower. The shower has multiple showerheads so 2-3 people can shower at a time, but they're all connected to one main rod so it is a bit awkward to be showering so close to strangers. During the day, day visitors use it a lot to shower off after the beach, but once evening comes around we saw a lot of campers use it just like a regular shower, just keeping bathing suits on. Considering the other state parks on Maui (like Kipahulu) even the beach shower was pretty nice to have to be able to shower off. There's also a water fountain next to the bathrooms and another very low-to-the-ground water faucet that many use to wash their pots and pans, and we used to fill up a large water jug.
The beach was great, as were the hikes along lava rocks - though they were definitely not super well maintained, and at times you were kind of guessing whether you were still on the same path. Overall a great place to camp!
We camped here the night before going up to the top of Haleakala. For some context, we did a campervan trip round Maui for a week and a half, and this was our third stop after camping in Wanapanapa State Park and then Kipahulu. We spent 2 nights in Kipahulu and then our third at Hosmer Grove, so we really took advantage of the $25 entrance fee that covers 3 nights in Haleakala State Park - I'd recommend definitely checking out both camp sites/sides of Haleakala, as they're both beautiful in their own way!
Hosmer Grove is just inside the state park lines, and has a large parking lot with approx the same size grassy area. The area is small, but it doesn't seem like it ever gets overcrowded - we shared the campground with about four other groups the night we stayed, and there were only 2 vans camping out. There's pit toilets with sinks, running water and soap to wash up afterwards, as well as a water fountain, picnic tables and grills.
When people say it's cold up there, it's COLD. Our van was too old to make it up to Hosmer Grove, so we hitchhiked up and brought a 2 person tent for the night. the grassy area to camp on is not completely flat, and unfortunately we chose a spot that was on a bit of an incline and struggled to not slide the whole night - so bewarned to find the right spot to camp on. We were there in June, and by nightfall it got to about 30 degrees (probably dropped even more by midnight). Be prepared with a warm sleeping bag, long sleeves, long pants, socks and maybe a warm hat. The next morning, when we woke up and hitched a ride up to see the sunrise, it was still COLD, and everyone at the top was bundled up - some even wearing winter jackets.
Also a note: I did a lot of researching ahead of time about the sunrise reservation for Haleakala, since we missed the deadline to get one online. We were pretty worried that we wouldn't be able to see the sunrise since on their website it says that all those who don't have a reservation will be turned away at the top. We ended up getting a ride to the top with a couple who also didn't have a sunrise reservation, and when we got to the top *no one* checked if we had a reservation. We were able to park and watch the sun from the summit. It seems that reservations must be checked at the entrance gate, which is right before Hosmer Grove (some maps seem to make it look like the entrance is after Hosmer, but that's definitely not true. the campground is about a 5 minute drive after you get through the entrance). So a note to the pre-planners: if you don't have a reservation and really want to see that sunrise, camp at Hosmer Grove the night before - as long as you're not trying to enter the park from 3AM-7AM, you'll be fine. Last note on the sunrise - in one of the guidebooks it recommended skipping the summit and going to one of the other lookout points to watch the sunrise where it's way less crowded, and I wished we'd listened. It was overcrowded and noisy, and everyone had their phones out for the hour we were there waiting for the sun to rise. If you want to go a bit off the beaten track, I'd recommend checking out one of those other lookout points. if you don't have a reservation, you'll still need to camp at Hosmer Grove the night before for those, since they're still inside the park's boundaries. And if you're going to camp, might as well hike down into the crater after watching the sunrise!
Lived on Maui for 2 years and used to come up here to camp just to get the Northern California vibe and fresh cool air. It’s a great base camp for sunrise, sunset, or my personal favorite overnight stargazing at Haleakala summit. My boyfriend and I always bring small firewood and light a campfire in the raised grill… it’s SURPRISINGLY cold at Hosmer at night, so this usually brought the neighbors around to share bottles and talk story. Have met a ton of amazing people from around the world on this tiny patch of grass!
This was the first place that we camped at on our Hawaii trip and it was by far our favorite. Paliku is one of two backcountry campsites in the Haleakala National Park summit district. Paliku lies along the eastern side of the crater and will take your breath away. The beauty of this campground is even more apparent after hiking through the barren landscape of the lava fields to get here.
After trekking nearly 10 miles from the visitor center to get here, you’ll be welcomed to take your boots off and step on the lush grass that grows all over the campsite, quite the contrast from all of the ‘a’a lava you’ve just been walking through. This rainy side of the crater features rich, thick, and best of all - almost completely native Hawaiian plants and animals. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard more interesting and diverse bird calls in my life that come from vividly colored native Hawaiian birds that live in this unique habitat. Be sure to collect a bird brochure at the visitor center when you pick up your permit to identify some of these unique birds you may never get the chance to see again in your life.
Campsites are tucked away and hidden along braided paths and tall grass of the dispersed camping area. Not one of them has a bad view.
Being so secluded, this backcountry campground takes preparation and work to get to. Campers must be fit enough to hike to and carry gear necessary to stay at this site. Water filters are a necessity as the water here is non-potable. Cold weather clothes and gear are also needed as temperatures often drop to sub-40.
Kipahulu Campground is part of the coastal district of Haleakala National Park and although there is a fee to enter the park, camping is free and on a first come first serve basis. Camp sites are located all along the lollipop of the road that leads into the campground as well as some more spots along the shore. Road to get to the campsite runs along the right of the overflow parking lot of the park. Filtered water and nice public bathrooms are available at the visitor center, however there is no shower at the park. Make sure to get all necessary food items in Hana as this is the last big town on the Hana Highway before the park.
The campground has great spots for whatever you are looking for in your camping trip. The options include open areas to set up next for other people for large groups or along the shore under your own personal hala tree for seclusion and serenity. We were able to grab a spot under a hala tree our second night that was just a walk away from the shore and was so peaceful, and perfect to set up some hammocks. If you hope to get a site along the shore I recommend you arrive to the park early. And if you hope to explore the gems of this district such as the Pipiwai trail, bamboo forest, and seven sacred pools - get up early and do them before the tons of tourists arrive for the day.
Located along the Hana Highway this campground is located within Waianapanapa State Park. This is an open campground, easy to access (very short walk from parking lot). Bathrooms and an outdoor shower are located just a hundred yards from campsite. Don’t forget to get your permit in advance online otherwise I’m sure you can get it from park office. And post it on your tent while you’re there, I heard they checked for them.
I think this campground is best suited for people who are hoping to hang around Waianapanapa State Park all day, and there is no shortage of things to do at the park. Park offers black sand beach, hiking trail, blowhole, tidepooling but also lots of tourists too. I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving tent and belongings alone with as many people that come back and forth. Altogether, this site suited our needs, had good amenities, and offered beautiful scenery with many things to do.
Holua is one of two dispersed backcountry camping sites within the crater district of Haleakala National Park. A backcountry camping permit must be obtained from the visitor center to stay at Holua. Depending on where you start, it is a 4-6 mile hike into the site. Dispersed campsites are a 3 minute hike up the trail to the left as you arrive to the Holua cabin and located throughout the flat land next to the horse stables. The scenery here is absolutely stunning! Abutted next to the west-facing side of the crater wall, the magnificent color contrasts in the crater are on display at this campsite. We were lucky to be the only ones camping here. It was amazing to experience the ruggedness and purity of this beautiful part of Maui, untouched by society.
Things to note: as with all of the backcountry campsites and cabins of Haleakala, a water filter is necessary to filter the non-potable water. Bring layers and warm rated sleeping bags as it will easily get down to sub 40’s at night. And of course sun protection during the day.
Hosmer Grove campground is located just within Haleakala National Park, the first left turn after the pay station. The campground sports several charcoal grills, a picnic space, bathrooms, water bottle filling station, parking lot with ample space, and a large open space that fits upwards of 10 sports for tents. The campground was easy to access and use as it was the first place we stayed before entering the crater on our 4-day backpacking trip.