Hawaii Camping Options
The A-frames at Hapuna State Park
Tents at Spencer Beach County Park
The Big Island has the best camping in the state. Nearly three dozen parks fringe the coastline or sit deep in the interior; almost half offer camping. The parks with campgrounds are state, county, and nationally operated, ranging from remote walk-in sites to housekeeping cabins.
All require camping permits- inexpensive for the county and state parks, free for the national park. Camping permits can be obtained by calling or writing. There is usually no problem obtaining sites, when writing request reservations well in advance, allowing a minimum of one month for letters to go back and forth.
The best places we could find to camp are at the A-frame cabins at Hapuna State Park, and the tent campground at Spencer Beach County Park. Contacts are listed below. The A-frames are, well, a bit au naturel, but not bad, and right by the best beach on the island, about 22 miles north of Kona. Spencer Beach is a few miles further north than that, by a small public beach.
There is a campground high on the shoulder of Mauna Kea, but it is over an hour from Kona, and the nearest camping to the south is over an hour away. In other words, your choices are limited.
Most campgrounds have pavilions, fireplaces, toilets (sometimes pit), and running water, but usually no individual electrical hookups. Pavilions often have electric lights. Drinking water is available, but at times brackish water is used for flushing and showers, so read all signs regarding water. Cooking fires are allowed in established firepits, but no wood is provided. Charcoal is a good idea. If camping in the mountains be prepared for cold and rainy weather. You can find plenty of stores that sell, and a few stores that rent camping equipment. Make sure you call ahead to see what supplies they carry.
- Hilo Surplus Store, (808)935-6398, 148 Mamo Ave.
- Pacific Rent All, 1080 Kilauea Ave, Hilo, (808) 935-2974
- Kona Rent All, (808) 329-1644
- County Parks: Dept. of Parks & Recreation, County of Hawaii, 25 Aupuni St, Hilo, HI 96720, (808) 961-8311
- State Parks: Dept. of Land & Natural Resources, Div. of State Parks, PO Box 936, Hilo, HI 96720, (808) 974-6200
- Volcanoes Park: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718, (808)967-7321