So you’re going to Oahu or are in Hawaii and want to go camping, but you’re unsure of where and how. You can’t go wrong with picking a beach, but a nice hike will eventually lead you to some campsites. I’ve been going to Oahu Island for over a decade now and have been camping many different places, so I wanted to share my experience.
Oahu is a great island for camping. The weather is warm here most of the year, so there’s no reason to not be outdoors enjoying nature. It can be tough to choose which campsite or campground to go to on Oahu though, so I’ve come up with a list of my top seven picks for camping in Oahu.
For those who think camping is too strenuous and need all the comforts of home, there are resorts where you have camp amenities like electricity, showers with hot water, air conditioning, and even internet access. If you want to test your survival skills in an unconventional campsite, Oahu wont disappoint you!
The Diverse Camping Experiences in Oahu
Oahu offers a unique blend of landscapes, and its camping experiences mirror this diversity, ensuring every camper finds a spot that resonates with their adventure spirit.
Beach Camping: For those drawn to the ocean, Oahu’s shoreline presents numerous options. Waianae Kai is a favorite among snorkeling enthusiasts, given its clear waters and abundant marine life.
Malaekahana Beach State Park in the northeast offers a longer stretch of white sand, ideal for beach walks, with family-friendly campgrounds and picnic spots.
Then there’s Bellows Field Beach Park; besides the standard beachside activities, this park provides weekend campers with a fantastic sunrise view.
Inland Camping: If dense foliage and mountain vistas are more your style, the inland campgrounds beckon. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens isn’t just a camping site; it’s an educational journey through tropical flora, interspersed with fishing and hiking opportunities.
Kahana Valley State Park gives campers a truer wilderness experience with trails that delve into Oahu’s rich history and culture.
Resorts vs. Wilderness: For a more structured experience with amenities, some resorts in Oahu meld the best of both worlds. Camp Mokulē‘ia is a prime example, offering structured camping with amenities such as Wi-Fi, bathrooms, and organized activities. It’s a haven for those who like their adventures with a side of comfort.
However, if you’re looking to truly disconnect and immerse in raw nature, spots like Ahupuaa O Kahana State Park provide a genuine back-to-nature experience, with minimal facilities but maximum natural beauty.
Hybrid Options: Then there are places like Kualoa Regional Park and Campground, which sit at the confluence of beach and forest, giving campers a bit of both landscapes.
With its proximity to the famed Kualoa Ranch, campers often find themselves exploring movie set locations by day and stargazing by the beach at night.
Ultimately, when picking a camping spot in Oahu, it’s essential to consider your desired comfort level, the activities you prioritize, and the kind of natural setting you want to be surrounded by.
From beachfront sunrises to forest symphonies, Oahu has a campsite for every kind of nature lover.
Here are our 7 favortie places to camp in Oahu
Here are our 12 favorite places to pitch a tent and immerse yourself in Oahu’s natural wonders.
Kahua Nui-Makai (Ho’omaluhia) Campsites
Kahua Nui-Makai, better known as the Ho’omaluhia Campsites, is located in Oahu’s Windward region, inside the expansive Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden.
This 400-acre garden showcases tropical plant collections from around the world, making the camping experience both scenic and educational.
A highlight for many is the garden’s lake, which opens its doors to anglers for catch-and-release fishing during the weekends.
For those eager to explore the surroundings, the Lake Trail offers a walk along the water, through rich vegetation, presenting opportunities for birdwatching and nature appreciation.
When it comes to amenities and local exploration, the adjacent town of Kaneohe is a short drive away. Here, campers can stock up on supplies, enjoy local dishes, and experience the rhythm of Hawaiian town life.
Kahua Nui-Makai ensures a memorable camping experience, rooted deeply in Hawaii’s botanical diversity, while keeping modern conveniences within easy reach.
Malaekahana Beach Campground
Set against the iconic backdrop of Oahu’s North Shore, the Malaekahana Beach Campground is more than just a camping spot—it’s an entryway to a world of Hawaiian adventures.
From its varied accommodation options, which include both tents and plush plantation huts and suites, this campground offers a touch of the wild without compromising on comfort.
Featuring over 74 diverse campsites, each equipped with essentials like picnic tables, water spouts, and fire pits, campers can anticipate a blend of convenience and authentic Hawaiian ambience.
A stone’s throw away lies the expansive shoreline, where a plethora of water activities await. Dive into the vibrant Pacific with kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or surfing. The clear waters are a snorkeler’s paradise, boasting a rich marine biodiversity.
For those inclined towards terra firma, the Malaekahana State Recreation Area adjacent to the campground is a treasure trove of nature trails and picnic spots. Delve into its paths, and you might find yourself amidst Hawaiian flora and fauna, offering unparalleled birdwatching opportunities.
Furthermore, a short journey southward leads to the quaint town of Laie. Here, you can indulge in local Hawaiian delicacies or take a cultural detour at the renowned Polynesian Cultural Center.
Making your stay at Malaekahana Beach Campground even more seamless is the availability of 24×7 online reservations.
Located along the pristine shoreline of Oahu’s North Shore, Camp Mokulēʻia is a unique 40-acre beachfront campsite offering unparalleled views of both the azure Pacific Ocean and the magnificent Waianae Mountains.
The camp provides various accommodation options, including tent camping sites, cabins, and retreat houses, catering to different comfort levels. With nearly 60 tent campsites scattered across its expanse, it ensures a tranquil setting for every camper.
There’s also a nice picnic area with lots of shade trees, so you can have fun playing in the sun without getting too hot!
The campground also has its own store where you can buy snacks and drinks at affordable prices, but if you want to make your own meals instead then they’ll let you use their kitchen equipment for free!
Camping here will be an experience like no other—you’ll never want to go camping anywhere else after staying at this wonderful place!
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens
This is a great place to experience the outdoors, and it’s free! Located at 45-680 Luluku Rd., Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 with an official website.
What to bring: If you’re camping, don’t forget your tent and sleeping bag or air mattress (depending on how comfortable you are).
You’ll also need some water, food and drinkable water. Make sure that if there’s no rain in sight then bring enough sunscreen too—it gets hot out there without much shade coverage!
Finally don’t forget anything else like clothes or toiletries—you never know what might happen when exploring nature so prepare yourself accordingly!
Bellows Field Beach Park Campsite
Bellows Field Beach Park Campsite, located on Oahu’s windward coast, is a popular weekend getaway for both locals and tourists seeking a combination of sandy beaches and forested backdrop.
This campsite, formerly a military recreational site, boasts some of Oahu’s most scenic and soft white-sand beaches, complemented by clear blue waters.
With over 50 campsites available, campers can set up right next to the beach, allowing for immediate access to the ocean and its multitude of water activities, such as bodyboarding, surfing, and snorkeling.
The nearby reef is home to a variety of marine life, making it a delightful spot for snorkelers.
The campsite’s location at the foot of the Koolau Mountains provides hiking enthusiasts with several options.
Notably, the Maunawili Trail is a favored choice, taking hikers through a lush landscape with views of waterfalls, verdant valleys, and occasionally, glimpses of Molokai and Maui on clear days.
A stone’s throw away is the town of Waimanalo, where campers can procure supplies, indulge in local Hawaiian dishes, and mingle with locals to understand the rich culture and traditions of the area.
Kualoa Regional Park and Campground
Camping at Kualoa Regional Park is a great option for those who want to experience camping on Oahu. Camping is available at no charge, though you will have to reserve one of the campsites ahead of time.
The campground has 20 campsites that can accommodate tents or RVs up to 16 feet long. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring with grill, though you must bring your own charcoal and firewood; propane is prohibited due to local fire bans throughout the year.
Camping rules do vary from park to park—make sure you check the official Oahu camping guide before setting out!
Ahupuaa O Kahana State Park
Ahupuaa O Kahana State Park is located on the North Shore of Oahu and has some of the most stunning views of the island. It’s open from 6am to 6pm all year round.
The park has a campground where you can stay overnight, making it a great place to get away from city life and enjoy nature. There are also beaches, hiking trails, and picnic areas that you can visit in your time at this awesome spot!
Things to remember when planning a camping trip to Oahu
There are so many things to consider if you plan on going camping on Oahu. So, I’ve created this handy little guide that will help you get the best experience possible, even if you’re a first-timer. You’ll learn everything from how to choose the perfect camp site, what permits to purchase, and how to prepare for the island’s high volume of traffic. If you want to make sure you have a good time, there are few things I recommend doing before arriving at your final destination.
All campgrounds on Oahu require a permit.
Permits may be obtained online at camping.honolulu.gov or in person at the Fasi Municipal Building (FMB). Online permits become available two (2) Fridays before the Friday you wish to camp at 5:00pm HST. In-person permits become available Monday in the Permits Office.
Campers are required to set up camp only in designated campsites and must move from one campsite to another each night. Campers may not set up a tent or other temporary shelter anywhere else on public land except within a designated campsite.
Campers must maintain a distance of 25 feet from all streams and water sources, including springs and ponds, and 100 feet from all streams and water sources during heavy rains, floods or landslides.
Keep all food properly stored away from animals, including wild pigs and birds. Do not leave food unattended while you are hiking or swimming; it may attract wild animals who might damage your equipment and belongings or harm you.
Leave no trace — take all your trash with you when you leave an area, even if it is not yours!
Permits range ($6-$200) in price
Planning a camping trip to Oahu is a great way to get off the beaten path and enjoy the serene beauty of Hawaii’s lush landscape. If you’re planning to camp on Oahu, there are a few things you’ll need to know before getting started.
Permits range (~$6-$200) in price depending on Hawaii state residency, agency, and type of camping. If you’re planning to camp on public land, it’s best to check with each agency first to see if they require permits for camping.
Camping permits are required for all types of camping in Hawaii, with the exception of backcountry hiking where no established campsites exist.
There are many different types of public land available for camping on Oahu including beaches, parks, and forests along with some private land that may allow tent camping or RV parking in designated areas.
Book your campsite early to avoid disappointment
Another thing to keep in mind is how busy each park can get during peak season. If you’re looking for peace and quiet during your stay, book your campsite early — especially if it’s during spring break or summer vacation. The last thing anyone wants at the beach is the sound of screaming kids playing across the sand dunes while they’re trying to enjoy their vacation!
If you prefer a more rustic experience, consider camping on one of Oahu’s many beaches — but make sure to check on any restrictions before setting up camp. Some beaches (like Makapuu Beach) prohibit overnight camping due to concerns about erosion caused by people walking on the sand dunes; others have strict rules about what kind of tents or accessories are allowed. It’s best to check with the state parks department before heading
Stay Safe and ensure you book a secure campsite
Booking a secure campsite is essential if you’re planning on staying overnight at one of the many campgrounds on Oahu. Most people who visit the island do so for its beautiful beaches and lush scenery and don’t want to deal with the hassle of camping. Secure campsites offer amenities such as bathrooms and showers, electricity and other conveniences that make camping easier for everyone involved.
Consider Your Location
When choosing where you want to camp on Oahu, think about what activities you want to do while you’re there. If you want to spend most of your time on the beach or swimming in the ocean, choose an area that has easy access to these activities. If you want more privacy or seclusion, look for a quieter area away from tourist spots.
Be ready to rough it out
There are a lot of things that can go wrong when planning a camping trip. It’s not just about setting up the tent and sleeping on the hard ground. You have to be prepared for the unexpected, like bad weather, bugs and even snakes!
If you are going on a camping trip to Oahu, here are some things that you need to know:
Be ready to rough it out. There are no hotels or resorts in Hawaii that offer camping services so be prepared to rough it out at night. Sleeping on the hard ground might not be comfortable but it is better than sleeping in your car or tent. Also, when you go camping, there will be no electricity so bring flashlights and lanterns for lighting up the area during the night time hours.
Bring bug repellent with DEET content. If there is one thing that I hate about camping, it’s bugs! They love me and I hate them back! Bugs like mosquitoes, ants and black flies can make any camping trip miserable so make sure that you bring plenty of bug repellent with DEET content to keep them away from your skin!
Bring rain gear and sunscreen too! It rains often on Oahu but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get wet while hiking through the mountains or walking along the beachfront.
Hawaii is a great place to camp! There is so much to do and see and you can feel good knowing that all of your money is going to the people who live there and not some hotel chain. If you’re looking for an adventure, this could be it! The only downside would be if you don’t like bugs or sand but otherwise everything else about camping on Oahu should be perfect!
Camping is a fantastic activity, which allows you to unplug, relax, and connect with nature. Hawaii offers a variety of camping sites; however, selecting the right one will greatly enhance your experience. We have summarized the main factors to consider when planning a camping trip to Oahu.