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.
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Infested with kiave (extreme thorn plants). Difficult to get in and out of because it’s literally ten feet off a major highway. No fire access. No water access. Getting permits are a huge pain. Checking happened only once and it was in the middle of the night which is terrifying for a woman solo camping.
Attention Worst of all: a serious theft problem. Tent stolen. Umbrella stolen. Ladies before me had all their passports stolen.
The only pros are that it’s on a beautiful beach and the permitted spot is absolutely massive. Too bad tons of non-permitted campers decided to join me in the spot 🙄
What a darling little spot. Would return in a heartbeat, and honestly probably will before the month is up. Had two glorious nights there and now I don't want to camp anywhere else in Maui because I was so spoiled.
- To echo other folks, absolutely LOVED the outdoor showers - and yes, they get hot. Felt utterly luxurious. Toilets and sinks remain clean and odorless.
- Easy sandy beach access! Pebble-side great for hanging up hammocks.
- Can take relatively affordable kayaking tours from the campgrounds or rent SUP/kayaks for very affordable rates.
- Free coffee in the morning!
- Has its own teensy general store and a walkable larger market down a half mile and across the street. Famed pie place next door.
- Literally 8 plugs for a bajillion people causing a massive traffic jam in the mornings and evenings. On the side of the ice house only (not even near campgrounds).
- Not that you need it, but if you do - weak wifi signal beyond the toilet/shower area.
- Absolutely no shade at all on any sites, save for one campsite (campsite #1).
- Beware the wind!!! Because it's open air with no shielding trees, sooo many people evacuated to sleep in cars or resigned to/woke up to collapsed tents because of high winds.
4.5/5. Absolutely worth it. LOOOOOVE.
Solid drive in campground with toilets and beautiful ocean views. Mostly car campers at this one. The grounds were clean but very exposed to sight and the elements. Highly recommend stay here if you're planning on taking a trip to Hana. It's a perfect place to rest your feet after being in the car for multiple hours before returning to the other side - a single day trip is doable but probably exhausting. Actually the Pipiwai Trail hike is a must do on the Hana side- cannot go wrong with bamboo forests and a good waterfall.
Note: that a National Park pass ($30) here is good for 3 days of camping including sites at Haleakala.
We camped here off and on for a couple weeks. We absolutely LOVED that we could camp as close to the ocean as we were able to, especially on such a beautiful bay. This was also a wonderful bay to swim in. Most of the cleared tent spaces also have a large picnic table nearby to use. We were advised to pull our tent back for 1 night when the ocean levels were supposed to be extra high. If you're friendly with the locals (who are friendly and pretty much live in the park) they may help you out with info and advice. The roosters were louder and started earlier here that any other place we stayed. We loved them but others may find this annoying. Showers were outdoors and semi-private. We recommend having someone guard the entrance if you're at all worried about it. We camped here at the end of December / beginning of January when the weather is extremely unpredictable. It was QUITE an adventure to say the least - but we LOVE a Great adventure! Make sure your tent is VERY wind & water proof. And know that if you do want the view right from your tent, you will have to carry your gear for a couple minutes since you can't drive right up to where you'll set up your tent.
Make sure you get your camping permit well ahead of your trip!!!
Secluded spot in the Oahu Mountains. Getting there can be a challenge and Camping is very primitive. The only amenities on site are put toilets and picnic tables, plan accordingly.
On a clear night however the sky is amazing!
From the Website: Special Conditions
Public access through the Yokohama Guard shack is from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. 4WD access only. Everyone in the vehicle must be listed on the permit. Only street legal vehicles are allowed; registration, safety check and insurance must be current. Permits must be printed out and on hand at all times. No Parking on Air Force Installation over night. All paved roads and areas immediately adjacent to paved roads are considered a part of the Air Force Installation.
At the campground, no water is available. Check-out from campsites is by 11:00am. Check-in to campsite is any time after 12:00pm noon. Hazards No hazards. Prohibited No prohibited.
Date of stay: September 19 Campsite: #16
This area is available to DoD ID card holders only.
Tent campsites are way too close together! Every 2 sites should be combined to make 1. Ocean view sites are very sandy and if you are near the restroom, be prepared for beach goers to walk right through your site to use the toilet…! (Side note, that’s my biggest pet peeve!!)
Tons of amenities here though, putt-putt, driving range, bar w/ pool table, foose, beach equipment rental, paint ball, small bouldering area!
Date of stay (Aug 19) Stay site (Kahua Kuou site #4)
Favorite Spot for family camping on Oahu! Free fishing (bring your own bread), easy hiking, and large spread out campsites make this a great spot to camp with little ones!
Each site at Kahua Kuou had a fire pit and the campsites are secluded enough where park goers are not traipsing through your site.
The park visitors center has a limited number of bamboo fishing poles available on a first come first serve basis. Or you can bring your own.
Recommendation: the hike with fishing gear, cooler, kids, is a little long..bring a wagon!
Date of visit (Jan 20) Stayed in Campsite #6 Like many campground in Oahu the campsites were very close together. We lucked out and there were not many campers in the park after 8pm. However during the day this Regional Park does get very crowded with weekend activities, parties, and tourists.
The Kualoa A site is tucked away from the massive crowds there to see Chinamans Gat and is a nice spot to listen to the waves gently crash against the shoreline.
Bathrooms worked, showers were very cold (expected), and there is a nice sink outside the restrooms to scrub dishes.
Would stay here again.