While the majority of people are familiar with Hawaii's pricey resorts and relaxation, there is another side to this paradise that only locals and hardcore adventurers know about: camping! Externally, some may view it as a tranquil retreat. However, if you look beneath its surface you will uncover an environment for exploration - star gazing in awe-inspiring night skies, backpacking through majestic terrain to discover hidden summits...it’s all part of Hawaii’s unparalleled adventure experience; not to mention at a much lower cost than Turtle Bay!
From breathtaking kayaking and snorkeling to epic scrambles, Hawaii is home to some of the most unforgettable camping experiences. Whether you're visiting The Big Island or any other part of this paradise such as Kauai, Maui, or Oahu - every island has its own spectacular campgrounds that are just waiting for your tent! In this blog post we’re going to share with you the absolute best places on each Hawaiian islands for pitching a tent and embarking on an adventure!
1 | Malaekahana State Recreation Area, Oahu
Closed days: Wednesday + Thursday nights
Cost: $18 per site/night for up to 6 persons
Escape the hustle and bustle of Oahu to the beautiful North Shore, just 5 minutes away! With locals flocking here on weekends, Malaekahana Campground is still relatively unknown - making it your perfect hidden paradise. Here you can experience world-class surf on 7 miles of magnificent coastline: a true miracle indeed!
Along this picturesque coast, there are an abundance of opportunities to explore. On a low tide, you can stroll out to Goat Island or grab your board and surf the outer reef - often with it all for yourself! My personal favorite? Rise early and witness some of the most incredibly breathtaking sunrises imaginable.
Our campground offers wonderful amenities, such as lavatories with interior showers and a wide expanse of grassy space. Additionally, there are several different campsites available that come with picnic tables and dishwashing sinks for your convenience. Not to mention the hammocks strung up in between trees which make for an excellent place to rest after a long day outdoors! And if grilling out is more your thing, then you'll be happy to know that we have BBQ grills accessible too!
2 | Anini State Campground, Kauai
Closed days: Tuesday nights
Cost: $3 per adult/night
Vibrant and bustling, Anini campground is the ideal destination for both locals and tourists alike. Located on Kauai's lauded North Shore - widely considered to be one of Earth’s rainiest places - a tent or pavilion that offers protection from wet weather should most certainly come prepared in your camping gear! With its scenic shorelines far removed from Malaekahana Beach, Anini simply cannot be missed.
Don't be fooled by the hustle and bustle of Anini campground - its natural beauty is unparalleled! With a delicate tint of pink in both sand and sea, this beachside paradise will have you captivated. Plus, with an inviting inner reef perfect for snorkeling – bring along your board or floaty to fully experience all the area has to offer! As if that weren’t enough, take advantage of sun-kissed mornings when colourful skies awaken as the dawn brings on stunning views over mountainous horizons.
Anini is simply the best campground in Hawaii - boasting top-notch facilities such as sheltered outdoor showers, bathrooms that are tidier than most of those found on the islands, a convenient dishwashing station and two large grassy fields suitable for pitching a tent. For an even more special camping experience, arrive at Anini's gates from 12 PM on Wednesdays where you may have luck finding an oceanfront site nestled between trees!
Anini State Campground offers the perfect combination of comfort and convenience. Its expansive, grassy fields make it an ideal spot to kick back and take a break from life's hustle and bustle. Plus, you're only five minutes away from lively Princeville or ten minutes away Hanalei if you feel like exploring! And even if your sights are set further afield - with East Side splendors just 30 minutes away as well as northwest coastline gems - Anini remains the perfect home base for any Kauai adventure.
3 | Kalalau Beach, Kauai
Cost: $20 per person/night
Kalalau Beach stands out from the rest of Hawaii's state campgrounds. It is located 11 miles away along the incredible Na Pali Coast, and its trail - known as Kalalau Trail - has been acclaimed worldwide as one of the best backpacking trips ever.
Kalalau Beach is a sight to behold and far more remote than any other campground in Hawaii. Although from the tents hidden beneath verdant trees, it might not appear extraordinary, but if you make your way down to the shoreline and look back up at Kalalau Coast's towering ridges encircling its majestic landscape with a magnificent waterfall cascading down one side of the beach - then you will understand why Na Pali Coast has earned itself such recognition!
If you're up for the challenge, a beach side adventure awaits! The journey to this paradise destination takes 6-9 hours with plenty of elevation change. However, securing your spot amidst tropical splendor requires more than stamina; reservations must be made months in advance if you hope to camp here on your next Hawaii excursion. Once there, give yourself some time to savor it - whether that's one night or two so you can make the most of your day at the beach. So pack light and embark on an unforgettable trip today!
4 | Bellows State Beach, Oahu
Closed days: Wednesday and Thursday nights
Cost: 3-day permit for $32 or 5-day permit for $52
Camping at Bellows is like getting a private island experience. Despite its popularity among the locals, it still feels quiet and serene. It's an ideal spot for those yearning to escape from everyday life but also stay connected with nature in all her glory.
The tranquil ambiance of Bellows Beach beckons vacationers who wish to encounter a soothing oasis. Rather than the tumultuous waves located elsewhere on the island, here you will find peaceful blue waters perfect for swimming or snorkeling in addition to simply playing with family and friends. The campground at Bellows Beach offers dirt sites equipped with picnic tables as well as plenty of hammock trees, making it an excellent area for relaxing.
For an unforgettable experience, Bellows is the ideal starting point for exploration in eastern Oahu. Take a thrilling hike up Lanikai Pillbox, go on a leisurely stroll around Kailua, take to the waves with surfing or bodyboarding at Makapu'u Point beach next door, marvel at ocean views from Makapu'u Lookout viewpoint and dare yourself to cliff jump off China Walls - there's no end of possibilities!
5 | Spencer Beach Park, Hawaii Island
Closed days: None
Cost: $20 per person/night
Spencer Beach stands tall as the most opulent and serene campground in Hawaii. Its unparalleled beauty places it amongst the finest beaches on Big Island, offering a multitude of amenities that guarantee an idyllic beach experience like no other.
Step away from the golden sandy shore of South Beach and you'll find yourself in a sheltered tent field with integrated picnic tables, bathroom facilities and washbasins conveniently located nearby. Enjoy your morning yoga practice or a hacky-sack game surrounded by lush grassy grounds, while being further protected from the sun's rays beneath an abundance of spectacular trees. Snorkeling aficionados will delight at the shallow reef just offshore that can be easily accessed due to its calm waters – perfect for all ages!
On the northern coast lies a private enclave of 5 tent sites, where you can lounge in your hammock beneath magnificent trees. Although not on grassy terrain, these beachfront camping spots boast an entirely exclusive ambience that is sure to make for a remarkable getaway.
Need an escape from the campground? Stroll down the 1.5-mile trail to Mauna Kea Resort, where you can enjoy delicious drinks by the water or even use it for a morning jog!
The pretty coastal walk to Mauna Kea Resort
Step away from the bustle of city life and experience the mesmerizing night sky that awaits you at Spencer Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii. Famous for its stargazing, this beach offers a breathtakingly beautiful view that will leave you in awe.
6 | Waianapanapa State Campground, Maui
Cost: $18 per site/night for up to 6 people.
Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life to experience Waianapanapa Campground, also called The Black Sand Beach of Maui. Just a short two-mile detour off The Road to Hana lies this stunning forest oasis waiting for you to explore.The stunning black sand of Waianapanapa State beach
Waianapanapa, otherwise known as Black Sand Beach, is an integral component of the Road to Hana. Unsurprisingly due to its popularity and the time constraint for completing this journey in one day, Waianapanapa can become jam-packed with tourists quickly. Camping here doesn't just provide access to a secluded slice of paradise - it also means you'll be able enjoy Maui's most pristine beaches without any crowds during times like sunrise or sunset!
This campground has a lot of fun places to explore. You can walk down to the shore and float in the waves at the shore break or you can walk along the paved coastal path which gives a beautiful vantage point of the teal waters contrasting against the dark sand. You can also venture off and do some rock hopping to explore the points.
7 | Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Island
Cost: $20 per person/night
Despite being just 15 minutes away from the towering volcanoes and luscious rainforests of Hawaii Volcanoes NP, the southeast shoreline features a whole different ecosystem that feels like two worlds colliding.
Relaxing on the volcanic black sand beach at Punaluu is an unforgettable experience. The spectacular landscape features jagged rocks and ebony sand that stretch along the horizon, while vibrant lime green palm trees sway in the ocean breeze. For those who wish to stay longer, a cozy grassy cliff offers camping right by the shore - providing visitors with unparalleled views of this picturesque paradise.
If you're seeking shade, there is a substantial communal shelter to pitch your tent. However, if you fancy taking advantage of the sun and trees, take an enjoyable walk over to the black sand beach for some palm tree heaven. Furthermore, this unique site on Hawaiian Islands provides plenty of opportunity for hammock enthusiasts!
7 | Kohanaiki Beach
Cost: $20 per person/night
Kohanaiki campground is an absolute work of art. I find myself captivated by the elegance of its white sand beach and mesmerized by the tranquil beauty between the lime green trees that frame its coast, and cerulean waters lapping against its inner reef. It's easily among my top favorite places to stay worldwide!
Come explore the remarkable shoreline of Kohanaiki, also known as Pine Trees Surf Park - one of Big Island’s most iconic surfing sites. Whether you are looking to catch some waves or relax in a hammock, this beachfront offers all that and more! As an additional bonus for campers here, it is conveniently located near other must-see attractions like Malakwena Beach and coffee tasting - making your trip even sweeter. Be sure not to miss out on these extraordinary experiences; read our related blog below for further details!
8 | Hosmer Grove + Haleakala, Maui
Cost: Free for Hosmer Grove and backcountry permits
Hosmer Grove is a first-come, first-serve campground; permits at the visitor center are also doled out on a first come, first serve basis. Desolate and expansive Haleakala National Park provides multiple camping options which contrast the typical notion of Hawaii’s tropical paradise – where you can explore its famous dormant volcano!
Witnessing the dawn of a new day atop Haleakala is sure to be an unforgettable experience, and one that you'd surely put on your bucket list.
Imagine the absolute thrill of embarking on a one to three night backpacking journey, exploring wondrous campgrounds nestled amongst some of the tallest mountains in existence - did you know that Haleakala is even higher than Mt. Everest?! Embarking upon such an extraordinary experience would certainly be unforgettable.
If you'd prefer not to sleep in the wilderness, I suggest staying at Hosmer Grove campground. It's only a 10 minute drive from Haleakala’s summit and is free of cost for up to three days! This way, you won't have to rush out of bed early morning because it'll be much easier getting there on time. Additionally, this campsite provides many other day hike options as well. However, do keep in mind that the park fees must be paid prior entry into the national park premises.
9 | Hapuna Beach, Hawaii Island
Cost: $50 per night
Hapuna Beach stands apart from the other camping sites featured on this blog due to its unique A-frame cabins, a far cry from traditional tent camping. You won't find anything else quite like it in all of Hawaii!
These rustic cabins are exactly that, rustic. The cabins include a simple picnic table and two long benches that sleep up to 4. There are screens to prevent bugs from getting in but otherwise it’s open air. The cabins are basically the equivalent of tent camping and if anything, many recommend to set up your tent inside the cabin.
Even though the cabins are primitive, Hapuna Beach is worth a visit for its breathtaking and nearly deserted beach. On our trip to Hawaii, it was the only one we had all to ourselves at seven in the morning. It's great for swimming or surfing when there's an impressive swell right off shore at the point.