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.