With endless summer weather comes endless opportunities for summer activities: swimming, surfing, hiking, and perhaps my favorite: camping trips. And while you will find campgrounds scattered across the Hawaiian Islands — from beachfront parks to botanical gardens and everywhere in between — our favorites are found within Hawaii’s state parks. These 12 state parks and recreation areas offer some of the Aloha State’s best campgrounds, and we can’t wait to escape into the wilderness for a weekend.
1. Kiholo State Park Reserve, Hawaii Island
This stark, coastal, lava-covered park is home to stunning trails, a breathtaking bay, and some wild camping, accessible via an unimproved gravel access road, with no amenities, and no water — recommended only for those serious campers who prefer isolation over large, close together campsites.
2. Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, Kauai
If you’re up for a hike, the gorgeous eleven-mile Kalalau trail ends with a wonderful little spot to go camping. However, if you are unable to make it in one day, there is a spot six miles in where you are allowed to set up camp for the night, but only if you have the valid permits. This sounds amazing, but only if you are able to pack light!
3. Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area, Maui
Polipoli is perhaps most famous for its breathtaking redwood forest: Located approximately 7,000 feet above sea level is a forest populated by redwood trees that were brought to Hawaii in the 1920s to re-establish the watershed. Winter nights can reach freezing temperatures, and the forests will remind you of America’s Pacific Northwest, rather than tropical Hawaii.
4. Malaekahana State Recreation Area, Oahu
Found just 55 yards off Kamehameha Highway between Kahuku and Laie is this 37-acre campground surrounded by ironwood trees and backing up to a pristine white sand beach. The campground has 37 campsites available for tent camping from Friday to Wednesday and will cost you between $12 and $18 per night in permit fees. Enjoy beachfront camping with a food truck and fire pit access as well as gorgeous scenery and even kayak and paddleboard rentals.
5. Kalopa State Recreation Area, Hawaii Island
Known for lodging and camping, this park features only short hiking trails, with longer excursions in the neighboring forest reserve. Nestled on the slopes of Mauna Kea near Honoka’a, the Kalopa Forest receives substantial rainfall, resulting in the enchanting and lush native forest you’ll find here.
6. Polihale State Park, Kauai
At the end of a long dirt road off Kuamuali’I Highway, Polihale is the largest stretch of sand in Hawaii. While often overlooked for more accessible Kauai beaches, the secluded spot is the perfect place for a weekend retreat into the wilderness. So, grab your gear, pitch a tent, and spend a few days swimming and fishing.
7. Palaʻau State Park, Molokai
Perhaps most famous for its scenic overlook of Kalaupapa, a leper colony with the ocean on one side and giant 1,600-foot cliffs on the other described by Robert Louis Stevenson as a "prison fortified by nature," Pala’au is a perfect spot for a picnic or camping getaway.
8. Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area, Oahu
Featuring camping and the popular 4.8-mile Aiea Loop trail along the ridgeline, the sprawling 384-acre Keaiwa Heiau was formerly known as a healing or medicinal heiau (temple) and is home to a verdant forest just waiting to be explored.
9. Manuka State Wayside, Hawaii Island
A 25,000-acre park on the flank of Leeward Mauna Loa, this reserve encompasses a wide range of habitats — including subalpine shrublands and forests, wet montane forests, lowland mesic forests, and mesic montane kipuka forests. Recent lava flows have resulted in uncharacterized and unsurveyed lava tubes.
10. Kokeʻe State Park, Kauai
Nestled along the rim of Waimea Canyon between 3,200 and 4,200 feet above sea level, Koke’e State Park is home to some of the prettiest scenery in the Aloha State, incredible hiking, and is the perfect spot for a weekend camping trip any time of year. Whether you choose to go tent camping or stay in a cozy cabin, your trip to Koke’e State Park is sure to be unforgettable.
11. Waiʻanapanapa State Park, Maui
Located on Maui’s Road to Hana is this amazing state park, with an absolutely stunning black sand beach, hikes, a blowhole, ocean caves, sea arches, freshwater pools, and cliff diving. What more could a true explorer want in a park? Camping, perhaps? Oh yeah, they have that too. Tent and campervan sites, as well as charming and rustic cabins, are available for rent at Waianapanapa, making this the perfect spot to stay overnight while exploring Maui’s Hana Highway.
12. Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park, Oahu
Ahupua’a O Kahana State Park, formerly known as Kahana Valley State Park, is often overlooked for more accessible spots on Oahu but is an absolute natural oasis. With numerous hiking opportunities, this state park is the perfect camping spot if you want to enjoy a weekend getting lost in the wilderness.
Which of these state park campgrounds is your favorite? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and then join our
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