camping in hawaii

Camping in Hawaii | Ultimate Guide to The Best Hawaii Campgrounds

Shares

We are counting down the best places to go camping in Hawaii, including swoon-worthy spots on the Big Island, Maui, Kaui, and Oahu.

Hawaii is easily one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But let’s be real, traveling there can get expensive, especially with the cost of a hotel. According to Govisithawai.com, in 2015 the statewide Hawaii hotel rate was $252 per night. Yet, did you know you could stay right on the beach for as little as $3 per night at a County campground in Kauai?

Camping in Hawaii is much more affordable than getting a hotel, plus it offers a chance to get up close and personal with nature. With campgrounds spread throughout Hawaii, you could jump from place-to-place and see so much more of the incredible landscapes without breaking the bank.

If you’ve never camped before or don’t want to fly with all your camping gear, there are spots (including some campgrounds) that offer camping gear for rent. Plus, many Hawaii campgrounds (including some State Parks) have cabins and other cozy accommodations that are still more affordable than the average hotel.

Is Hawaii still open for business with the ongoing 2018 eruption?

The Governor of Hawaii David Ige told CNBS news that the ongoing volcano is currently impacting less than 1% of Hawaii’s land. He stresses that while parts of the island (including Hawaii Volcanos National Park) are closed due to spewing lava and toxic gases, the majority remain open for business as usual.

Hawaii State Parks, Forest Reserves, & County Campgrounds

Hawaii’s State Park System includes 53 state parks covering 25,000 acres on the 5 major islands. Parks offer various recreational activities, heritage opportunities and landscapes. There are developed parks with modern facilities, as well as remote areas with trails and primitive facilities.

County parks tend to be more affordable for camping than state parks, this is especially true in Kauai where you can camp at a County Park for as little as $3 per person/per night.

Looking for a wilderness experience? Hawaii’s Forest Reserves are home to remote camping spots in mountainous regions. These campsites epitomize “roughing it,” and are accessed by 4WD or hiking in.

Don’t Forget Your Camping Permit!

There is no free camp spot in Hawaii State Parks or Forest Reserves. You must pay the standard fee to obtain a permit to camp at State of Hawaii parks on all islands. To get your permit visit camping.ehawaii.gov. For County campgrounds in Kauai, visit the Kaui County website and apply for a permit via snail mail ahead of your trip.

Amazing Places to Go Camping in Hawaii

Here are some of the most unique and incredible places you can go camping in Hawaii.

1. Stay at the Wilderness Cabins in Haleakalā National Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to afar.com

Haleakalā National Park is home to a vast wilderness area, ideal for the adventurer seeking backcountry camping and hike-in sites. The reward of wilderness camping increases at this National Park thanks to the fact there are several wilderness cabins tucked away in the backcountry just waiting for hikers to stumble upon them.

The cabins were built in 1937 by contracted carpenters who used mules and horses to bring in supplies to the remote locations they remain standing today. The Hōlua, Kapalaoa and Palikū cabins continue to serve their original purpose, giving hikers a place to rest their head while exploring Haleakalā’s vast crater.

The cabins are maintained by the National Park Service and must be reserved ahead of your stay. They are only accessible by trail, with a minimum hiking distance of 3.7 miles to reach the Hōlua cabin. Kapalaoa is a 5.5-mile hike in, and Palikū is a challenging 9.3-mile hike in.

You must obtain a permit to stay in the wilderness cabins. Permits are available at the Headquarters Visitor Center between 8 am and 3 pm the day you hike in. Bring a photo ID. Get more information

Reservations: Reserve a site or cabin at Haleakalā National Park at recreation.gov, or call 1-877-444-6777

2. Go Camping in a Rainforest at Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens

camping in hawaii

Credit to commons.wikimedia.org

When you think of camping in Hawaii you probably picture rows of tents along a sandy shore with ocean waves rolling in the distance. But, there’s another way to go camping in Hawaii, and that’s in the island’s lush rainforests.

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens in Oahu, Hawaii offers several campgrounds within its borders submerged in a tangle of trees and foliage. The park is guarded, locked at night, and doesn’t get too crowded. Despite its remote location, it isn’t too far from Hawaii’s sparkling coastline.

There are several campgrounds at the Botanical Garden, including…

Kahua Kuou

Location: 45-680 Luluku Road, Kane’ohe, Hawai’i 96744

camping in hawaii

Kahua Kuou
Credit to camping.honolulu.gov

Open: Year-round

Website: camping.honolulu.gov/campsites/search?park_id=16

Camping at the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens offers a unique experience. Set beside the magical Ko’olau Range, this is one of the only campgrounds in the city that is not on the beach. There are 8 campsites with 2 comfort stations, outdoor showers, picnic tables, and fire circles with pads.

Reservations: Reserve a spot online

The two other campgrounds in the area that offer a chance to camp in the rainforest are:

3. First Time Campers—Rent Equipment at Camp Olowalu in Maui

camping in hawaii

Credit to campolowalu.com

No camping gear? No problem! There are plenty of places to rent camping equipment once you’re on the island. Starting with Camp Olowalu in Maui, where you can sleep beside the ocean in a rented tent. More information

You could also rent a spacious “tent cabin” at Camp Mokuleia on the island of Oahu. Spacious tent cabins can fit a family of six and offer the joys of tent camping with a little extra leg room. More information

4. Stay at a County Campsite on the Beach for as little as $3 Per Night

County Campgrounds in Kauai are crazy cheap—we are talking $3 per person/per night! For Kauai County Camping, you must mail in a permit application with payment ahead of your trip. Get more information on the County camping website.

County Campgrounds in Kauai

camping in hawaii

Credit to to-hawaii.com

Anini Beach Park

Location: Anini Rd, Kilauea, HI 96754

  • One of the safest beaches on Kauai’s North Shore
  • Anini is home to the longest and widest fringing reef in Hawaii.
  • Shaded campsites, picnic tables, pavilions, restrooms and showers

Learn more

camping in hawaii

Dry Cave across from the beach
Credit to to-hawaii.com

Haena Beach Park

Location: HI-560, Kapaa, HI 96746

  • The famous Mount Makana (Bali Hai) towers over Haena Beach Park.
  • Best during the summer when water conditions are calmer
  • Amenities include restrooms, showers, and picnic tables.

Learn more

camping in hawaii

Credit to hilt.org

Hanalei Black Pot Beach Park

Location: Hanalei, HI

  • Popular camping spot for locals
  • Calm waters for surfing
  • Home to the famous Hanalei Pier, originally built of wood pre-1892 & beautifully restored in 2012-13.
  • Restrooms, showers, and picnic tables

Learn more

camping in hawaii

Credit to kauai.com

Lydgate Campground

Location: Leho Dr, Lihue, HI 96766

  • There are two rock enclosed ponds at this beach, offering a safe space from open ocean waves.
  • There’s a Kamalani playground and 2.5 miles of paved coastline.
  • Amenities include restrooms, showers, and picnic tables.

Learn more

camping in hawaii

Credit to kauai.com

Salt Pond Beach Park

Location: Eleele, HI 96705

  • Salt Pond Beach Park has protected shallow pools that are perfect for kids.
  • The water here is clear with natural fringing reefs, and tide pools on the East side.
  • Amenities include restrooms, showers, and picnic tables.

Learn more

County Campgrounds on the Big Island of Hawaii

County Campgrounds are almost as affordable in other parts of Hawaii too, including the Big Island of Hawaii. There are 10 Hawaii County beach parks on the island of Hawaii, some of which offer affordable camping.

County of Hawaii camping fees are:

  • $6 per adult/per night for residents, $21 per adult/per night for non-residents
  • $3 per junior (13 to 17 years old) per night, $21 per junior/per night for non-residents
  • $1 for children (12 and under) who are residents, $20 for children who are non-residents

See a full list of County Camping locations and book your stay at any location by visiting hawaiicounty.ehawaii.gov.

Spencer Beach Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to to-hawaii.com

Location: 62-3461 Kawaihae Rd, Waimea, HI 96743

  • Undesignated campground
  • Restrooms, showers, picnic tables, drinking water
  • Lifeguards on duty

Learn more

Isaac Hale Beach Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to to-hawaii.com

Location: 13-101 Kalapana Kapoho Beach Rd, Pāhoa, HI 96778

  • Secluded campground
  • Amenities include a payphone and portable restrooms
  • Security and Lifeguards on duty

Learn more

Mauna Kea Recreation Area

camping in hawaii

Photo by Ivan Sanders

Location: Waimea, HI 96743

  • Amenities include restrooms, showers, and drinking water
  • Security guards monitor area
  • NO lifeguards on duty

Learn more

Kohanaiki Beach Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to hawaiicounty.ehawaii.gov

Location: Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

  • Amenities at this campground include drinking water, showers, and restrooms.
  • Rocky shoreline + sandy beach
  • Security guards on duty

Learn more

Mãhukona Beach Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to TripAdvisor

Location: Waimea, HI 96743

  • Space to camp alongside the ocean
  • Portable restrooms
  • Pavilion with picnic tables

Learn more

Milolii Beach Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to lookintohawaii.com

Location: Milolii Rd, Captain Cook, HI 96704

  • Secluded undesignated campground
  • Restrooms
  • NO potable water

Learn more

County Campgrounds in Maui

For residents, County Campgrounds in Maui are $5 per adult/per night Monday-Thursday, and $10 per adult/per night for weekends and holidays.

For non-residents, weekday camping is $10 per adult/per night, and $20 per adult/per night for weekends and holidays.

Pets are permitted for $3-$6 extra per night.

A County of Maui permit is required to camp at any county location, download the permit application form.

Papalaua Wayside Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to archives.starbulletin.com

Location: West District, Mile 11/12, Honoapiilani Highway

  • 6.7-acre park with beach access for snorkeling, kayaking, swimming and surfing
  • Picnic tables, BBQ pits, dirt parking, restrooms, & phone
  • NO drinking water

Learn more

One Ali’i Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to mauicounty.gov

Location: Kaunakakai District, Mile 2, HWY 450 Molokai, HI

  • 11-acre park with a variety of camping sites
  • Amenities include electrical services, picnic areas, restrooms, telephones, water, and parking
  • There’s a playground for kids

Learn more

Papohaku Park

camping in hawaii

Photo by Jose Castano

Location: West End District. Mile 14.9 Kaluakoi Rd, Maunaloa, Molokai, HI 96770

  • This is the site of the annual Hula Pico event
  • Amenities include picnic tables, BBQ pits, indoor and outdoor showers, dirt parking, and drinking water.

Learn more

County Campgrounds in Honolulu

There are 216 sites at a total of 17 City and County of Honolulu parks. County camping in Honolulu requires a permit, which can be obtained for 3 days ($32) or 5 days ($52), depending on the duration of your stay. All County Parks in Honolulu are closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

Learn more and get your permit at Honolulu.gov

Bellows Field Beach Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to TripAdvisor

Location: 41-043 Kalaniana’ole Highway, Waimanalo, Hawai’i 96795

  • 50 campsites, 2 comfort stations, outdoor showers, 2 lifeguard towers and some parking.
  • The park closes between 8 pm and 6 am

Learn more/check availability

Hau’ula Beach Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to TripAdvisor

Location: 54- 135 Kamehameha Highway, Hau’ula, Hawai’i 96717

  • Small, private and rural campground with 8 campsites
  • Close to shopping and not too far from nightlife
  • Comfort station and pavilion

Learn more/check availability

Kalaeloa Beach Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to lookintohawaii.com

Location: Eisenhower Rd, Ewa Beach, HI 96706

  • A popular campsite for seasonal fishing and surfing.
  • There are 13 campsites
  • 1 comfort station and outdoor showers

Learn more/check availability

Kea’au Beach Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to hawaiipictureoftheday.com

Location: 83-431 Farrington Highway, Wai’anae, Hawai’i 96792

There are 25 beachfront hike-in campsites for the experienced camper. Amenities include 2 comfort stations and outdoor showers.

Learn more/check availability

5. Go Camping at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

As of May 2018, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is closed due to the current eruption. For updates visit nps.gov

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is located in Hawaii County on the Big Island. There are two campgrounds at the park, Kulanaokuaiki and Nāmakanipaio. As well as two active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Crater Rim Drive weaves past steam vents and the Jaggar Museum. Sites at Kulanaokuaiki start as low as $10 per night.

Kulanaokuaiki Campground

camping in hawaii

Credit to TripAdvisor

Camping fee: Starts at $10 per site/per night

Perched at 2,700-foot elevation, there are nine campsites at Kulanaokuaiki. Each site comes with a picnic table and tent pad. There is a vault-type toilet but no running water. The Hawai’i Volcanoes Lodge Company operates all camping sites in the park, and offers rustic camper cabins for rent. Pets are not permitted.

Learn more

Nāmakanipaio Campgroundcamping in hawaii

Camping fee: Starts at $15 per night for drive up sites

Located at 4,000-foot elevation, Nāmakanipaio Campground is 31.5 miles south of Hilo on Highway-11.  This spacious, open and grassy campground offers restrooms, picnic tables, BBQ pits, and drinkable water. The extra cost represents additional amenities such as water. Pro tip: bring a tent with a solid rainfly.

Learn more

6.  Take Advantage of Beautiful Campsites at State Parks in Hawaii

The Big Island is home to 14 State Parks, State Monuments and State Recreation Areas. All of Hawaii’s State Parks allow overnight sleeping in vehicles, but several offer camping amenities and designated areas to set up camp.

The fee is $12 per campsite/night for residents of Hawaii, and $18 per campsite/night for non-residents.

Parks that offer camping include Kalopa State Recreation Area, Kiholo State Park Reserve, and Manuka State Wayside.

Kalopa State Recreation Area

camping in hawaii

NPS/J. Ference

Location: Kalopa Road, Honokaa, HI 96727

The Kalopa State Recreation Area is bursting with rare plants, including the endangered loulu palms and native hibiscus. Amenities include restrooms and picnic tables. Campsites and lodging are available. Lodging is $60 per cabin/per night for Hawaii residents, and $90 for non-residents. Get more info

Reservations: Book your site online

Kiholo State Park Reserve

camping in hawaii

Credit to hawaiistateparks.org

Location: Kamuela, HI 96743

This lava-covered coastal park offers lava flows, vast open spaces, and beautiful bays. Campers are welcome on the weekends only. No drinkable water on-site, but portable toilets are available. A permit is required to camp here. Activities include fishing, hiking, snorkeling, swimming, wildlife viewing, and sightseeing. Get more info

Reservations: Book your site online

Manuka State Wayside

camping in hawaii

Credit to Wikipedia

Location: Mamalahoa Highway 11, Naalehu, HI 96772

This 13.4-acre park is surrounded by the Manuka Forest Reserve and is complimented by an arboretum. The easy to access 2-mile Manuka Nature Trail connects through to the Manuka Natural Area Reserve. A camping permit is required. Restrooms are located near campsites. Get more info

Reservations: Book your stay online

State Park Campgrounds in Kauai  

Obtain your permit to camp at State Parks in Kauai here. Fees start at $12 for residents and accommodate up to six people. Camping fees for non-residents start at $18 per campsite/per night for up to six people.

Polihale State Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to dlnr.hawaii.gov

Location: Hwy 50, Waimea, HI 96796

Camping fee: Starts at $12 per person/per night

This beachside park offers campsites right on the beach. Activities include beach-going, fishing, sightseeing and swimming. Amenities include picnic tables, showers, water fountains, restrooms, trash cans, and a picnic pavilion.

More info

Kokee State Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to dlnr.hawaii.gov

Location: Hanapepe, HI 96716

Camping fee: Starts at $12 per person/per night

Enjoy tent camping and lodging with stunning views at 4,000-foot elevation. Amenities include drinking water, a picnic pavilion, restrooms, food concession, and a gift shop. Hunting is permitted. Seasonal plum picking and trout fishing!

More info

Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

camping in hawaii

Credit to dlnr.hawaii.gov

Location: Kapaa, HI 96746

Camping fee: Starts at $15 per person/per night

Rugged mountains meet the sea at this beautiful wilderness park. Camping spots are available near restrooms. There is NO drinking water at this location. Stream water must be treated so come prepared.

More info

State Park Campgrounds in Maui

To obtain a permit to camp at a State Park in Maui visit dlnr.hawaii.gov. Two Maui parks offer housekeeping cabins, Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area and Waiʻānapanapa State Park. Camping fees start at $12 for residents and $18 for non-residents.

Waiʻānapanapa State Park Camping

camping in hawaii

Credit to dlnr.hawaii.gov

Location: Waianapanapa, Hana, HI 96713

Camping fee: Starts at $12 per night

This remote park offers rugged landscapes and a volcanic coastline, with a side of peace and solitude. There are tent camping sites, as well as lodging available. Common activities in the park include picnicking, hiking, shore fishing, beach-going, swimming, and sightseeing. Facilities include restrooms, picnic areas, walking paths, scenic viewpoints, picnic tables, and showers.

No pets are allowed, but there is plenty of wildlife to take in including a seabird colony. Other awesome features include the anchialine pools, native hala forest, legendary cave, heiau (religious temple), natural stone arch, and black sand beach. More info

Reservations: Reserve online

Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area

camping in hawaii

Credit to aboutmauinui.com

Location: Kula, HI 96790

Camping fee: Starts at $12 per campsite/per night

Tucked in the Kula Forest Reserve, Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area offers incredible views of Maui and neighboring islands. There is one cabin for rent and plenty of areas to unpack your camping gear and set up home away from home.

A 4-wheel is recommended to reach the remote campsites found at this State Park. Bring plenty of clothing, it can get surprisingly cold here in the winter due to the elevation. There are no showers. Seasonal hunting is permitted for pigs and birds.

Amenities include picnic tables, restrooms, and trash cans. More info

Reservations: Reserve online

7. Lava Flows & Waterfalls:  Camping at Haleakalā National Park in Maui

Haleakalā National Park, located on the island of Maui, offers rugged trails, incredible overlooks, and a chance to see the dormant Haleakalā Volcano. See lava flows, the Pools of Ohe’o, waterfalls in bamboo forest, and freshwater pools. Did we mention the area is home to endangered Hawaiian geese? Plus, the park cares for endangered species, some of which you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

This incredible 33,265-acre park is home to several campgrounds, including a variety of backpacking camp sites in its vast wilderness area. Campgrounds in Haleakalā National Park include Hosmer Grove, Kipahulu, Paliku, and Holua.

To reserve a site at Haleakalā National Park, visit recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.

Hosmer Grove Campground

camping in hawaii

Photo by Bruce and Letty

Hosmer Grove does not require a camping permit and offers drive-up camping (no need to backpack in). Camping spots are set on a grassy area beside the Hosmer Grove forest. There are some picnic tables, along with pit toilets, barbeque grills, and drinking water. It is cool and windy at this part of the mountain and nightly temps regularly dip below the 30’s.

More info

Kipahulu Campground

camping in hawaii

Credit to commons.wikimedia.org

Enjoy drive-up camping at one of the most popular campgrounds in the area. Kapahulu is within walking distance to the Seven Sacred Pools and Oheo Gulch. There is no drinking water at this site. Available amenities include grills and communal chemical toilets; select sites are outfitted with picnic tables. Get your camping permit at Kipahulu Visitor Center, located just 1/8-mile away from campsites.

More info

Paliku Campsite

camping in hawaii

Credit to Alavigne.net

Wilderness campsites such as Paliku are a challenge to reach but offer excellent remote camping opportunities. Situated at the base of the rainforest cliffs, Paliku campsite is at 6,830-foot elevation.

This beautiful spot is known to be cool and drizzly, so don’t forget your rainfly and warm clothes.  There are wilderness cabins available for hikers.

More info

Holua Campsite

camping in hawaii

Credit to alohafrom808.com

You must hike-in to reach the remote wilderness campsites at Holua, but it’s worth it for experienced backroad campers. Plus, it’s less of a hike to get to the campsites here compared to Paliku. Holua is also home to wilderness cabins for hikers. Located at 6,940-foot elevation, it is just 3.7 miles from the Halemauu Trail, and 7.4 miles from the Sliding Sand Trail that leads to Paliku.

More info

8. Camping in Hawaii: Private Campgrounds in Hawaii

While privately owned campgrounds in Hawaii tend to cost more than State or County Parks, they typically offer more amenities. There are privately owned campgrounds throughout Hawaii. The following list can help you get started in your search.

Arnott’s Lodge & Hiking Adventures

camping in hawaii

Credit to resortsandlodges.com

Location: The Big Island; 98 Apapane Rd, Hilo, HI 96720

Camping fee: $16 per person/per night

Open: Year-round

Website: arnottslodge.com/hilo-accommodation/camping/

Hilo is the wettest part of the island so don’t forget your rain fly! All campers get free Wi-Fi and can utilize all of Arnott’s facilities. Amenities include covered outdoor hot water showers and restrooms with toilets.

Reservations: Reservations are not necessary unless traveling with a group of 10+. To reserve a spot call 1-808-339-0921, or email reservations@arnottslodge.com

Malaekahana Beach Campground in Oahu

camping in hawaii

Credit to malaekahana.net

Location: Island of Oahu; 56-335 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku, HI 96731

Camp fee: Starting at $9.41 per night/per person

Open: Year-round (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)

Website: www.malaekahana.net

Tent and vehicle camping is available at Malaekahana Beach Campground in Oahu. Campers have access to an outdoor beach shower and toilet facilities. Tent sites can accommodate between 2 and 10 campers, while vehicle sites can accommodate 4 campers per site. In addition, Malaekahana Beach Campground offers several small guest houses for rent. The largest guest house can sleep up to 20 guests.

This beachside campground offers a chance to enjoy the water in so many ways. Kayak, surfboard, bodyboard, and SUP (stand up paddleboard) rentals are available.

Reservations: Check availability online, call 1-808-674-7715 to book

Camp Olowalu in Maui

camping in hawaii

Credit to campolowalu.com

Location: Maui island; 800 Olowalu Village Road, Lahaina, HI

Open: Year-round

Camping fee: Tent sites start at $20 per night

Website: campolowalu.com

Camp Olowalu offers tent camping and RV camping spots. They also offer tent camping equipment for rent. There are 35 large sites for campers, all of which are just steps away from the ocean. RV parking is located behind the tent camping sites in proximity to the water. There are cabins for rent as well. The incredible Olowalu Reef—famous for snorkeling—is located here. Plus, there’s rich Hawaiian history in the area as well.

Amenities include enclosed outdoor hot showers, drinkable water, sinks, flush toilets, picnic tables, a common area with grills, and picnic tables.

Reservations: Book online

YMCA Camp Keanae in Maui

camping in hawaii

Credit to mauimagazine.net

Location: 13375 Hana Hwy, Haiku, HI 96708

Open: Year-round

Camping fee: Tent and van camping starts at $25 per person/per night

Website: ymcacampkeanae.org

Tent campers are welcome to stay here and enjoy the incredible clifftop ocean views. There are parking spaces for van camping as well. Plus, this YMCA campground maintains cabins and cottages for rent. Amenities include an ice machine, 2 fire pits, a full gymnasium, and a large recreational field. There’s also a fitness center, and 2 bathhouses with hot showers, toilets, sinks, and mirrors. No need to bring your own water, filtered water is available to campers.

Reservations: Reserve online