There is no better place than Hawai’i for roughing it.
Text and images by John Hook
It’s the smell of limu-lined shores at Kama‘ole Beach Park on Maui; it’s the sand blowing into your food via the tradewinds at Bellows. It’s waiting for the fire to start crackling; it’s the smell of mosquito punks; it’s the sounds of crabs scratching to get out of a bucket and bells on fishing poles; it’s gas lanterns and the romantic setting of you, your partner, and the sounds of waves lapping on the beach—this is camping, and there’s no better place to sleep under the stars than in Hawai‘i.
Here, a few helpful tips for camping in the islands:
1. Be respectful and always say hi to your campsite neighbors. Offer them a beer, snack, or extra firewood—you never know when you’ll need to borrow something back (soap, football, umbrella, etc.).
2. Plan your weekend around the moon! A full moonrise is quite the sight to see from any of the east shore campsites; it also makes for a romantic midnight swim in the ocean under the full moon. Or, plan on camping during a new moon (no moon in the sky)—the stargazing will be much better.
3. If you don’t have a tent or enjoy sleeping outdoors, go for it. Hammocks are easier to set up and are often more comfortable than a tent. You’ll be the envy of your neighbors and friends, who probably have five or more people cramped into a little tent. Hawai’i is blessed with optimal camping temperatures year-round—get out there and enjoy it.
4. Want to go old-school but with amenities? Rent a refurbished VW camper van. Visit oahucampingvans.com for O’ahu or happycampershawaii for the Big Island.
5. Get a camping permit in advance–these are required for camping in the islands. Keep in mind that they are made available online two weeks before the date, and they go fast for popular camping weekends. To purchase a permit (and even rent a cabin), visit camping.ehawaii.gov. For more information on camping in Hawai‘i, visit hawaiistateparks.org.
6. Can’t forget the s’mores! A nice alternative to the classic s’more is substituting Nutella spread for the chocolate bar.
7. Sit back, relax, and appreciate the fact that the tradewinds are blowing and the temperature is perfect as the sun sets and stars rise in the sky.