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Top 13 Sites For Camping On The Big Island Of Hawaii

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Camping on the Big Island is a unique and immersive way to soak in the natural beauty of the tropical paradise. Most places feature areas fit for tent camping.

Big Island of Hawaii has a diverse landscape ranging from lush rainforests to rugged coastlines and volcanic craters. This is a true delight for nature enthusiasts seeking a connection with nature.

Tent camping is the most popular option in most of the tourist destinations on the Big Island. The black sand beaches of Punalu'u, the star-filled sky of Mauna Kea, and the remote wilderness of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, all appeal to campers from all over the world.

Here, we have presented a list of the 13 popular campgrounds in the Big Island, Hawaii if you are planning a camping here.

1. Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is a popular site for Camping on Big Island Hawaii. The park is known for its stunning white sand beach, clear blue waters, and excellent camping facilities.

Hapuna Beach features a well-maintained campground with designated campsites. Furthermore, campers can fully enjoy the basic amenities like restrooms, cold showers, and picnic tables onsite.

To elevate your camping experience barbecue grills have been set up on the premises for cooking. Also, you can choose sites located near the beach or in the grassy areas.

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After you set up your tent, you can hit the shores of Hapuna Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on the Big Island, and enjoy some time on the sandy shoreline. It is an ideal place for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing.

  • Address: Old Puako Rd, Waimea, HI 96743
  • Opening Hours: 7 am to 6:45 pm
  • Camping Fee: $40 per night (for residents) and $70 per night (for non-residents)
  • Free onsite parking

2. Laupahoehoe Beach Park

Camping in Big Island Hawaii can be fun and memorable at Laupahoehoe Beach Park. This park is situated on the northeastern coast of the island amidst lush natural settings.

The place offers amazing ocean views, rugged cliffs, rich vegetation and pleasant temperatures which will definitely elevate your camping experience. 

Campers need to get permission to camp in Laupahoehoe Beach Park. Hawaiian residents need to pay $5 per person while the fee is $20 per person for non-residents.

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You can obtain these permits through the Hawai'i County Department of Parks and Recreation or their official website. The campground here is well-maintained, and the park staff give proper attention to keeping the facilities clean.

Laupahoehoe is located about halfway between Hilo & Honokaa on the Hamakua Coast. Onsite amenities you will find at the Park are:

  • Picnic tables
  • Barbecue grills
  • Restrooms with showers

You May Also Like: Tent Camping in Oahu

3. Spencer Beach Park

Big Island camping site Hawaii Spencer Beach Park is situated along the magnificent Kohala Coast. The Park has designated camping areas for both tent and RV camping.

To reach the Park from Kona, take Highway 19 north to Highway 270 and continue on 270 towards Kawaihae. Your destination is located between mile markers 2 and 3.

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This area is loaded with onsite facilities such as picnic tables, barbecue grills, and restrooms. The place also has outdoor showers for rinsing off after a robust day at the beach.

Campers can indulge in various recreational activities in this area. You can hit the beach, swim, snorkel, and sunbathe, or organize a family picnic in the grassy areas.

Camping at Spencer Beach Park puts you close to other famous tourist attractions including Waimea, Hapuna Beach State Park and Mauna Kea.

4. Kulanaokuaiki Campground

Camping Big Island Hawaii at Kulanaokuaiki Campground is available on a first-come basis. Campers can get a permit for $10 per night at the self-pay station.

Kulanaokuaiki Campground is located about 5 miles down the Hilina Pali Road at an elevation of 2,700 meters. The place features nine designated campsites.

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If you are looking to escape the crowds at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, then this primitive camping area is one of the places you should visit.

Only tent camping is allowed on the premises of Kulanaokuaiki. You need to park your vehicle in the parking lot and take a little walk to the campsite.

What campers will find at the Kulanaokuaiki Campground:

  • A vault toilet
  • Trash Cans next to the parking area
  • Picnic tables
  • Secluded areas

5. MacKenzie State Recreation Area

Camping Hawaii Big Island at MacKenzie State Recreation Area is completely free. This park is a picturesque area located in southern Puna.

The Recreation Area features a wild volcanic coastline in an ironwood grove. This beautiful place features a rustic campground with a limited number of campsites.

Campers can find some basic facilities on-site that make for an authentic and immersive camping experience. However, only tent camping is feasible at these campsites.

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This park offers one of the best hiking experiences if you are looking to break some sweat during your camping. Go for a short seaside hike on the popular Mackenzie Lava Tube Loop.

What campers can do at MacKenzie State Recreation Area to make their camping memorable:

  • Picnicking onsite
  • Hiking and exploring the rugged coastline
  • Photography Tour
  • Visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

6. Kalopa State Recreation Area

Hawaii Big Island camping at Kalopa State Recreation Area offers both tent camping and cabin accommodations. Campers can enjoy a range of outdoor activities such as hiking and picnicking as well.

Kalopa is a beautiful and tranquil park with an arboretum of native trees. It is located approximately 40 miles northwest of Hilo, near the village of Honokaʻa.

The authorities at Kalopa only allow up to 4 people per group to set up a camp. The camping rates of Kalopa State Recreation Area are listed below:

  • Hawaii Residents: $20 per campsite per night
  • Non-residents: $30 per campsite per night

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Campers can derive a more traditional feel-good camping experience by setting up tents. If you are looking for a more cozy and relaxed experience, then you can opt for the cabin.

The cabins come with basic amenities like beds, electricity, and cooking facilities. It is advisable that you make advance reservations through the Hawaii State Parks website before your arrival.

7. Namakanipaio Campground

Hawaii camping Big Island destination Namakanipaio Campground allows campers on a first come first serve basis. The stay limit here is set to seven consecutive days.

At Namakanipaio, visitors will derive a unique camping experience. You will find yourself in close proximity to iconic natural attractions of the likes of Kilauea Volcano, and Thurston Lava Tube.

This place is situated within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park,  miles southwest of Hilo and 96 miles southeast of Kailua-Kona. Visitors are required to pay a mandatory entrance fee of $15 per person.

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The campground features basic onsite facilities such as picnic tables, fire pits, and restrooms with flush toilets. Tent camping is the only suitable option at Namakanipaio since there is no electricity, showers, or hookups for RVs here.

You will find ten Namakanipaio Camper Cabins that offer a comfortable stay. These rustic, one-room wooden cabins are ideal for the ones seeking a camping experience without setting up a tent.

8. Ho’okena Beach Park

Ho’okena Beach Park offers clean and spacious sites for camping on Big Island. The Grey-sandy beach is edged by a coral reef with a canoe fishing heritage.

The Park is a beautiful and popular camping destination located on the west coast of the Big Island. Visitors are greeted here by the stunning oceanfront setting, lush greenery, and a relaxed Hawaii atmosphere.

You can reserve a camping permit online in advance before heading out to the place. Camp fees are $6 per person per night for Hawaiian residents and $21 for non-residents.

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The sandy beachside along with palm-shaded dirt clearings make for a perfect tent camping area. Campers will find basic amenities such as restrooms, showers, and potable water onsite.

At Ho’okena Beach Park, you will find a Concession Stand with ice, food, cold drinks, ice cream, camping and beach supplies along with kayak and snorkel rentals.

9. Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park

Big Island Hawaii camping at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park offers an unmatched oceanfront camping experience. You can step up tents just steps away from the famous black sand beach.

This famous black sand beach lies between the town of Pahala and Naalehu and it is easily accessible to visitors. This place is a famous also a famous detour for people visiting the Volcanoes National Park.

The Camping fee for Hawaiian residents at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach is $5 and $20 for tourists. The entry to the beach itself is however free of cost for everyone.

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In the morning, you will wake up to the gentle sound of ocean waves and a beautiful sunrise. During the day, spend your leisure time basking in the sun, picnicking on the beach with family, or marveling at the sea turtles walking up to the shores.

Swimming and snorkeling are the popular activities among the campers at Punaluu. The northeastern end of the beach allows for easy entry. Here, you can wade and cool off at the fresh water tidepool.

10. Kiholo State Park Reserve

Kiholo State Park Reserve is a coastal park with bays, lava flows and vast open spaces. Campers are allowed to set up their tents here only during the weekends.

Campers are required to obtain a camping permit in advance. A maximum of 10 people are allowed per group at the site. The fees levied are listed here:

  • For Hawaiian Residents: $20 per night, per campsite
  • For Outsiders: $30 per night, per campsite

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The Park is open to the public from 7 am to 7:45 pm daily. The place is open year-round for campers and visitors alike, however, there are no potable water or RV hookups onsite.

If you are wondering what makes tent camping at Kiholo State Park Reserve so popular, it is because:

  • A great place for snorkeling
  • A chance to see pods of dolphins from the bay
  • Turtle Bay, located about a mile away
  • Spacious and shaded areas for camping
  • Ample hiking opportunities

11. Halape Campground

Halape Campground is a remote campsite located within the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. The place offers a visual treat of the rugged and natural beauty of Hawaii.

The Campground is situated on the eastern side of the Big Island and it can only be reached by hiking or via boat. The nearest trailhead that leads to this destination is the Halape trailhead at the parking lot.

For campers who seek adventure, Halape is the perfect destination. To reach this location, one must embark on a challenging 7.8-mile hike along the Halape Trail so, it is wise to brainstorm before you begin your journey.

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Due to its remote setting, Halape Campground doesn't have much to offer in terms of facilities except for the pit toilets. Visitors need to bring their own supplies, including water and food.

Once you arrive at the site, you will be mesmerized by the lush scenery of the place. Some popular things to do at Halape include:

  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling
  • Explore the beautiful coastline
  • Visit cultural sites nearby
  • Observe the diverse marine life and lush vegetation

12. Kapa’a Campground

Kapa’a Campground is a camping site within the Kapa'a Beach Park on the northern coast of Big Island. This place has everything needed for an afternoon picnic and to watch the sunset.

This Park has rough terrain, featuring rocky shores and unprotected surf. This place is managed by the county and boasts ample onsite facilities.

Kapa'a Beach Park is open to the public from 6 am to 11 pm daily. Reservations are required prior to camping and the fee is $5 for local residents and $21 for outsiders.

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The beach park does not have assigned camping spots but instead is operated on a first-come, first-serve basis. Several areas on the dirt slopes have been cleared and are wide enough to accommodate smaller tents.

The place lacks potable water so, campers need to bring water with them. Apart from that the onsite facilities you can make full use of at Kapa’a Campground are listed here:

  • A covered picnic pavilion
  • Dispersed picnic benches along the beach
  • Barbecue grills beside the benches
  • Showers and flush bathrooms

13. Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area

Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area is a famous destination among campers looking for a unique camping experience on the Big Island. This place is situated on the slopes of Mauna Kea.

Also known as Mauna Kea State Recreation Area, this campsite is located on an elevation of 6,000 feet from sea level. Here, you will get to experience cooler temperatures than elsewhere.

Set up your tents amidst the scenic landscapes, lush forests, and towering mountains. Camping at this location allows you to engage in stargazing from the Mauna Kea Summit which is a unique thing to do in Kona.

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A haven for enthusiasts seeking adventure and connection with nature, campers will get ample opportunity to hike through the native forests and witness breathtaking views of Mauna Kea. Popular hikes include the Mauna Kea Summit Trail and Humu'ula Trail.

Camping facilities at Maunakea include five regular cabins with room for six people and two bunkhouses with room for 24 people.

The place also features a children’s playground if you are traveling with young lads, and picnic areas to celebrate a family gathering.