Camping Hawaii

A few weeks ago I had the chance to shoot a wedding in Hawaii, and since the flight there is so long, not the mention the fact that Hawaii is my most favorite place ever, I decided to make a week long camping trip out of it. I hadn’t been to the big island (Hawaii) before, so I decided to spend most of my time there.

I managed to get a week’s worth of clothing, a tent, sleeping bag, and a couple pairs of shoes into my larger pack, and all of my camera/computer gear into a (slightly) smaller one. I landed in Oahu on a Wednesday night, and the wedding was on Friday, so I had just over a day to deal with a six hour jet lag. I planned to put my money towards renting a car for $15 a day and camping instead of spending at least $100 a night on hotels. However, I got in a little late the first night, and the people at the rental car agency insisted that I would have a hard time finding my campsite on my first visit there in the dark, so I got a last minute hotel and went straight to bed. Waikiki is a little too urban for me, so I got up to the north shore first thing in the morning and set up my campsite. I camped at Friends of Malaekahana, and I highly recommend it.

They have bathrooms and outdoor showers, which is all you really need on the beach. I spent my downtime reading in the sun, and there was a grocery store nearby for food. Low maintenance camping. My only complaint about this campsite was that it was EXTREMELY windy, so windy that it was difficult to sleep at night with the noise of the wind blowing my tent around. It would be a good idea to try and find a place to pitch your tent where you have a little more coverage from the elements.

The morning after my wedding I took a flight ($140 round trip) from Oahu to the big island. The flight was short and easy. When I landed there I got another rental car and spent my first day in Hilo. I stayed at Hilo Backpacker’s Hostel in a room with seven other women. I think this was the first time I was the youngest person in a hostel (I’m 31), which is almost never the case. In Europe, most hostels are filled with college aged kids, but here one of my roommates even had a walker with her 🙂 The hostel was clean, nice bathrooms, and the people running it were very friendly and gave me good advice on places to check out. I went to Rainbow Falls, then Googled “best beach near Hilo” and found a beautiful beach park a few miles from the hostel.

After a day in Hilo, I drove to Volcanoes National Park, where I camped for one night at Kulanaokuaiki, which was free with your park entrance fee. I was sad that the lava was not currently active, but the park was strange and beautiful. At the end of the road you can literally see where the lava flow stopped and froze on the pavement. The campsite was pretty secluded and not that easy to find, and there were no showers, but it was a pretty site.

The next day I headed to Kona, and I spent three nights camping at Hookena Beach Park. This was possibly my favorite campsite. There were showers, bathrooms, a shaded area on the beach to set up your tent, and families camping and swimming in the ocean. I felt very relaxed and safe here. During the day I would read and take day trips further north past Kailua, where I saw some of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii. There is one beach you can hike into that is not as well known, called Makalawena. When I got there I only saw a couple other people who were sneaking in to camp for the night. I read that you aren’t supposed to camp there, but I was jealous and wished I was with them, because it was beautiful and very secluded. I can only imagine how amazing the stars must have looked at night from this beach.

Sadly, after a week in the sun I had to return to the mainland. I would really recommend spending time on any of the islands in Hawaii. The people are some of the nicest in the world, the beaches are unbelievably pretty, and you can have adventure or luxury, whatever you are in the mood for. Camping really helps to cut costs, and having a car makes it a thousand times easier to get around and gives you a place to store your stuff. More photos below!





Posted by | Comments (4)  | May 25, 2014
Category: Destinations, North America

4 Responses to “Camping Hawaii”

  1. dan Says:

    i found it very hard to camp at “official” sites – not much there – an it can be dangerous camping on the beach at the night – cars, pissed drivers etc … on big island it was easy, but maui and ohau seems to wanna get rid of backpackers esp. maui gave me a hard time … so mostly “just” car-camping – would be great if more “private” campground would be available as a backup – anyway, good read and save travels! dan

  2. Amanda Says:

    This is a wonderfully inspiring article that makes camping in Hawaii seem perfectly reasonable. Great idea!

  3. May Monthly Roundup | Teaching Wanderlust Says:

    […] really want to do what this blogger did: Camping in Hawaii!  I have only been on Oahu and I would love to see more of the islands, but have refrained from […]

  4. Kate Says:

    HI there,

    I was wondering for a bit more information about where you camped while in Hawaii. According to some forums it is really unsafe to camp? Could you give me some details as to how you went about it?