It’s seriously hard to beat camping in Hawaii for exploring this island paradise.
Not only can camping help you save serious money on travel accommodations, but it also allows you to experience some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet up close and personal. We’ve rounded up some of the best Hawaii campgrounds to help you plan your trip.
Here are 21+ of the best places to go camping in Hawaii.
How Camping in Hawaii is Different
Before we start on the best camping in Hawaii, it’s important to note that camping in Hawaii is a little bit different than camping in other states.
For starters, it’s confined and isolated. As an archipelago, the islands are difficult to reach from the mainland United States and have defined boundaries which means less space to explore.
Most visitors reach Hawaii by flying. This adds the extra hurdle of bringing your camping gear on the airplane. Although most gear is welcomed, fuel canisters for backpacking stoves and camping stoves are not allowed. Luckily, fuel canisters can be found for sale on the major Hawaiian Islands (including all Ace Hardware stores). Or, try no-cook camping meals instead.
If you’re used to car camping, it might be difficult to pare down your camping supplies enough to fly with them (without being charged an arm and a leg). Backpackers, on the other hand, should have an easy time paring their supplies down for the flight.
Camping in Hawaii requires slightly different camping gear than other states. The often warm, mild year-round weather typically warrant only a lightweight sleeping bag instead of anything heavy. Depending on time of year, you can often even get away with just a light blanket.
The Hawaiian climate is also known for its brief but frequent rainstorms. Campers should prepare to camp in rain by packing, at the minimum, a waterproof tent. Waterproof hiking boots and a rain jacket are additional essentials, especially for backpacking in Hawaii.
Finally, it’s important to note that RV camping is all but nonexistent in Hawaii. The lack of open roads to explore means there are very few RVs on the islands. This also means there are no true RV parks with hookups. However, camper vans are popular and are welcome at many campgrounds. You can find the best Hawaii camper van rentals with our RV rentals tool.
Most Hawaiian campgrounds, especially state park campgrounds, require permits. These must be booked online ahead of time as there is no staff at these campgrounds. Most county campgrounds, unlike state park campgrounds, do have staff on-site to sell permits. Generally, no advance reservations are available for camping in Hawaii.
Best Tent Camping in Hawaii
Tent camping is hands down one of the best ways to explore Hawaii. Although the campgrounds are relatively spartan and rustic compared to what you might be used to on the mainland, many are located in absolutely breathtakingly beautiful natural areas.
Here are 21+ of the best places to go tent camping in Hawaii
1. Wai’anapanapa State Park (Maui)
For some of the best camping in Maui, bar none, look no further than Wai’anapanapa State Park in Hana.
Located on the far eastern end of the island, this incredibly remote state park is one of the most beautiful in all of Hawaii. Although the small black volcanic sand beach with natural stone arches and sea stacks is undoubtedly the highlight, don’t forget to explore the legendary freshwater caves (Wai’anapanapa actually means “glistening waters” in the Hawaiian language) as well as hike the 3-mile roundtrip Ke Ala Loa O Maui/Piilani Trail.
A small campground is perfect for tent camping. There is also a small area for camper vans, although only approved vehicles are allowed. A handful of cabin rentals are also available to rent. Restrooms, drinking water, and an outdoor shower are provided.
2. Kipahulu Campground (Maui)
Another fantastic Maui campground also located near Hana, Kipahulu Campground is part of the Kipahulu District in Haleakala National Park.
This beautiful section of the national park is roughly 12 miles past Hana on the legendary Hana Highway. Not only is it notable for the incredible scenery, but also for the deep history of Native Hawaiians living in the area for hundreds of years. Chief among the top attractions are the towering waterfalls, including the 400-foot Waimoku Falls, and the ferocious Pacific Ocean battering the rocky coastline.
A single drive-in campground is located in the Kipahulu District. Dubbed the Kipahulu Campground, camping is available for up to 100 people at a time. Tent camping and van camping are welcome. Pit toilets are available on-site and water is available at the nearby visitor center. Remember that Kipahulu is incredibly remote so pack and plan accordingly.
3. Hosmer Grove Campground (Maui)
The other campground in Haleakala National Park, Hosmer Grove Campground is located on the opposite side of the volcano from Kipahulu Campground.
The location on the west side of the volcano makes this area of the park more easily accessible from the majority of Maui. It’s the perfect place for exploring the crater at the summit and the surrounding area. Viewing the sunrise and sunset from the summit of Haleakala is one of the most popular activities in the national park. Adventurous visitors can also descend into the dormant crater itself, hiking through barren lava flows and cinder cones.
Hosmer Grove Campground itself sits just below 7,000 feet above sea level along the winding road on the way to the crater. Tent camping is available for up to 50 people at a time. Pit toilets and drinking water are available. Know that this is within the cloud belt so it’s essential to prepare for cold, rainy, and windy weather.
4. Koke’e State Park (Kauai)
Koke’e State Park is home to hands down some of the best camping in Hawaii.
Located in the northwestern reaches of Kauai, this Hawaii state park is famous for its scenic cliffside views of Kalaulau Valley and the ocean beyond. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled to see the many colorful bird and plant species that call this area home. In addition to sightseeing, this area is well-known for its hiking as well as overnight backpacking.
The campground at Koke’e State Park is small and primitive. It’s suitable for tent camping only. Unlike a traditional campground, there aren’t exactly campsites. Instead, overnight guests spread out across a grassy, park-like area. Restrooms, outdoor showers, and a restaurant are available.
5. Anahola Beach Park (Kauai)
Another one of the best campgrounds in Kauai, Anahola Beach Park is well-known as one of the best spots for beach camping in Hawaii.
The park is quite small and compact but it packs a big punch. It’s located in a residential area near homes so it’s popular with the locals. Swimming, snorkeling, and diving are all popular thanks to the often-calm waters. Or, just hang out on the beach and enjoy the spectacular ocean views.
Despite its small size and somewhat remote location on the east side of Kauai, Anahola Beach Park is very popular with overnight campers. Restrooms and outdoor showers are available. Several restaurants are located in nearby Anahola. Nearby Kumu Camp at the Anahola Beach Resort is another Kauai camping option for those that prefer glamping over camping.
6. Polihale State Park (Kauai)
Kauai as a whole has some of the best camping in Hawaii, but Polihale State Park manages to stand out from the rest.
Unlike many other Kauai campgrounds that are easily accessible, Polihale is a bit more difficult to reach. It requires a drive down a very rough dirt road for nearly 5 miles. The road is especially treacherous after heavy rains. A high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle is all but required. The road ends at a sandy beach with high sand dunes. Enjoy the beach but don’t venture into the water – the currents are strong and swimming isn’t recommended.
The campground itself is small and well-maintained. Because of the rough road in, camping here is often much quieter than at other campgrounds in Kauai. Both tents and camper vans are welcome. Restrooms and outdoor showers are available. You can even pitch your tent on the sand for some of the best beach camping in Hawaii.
7. Lydgate Park (Kauai)
Yet another top-notch Kauai campground, Lydgate Park is a veritable paradise for those that love to play in the water.
This oceanside park is popular with visitors and locals alike. The protected waters are a haven for swimmers and snorkelers. Thanks to the calm waters, this park is great for families with children.
Although camping at Lydgate Park is great for a lot of reasons, one of the biggest perks is the ability to wake up early and hit the beach before the crowds show up. It’s also notable as one of the most developed campgrounds in Hawaii. Level tent pads are available in addition to restrooms and indoor showers.
8. Salt Pond Beach Park (Kauai)
There’s a whole lot to love about camping at Salt Pond Beach on Kauai.
Not only is the camping fantastic, but this beachside campground is an excellent place for picnicking, swimming, and just hanging out on the beach. Thanks to the natural reefs, the water is usually clear and calm, making it perfect for snorkeling. Abundant tide pools are perfect for those that want to observe the marine life without getting into the water.
The camping area is small without marked campsites. You simply pitch a tent somewhere on the grassy tent camping area (try to find a spot underneath the trees). The only downside to this is a lack of privacy. Restrooms and outdoor showers are available.
9. Anini Beach Park (Kauai)
For a less crowded and arguably more relaxing Hawaii camping experience in Kauai, Anini beach Park might be right up your alley.
A little less popular than other nearby campgrounds, this park is quite popular during the day thanks to its sandy beach and relatively calm waters (especially in summer). Although there’s no lifeguard on duty, the area is still considered safe for swimming and snorkeling most of the time. Fishing and stand up paddleboarding are also popular.
Tent camping at Anini Beach Park is seriously some of the best in Hawaii. The views are phenomenal and you’re even allowed to pitch your tent on the sand. Restrooms, outdoor showers, and drinking water are available on-site.
10. Hanalei Beach Park (Kauai)
Another popular Kauai campground, Hanalei Beach Park is actually quite close to Anini Beach Park.
That said, both the park and the campground are much busier. The main draw of Hanalei Beach Park is the beach itself. It’s a great spot for swimming or just plain old relaxing. This campground is also near the Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast for easy access to one of the best hikes in Hawaii.
The campground at Hanalei beach Park is small and rustic. It generally stays pretty quiet, especially during the week. The beach is just a short walk away and there are plenty of shade trees for staying cool during the day. Pitch your tent in the large grassy tent camping area and enjoy. Restrooms, outdoor showers, and drinking water are available.
11. Milolii Beach (Kauai)
Milolii Beach is a unique place for camping in Hawaii in that it’s only suitable for kayak camping.
In fact, there’s no other way to reach this beach. Although there is an abundance of hiking trails in the area, none connect with this hidden Hawaiian gem. Camping here is only allowed during the summer. Because of its difficulty to reach, camping at Milolii Beach is a truly private experience.
Actually, there is another way to reach the beach. If you prefer not to kayak, it might be possible to have a local boat operator drop you off and pick you up.
12. Kalopa State Recreation Area (Big Island)
Pitch your tent, slow down, and enjoy the scenery at Kalopa State Recreation Area on the Big Island.
Not only is the recreation area home to excellent tent camping, but it’s notable for its arboretum full of native plants that connects to additional thick forests. An easy 0.7-mile hiking trail through is perfect for families with children. The beach, which is perfect for swimming, is also just a short drive away.
In addition to plenty of tent camping opportunities (including some with roofed tent shelters), Kalopa State Recreation Area also has several duplex cabins for rent. Each can sleep up to 8 people total. They come with restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers, although the only cooking facilities are located in the nearby dining hall.
13. Malaekahana Beach Campground (Oahu)
It’s pretty tough to beat Malaekahana Beach Campground for camping in Oahu.
This Hawaii campground is located on Oahu’s famous North Shore. In addition to the surfing that this area is known for, the nearby beaches are the perfect place to spend a day swimming, snorkeling, bodyboarding, stand up paddleboarding, and more.
The Malaekahana Beach Campground has 74+ tent campsites plus several spots for camper vans and similar vehicles. Picnic tables, fire pits, and water spouts are provided throughout. Flush toilets and outdoor showers are available. Several “plantation hale’s,” small practical huts, are also available to rent if you prefer to sleep inside.
14. Hulopoe Beach Park (Lanai)
Hulopoe Beach Park is currently the only official place to go camping on Lanai.
Not only is the park one of the most scenic on the island, but it’s also home to fantastic swimming and snorkeling. The beautiful sandy beach is popular among visitors and locals alike. The large tidepools nearby are also fun to explore.
The adjacent campground is small with only 8 campsites total. Plus, its proximity to the beach makes it very popular during the weekends and in the summer. Restrooms, outdoor showers, and potable water are available.
15. Papohaku Beach Park (Molokai)
Go camping in Molokai with an overnight stay at Papohaku Beach Park.
Notable as the largest white sand beach on the island, this popular daytime destination is simply enchanting. Walk the entirety of the 3-mile long beach for some of the best beach vibes in Hawaii. The beach is also 100 yards wide for the majority of it offering beachgoers plenty of space to spread out. Do note that despite the beauty of the beach, the currents here are often strong, so entering the water usually isn’t recommended.
The campground at Papohaku Beach Park is just one of four on Molokai. The small campground is right next to the beach so you’ll hear the ocean all night long. Restrooms and outdoor showers are located on-site.
16. Pala’au State Park (Molokai)
Another notable campground on Molokai, Pala’au State Park is the perfect place to go camping for a few days or more.
The state park itself is a sprawling 233 acres total. Its well-known for its fantastic hiking trails as well as the views over historic Kalaupapa. Unlike many of the beach campgrounds in Hawaii, Pala’au State Park is located high up in hilly terrain.
The campground is small and allows tent camping only. Most of the campsites are shaded under seemingly out of place ironwood trees. Restrooms are available, although there is no drinking water on site.
17. Laupahoehoe Point Park (Big Island)
The Big Island has a lot of great camping opportunities but Laupahoehoe Point Park is one of the best.
Like most beach campgrounds in Hawaii, Laupahoehoe boasts incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. In addition to admiring beach, this park has an expansive grassy area that’s perfect for picnicking and for kids to play on. Fishing is another popular activity in this area.
Although Laupahoehoe Point Park is popular with locals, it’s never very crowded. It’s an excellent place to camp if you prefer some privacy. Like most Hawaii campgrounds, only tent camping is allowed. Most of the campsites offer views of the ocean.
18. Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden (Oahu)
Camping in Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden is truly a majestic experience.
The sprawling botanical gardens over 400 acres of lush terrain. In addition to native plants, the area has plants from around the world, grouped by their geographic region. Walking through the park is an interesting way to explore the beauty of Hawaii in a unique setting.
There are three different camping areas in the botanical gardens. Do note that each area requires a short walk to reach the campsites. Restrooms, outdoor showers, and drinking water are available.
19. Punaluu County Beach Park (Big Island)
Another great place for camping on the Big Island, Punaluu County Beach Park has one of the best black sand beaches in the entire state.
In addition to the beautiful black sand beach, this area is known for its sea turtles. These fascinating marine animals often group here to bask in the sun’s warm rays. You can also go swimming and snorkeling when the weather cooperates.
The campground at Punaluu County Beach Park, like most campgrounds in Hawaii, is small and consist of a large grassy area instead of designated campsites. Pitch your tent here and enjoy the close proximity to the beach. Restrooms and outdoor showers are available.
20. Bellows Field Beach Park (Oahu)
Have a great time camping on Oahu by staying at Bellows Field Beach Park.
The park is just a short drive from Honolulu. At the same time that this makes it easily accessible, it also means it can get very busy. Nearby Waimanalo Beach consistently ranks as one of the best beaches in the United States.
As one of the best campgrounds near Honolulu, Bellows Field Beach Park does fill up quickly. Part of the park is designated for military members and their families while the other section is open to all guests. The public campground is relatively spacious with a good number of spots. Some campsites even allow you to pitch your tent right on the sand!
21. Spencer Beach Park (Big Island)
For the best camping on the Big Island, Spencer Beach Park shouldn’t be overlooked.
This Hawaiian campground is most notable for its location on one of just a handful of white sand beaches on Hawaii’s Big Island. The park is a fantastic place to swim, snorkel, and otherwise enjoy the beach before retiring to the campground at night.
As for the campground itself, expect crowds, especially on weekends and during the summer. If you’re visiting from out of state, it’s best to plan to camp at Spencer Beach Park during the week. That said, the campground is small and primitive but still offers basic amenities like restrooms and outdoor showers.
Best Backpacking in Hawaii
Backpacking is another fantastic way to go camping in Hawaii. The best Hawaii backpacking trails take you off the beaten path and into some of the most insanely gorgeous natural areas this tropical state has to offer. So, pack your backpacking gear and head to Hawaii for one of the best backpacking experiences of your life!
Here is the best backpacking in Hawaii:
1. Haleakala (Maui)
For one of the most unique experiences camping in Haleakala National Park, head deep into the park’s backcountry. Near the summit, primitive wilderness camping is available at two backcountry campsites: Holua Campsite (3.7-mile one-way hike) and Paliku Campsite (9.3-mile one-way hike). Both campsites are an incredible way to explore the uniquely beautiful crater of the towering Haleakala.
2. Waimanu Valley (Big Island)
Another classic place for backpacking in Hawaii, Waimanu Valley on the Big Island is worth the long hike in. The name itself means “river of birds” and the area lives up to this name – dense vegetation clings to the canyon walls while waterfalls over a thousand feet down cascade down. Of course, birds and other wildlife are abundant. Follow the Muliwai and Waimanu Valley Trails, around 7.6 miles one-way, to reach the valley campsite. Camping reservations are required for overnight stays.
3. Kalalau Trail (Kauai)
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better place for backpacking or camping in Hawaii than Kalalau Trail. The famous trail on the Na Pali Coast of Kauai snakes 11 miles one-way along the rugged coastline, sometimes requiring hair-raising walks along precarious cliffs, until you arrive at the stunning Kalalau Beach. Permits are required for hiking the trail past the 2-mile marker as well as for camping overnight near the beach.
4. Halapē (Big Island)
Backpacking in Halapē is one of the best ways to explore the backcountry of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Although the campsite is just 7.7 miles one-way from the trailhead be prepared for a hot, grueling hike through mostly barren, open land. It’s essential to be prepared for the heat and exposure. Bring plenty of water. But the hard work pays off as the hike in is beautiful in its own way and the ending point is a beautiful beach.
5. Lonomea (Kauai)
Another fantastic backpacking trip in Kauai, Lonomea, reached via the 6-mile Kukui Trail, is a peaceful place to go camping away from the crowds. Unlike other backcountry campsites in Hawaii, Lonomea does have a few amenities. Namely, a covered shelter you can pitch your tent under and a composting toilet. Although the hike in is fun in its own right, the real fun starts when you reach the campsite. It’s riverside location makes it ideal for tubing, swimming, cliff jumping, and much more.
Find the Best Camping in Your State!
Are you planning a camping trip in another state? Our best state camping guides can help! Here are a few of our favorite:
- Camping in Alaska
- Camping in Arizona
- Camping in California
- Camping in Michigan
- Camping in New Mexico
- Camping in Utah
- Camping in Washington
- Camping in Texas
And, if you have questions about camping in Hawaii, or any other states, just let us know in the comments below!