Camping Maui: The Guide to Camping on Maui Hawaii [UPDATED June 2019]
One of the best ways to enjoy Maui is to go out into nature and camp. Camping on Maui Hawaii lets you experience the beauty of the island and wake up to the smell of ocean breeze and the sound of rushing waterfalls (after a quick hike).
There are some things that would be good to bring if you plan to spend any or a lot of time camping on Maui and read on for more info on what I would bring when I camp.
Where to Camp on Maui?
When driving around on Maui, you'll probably see a bunch of cars just pulled off on to the beach with tents and cars out for camping. While you may or may not run into trouble doing that, it's not something you're supposed to do without a permit.
To camp on the beach, you're supposed to get a permit from the State of Hawaii and I'll put a link on how and where to do that later on in the article.
So the question is: Where Can I do some Maui camping?
Maui has some official campsites, all of which you have to pay a small fee to use nightly but it's worth it to camp in such a beautiful place. Comparatively, it's a lot less expensive than staying in a resort and probably an Airbnb too.
On the west side of Maui, the best place to camp is Camp Olowalu. You can rent out cabins, yurts or a spot in their campground for you to pitch a tent.
Waianapanapa State Park
Home to the black sand beach on Maui, Waianapanapa State Park is a great place to camp. They have cabins for rent and a campground as well. If you want to stay in the cabins, be sure to book ahead of time because they book up early and I don't believe you can book them within a few days of the date of camping.
The Waianapanapa State Park cabins are in great condition and make it easy to camp. You don't have to worry about having or setting up a tent, and you're right there in one of the most beautiful parts of Maui.
Maui's black sand beach is one of the best sights to see, and I definitely recommend checking it out.
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park also has campgrounds and cabins that you can reserve. If you're up for doing a little hiking, you can head into the crater of the dormant volcano to camp. If you're looking to make a camping trip out of your time on Maui, this is probably the best camping spot you will find in Maui.
The shortest hike to the campgrounds in the crater is four miles, so you'll have to pack and carry whatever you want to have while camping that entire way, and there's no other way out other than hiking so plan on an 8-mile hike, at least.
Kipahulu, known as the Seven Sacred Pools
Kipahulu, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools, has a camp ground where you can pitch a tent. You don't have to do any hiking to camp here. You can drive right up to your camp site and set up without having to worry about packing anything in for miles.
Poli Poli is on the side of Haleakala, Maui's dormant volcano. To get to the official campgrounds, you will need a 4WD vehicle as the road gets rough as you get closer to the cabins. You'll have to reserve these ahead of time too, which you can do here.
For more resources on camping on Maui, check out this blog:
Where to Get Camping Permit on Maui?
For all Maui camping permit info, head over here:
Specifically, for permit applications:
For camping rules:
When to Camp on Maui?
Camping in the winter is a different beast than camping in the summer on Maui.
The winter months tend to be wetter and colder and while you may not thing Maui and Hawaii will be cold, you would regret being unprepared if you find yourself soaked in a rain storm or frozen in the snow of Haleakala (we get snow sometimes).
Summer is a great time to camp. It tends to be warmer, less wet, no snow (which you would only have to worry about on Haleakala) and you would have more sun and daylight.
How to Camp on Maui?
Tent camping is the number one way to go on Maui. If you don't want to make camping on Maui illegal, you need t0 get a permit to camp which you can find here.
It's a great way to wake up to the smell of sea breeze and the sound of the crashing waves on the beach. Keep scrolling down for a list of things that will come in handy for camping on Maui.
If you don't want to worry about bring or renting a tent, you can always just throw up a hammock between a couple of trees. If you go this route, you still need a permit to camp legally.
You will also want to make sure to get a hammock with a bug net and/or have bug repellant nearby. It would also be a good idea to have a bag that you can secure with a lock or at least a bell, in case someone tries to swipe anything while you're camping. Maui has had a prominent homeless population in the past.
Hammock camping is usually fine for a night or two, but I don't recommend it for an extended amount of time or for a camping-focused trip.
Another great way to camp on Maui, cabin camping takes a lot of the planning and effort out of camping on Maui.
Many of the cabins are very well taken care of and has plenty of room for multiple people.
You don't have to worry about pitching a tent or leaving your stuff out in the open and you can focus on the Maui instead of thinking about the logistics of camping like pitching a tent and bug-proofing your hammock and tent.
If you go this route, you need to reserve the cabins far ahead time. Since this is a popular way to do it, the reservations book up really early (think 3-6 months ahead time). If you don't book them early, you'll have to be really lucky to snag a reservation. I wouldn't plan on that if I were you though.
You will likely see vans set up on the beaches for camping all over the place. Surfers come down to live in their vans so that they can just park their home after waking up, spend the day surfing and then just drive to their next spot.
You can find websites that offer vans to rent like https://www.thesweetestway.com/westfalia-camping-maui/.
This can be a great route to go if you're looking for a surfing trip but if you're not used to this type of camping, you may want to have a fallback.
Rooftop Tent Camping
Much like van camping, you find normal cars that have a rooftop tent on the racks on top. The Tepui tents are very high quality and very comfortable to sleep in, with memory foam mattress built in.
You can essentially drive up, pop up the tent on top of your car and you're good to go. Putting the tent away is just as easy and you don't have to worry about rolling anything up and stowing anything away.
You can find these on Turo.com, where people rent out their own personal cars to rent. People generally take care of their own vehicles and you can save money doing it this way because you don't have to worry about the rental car companies' miscellaneous fees.
It's just about as easy as camping gets.
What to Bring when Camping in Maui?
In our infographic, we mentioned three things you would want to bring when camping: A hammock with a bug nut, bug repellent and a good insulated water bottle. I'll go over those and a few more things that I would bring if I were you when camping in Hawaii.
Camping List for Maui
Hammocks are an awesome way to relax on Maui. Great for hanging out on the beach, great for camping.
If it's not raining out, having a hammock could be a better way to spend the night than in a tent, especially if you have one that has a built in bug net.
You can also get a rainfly for the hammock so that if it is raining, you don't have to worry about getting soaked in the middle of the night.
Hammocks are much more compact than tents could be the deal maker or breaker.
If you brought all of your camping supplies to Maui, you may as well just stay on island ;). It's always hard deciding what to put in your luggage before your travel, but I don't think you'll regret bringing your hammock since it can pack into the corner of your bag and doesn't weigh much.
One of my highest recommendations, make sure you have some bug repellent.
Not having bug repellent is a very quick way to have a long, non-enjoyable weekend.
I like this one specifically because it's super small and lightweight, it only takes a few drops to keep the bugs away and this little bottle will last you forever.
I've had mine for years since you only need to use a few drops. It's made completely from a mixture of essential oils.
Water and a good water bottle are musts when camping and coming to Maui.
Yeti's are known to be one of the highest quality and durable water containers around.
I have friends that have taken the Yeti cooler on rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. They froze a layer of water on the bottom before they left and by the time they came back two weeks later, the water had melted but it was still cold.
It almost seems magical.
I would definitely recommend the Yeti but if you have a Hydroflask or another insulated water bottle already, stick with that if you like it.
Yeti gets my thumbs up, though.
For camping and hiking on Maui, I wouldn't worry about having a purification source like a Lifestraw.
On longer hikes, like the Na Pali Coast Trail on Kauai, you could be out in the wilderness for up to 5 days if you have the longest permit.
It's harder to pack and carry enough water for 5 days, but you could easily bring a water purifying device like the Lifestraw or Sawyer Filtration Straw.
Maui has less of a use for purification devices like that, they're a good thing to have for longer hikes or more wilderness-centric trips.
If you're going for my favorite tent, check out the MSR Hubba Hubba.
It's lightweight, compact and sets up in seconds.
It only has one frame which makes everything less complicated and you can go from no tent to tent in minutes.
It's everything you could want in an ultralight tent.
This one fits three people, but they have a smaller model that fits two.
Another great option is the MIER Ultralight Tent.
It's less expensive than the MSR Hubba Hubba and comes with a rainfly.
It's big enough for 1-2 people and is a solidly built tent. Also, being an ultralight ten, it's lightweight and great for travelling and packing when every ounce counts.
A lot of times you have to compromise when it comes to ultralight products. It's hard to find the balance between little weight and size versus effectiveness and warmth, in the case of a sleeping bag.
This little beast is a great option for Maui. It's small enough to fit in a carry-on and works great in non-freezing temperature.
I have a stash of four of these that I keep in the corner of my closet, in case I have visitors coming and we want to go on a spur of the moment camp-out.
They're also great gifts (which was also part of the intention for my extra three sleeping bags, just in case I forgot some sort of special occasion).
Most of the people I know and am likely to give a gift to like to spend time in the outdoors.
This sleeping bag is one of those gems that isn't super expensive but works really well.
This Milwaukee headlamp is a must-have addition to my list.
Flashlights and headlamps are a must and I keep a headlamp in my backpack at all times. I also keep one in my car.
This headlamp is rechargeable, water resistant and tiny. It takes up half the space some of the other more popular headlamps fill up.
On top of its small size, it packs a punch with its 475-lumen rating. It will illuminate everything you'll need it to.
Headlamps are the best option when it comes to camping or any situation where you would potentially need a light. You can keep your hands free so you can do whatever it is that you need to do.
You can't really ask for more with this headlamp.
Whether or not you want to bring a knife to Maui, trust me, you want to consider this knife for your personal camping kit or go bag.
If you spend any amount of time near the water, this is the best knife for you.
I know a lot of people with boats and who work on boats and they all swear by this knife.
This Spyderco-brand knife is called the Pacific Salt and it will not rust. My sailor friend who is in the ocean daily says he always has this on him, never washes it and it's as rust-free as the day he bought it.
There are a few different models of this knife; some have a pointed tip, some have a rounded tip for safety, some have a fixed blade.
But I will say this again, if you are ever around the water for any amount of time, you will not find a better knife than this.
Nothing special about the different paracords online. Some say they're a little stronger than others, but there's probably not enough of a difference that it merits getting one brand over the other.
If I were you, I would go with the least expensive brand because all paracords will do the same job.
That being said, paracord always comes in handy: whether it's tying something up when you're camping, to hanging your clothes, to tying your broken backpack up, to repairing old sandals and shoelaces.
They call it 550 paracord because it can hold up to 550 pounds.
I was hiking once and part of my flip flop broke. I had another 5 miles to go on the hike and I would either have to walk it in one sandal, barefoot or figure something out. I grabbed a little paracord I had tied to my backpack and fashioned up a new strap for my sandal and it's still holding today.
Paracord always will have a use and you realize it over and over when something breaks.
If you want to support an American company, go with these guys.
I would get the snacks at Costco, if I were you.
I talked about the benefits of Costco on the homepage, but it's something you will definitely want to think about.
Everything now requires batteries. Your phone, books (eReaders), flashlights, your car.
This solar battery pack is the best battery pack you will find for camping. It has a built-in solar charger and you can charge it by setting it out in the sun.
Of course, you can charge it by plugging it into an AC outlet as well if you one around.
This particular battery has a capacity of 25000 mAH. To put that in perspective, most phones have a 2000 – 3000 mAh capacity. Because of this, it could possibly charge your phone up to 8 – 10 tens on a single charge.
It takes a while to get to a full charge if you're only charging it by sunlight, but it will eventually get there if you didn't have another power source.
This battery pack is also water resistant, so you don't have to worry about it breaking if you get caught in the rain.
If you want peace of mind and a back up in case your phone dies or whatever other electronics you have need a charge, buy this battery pack.
I always bring a book or an eReader with me wherever I go. It gives you something to do if you have downtime and gives you a chance to always be learning.
I like the new Amazon Kindles because they are waterproof.
eReaders of all kinds also can hold a charge for up to a month because it doesn't take much to power the eReader screen.
Brings your books with you with an eReader.
It's always a good idea to be prepared. It rains a lot on Maui, especially in the majority of the places you're allowed to camp at.
Having a rain jacket could spare you from a long, cold night. You'll probably want to bring one anyway if you're going up Haleakala for sunrise or for any reason.
I would bring one that's easy to pack and that's water resistant. Chances are, you already own one.
I have this one. It's waterproof with Goretex, it packs away really nicely and it's warm enough that it can be used for just about any nasty weather that Maui could throw at you.
These chairs are small enough that they wouldn't make too much of a dent to your packing space.
If you're carrying a backpack, you could even hang one off of the pack hand with a carabiner or tie it on with some paracord.
They are super light, fold into a package not much larger than a soda bottle and make it so you don't have to sit on the ground when you're taking a load off.
They also work great on the beach, but if you use them there, it might help to put something under their feet. I've used an empty coke can before. That way, they don't sink into the sand.
On top of my list found at my homepage, I've included some camping-specific items on this page.
Whether or not you want to pack these additional items is up to you. I like to travel lighter and some of these camping items are lighter.
The items on this page are ones that I own and have tried. They work great for me on Maui and they will probably work great most other places but unless you're bringing a big checked bag or multiple carry-ons, you may not want to bring all of this stuff.
Going camping though?
These are definitely good items to have.