Oahu is the most populous island in the Hawaiian archipelago and most visitors choose Oahu as their vacation destination. There are many hotels and vacation homes and condos all over Oahu, but equally, there are many areas where you can simply pitch your tent and enjoy sleeping under the stars.
If you plan to camp on Oahu, no matter if at a state or county site, you will need to obtain a camping permit in advance.
Camping at a Hawaii state park on Oahu
All state campsites on Oahu are administered by the Hawaii DLNR, State Parks. They prefer that all reservations are made on their online portal, which is located at: www.hawaiistateparks.org/camping/oahu.cfm (see the button “Online Reservations” in the top left corner on their website). You can make your reservation no more than 30 days in advance (unlike for campsites on the other Hawaiian islands where you can reserve up to one year in advance). There are other special rules that apply for Oahu only. Camping in state parks is not available on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and Sand Island State Park is only open to camping on weekends (Friday through Sunday nights).
Here is a list of all state campsites on Oahu:
Ahupuaa o Kahana State Park: A popular campground is the Ahupuaa O Kahana State Park. It is the only Ahupuaa or land division that connects the ocean to the mountains that is owned by the state. It boasts hiking trails, archaeological sites and a prehistoric fishpond. 10 campsites are available.
Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area: Covering an area of 384 acres, the Keaiwa Heaiau State Recreation Area has a camping area, picnic tables and the popular Aiea Loop hiking trail. There are also covered pavilions and barbecue grills. 4 campsites are available.
Malaekahana State Recreation Area: (see photos) Located on 110 acres with shady ironwood trees and a sandy beach. The campground has picnic tables, outdoor showers and phones. 37 campsites are available.
Malaekahana Beach Campground: Privately managed. This the safest campground on Oahu. It has staff on site and a gated entrance. The campground has 26 tent camp sites, 5 vehicle camp sites, 40 plantation huts and 4 plantation suites. Fees vary for each type of accommodation. A tent site costs $9.41 per person per night, a plantation hale costs $58.82 per night and a plantation suite costs $117.65 per night. There is also a group camping section that can accommodate up to 20 campers. In addition to the camp sites, there are hot outdoor showers, fire pits at each camp site and a food truck where one can purchase breakfast and lunch. To make a reservation at this campground, you have to contact them directly at (808) 262-3628.
Sand Island State Recreation Area: The 102-acre Sand Island is the only camp site in urban Honolulu, overlooking Honolulu Harbor. 35 campsites are available.
Here is an overview of the state campsite fees:
Hawaii residents: $12 per campsite per night for up to 6 persons; $2 per night for each additional person*. Maximum fee per site: $20/night.
Camping at City and County of Honolulu campsites
Non-residents: $18 per campsite per night for up to 6 persons; $3 per night for each additional person*. Maximum fee per site: $30/night.
*Children 2 and under free.
To get a camping permit for one of the City and County of Honolulu campsites online, visit https://camping.honolulu.gov
Camping permits may also be obtained in person at the DPR Permits office on the ground floor of the Fasi Municipal building at 650 South King Street in Honolulu.
Here is a list of all City and County of Honolulu campsites:
Bellows Field Beach Park: 50 campsites – 3 day campground
Hauula Beach Park: 8 campsites – 5 day campground
Kahua Kuou (Hoomaluhia): 8 campsites – 3 day campground
Kahua Lehua (Hoomaluhia): 6 campsites – 3 day campground
Kahua Nui Makai (Hoomaluhia): 15 campsites – 3 day campground
Kaiaka Bay Beach Park: 7 campsites – 5 day campground
Kalaeloa Beach Park: 13 campsites – 3 day campground
Keaau Beach Park: 25 campsites – 5 day campground
Kokololio Beach Park: 5 campsites – 5 day campground
Kualoa A Regional Park: 7 campsites – 3 day campground
Kualoa B Regional Park: 14 campsites – 5 day campground
Lualualei Beach Park: 6 campsites – 5 day campground
Maili Beach Park: 12 campsites – 3 day campground
Nanakuli Beach Park: 11 campsites – 5 day campground
Swanzy Beach Park: 9 campsites – 3 day campground
Waimanalo Bay Beach Park: 10 campsites – 5 day campground
Waimanalo Beach Park: 19 campsites – 5 day campground
Here is an overview of the City and County of Honolulu campsite fees:
If you plan to stay at a 3-day campground, the fee is $32. The fee for a 5-day campground is $52. These are flat fees. You pay this no matter if you plan to stay for just 1 night or for the entire time (3 or 5 days). The fee is per campsite. Each campsite is for up to 10 people. Camping always begins on Friday starting at 5 pm and extends through the weekend ending on either Monday at 8 am (3 days) or Wednesday at 8 am (5 days).
Some rules and tips for your camping trip
Keep in mind that campfires and bonfires are illegal on all public beaches and parks in Hawaii. For cooking you may only use above-ground barbecue grills, but they have to be at least 12 inches off the ground. If you are planning to camp during a holiday weekend, it is a good idea to make your reservation early. You can obtain a permit two Fridays prior to the Friday you want to camp at 5 pm (HST).