With around 750 miles of shoreline, beach camping in Hawaii is a dream. You can’t just set up anywhere you like, but with a little advance planning, you can find a little piece of paradise.
Beach camping in Hawaii can be an exotic adventure – sometimes the sand is pink, gray, golden-brown, or even black. It’s rewarding because it gets you right next to nature. And it’s a cheaper alternative to pricey hotels and resorts.
If you want to try camping on the beach there, read on to find out what it takes to set up camp in our 50th state.
Can You Go Beach Camping on the Beach in Hawaii?
There are many places to camp on the beach in Hawaii, each offering wildly different experiences. Just about all of Hawaii’s beaches are public, but many are full of people sunning, swimming, and surfing.
Overnight use of these beaches is not as common. There are more than 100 different beaches in Hawaii, but most of them are for day use only.
→ Renting a camper van in Hawaii? We did, and this is what we learned.
Are All Beaches Open for Camping in Hawaii?
In fact, spending the night is against the law on most of Hawaii’s beaches, so no camping. Thankfully, there are some exceptions – and the spots where you can camp are exceptional!
Sleeping in a tent along Hawaii’s stunning coastlines may be the best way to truly enjoy the islands’ tropical wonders. As long as you’re doing it legally, all you have to do is relax and listen to the waves!
Do You Need a Permit for Beach Camping in Hawaii?
Most beaches that allow camping require permits to make sure they’re not overrun with campers. You can make your reservations online, but sometimes there’s quite a demand, so we suggest doing it well in advance. Save the information on your phone or print out your reservation information and bring it with you to the campsite.
10 Places You Can Go Beach Camping in Hawaii
The Hawaiian Island chain is a vast network of separate islands and atolls, but there are eight major islands. Some of our recommended camping spots are near the busiest tourist areas while others lie more leisurely in outlying areas.
Most of them are on the primitive side, with very little or no amenities. Some sites are right on the sand, close to the water’s edge while others are in dirt or grassy fields.
1. Kalalau Beach, Kauai
With its iconic and graceful ridgeline as an incredible backdrop, camping on Kalalau may be the quintessential Hawaii beach camping experience. It’s not easy to get there, though.
This remote spot is at the western end of an 11-mile backpacking trail on the Na Pali Coast. It’s so popular you may need to apply for reservation months in advance.
2. Anahola Beach Park, Anahola, Kauai
This horseshoe-shaped white-sand area on Anahola Bay is known for its calm waters because of a protective reef offshore. It’s considered to be one of the best swimming areas on the east side of Kauai. It’s also great for snorkeling, boarding, and kayaking, or you can lounge along the half-mile semicircle of white sand.
The campsite has toilets, tables, showers, and drinking water. It’s also an easy load-in here because the campsites are fairly close to the parking area.
3. Ho’okena Beach Park, Captain Cook, Big Island
Rise early for a breathtaking sunrise over the cliffs and enjoy a tranquil day on a beach known for its fine gray sand. This historic spot on the Big Island was once a center for a traditional method of canoe fishing.
In addition to the typical camping amenities, there’s a concession stand during the day. Treat yourself to hot foods, snacks, and ice cream.
Pro Tip: While beach camping in Hawaii, make sure not to break any of these 20 Golden Camping Rules Every Camper Should Know.
4. Malaekahana State Recreation Area, Laie, Oahu
Just away from Oahu’s bustling North Shore, this incredible under-the-radar getaway is where you’re more likely to encounter locals instead of tourists. You can brave the famous roaring surf or, at low tide, wade out to Goat Island.
The park has 37 campsites and more amenities than most, including grills and even some indoor showers. Whether you’re beach camping in Hawaii or surfing in Hawaii, you’ll enjoy this spot.
5. Bellows State Beach, Oahu
Its calm, clear waters make this a terrific place for bodyboarding or snorkeling. Or you may just want to stretch out in a hammock for some serious relaxation.
This state facility, located in an active military training area, has 41 campsites and two bathrooms. It’s also convenient to other popular places on the eastern end of Oahu such as Lanikai Pillbox, China Walls, Makapu’u Lookout.
Pro Tip: Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails on these 7 Easy Hikes in Oahu with Amazing Views.
6. Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, Big Island
The volcanic soil on “the Big Island” explains the distinctive dark sand on this peaceful beach. The sturdy but graceful palm trees seem tailor-made for hammocking.
The shoreline itself is rocky, but a grass-covered cliff nearby offers panoramic views and picnicking opportunities. There’s also a covered pavilion as well as restrooms and outdoor showers.
7. Polihale State Park, Kauai County, Big Island
This isolated stretch of white sand lies west of Kauai on the Big Island and overlooks the gorgeous, rugged Na Pali coastline. Getting there means driving five miles down the somewhat challenging Lower Saki Mana Road. Stop when you see the handsome cliffs and the towering sand dunes that reach up to 100 feet.
Polihale has picnic tables and a pavilion plus restrooms and showers. It’s one of the best places for quiet beach camping in Hawaii.
8. Spencer Beach Park, Waimea
You can upgrade to a few more comforts here on the north side of the largest town on Hawaii island. Don’t expect anything luxurious, but there are bathrooms and sinks for washing dishes plus a large shelter with picnic tables.
It’s a favorite swimming area on the island’s western coast because it has a gradual slope underfoot rather than a quick drop-off.
9. Hosmer Grove + Haleakala, Maui
Visiting Maui means mountains and more. At just over 10,000 feet, a dormant volcano called Haleakala looms over Maui and dominates the horizon.
The Hosmer Grove campground offers free camping on a first-come, first-serve camping basis, but you can also reserve a site online. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire pit with a grill. If you’re up for it, you can start a backcountry hike here toward Haleakala’s sky-high summit.
10. Whittington Beach Park, Hawaii Island
Near the city of Naalehu, this park overlooks Honuapo Bay and has a picturesque shoreline of dark lava rocks. It’s not the best beach for swimming, but the campsites are close to the water’s edge and there’s a lot to explore.
Watch for the endangered green sea turtles that give the bay its name. The park has restrooms and pavilions, and outdoor showers for rinsing, but no drinking water.
Pro Tip: Beach camping isn’t the only camping option you can do! Do You Know the 15 Types of Camping? Find out!
What We Love Most About Beach Camping in Hawaii
As you can see, beach camping in Hawaii means a lot of things, depending on where you land. It certainly goes well beyond the typical white-sand excursions we experience in go-to places like Florida, Texas, and California. You can venture into mountains, canyons, and even volcanoes or do some diving or snorkeling along the reefs offshore.
Another bonus is that Hawaii’s beach camping accommodations are pretty much dirt cheap. Some are $20 a night, while others are just a few dollars. The cost is unbeatable!
Have you ever camped on the beach in Hawaii? What places would you recommend? Drop a comment below!
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Monday 9th of May 2022
Such a good list, thanks for posting this friend!
Mortons on the Move
Sunday 15th of May 2022
You're welcome! :)