Camping in Maui Hawaii
The island of Maui in Hawaii is also called the Valley Isle. With its diverse terrain, there are many different campground choices for Maui camping. With 7 climate zones, Maui has a variety of weather conditions as well. Campgrounds on Haleakala at the 10,000 foot elevation can get pretty cold at night and camping near Hana can bring some heavy rains, so preparation is key.
Best Maui Campgrounds
Haleakala State Park
With the variety of Maui campgrounds throughout the island, you can find extreme ‘hike-in only’ parks or the easier drive-in sites. Haleakala State Park has two drive-in campgrounds (Hosmer Grove and Kipahulu) and 3 hike-in sites (Holua, Paliku and Kapalaoa). The hike-in sites are not for the faint of heart, this is a tough trek in and you carry all your gear.
Hosmer Grove Campground
Hosmer Grove Campground is at 7000 ft elevation and temperatures range from 50-60 celsius during the day and down to 30 celsius at night. These campsites offer the basics like picnic tables, bbq grills and pit toilets but without showers or drinking water, you may only want to stay a couple nights. The close location of this campground to the summit of Haleakala is great to be able to take in a famous Maui sunrise.
Located at the end of the Hana Hwy, approximately a 3 hour drive from Kahului. This popular Maui campground books up fast and can be hard to get a permit for. It is near the famous Ol’e gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) and located in the beautiful Eastern side of Maui with lush forest and hiking trails to waterfalls. The lucky ones who camp here can enjoy the local black sand beaches, lava tubes and natural blow holes.
Papalaua Wayside Park
Located on the west coast side of Maui, originally this park was called Ukumehame and is still called this by many locals. This long narrow site has a very intimate and secluded setting, although the noise from the nearby highway can be a deterrent for some. It’s a nice beach camp on Maui that is directly beachfront, where you can sit back and relax to the sounds of crashing waves.
This campsite is also located on Maui’s west coast and has a variety of camping options. You can choose between tentalows (if you’d like to experience glamping on Maui), regular tent camping, cabins and car camping. They are a well established campground and run daily events like snorkeling and kayaking.
Off grid camping or wild camping
Beach camping is legally allowed on beaches that don’t post any “No Camping” signs but this type of camping is for fishing purposes only. You must be fishing at all times and not just pretending to fish. Locals do not take kindly to visitors just throwing out a line and not really there for real fishing purposes.
Whether you find a State Park or a private campground, camping in Maui Hawaii can bring you upfront and personal with the vast environment Maui has to offer. From coastal cliffs, black sand beaches and crystal clear water, Maui is a beautiful island with spectacular views - a perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors.
Maui Camping - What Do I Need?
When you choose camping in Maui over a resort or condo you will save money, but camping in Maui is not free. You either have to get a Maui camping permit for the specific campground or you get a park permit and then can camp at any sites within that specific park. Maui State Parks have both tenting and cabin lodging, depending on the park. Cabins do not come equipped with things like bedding, dishes or cooking utensils. Some cabins can be booked up to 6 months in advance.
Camping permits are either 3 or 5 day maximum and you do have to wait 30 days before returning to a previous campground. Due to Covid-19, the impact has been noticed with regards to campground occupancy rates and price increases. As well with cabin rentals, all occupants must be from the same household, non-household persons are not allowed.
Camping gear you will definitely need for Maui includes:
Permits to parks you plan to visit (printed version)
Tents & tarps
Sleeping bags that will keep you warm at the higher elevations
Lanterns and flashlights with extra batteries
Cooking gear and utensils that are acceptable for the campground you are visiting
Extra layers of clothing
Bug spray, sun screen, first aid kit
Ear plugs for noisy highways or neighbors
and of course food and water, bring extra as shopping is not readily available close by
Another option is campervan rentals, this saves from having to get camping equipment rentals for Maui. The vans will have some camping items stocked and included in the price. As well, they will have add on items such as beach chairs, tables and coolers, all for an additional charge. Some of the campervans come equipped with a rooftop tent, staff is very thorough in showing customers how to use all equipment. The Waianapanapa State Park does have an area designated for campervans.
The diverse options for camping on Maui will have you one day waking up to the sounds of the crashing ocean waves and the next site up on a volcano where your bird watching days and stargazing nights will be a memorable experience. Many jungle sites are so quiet and secluded that you can really take the time to refresh and be one with nature.
Maui Camping Tips
Camping on Maui can go smoothly, as long as you’ve done your preplanning – our Maui camping tips below can get you started. Keep in mind that Maui is a tropical island, with many climate zones and being the tropics, you are likely to run into rain at some point of your trip. Being prepared will help in making the trip an enjoyable experience, but as with all traveling, expect the unexpected.
Local residents and visitor center staff are great sources of information, with regards to current conditions of campgrounds, beaches, trails and overall safety concerns. Park staff and other campers can help guide you through your daily adventures. Before you even get to Maui, make sure you have informed friends and family of your camping trip and the itinerary you plan to take. Having a local map at hand is recommended, as phone technology doesn’t always work on Maui’s eastern side (like the Hana area).
Maui’s weather is very unpredictable and can change rapidly. Make sure your gear, footwear and clothing are all appropriate for the conditions. You will want layers of clothing that can dry quickly and is light enough to wear in the heat. Zip lock bags are handy for storing items in case of heavy rains. When camping up on Haleakala the campgrounds are located in very remote areas – if emergency personnel are required, they can be hours away from you.
Other camping items that come in handy would be: motion sickness medicine for the Road to Hana, a car outlet plug for charging, water filter system or water pills and a small backpack to keep all your valuables with you while on hikes and away from your site or rental car.
From remote drive-in jungle sites to beachfront hideaway sites, Maui camping will refresh you like no other vacation. Who wouldn’t want to say they have camped on a volcano or next to waterfalls and a black sand beach? The unique and diverse landscape Maui has to offer will have you fall in love with the Valley Isle. Maui No Ka Oi (Maui is the Best!)
A final Maui camping tip is always bring your Aloha. Having an Aloha Spirit will open your heart to the sharing, respect and overall love Hawaiians elude and live by. Living Aloha is living with happiness.