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Top 2 places to Camp in Oahu Hawaii

Updated on October 18, 2010

Camping in Oahu, Hawaii can be a rewarding, inexpensive way to take full advantage of the incredible weather and gorgeous ocean views at a fraction of the price of renting a condo or hotel. Imagine getting up, unzipping your tent and marveling at the Scenic Ocean view or serene tropical surroundings while you enjoy a fresh cup of tea or coffee. All you hear when you get up are the birds chirping and the ocean waves crashing on to shore. It is just another typical day in paradise.

We decided to camp in Hawaii this summer as we are nature lovers at heart. We bought our camping gear and boogie board in Hawaii as we didn’t want to lug our gear from the airport (to be discussed later). Prior to leaving for Honolulu, Hawaii, we researched camping sites online to decide which ones we wanted to try out. We wanted camping sites that offer restrooms, showers and picnic tables. All in all, we tried out 5 camping sites. Although we enjoyed all five camping sites, we wanted to share the top 2 we enjoyed the most. The ones we picked for this list rated high in cleanliness, breathtaking surroundings, on the beach, high degree of wildlife sightings and friendliness of the people we camped with.


A typical camp site at Malaekahana State Recreation Area
A typical camp site at Malaekahana State Recreation Area | Source
A picture of a Yury at Malaekahana State Recreation Area
A picture of a Yury at Malaekahana State Recreation Area | Source
Another beautiful sunset at Malaekahana State Recreation Area
Another beautiful sunset at Malaekahana State Recreation Area | Source
A picture of the beach at Malaekahana State Recreation Area
A picture of the beach at Malaekahana State Recreation Area | Source

The Top 2 Camping Sites in Oahu Hawaii

1. Malaekahana State Recreation Area (Kahuku Section) is a gated 37-acre wooded beach park on Windward Oahu. This site includes 24 hour on-site security as an added bonus! There are 40 basic campsites located right on the beach. Picnic Tables are available as well as fire pits and hot outdoor showers. If you aren’t into tenting, you can rent a Yurt, which is a basic wood framed lattice structure. The Malaekahana State Recreation Area has 5 Yurts. It is recommended you book these Yurts as early as possible as they apparently are quite popular.

The costs are:

Tent camping spots are $8.34 per person per night

Yurt rates are $130.00 per night and sleeps between 4 to 6 people comfortably

Key Attractions at Malaekahana State Recreation Area include:

  • As the water in Malaekahana Bay is gentle and kind, boogie boarding and snorkeling are both easy and enjoyable.
  • You can fish at Makahoa Point which is located in close proximity to Malaekahana Bay State Recreation Area.
  • Do you like to see Sea Turtles up close? Sea Turtles bask on the beach at Malaekahana Bay regularly.
  • Malaekahana Bay is a great location for bird watching.


A 360 degree view of Malaekahana State Recreation Area

A markerMalaekahana State Recreation Area -
Malaekahana State Recreation Area, Laie, HI 96762, USA
get directions

Sand Island Recreation Area
Sand Island Recreation Area | Source
Gates to Sand Island Recreation Area
Gates to Sand Island Recreation Area | Source
A markerSand Island Recreation Area -
Sand Island State Recreation Area, Honolulu, HI 96819, USA
get directions

Do you want more information?

Your key contact is:

Friends of Malaekahana
P. O. Box 305
Laie, HI 96762
Tel. (808) 293-1736
Fax (808) 293-2066
Email them for more information

2. Sand Island Recreation Area: Okay, so you want the best of both worlds. You want to experience the beauty Oahu Hawaii is famous for through camping, but want to be close to Honolulu, Hawaii to take in the shopping, dining and other attractions. If this is you, Sand Island Recreation Area is for you. This 102 acre recreation area is right on the coast and provides you with a million dollar view of Honolulu, Hawaii’s harbor. Sand Island Recreation Area offers restrooms, outdoor showers, drinking water and a pay phone. Hiking in the area is bountiful and this area is wonderful for boogie boarding. The only drawback was that Sand Island Recreation Area only allows tents on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, it is certainly worth spending the weekend and packing up to go to the next Recreation Area during the week. This is what we did and it actually added richness to our vacation because we got to see more of Hawaii’s beautiful natural surroundings.

What are the Costs?

The fees are a mere $18.00 per night for non residents of Hawaii for up to six people.

Do you want more information?

You can contact the State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources here:

Kalanimoku Building
1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 310
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813
Phone: (808) 587-0300
Fax: (808) 587-0311

Mailing address:
Department of Land and Natural Resources
Division of State Parks
P.O. Box 621
Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96809


If you are interested in obtaining a “Wiki Permit” and reserve your camping spot, go here.

Camping as a Visitor? Does this mean I have to lug my Camping Gear Around?

Some of you may ask how we got our camping gear. After all, who wants to lug a bunch of camping supplies and gear at the Airport? As we were staying for two weeks, we decided to simply buy what we needed at the local Wal-Mart Store. We purchased a tent that fit four people comfortably, a set of camping cups, plates and utensils, a hot plate, a cheap cooler, sleeping bags, a wash basin, two boogie boards, two snorkeling outfits and rain gear all for $480.00. The day we left, we donated all our gear to Goodwill in Honolulu. Hey, you may even want to try your luck and check out the Goodwill stores in Honolulu, Hawaii first before heading to the Wal-Mart just in case someone else read this and went to Hawaii before you. We also rented a car for $21.00 per day to make transporting our camping gear easier. Even after buying all our camping gear, we saved huge on accommodation (as the average room on Waikiki Beach can run you around $150.00 and up a night), supported a worthwhile charity, had ocean views we will never forget and went on hikes one would never do laying on the beach in Waikiki. The biggest benefit was meeting many locals who frequent these Recreation Areas often. We had wonderful talks over a campfire while watching the incredible sunsets. We even exchanged email, face book and phone number information. Many of these folks are still in contact with me and have offered to pick us up at the airport and have dinner at their place when we return. I find the People of Hawaii wonderful and worth getting to know. You would not get to know them on the same level if you plant yourself in a Waikiki Hotel.

As I am a nature lover, nothing beats waking up in the morning and seeing a Sea Turtle smiling at me first thing. The birds flocking on the beach looking for a meal was also rewarding. How about spending a morning collecting shells and having a contest to see who collects the most? At Malaekahana State Recreation Area, I saw whales passing by the Bay and even dolphins playing. These too will be memories not forgotten and savored with each thought.

Yes, camping in Oahu Hawaii is inexpensive and rewarding. Next time you go, give it a try. You may find it more rewarding than booking a hotel.

Remember: It doesn't take a lot of money to have a rich experience!

Sand Island Beach Park


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      Oahu Beach Campin 4 years ago


      I just wanted to share that Oahu Beach Camping ( does provide camping gear for rent. Oahu Beach Camping takes all the hassle out of camping, by first obtaining the camping permit, providing camping gear and even setting up and taking down the campsite for you.