To many, Hawaii is seen as a luxury travel destination full of resorts and relaxation, however, there’s an alternative to Hawaii that only locals and passionate outdoorsmen know about (and it’s a whole lot cheaper than Turtle Bay): camping.
Hawaii is not just a relaxing getaway, it’s an adventure destination. It’s home to star gazing and backpacking and secret summits.
Hawaii is filled with a whole other world of adventure!
There’s everything from epic scrambles to awesome kayaking, surfing, and snorkeling, and of course, the base of all adventure, camping.
Hawaii is home to some of the most breathtaking campgrounds in the world.
From the Big Island to Kauai, Maui, and Oahu, every Hawaiian island is home to some spectacular places to pitch a tent. In this blog, we’re sharing the best campgrounds on the Hawaiian Islands.
If you’ve got questions about camping in Hawaii, let us know in the comments below or check out our related blog, Ultimate Guide to Camping in Hawaii.
1 | Malaekahana State Recreation Area, Oahu
Closed days: Wednesday + Thursday nights
Cost: $18 per site/night for up to 6 persons
Located only 5 minutes away from the famous and stunning North Shore of Oahu, Aka the 7 mile miracle of world class surf, Malaekahana is the best hidden gem on the island. Though popular among locals on weekends, the campground is still relatively unheard of making for a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Oahu.
There is much to explore along the shores here. You can wade out to Goat Island on a low tide, surf the outer reef which you’ll usually have all to yourself, and my favorite, wake up early to watch the most incredible sunrises.
The campground has nice facilities including bathrooms with indoor showers, a large grassy field, and designated dirt campsites with picnic tables, a few hammock trees, dishwashing sinks, and a few barbecues.
2 | Anini State Campground, Kauai
Closed days: Tuesday nights
Cost: $3 per adult/night
Reserve here (You’ll find the permit application at the bottom of the page. Fill it out and mail it in)
Unlike the secluded shores of Malaekahana, Anini is a lively campground filled with both locals and tourists. It comes as no surprise considering the campground lies on the stunning north shore of The Garden Isle, Kauai, which also happens to be the rainiest place on Earth. That being said, you’ll definitely want to come with a camp set up for rain.
Just because the campground is busy doesn’t mean it lacks in beauty. The shores of Anini are stunning and have a beautiful pink tone in the sand and sea. The calm inner reef is great for snorkeling but it’s best to bring a board or floaty so you can float above the shallow reef. The beach is nice and long and is great to stroll along at dawn when the sky turns pink and you can watch the sun crest the mountains.
Anini is one of the most comfortable Hawaiian campgrounds due it’s well-kept facilities including sheltered outdoor showers, clean (by Hawaii standards) bathrooms, a dishwashing sink, and 2 large grassy fields where you can pitch your tent. Any site you can find here is great but if you arrive at the start of the camping week (Wednesday at noon), you might be able to snag an oceanfront site amongst the trees.
Most importantly, Anini is a wonderful place to relax, but it’s also a perfect basecamp for any Kaui adventure. You’re only a 5-minute drive from Princeville and a 10-minute drive from Hanalei. You’re 30 minutes from the beautiful east side as well as the lush northwest coast.
3 | Kalalau Beach, Kauai
Cost: $20 per person/night
Kalalau Beach ain’t like your typical Hawaiian state campground. First and foremost, Kalalau Beach lies 11 miles west on the Na Pali Coast. This Na Pali Coast trek, technically called the Kalalau Trail, is known as one of the world’s greatest backpacking trips.
Kalalau Beach is simply breathtaking and is far more secluded than any other Hawaii campground. From your tent site under the treeline, Kalalau may not be anything special, but if you walk down to the water’s edge and look back at the coastline, you’ll see just why the Na Pali Coast is so famous. Iconic ridge lines scatter the hillside and a beautiful waterfall is pouring down the west side of the beach.
The beach is stunning but granted, it’s no walk in the park to get here. The 6-9 hour trek to the beach includes a great deal of elevation change. The real challenge, however, isn’t the trek, but getting a permit to camp here. If you want to stay here on your next Hawaii adventure, you’ll need to make a reservation months in advance.
The most important thing to know you’re going to make the trek, you’re going to want a few hours or even a full day to enjoy it. Either do it as a 1-nighter and start your hiking day at dawn or make it a 2 nighter so you have a full day to enjoy the beach.
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 feels like a taste of living on a private island. It’s not necessarily secluded due to its popularity among locals, however, it’s quiet and peaceful.
The ocean isn’t powerful and scary like the rest of the island can be. Bellows Beach has calm, crystal clear blue waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and splashing in the water. The campground has designated dirt sites, each with a picnic table. The campground also has many great hammock trees.
If you get bored, Bellows is great jumping-off point for adventures on the east side of Oahu. You can go hike Lanikai Pillbox, walk around Kailua, surf Makapu’u point or bodyboard the sandy beach next door, explore coastal viewpoints like Makapu’u Lookout, go cliff jumping at China Walls, and more.
Related: Top 10 adventures in Oahu
5 | Spencer Beach Park, Hawaii Island
Closed days: None
Cost: $20 per person/night
In terms of facilities, Spencer Beach is by far the most luxurious and comfortable campground on the Hawaiian islands. It’s also one of the prettiest beaches on the Big Island and has pretty much everything you could want from a beach.
On the south end of the beach, where the grassy tent field is located, there’s a large shelter with picnic tables for cooking and eating. There are also clean bathrooms and dishwashing sinks here. The grassy field is just a few steps away from a small, golden cove of beach with massive trees providing shelter from the harsh sun and another grassy field that is perfect for a little morning yoga or game of hacky-sack. The ocean is calm here and has a vast, shallow reef that’s great for snorkeling.
On the north end of the shore, there are great trees for hanging a hammock as well as 5 more tent sites. These sites aren’t located on grass, however, they are beachfront and feel more private.
Finally, there’s a 1.5-mile trail starting from the campground that takes you to Mauna Kea Resort. You can walk there and grab drinks by the water or you could use this trail for a morning run.
The Big Island of Hawaii is famous for its stargazing and Spencer Beach is no exception. Step away from the streetlights and a vast night sky will open up.
6 | Waianapanapa State Campground, Maui
Cost: $18 per site/night for up to 6 people.
More commonly known as the Black Sand Beach of Maui, Waianapanapa Campground is located in a bustling and beautiful forest just a 2-mile detour from The Road to Hana.
Black Sand Beach has grown to become an essential stop on the Road to Hana which means it gets REALLY crowded. Because of this, and the generally crunched amount of time it takes to complete the entire Road to Hana in 1 day, Waianapanapa is a perfect place to spend the night and enjoy the beauty when the tourists are gone. By camping here, you’ll get access to one of Maui’s most pristine beaches at uncrowded times of day like sunrise and 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
Though it’s located only 15 minutes from the high elevation craters and rain forests of Hawaii Volcanoes NP, the ecosystem is very different down on the southeast shore and it feels like two ecosystems were combined into one.
You’ve got both volcanic activity plus black sand and rocks that jut out into the ocean and lime green palm trees that line the coast. The whole beach is simply beautiful and the campground, located in a nice grassy cliff south of the beach, is a perfect place to enjoy the shore.
Though the designated area for pitching your tent is rather exposed to the elements, there is a large community shelter and if you’re looking for some shade and trees, walk over to the black sand beach and get comfy among the palm trees. Bonus: We found this to be one of the few places on all the Hawaiian Islands to pitch a hammock.
7 | Kohanaiki Beach
Cost: $20 per person/night
Kohanaiki is easily one of my favorite campgrounds in the world. The white sand beach itself is wildly beautiful and I love the contrast of the lime green trees that scatter the shores and the teal waters that sway against the inner reef.
Besides the sheer beauty of pitching your tent on the shores here, Kohanaiki, AKA Pine Trees Surf Park, is one of the Big Island’s best surf breaks.
If surfing and chilling in a hammock aren’t enough for you, by camping here you are centrally located to some of the best things to do on the Big Island like Malakwena Beach and coffee tasting. See related blog below.
Related: Top Things to do on The Big Island, Hawaii (COMNG SOON)
Kohanaiki has great facilities, however, if you’re not camped near the main outdoor shower and bathroom facilities, you will have to use the porta-potties.
8 | Hosmer Grove + Haleakala, Maui
Cost: Free for Hosmer Grove and backcountry permits
Hosmer Grove is first-come first-serve; Backcountry permits available at the visitor center on a first-come-first-serve basis
On the other end of the spectrum, Haleakala is almost the complete opposite of what you often picture in Hawaii. The famous, dormant volcano is desolate and vast. When it comes to camping at Haleakala, you have a few options.
The most incredible experience would be to do a 1-3 night backpacking trip so you can experience the beautiful backcountry campgrounds on the tallest mountains on Earth. (Did you know Haleakala is taller than Mt Everest?!)
If you’re not feeling up to sleeping in the wilderness, I highly recommend staying at the free Hosmer Grove campground, just a 10-minute drive from Haleakala’s summit. Camping here gives you the opportunity to be closer to the summit to view sunrise (meaning you don’t have to wake up at 3 am to get there in time. There are also many other day hike options choose from. While the campground is free, you are limited to a 3-day stay and you do need to pay the park fees to enter the national park.
Related: Tips for Visiting Haleakala National Park (COMING SOON)
9 | Hapuna Beach, Hawaii Island
Cost: $50 per night
Unlike the rest of the campgrounds on this blog, Hapuna Beach is the only non-tent camping site in Hawaii. Instead, Hapuna Beach adopted some beautiful A-frame cabins.
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.
Despite the rustic nature of the cabins, Hapuna Beach is still worth a stay due to it’s beautiful, uncrowded beach. Hapuna Beach is the only beach in Hawaii that we didn’t see another person at (granted it was 7 am, but still). The water is great for swimming and when there’s a significant swell, you can surf directly out in front of the beach at the point.
11 | Polihale State Campground, Kauai
Cost: $18 per site/night for up to 6 people
This is the only campground on this list that I have not visited personally but the hype about it tells me enough. Many say Polihale is their favorite campground in all of Hawaii and that says something considering how beautiful the rest of the campgrounds on this list are.
Located on the west of Kauai just beneath Waimea Canyon, Polihale is a beachfront campground beauty backed by high cliffs, with stunning views out toward the Na Pali Coast.
The beach is stunning but in order to get there, you have to drive down a long, rutted dirt road that some rental companies prohibit you from driving on. 4WD is recommended, however, I’ve heard it’s really no problem for 2WD vehicles (but don’t take my word for it).
12 | Koke’e State Park, Kauai
Cost: $18 per site/night for up to 6 people
This campground is pretty unspectacular in itself. There are large grassy areas, designated sites, and not-so-clean bathrooms, but it’s what lies around this campground that makes it worth staying at.
Koke’e State park is located inside of Kauai’s Waimea Canyon, a hotspot of exceptional natural beauty. Waimea Canyon, known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific” is quite possibly the most beautiful place in all of Kauai.
You can’t just walk out your door and go explore but you are only a 5-10 minute drive from all the trailheads at Waimea Canyon. Our favorite can’t miss trail is the Nualolo Trail but other popular hikes include the Awaawapuhi Trail and Pihea Trail
Related: Waimea Canyon in 1 Day (BLOG COMING SOON)
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