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Camping & Wilderness Cabins

If you plan to camp, you’ll need to bring your own gear; there aren’t places on the island to rent equipment.  

The best places to camp on Oahu are listed below. TheBus’s Circle Island route can get you to or near all these sites, but remember: On TheBus, you’re allowed only one bag, which has to fit under the seat. If you have more gear, you’re going to have to drive or take a cab.

The Windward Coast

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden ★—This little-known windward campground outside Kaneohe is a real treasure. It’s hard to believe that it’s just half an hour from downtown Honolulu. The name Hoomaluhia, or “peace and tranquility,” accurately describes this 400-acre botanical garden at the foot of the jagged Koʻolau Range. In this lush setting, gardens are devoted to plants specific to tropical America, native Hawaii, Polynesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Africa. A 32-acre lake sits in the middle of the scenic park (no swimming or boating allowed), and there are numerous hiking trails. The visitor center offers free guided walks Saturday at 10am and Sunday at 1pm (call 808/233-7323 to register).

Facilities for this tent-camp area include restrooms, cold showers, dishwashing stations, picnic tables, and water. Shopping and gas are available in Kaneohe, 2 miles away. Stays are limited to 3 nights, from 9am Friday to 4pm Monday only. Reserve a campsite up to 2 weeks in advance at camping.honolulu.gov. Permits are $32, valid for the entire weekend (Fri–Sun). To get here from Waikiki, take H-1 to the Pali Highway (Hwy. 61); turn left on Kamehameha Highway (Hwy. 83); and at the fourth light, turn left on Luluku Road. TheBus nos. 55 and 65 stop nearby on Kamehameha Highway; from here, you’ll have to walk 2 miles to the visitor center.

Kahana Bay Beach Park ★—Lying under Tahiti-like cliffs, with a beautiful gold-sand crescent beach framed by pine-needle casuarina trees, Kahana Bay Beach Park is a place of serene beauty. You can swim, bodysurf, fish, hike, and picnic or just sit and listen to the trade winds whistle through the beach pines (and sometimes, cars—the campsite is along Kamehameha Highway).

Facilities include restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic tables, and drinking water. Note: The restrooms are located at the north end of the beach, far away from the camping area.

Permits can be obtained at camping.ehawaii.gov for $18 a night. Camping is only allowed from Friday through Wednesday.

Kahana Bay Beach Park is set in the 52-222 block of Kamehameha Highway (Hwy. 83) in Kahana. From Waikiki, take the H-1 west to the Likelike Highway (Hwy. 63). Continue north on the Likelike, through the Wilson Tunnel, turning left on Hwy. 83; Kahana Bay is 13 miles down the road on the right. You can also get here via TheBus no. 55.

The North Shore

Mālaekahana Bay State Recreation Area ★★—This is one of the most beautiful beach-camping areas in the state, with a mile-long, gold-sand beach on Oahu’s North Shore. During low tide, you can wade/swim out to Goat Island, a sanctuary for seabirds and turtles. There are two areas for tent camping. Facilities include picnic tables, restrooms, showers, sinks, and drinking water. For your safety, the park gate is closed between 6:45pm and 7am; vehicles cannot enter or exit during those hours. Groceries and gas are available in Laie and Kahuku, each less than a mile away.

Permits are $18 a night and available at camping.ehawaii.gov. Camping is limited to Friday through Wednesday.

The recreation area is located on Kamehameha Highway (Hwy. 83) between Laie and Kahuku. Take the H-2 to Hwy. 99 to Hwy. 83 (both roads are called Kamehameha Hwy.); continue on Hwy. 83, just past Kahuku. You can also get here via TheBus no. 55.

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.