Camping is available at 10 county beach parks, eight state parks and reserves, a few private campgrounds, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
I don’t recommend the county parks, due to noise at popular sites (such as Spencer Beach, and security concerns at more remote ones (such as Punaluu Beach ). All county campsites require permits, which must be purchased in advance, and cost $20 per night per person for nonresidents (http://hawaiicounty.ehawaii.gov; tel. 808/961-8311).
The most desirable state campsites are at Hapuna Beach , which has six A-frame screened shelters with wooden sleeping platforms and a picnic table, plus communal restrooms and cold showers. Nonresidents pay $50 per shelter per night for permits; purchase at least a week in advance. Kiholo State Park Reserve offers tent camping in a kiawe grove on a pebbly beach, with portable toilets; nonresidents pay $18 per campsite per night (http://camping.ehawaii.gov; tel. 808/961-9540).
Now that a local “Aloha Patrol” provides security, the privately run campground at Hookena Beach Park in South Kona is one more option for those really wanting to pitch a tent by the waves. Reservations, though recommended, are not required; campsites cost $21 per person per night for ages 13 and older and $20 for younger campers (www.hookena.org; tel. 808/328-7321). You can also rent camping stoves, tables, and chairs.
In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park , the only campground accessible by car is Namakanipaio, which has 10 cabins and 16 campsites managed by Volcano House (www.hawaiivolcanohouse.com, tel. 866/536-7972 or 808/441-7750). The recently refurbished one-room cabins sleep four apiece, with bed linens and towels provided, grills, and a community restroom with hot showers; the cost is $80 a night. Tent campers have access to restrooms but not showers; sites cost $15 a night, on a first-come, first-served basis, with a seven-night maximum stay. Backpack camping is allowed at seven remote areas, some with shelters and cabins, but you must register first at the Backcountry Office (www.nps.gov/havo; tel. 808/985-6178), no more than one day in advance.
Note: There are no places to rent camping gear on the island, but you can buy some at the Hilo Surplus Store, 148 Mamo St., Hilo (www.hilosurplusstore.com; tel. 808/935-6398), or in one of the island’s big-box stores such as Kmart, 74-5456 Kamaka Eha Ave., Kailua-Kona (tel. 808/326-2331).
Island RV & Safari Activities (www.islandrv.com; tel. 800/406-4555 or 808/334-0464) offers weekly rentals of a 22-foot, class-C motor home, which sleeps up to four, for $2,400. Included in the package are airport pickup, all linens, barbecue grill, county park permits, a last night in a hotel, and help with itinerary planning; vehicle-only weekly rentals for a 20-foot, class-B motorhome are $1,400. Note: Hawaii state and national parks do not allow RV camping.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.