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Where To Camp In Oahu Hawaii & How To Book A Camping Permit?

Looking to camp in Oahu? Well, in this guide we will go over everything you need to know about camping on Oahu. From the different types of campgrounds, how to apply for a permit, what facilities are provided, etc.

Oahu actually has a ton of great camping areas around the island. So whether you want to make a whole road trip around the island or just stick near the main city of Honolulu, there will be a campsite option for you.

But depending on the area, some permits are much more competitive than others and require advanced planning. While others might be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Do note, MOST campsites are closed Wednesday & Thursday. The only option for camping on Wednesdays or Thursdays is at a private campground or with backcountry permits.

So let’s dive into all the camping areas around the beautiful island of Oahu. 

This post may contain affiliate links. Disclosure policy.

Map of Where To Camp in Oahu

Camping at Oahu County Parks

Camping at Kualoa Regional Park with view of Chinaman's Hat
Camping at Kualoa Regional Park

Oahu has a wide array of County Beach Parks to camp at. But there are some challenges to camping here.  

There are only 3-day permits and 5-day permits. All County Park campgrounds are closed Wednesday & Thursday. Some are closed Monday-Thursday.

You can only book an Oahu County Park camping permit 2 weeks in advance. New camping permits become available every Friday at 5pm HST (including Holidays).

So we found applying for an Oahu County Park camping permit to be a bit risky. We had already planned our whole trip, and just had to cross our fingers that we would get lucky and get the camping area in the location we were hoping for. More details about this below. 

Each county park will have comfort stations with flushing toilets, picnic tables, sinks, and outdoor showers. 

Price To Camp in Oahu County Parks:

The permits for the county park campgrounds is either by a 3-day permit or 5-day permit. 

The cost for a 3-day permit is $32 per campsite ($10.66/night) and the cost for a 5-day permit is $52 per campsite ($10.40/night). 

No matter how many nights you stay, the cost will remain the same for the permit.

For example, if you only want to stay Sunday night at one of the 3-night camping areas, you will still have to pay $32. If you only want to stay Sunday night at one of the 5-night camping areas, you will still pay $52.

Essentially the campsite you purchased can’t be purchased by anyone else and will remain vacant until the following week when new permits become available. Maybe not the best use of a scarce resource, but that’s how it works.

Below we will divide the campgrounds into 3-day or 5-day permit categories.

Oahu County Park With 3-Night Camping Permits: 

  • Bellows Beach Park 
  • Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden (Kahua Kuou, Kahua Lehua, Kahua Nui-Makai)
  • Kalaeloa Beach Park
  • Kualoa “A” Regional Park
  • Ma‘ili Beach Park
  • Swanzy Beach Park

Oahu County Park With 5-Night Camping Permits: 

  • Hau’ula Beach park
  • Kaiaka Bay Beach Park
  • Kea’au beach park
  • Kokoloilio Beach Park
  • Kalanaina’ole Beach Park
  • Lualualei Beach Park
  • Kualoa “B” Regional Park
  • Hūnānāniho
  • Waimanalo Beach Park
campsite at Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden
Camping at Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden – Kahua Nui-Maka

County Beach Park Camping on the Southeast Side

Bellows, Waimanalo, Hūnānāniho

These are 3 beach parks located along Waimanalo Bay, thus offering great beach access. 

Bellows Field Beach Park & Hūnānāniho share the same beach. Bellow Fields is one of the most popular campgrounds and offers the most beach camping permits for the area. This park is also part of an active military training area. 

Waimanalo Beach Park is located in a local native community.

Inland County Park Camping

Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden (Kahua Kuou, Kahua Lehua, Kahua Nui-Makai)

Kahua Kuou, Kahua Lehua, Kahua Nui-Makai are all located in Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden.

Kahua Kuou is the first campsite you drive up on. It has the easiest access to the Loko Waimaluhia Reservoir. 

Next camping area is Kahua Lehua which has stunning views of the rugged lush mountains that make up the Botanical Gardens. 

Kahua Nui-Makai is the furthest camping area into the park, also offer stunning views of the massive mountain wall.

Camping is at a designated site for all 3 campgrounds. You will choose your desired site when booking your camping permit. 

County Beach Park Camping in the South 

Kalaeloa Beach Park

If you are searching for a more secluded and remote location to camp in Oahu, then Kalaeloa Beach Park can be a great place. This beach park is located on the southwest shore. It can be a great option if you have plans to check out Ewa Beach. 

County Beach Park on the North East Side 

Kualoa Regional Parks, Hau’ula, Kokoloilio, Swanzy

If you plan to visit Kualoa Ranch on the east side of the island, then camping at Kualoa Regional Park can provide quick and easy access to the ranch. Plus the views from this beach park are stunning. 

Both “A” and “B” offer similar views of the Mokoliʻi island (aka Chinaman’s Hat). 

Do note, Kualoa “A” Regional Park is closed during the summer months. 

Hau’ula Beach Park is a little close to the road, so it doesn’t quite have the solitude you might wish for when camping. But you might be able to spot Hawaiian Monk seals here. 

There is no swimming beach at Swanzy Beach Park during high tide. There becomes a small beach during low tide, but there is a lot of reef at the beach here. 

County Beach Park Camping on the West Side

Kea’au, Lualualei, Māʻili, Kalanianaʻole

Ma‘ili Beach Park can be especially great for large groups. You must contact the County office no later than 30 days in advance to get a large group camping permit. So this can be a great way to secure a campsite before the usual 2 weeks. 

Kea’au Beach Park is not the best if you are looking for a good place to camp in Oahu for swimming. There are a lot of reefs in this area, so it’s best to stay on shore. 

Most of the shoreline at Lualualei Beach Park is rock. 

County Beach Park Camping on the North Side

Kaiaka Bay Beach Park, Kalanaina’ole Beach Park

Kaiaka Bay Beach Park is the only county park beach park on the north shore. This area can be great for snorkeling. 

Kalanaina’ole Beach Park was formerly known as Nanakuli Beach Park. It is located on the west side of the island. 

Gate Closures for County Beach Park Camping:

We find gate closures to be a bit of a problem for camping in Oahu. Especially because most visitors want to maximize their time exploring the island’s beauty. But some of the gates close quite early, meaning you are stuck at the camping area from gate closure to gate open. You can’t come and go as you please. 

Jake and I kind of felt like we were imprisoned. Unable to leave for dinner or catch a sunset in a different area of the island. You are kinda just stuck at your campsite until the park opens in the morning.

So we definitely say to keep this in mind when choosing the right camp site in Oahu for you. Or a least prepare in advance for gate closures.

  • Bellows Beach Park – gates closed 8pm – 6am
  • Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Gardens – gates closed 4pm – 9am
  • Kaiaka Beach Park – gates closed 6:45pm – 7am
  • Kokololio Beach Park – gates closed 7pm – 7am
  • Kualoa Regional Park – gates closed 8pm – 7am
  • Hūnānāniho – gates closed 7:45pm – 6am

When Can you Check-in to Camp in Oahu County Parks:

Because the camping areas are closed every Wednesday & Thursday, campsite check-in becomes available every Friday. Each campsite has a different arrival time (usually between 8am-12pm), so be sure to check with the campsite you choose. 

Vehicle camping is not permitted at any county park. 

Camping at Oahu State Parks

Oahu has a wide assortment of State Park camping areas around the island. From adventurous backcountry campsites where you need to hike in and some easier ones along the public beaches that you can drive right up to. 

Do note, many of these State Park campsites are located in public hunter areas. Hikers and campers should wear bright colored clothing and exercise caution while in the area. 

List of Oahu State Parks That Allow Camping (including price):

  • Ahupua’a o Kahana State Park – $30/night ($20/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Kamananui Trail – $18/night ($12/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Kaunala Trail – $18/night ($12/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area – $30/night ($20/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Kuaokala Trail – $18/night ($12/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Kulanaahane Trail – $30/night ($20/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Kuliouou Trail – $18/night ($12/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Malaekahana State Recreation Area – $30/night ($20/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Manana Trail – $18/night ($12/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Peacock Flats Campsite A – $18/night ($12/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Peacock Flats Campsite B – $18/night ($12/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Sand Island State Recreation Area – $30/night ($20/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Waimano Trail – $18/night ($12/night for Hawaii Residents)
  • Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail – $18/night ($12/night for Hawaii Residents)

Ahupua’a o Kahana State Park

Located on the northeast shore of Oahu is Ahupua’a o Kahana State Park. 

This camping area offers easy access to beachfront tent campsites. Camp only in designated camping area. 

The Ahupuaʻa ʻo Kahana State Park camping area offers trail access to Nakoa Trail and the Kapa’ele’ele Ko’a and Keaniani Lookout.

There are restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic tables & drinking water.

Kamananui Trail

Located in the middle of the southeast part of the island is the Kamananui Trail.

This trail is essentially the “back way” to the Haiku stairs. BUT, it is illegal to climb on the stairs themselves. At the end of the Kamananui Trail, the road splits into 3 different trails: Moanalua Valley Trail, Moanalua Ridge Trail, and Kulana’ahane Trail. Follow the Moanalua Ridge Trail for the best views up on the ridge. 

This trail is a challenging 9.2mi (14.8km) with 2,998 ft (913m) elevation change. 

Overnight parking can be a challenge for this area. But there should be legal parking in the nearby neighborhood. 

There are no designated campsites for this trail. Camping is allowed anywhere along the trail, except for the “Education Forest Project Site.”

There are restrooms and drinking water located at the trailhead. But no restrooms or potable water is available along the trail or at the campsite. There is a running stream, so you can filter water once at the campsite. 

Kaunala Trail

Located on the north part of Oahu, is Kaunala Trail. The trail is a loop hike that stretches 5.2 mi (8.5km) with 1,204 ft (366m) elevation change. The trail can be muddy and slippery in sections. 

There are no designated campsites for this trail. Camping is allowed anywhere along the trail. There are picnic tables but no drinking water or restrooms. 

Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area

Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area is located north of Waikiki, in the middle of the southeast part of the island. 

This area is a sacred medicinal or healing area known as a heiau ho’ola. It is covered in groves of Norfolk Pines and Eucalyptus Trees. 

There are restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic tables and drinking water.

Kuaokala Trail 

On the west side of Oahu is the Kuaokala Trail. A four-wheel drive vehicle is needed to get to the trailhead of this hike.

The hike is an out & back trail that is 4.7 miles (7.5km) with 1,049 ft (319m) elevation change. The route traverses a ridge offering beautiful views.

There are no designated campsites for this trail. Camping is allowed anywhere along the trail. Although there is a trail shelter, which is a great option for campers to stay for the night. 

There are picnic tables but no drinking water or restrooms. 

Kulanaahane Trail 

A challenging, yet beautiful hike, just North of Waikiki in the Moanalua Valley is the Kulanaahane Trail. In order to reach this trail start you must hike the Kamananui Valley Road. 

The hike is an out and back and runs 10.5 mi (16.8km) with 2,001 ft (608m) round trip. This trail crosses the stream 28 times, so make sure you are prepared to get your feet wet. 

Definitely, don’t do this hike if there is heavy rain in the forecast. Flash floods are a serious danger for this hike. 

There are no designated campsites for this trail. Camping is allowed anywhere along the trail. 

There are no facilities for this camping area. As previously mentioned, there is a non-potable stream that you can filter for drinking water. Use something like the Platypus Gravity Works Filter. (Read our full review on this backcountry water filter).

Kuliouou Trail

The Kuliouou Trail trail is located on the southeast side of the island. The hike is 4.7 mi (7.5km) with 1650ft (502m) elevation change. The view from the top of the ridge looks down on Waimanalo.

There are no designated campsites for this trail. Camping is allowed anywhere along the trail. Although there is a trail shelter, which is a great option for campers to stay for the night. 

There are picnic tables along the trail but no restrooms or potable water. 

Malaekahana State Recreation Area

Located on the north shore of Oahu is the Malaekahana State Recreation Area. Camping is wooded here, but offers a nice sandy beach.

Camping is only available Friday through Wednesday, closed on Thursday nights.

There is a gate closure at this beach park, no one will be allowed in or out during those times. 

  • Summer (April 1 through Labor Day): 7:45 pm – 7am
  • Winter (Labor Day through March 31): 6:45 pm – 7am

There are restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic tables, and drinking water available. Tent camping is available anywhere in the designated camping area.

Manana Trail

Located in the middle of Oahu in the Ewa Forest Reserve, is Manana Trail. The trail is 6.9 mi (11.1km) with 1,414 ft (431m) elevation change. This hike climbs up the Manana Ridge offering stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and hills.

There are no designated campsites for this trail. Camping is allowed anywhere along the trail. Although there is a trail shelter, which is a great option for campers to stay for the night. 

There are picnic tables located along the trail, but no restrooms or drinking water. 

Peacock Flats Campsite A & B

Peacock Flats Campsite A can only be accessed by 4wd vehicle. The camping area is located on the northwest part of Oahu in the Mokuleia Forest Reserve.

This area provides access to the Mokeleia Trail.

Camping is in a designated trail shelter. There are restrooms and picnic tables, but no drinking water available. 

Sand Island State Recreation Area

A popular campsite if you are trying to stay near Honolulu is Sand Island State Recreation Area. But it is currently closed due to sewer repairs. No additional information has been provided for when it will reopen.

Waimano Trail

In the middle of the island of Oahu you will encounter Waimano Trail.

The trail splits into two different trails: Upper & Lower. This section can be done as a loop. But if you are looking to get deep into the backcountry, you will want to connect with the Upper Waimano Ridge Trail. The trail extends 16.6 mi (26.7km) with 3,956 ft (1205m) elevation change (roundtrip) to the Ko`olau summit.

There are no designated campsites for this trail. Camping is allowed anywhere along the trail. 

There are picnic tables, but no restrooms or drinking water available. 

Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail

Located on the southeast section of Oahu in the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve is the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail.

The trail is 4.7 miles (7.5km) with 1617 ft (492m) elevation change. This trail leads up to the HECO tower. Then, pass by this tower to reach the Koolau summit offering stunning views of Waimanalo.

There are no designated campsites for this trail. Camping is allowed anywhere along the trail. 

There are picnic tables, but no restrooms or drinking water available. 

Private Campgrounds on Oahu

Aerial View of Malaekahana Beach Campground
Aerial View of Malaekahana Beach Campground

If you are looking to camp in Oahu, then private campgrounds are another great option. Private campgrounds can often be booked way further in advance. But they also might cost more per night and offer different facilities. 

List of Private Camps in Oahu

  • Malaekahana Beach Campground (starting at $9.41 per person/night)
  • Camp Pālehua ($50/night for up to 2 people – Additional guests are $20)
  • Camp Mokule’ia ($15 per person/night)
  • Camp Erdman (inquire within)

Malaekahana Beach Campground

girl in hammock with camping tent at Malaekahana Beach Campground
Our campsite at Malaekahana Beach Campground

On Oahu’s north shore is the Malaekahana Beach Campground. This campground offers tent camping, vehicle camping, and plantation suites. 

Tent camping is all along the beach, but on higher ground. Sites are pretty close together but offer easy access to the ocean frontage.

Vehicle camping is in a designated camping area at the north part of the campground. This area is not suited for extra large vehicles or large RV’s. 

For the plantation accommodation, you can rent a Plantation Hale which can sleep up to 4 guests. A Plantation Hut doesn’t have electricity or plumbing. 

Or you can rent a Plantation Suite which can also accommodate up to 4 people, and has electricity and plumbing. 

If you are traveling with a large group, they also have the Tutu’s Hale Pavilion Package which can accommodate up to 20 people. It’s essentially a small community section with 5 Plantation Hale Huts. 

They have a small camp store located in the office. They also offer surf lessons, so be sure to sign up in advance if that activity is of interest. 

Book a campsite at Malaekahana Beach Campground

Camp Pālehua

Camp Pālehua was formerly known as Camp Timberline. This camp is located on the southwest side of the island. 

Camp Pālehua is not your traditional campground. They provide environmental education, cultural preservation, and outdoor adventure all in one package. This area is often used for group experiences on the island, but they also offer packages for individuals. 

They offer 3 different tent camping areas which costs $50/night. There is also a designated area for vehicle camping.

They also offer hales and bunkhouses. Bunkhouses start at $25/person and Hales cost up to $330/night. Each unit can host different amounts of guests. 

A gate is closed every night from 10pm-8am.

The application process is a bit different than other camping areas. You will need to apply via email and they will reach back out whether or not those dates are available. Then, you will need to decide what activities you might be interested in doing on-site. 

Book a site at Camp Pālehua

Camp Mokule’ia

Camp Mokule’ia is an Episcopal Camp and Retreat Center located on the west side of Oahu’s north shore. 

They offer both tent camping sites and tentalos. Each camping area can hold anywhere from 10-30 guests. Each tentalo can hold up to 4 guests. 

Camp Mokuleia is a great place for large groups to come. There are tons of outdoor activities that can create team bonding. Including a fun ropes course. 

The application process for this camp in Oahu is operated a bit differently. You can email the company and see if the date and sites you want are available. They will reach back out whether or not they are available and walk you further through the process. 

Book a site at Camp Mokuleia

Camp Erdman

Another private campground on Oahu is Camp Erdman. This campground is run by the YMCA. It’s often a summer camping opportunity for kids and teens that offer tons of different outdoor adventure camps. 

Such as surf camp, horse camp, adventure camp, climbing camp, resilience camp, and Ike Hawaii cultural camp.

While this isn’t a traditional camping option to camp in Oahu, but if you are traveling with your kids or as a large family you could sign up for one of their fun adventures or retreat camps. 

They also have glamping yurts, which could potentially be rented out to individual campers if it is available for your date. So reach out to them for opportunities to camp in Oahu. 

Inquire about booking a site at Camp Erdman

Glamping and Luxury Camping on Oahu

If rustic camping isn’t quite your style, no worries, as Oahu has some awesome glamping and luxury camping opportunities. 

If you don’t know what glamping is, it stands for glamorous camping. It’s a step above your basic tent and sleeping pad, often upgrading your experience to a more robust shelter, real beds, and other creature comforts.

Here are some examples of Glamping on Oahu:

  • North Shore Ranch – This unique glamping experience provides a yurt on the north shore of Oahu. They provide everything you need from a 16ft Bell yurt tent, queen bed, linens, porta potty, solar power, etc. It’s remote, but still just a short drive to the town of Haleiwa.
  • Sun Farm Hawaii @ Koko Head – Located on a farm on the east side of the island are some glamping yurts for rent. The yurts are more basic, but come equipped with all your camping essentials. There is a communal kitchen, plus surfboards and mopeds for rent. 
  • Country Container – This country container is a unique glamping opportunity in Haleiwa. You won’t find a thin-walled tent here, but rather a small tiny home in a shipping container. Everything you need from a bed, kitchen, toilet, shower, this place as it all packed up in a tiny home. 

Check Hipcamp for more glamping options or Glamping Hub for some luxury camping.

Or we sometimes use websites like VRBO or Airbnb to find unique glamping opportunities around the island of Oahu. 

Vehicle Camping on Oahu

Hawaii has some strict rules against vehicle camping. It is prohibited to sleep in a vehicle on public property in Hawaii from 6pm-6am

But if you are at a private campground or on private property, then sleeping in a vehicle is permitted. 

Rent a campervan from a local on Outdoorsy or RVezy

What To Expect When You Camp in Oahu:

Aerial View of Malaekahana Beach Campground
Aerial View of Malaekahana Beach Campground

A Little Bit Run Down

Many campsites in Oahu have facilities that are really basic and less than pristine. Be prepared for facilities and bathrooms that are dirty, lacking soap/sanitizer, and in need of some fixing up.

We highly suggest you bring or purchase your own bottle of hand soap.

Homeless People

Oahu is the most populated island of the Hawaiian Islands. And sadly, the high price of living on this island brings homelessness. Many of these beach parks have become encampments for people who have fallen on hard times (especially after the covid pandemic).

You will most likely be sharing these campgrounds with permit-less campers (aka the homeless). It’s best to avoid setting up your tent directly next to them if there is space available.

You can usually read recent reviews online to see if a certain campground has issues.

Always follow your gut, if you feel unsafe, leave the area and find somewhere else to stay.


Theft is a common occurrence on the island. Don’t leave any valuables unattended. If you can’t always bring your valuables with you, be sure to tuck them away, not visible to others.

This is a logistical challenge when camping in Hawaii, because you likely have extra gear compared to someone staying in a hotel.

If you are renting a car, we suggest getting a sedan so you can hide your belongings in the trunk.

We definitely don’t want to scare you away from camping in Oahu, but just to be aware that these things are going on. We have read reviews from fellow campers who have not had as great of an experience.

Jake and I camped all around many islands in Hawaii and had mixed results. We never had problems with violence or theft. But we did experience some “not great vibes” moments that caused us to keep extra watch over our stuff.

In Oahu specifically, we did see some large encampments that seem to have been set up for many days to months.

The safest campgrounds in Oahu tend to be the ones that have gate closures during the night. This often keeps the campers who don’t hold a legal camping permit out. But, you should still proceed with caution.

Private campgrounds also tend to be the safest campgrounds too because they have security guards and hosts that actually check the permits. 

Takeaway | Best Places To Camp in Oahu Hawaii

Finding places to camp in Oahu can be the easy part as there are tons of camping areas around the island. But finding the right campground for you can be a whole nother challenge.

When choosing the best campsites on Oahu, be sure to keep in mind the gate closures, location, days of operation, and read recent reviews of the area. And remember most campsites are closed Wednesday and Thursday.

If you are traveling in a camper van, then we suggest picking a private campground. But tent campers are free to choose whatever place they want on the island. And campsites are the most affordable places to camp in Oahu.

Also, if you like to plan in advance and have everything booked well in advance for a camping trip, then Oahu makes that quite a challenge. For planning in advance, we suggest choosing private campgrounds so you can secure a reservation well in advance.

Oahu does have some cheaper accommodation options, so maybe mix in a hotel or a vacation rental if you aren’t on a strict budget.

We hope this guide for camping in Oahu provides you with everything you need to have the best camping trip on the island!

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