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.