I have camped in multiple states across the U.S. and Hawaii is by far my favorite state that I have camped in. There’s nothing quite like sleeping under millions of stars while hearing waves crashing or the rainforest in the background. Camping in Maui does come with its hurdles, but it is totally worth it in the end.
I will be going through everything you need to know about camping in Maui, from where the best campgrounds are to how to legally camp in Maui. The county is pretty strict on its camping regulations, but if you follow this guide, you’ll have a hassle-free vacation camping in Maui.
Is it Legal to Camp Anywhere in Maui?
You can not camp just anywhere in Maui. There are designated areas where you can camp, and you will need a permit to do so. Permits are super easy to get by visiting a permit office and are very affordable for residents. You can also find official campgrounds, but you will most likely need a reservation.
Can You Camp For Free in Maui?
There are no free campsites in Maui. The most affordable campsites are in Haleakala National Park, state park campgrounds, and county campgrounds. Keep in mind that county campgrounds are only budget-friendly for residents. Non-Hawaii residents will pay a lot more for a county camping spot.
Getting a Camping Permit in Maui
To legally camp in Maui, you will need a camping permit. The camping permits are for designated camping spots, and you can find them in Haleakala National Park, the state parks, and county parks. Below I’ll go over the details of getting a camping permit in Maui.
How Much It Costs
Besides being one of the most beautiful places to camp in the world, one of the reasons that most people decide to camp in Maui is to save a little bit of money on their trip. Whether you are a Hawaii resident or not, staying at one of these campgrounds may be more beneficial to you than the others.
Here is the exact cost breakdown for each type of public campground in Maui. I did not include private campgrounds in this list because the prices vary. I’ll have more information on private campgrounds later.
- County Parks (Hawaii residents): $5-$10 per person/per night, depending on what night of the week you are staying.
- County Parks (Non-Hawaii residents): $50-$100 per person/per night, depending on what night of the week you are staying.
- State Park tent camping: $20 per night for residents and $30 per night for non-residents
- State Park cabins: $70 per night for residents and $100 for non-residents.
- Haleakala National Park drive-up camping: $5-$8 per night
- Haleakala National Park cabins: $75 per night
- Haleakala National Park wilderness camping: $8-$9 per night
Where to Get a Camping Permit
Each park has its own way of getting a camping permit. In most of the parks, you can simply make a reservation online, except for the country parks. If you are making a reservation online, you should make sure that you make the reservation as soon as possible because they sell out almost immediately.
To get a camping permit for any county park, you must visit the Department of Parks and Recreation Permits’ main office in person. They will only accept cash or money orders for the permit cost, so come prepared. Each permit can have up to six people, two vehicles, and one dog under it.
Reservations to camp in Haleakala National Park must be made through Recreation.gov and can be made up to six months in advance. To Reserve a camping spot in one of the state parks, you can visit Hawaii.gov. You can reserve a camping spot at one of two state parks up to 90 days in advance.
Camping on the Beach in Maui
There are places where you can camp on the beach in Maui! One of the most popular and my favorite is at Waiʻānapanapa State Park along the road to Hana. A few other places where you can camp on the beach are Papalaua Wayside Park, Papohaku Park, One Ali’i Park, and Camp Olowalu.
Camping in Your Vehicle in Maui
It is illegal to camp inside your vehicle in Maui unless it is at a designated spot for car camping. There are three campgrounds in Maui with designated spots to camp inside your vehicle, including Kīpahulu Campground, Waiʻānapanapa State Park, and Camp Olowalu.
However, there have been multiple times when I got a camping permit for a tent site and slept inside my vehicle in the parking lot instead. As long as you have a permit for camping, they don’t usually care where you sleep as long as your car is in the appropriate parking lot.
Where Can You Camp in Maui?
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala is Maui’s only national park, and it is absolutely breathtaking. You have to get up for sunrise over the crater at the park’s summit. The best way to do so is to stay in one of four campgrounds inside the park. Two are drive-up sites, and the other two are backcountry wilderness sites.
Hosmer Grove and Kīpahulu Campground are the two drive-up sites available. Each has pit toilets, picnic tables, grills, and potable water. Hosmer Grove is located in the summit district of the park, where you can quite literally camp in the clouds. Kīpahulu Campground is located at sea level, close enough to the coast to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing.
The two wilderness camping areas are Hōlua and Palikū. Each camping area has no amenities, so make sure you pack appropriately. Hōlua is the easier camping area to access, with a 3.7-mile hike one way, whereas you must hike a strenuous 9.3-mile trail to get to Palikū.
Campsites within the national park book out far in advance. I recommend you reserve your spot as soon as they become available. You can book as early as six months in advance.
Maui allows camping at three of its county parks, which are all located on the beach! The most popular is Papalaua Wayside Park, which is only a 15-minute drive from Lahaina. It is also the most accessible county campground right off Maui’s main highway.
The other two county campgrounds are located on the nearby island of Molokai. While this island is technically part of Maui, you have to take a boat or seaplane to get there from Maui. One Ali’i and Papohaku Park are the two county parks you can camp at and are much nicer than Papalaua Wayside Park. Although traveling to Molokai is a journey in itself.
There isn’t much in terms of amenities at the county parks. You can find portable restrooms and a big parking lot, which is about it. You are getting an authentic off-the-grid beach camping experience at these campgrounds. They also close the parks on certain days of the week for maintenance, so make sure you plan accordingly.
Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area
If you’re looking for a camping in the clouds experience but didn’t reserve a campsite at Hosmer Grove in time, Polipoli Spring State Park is a good alternative. The campsite is 6,200 feet above sea level and on the opposite side of Haleakala from the national park. You get all the same benefits as camping in the national park, but it’s less busy.
Polipoli Spring has multiple tent camping spots and a cabin that you can camp in. Covered picnic tables and pit tables are available to campers, but there is no electricity or potable water at the campsites. I highly recommend checking out some of the trails in the park, especially the Redwood trail, where you hike through trees over 200 feet tall.
The campground is a drive-up site, but the park does recommend having a four-wheel drive vehicle to get there. Although you could get there with a high clearance vehicle and some knowledge of driving on rough roads.
Waiʻānapanapa State Park
Waiʻānapanapa State Park, by far, has my favorite campground on Maui. It’s along the road to Hana and is directly above one of the coolest black-sand beaches I have ever been to. I didn’t get the chance to camp at this beautiful site while I was there, but it is definitely on my bucket list.
Everything you could need in a campground is available at Waiʻānapanapa. There are showers, restrooms with running water, picnic tables, and potable water. This is one of the only parks that have a designated area for car campers as well. You can also rent out cabins that have a kitchen and bathroom.
There are so many unique things to see at Waiʻānapanapa that you won’t find anywhere on the island. The black sand beach is surrounded by lava stone, which has created lava tubes and blow holes. You can even walk to Hana on an ancient trail that follows the coast.
There aren’t many options for private campgrounds on Maui, but this is one of the best. It is extremely affordable for a private campground, starting at just $30 per night for a tent site. You also have four different options for camping, including tent camping along the beach, glamping in a Tentalow, camping inside your vehicle, or renting cabins for a large group.
Each camper has access to hot showers, bathrooms, WIFI, two charging stations, and a picnic area with a grill. If you are staying in one of their Tentalows, you get a private patio with Adirondack chairs, your own enclosed outdoor shower, a cooler, a sink in your tent, and a few more luxuries.
Camp Olowalu is on the island’s southern coast, where you can do some whale watching at the right time of the year and snorkel some of Maui’s best reefs. They even have the equipment available for you to rent. You can also find a bunch of native fruit trees on the property!