Camping in Hawaii?  It’s true and it’s not something most people think about when planning their vacation.  The Big Island has numerous locations along the beach, in the mountains, on top of the volcano and other great places to go camping.  There are numerous advantages camping in Hawaii – No snakes, no bears and a bank account that is still intact when you return.  Also the camping offers you unique places to rest your head.

1) Namakanipaio Campground – Camp on the Top of a Volcano

This campground is in Hawaii Volcano’s National Park and is one of the more unique campgrounds you will stay at for the mere fact you are on top of a volcano.  It is nestled in a grove of Eucalyptus trees and at night you can hear the wind blowing through the leaves.  At 4000′ elevation the campground is cool and misty, and reasonable close to hiking trails.  The campground offers both newly renovated cabins as well as campsites.  You can rent a tent or bring your own.  Per their website:

You can learn more about their services by clicking here:   Hawaii Volcano National Park Campground

Within walking distance is the Kilauea Crater where at night you can see across the crater for views like this:

Kilauea Caldera

2) Punalu’u Beach Park

Up for camping near one of the most unusual beaches in the world – a Black Sand Beach?  This truly is a unique place with water ponds, palm trees and shockingly black sand.  It can be windy here and the snorkeling and swimming contingent on weather conditions, but the uniqueness factor is the appeal.  It also has decent facilities.  It does require a permit to camp here so make sure

Black Sand Beach

Punaluu Black Sand beach

3)  Kolopa State Forest

Kalopa is a beautiful dry forest that offers lodging, picnic areas and a .7 mile trail through the native ‘ohi’a forest.  It is a nice place to be with family and enjoy perhaps a more traditional camping feel.  They offer several 8 person cabins with bunk beds, toilet facilities and hot showers.  They also have a recreational dining hall for shared cooking among the cabins.  Camping Sites are also available.  You will need to make reservations more than 7 days Prior.Click Here for More:  Kalopa Camping

4)  Ho’okena Beach

Ho’okena historically is rich as it was one of the last fishing villages on the island.  The camping here is some of the best.  You can camp right on the beach and it offers clean and spacious sites.  The waters offer great snorkeling, swimming and on a regular basis the dolphins came jump and play in the waters (though sitings are not guaranteed).   They also have concessions, showers and outdoor facilities.  You will need a permit at least 72 hours in advance.  You can reserve your space and even rent camping gear here:  Camp Ho’okena Beach

Banyan Tree Hilo

Camping in Hilo means being near this massive, beautiful Banyan Trees!

5) Arnott’s Lodge

Located in Hilo, Arnott’s Lodge caters to those looking for alternative forms of housing.  It actually is a hostel that has rooms, cabins and places to pitch your tent.   Their dorms are some of the cheapest in the island.  Although their tent camping can get a little on the steep side because they charge per person, not per tent.  Considering that Hilo is the wettest part of the island (and secondarily has the tropical beauty to it), you may want to consider one of their air-conditioned cabins or hiking suites.  Click Here for More Information:  Arnott’s Lodge

6)  Spencer Beach Park

Spencer Beach is a great family beach with picnic areas, places to BBQ, camp and more.  The campground is located near ancient historical ruins, one of them the massive Pu’uKohala Heiau which details the stories of the ancient Hawaiian royalty.  There is no camping in the pavilions but you can pitch a tent in designated locations.  Learn More Here:  Spencer Beach Park

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Camping Safe in Hawaii?

Like any place you visit, especially with camping be aware of your surroundings.  Some of the beaches especially on weekends can get a little rough.  Other areas are very safe.  Ask around and take precautions, but at the same time don’t hold back from a great time.  Online reviews will also give you a good indication of past user’s experiences.

As for animal life, while there are no snakes, it is prudent to be aware that feral pigs abound on the island.  They often come out at night and you would do well to avoid them.

How Soon Do I need a Permit?

Some places require permits up to 6 weeks in advance, so prior to your travel know the regulations for the particular campgrounds you are heading.

Can I Rent Camping Gear or do I need to Bring My Own?

Traveling with Camping Gear can mean expensive baggage for your flights.  There are several places on the island such as Hawaii Volcano National Park that will rent you tent and camping gear.  There also are a number of places that rent out small cabins with bunk beds.  Check before you come.

Big Island Camping is a great way to experience Hawaii.  There are numerous places to camp and if you like to hike, there are great camping shelters squirreled away in the deep gorges.    There are numerous ways to find amazing adventures in the Big Island.  And just remember, there are no snakes on the Big Island.