Maui activities camping

Summer is here and there’s no better time for camping on Maui. The relative lack of rainfall, warmer temperatures and kids out of school make it perfect.

First remember there is no one-way to go camping. Your own camping experience, the age(s) of your kid(s), tolerance of your family for camping, and your stockpile of equipment are all factors in making the right choice. Be sure to remember this isn’t camping solo bachelor style – you can’t plan on finding a tree to sleep under when you get there.

Maui island offers several camping sites, private and public, state and federal. Camp Olowalu and Camp Keanae offer private camping. State camping is available at Papalaua, Kanaha, Wainapanapa, and Polipoli. Federal park camping is available at Hosmer’s Grove, Haleakala, and Kipahulu. You’ll need advance planning for a permit or cabin reservation, with the exception of Kipahulu. Kanaha and Papalaua Wayside Park (Mile 11-12 on the Honoapiilani Highway after Granmas surf spot) are County Parks and cost $3 a night per person/per night, $1 a night for minors and $1 a night for pets. Friday to Sunday and holidays this price goes up by $2. You can get a camping permit processed at any of the Parks & Recreation offices regardless of the location. For the State Parks Wainapanapa and Polipoli the camping fee starts at $12 per campsite/night for up to 6 persons ($18 non-resident). Additional peeps after that cost extra. The simplest way to get your permit is online at

If you’re a first timer, consider cabin-camping as a way to avoid buying a bunch of stuff and having a relatively disaster proof experience. You’ll have to book ahead and limit your destinations to campgrounds with cabins, which are Polipoli (accommodates a maximum of 8 persons) and Waianapanapa (accommodates a maximum of 6 persons), but it’s an excellent choice for those who like bathrooms, kitchens and running water. (Each unit is furnished with bedroom and kitchen furniture, electric stovetop, microwave, refrigerator, hot shower, bathroom, dishes, and cooking and eating utensils, although you are recommended to bring your own). Campers with infants are automatically granted cabin camping status with no shame and at $60 a night for Hawaiian residents it won’t break the bank either.

If tent camping is more your style and you’re considering the east side of the island, I strongly recommend, nay urge you to buy a tarp big enough to cover your tent and fashion a way to tie it down tightly.

We have done all of the above and recently graduated to van camping. You can check one of those out at Aloha Campers in Kihei ( Having a small kitchen, comfortable beds and being able to set up camp in seconds anywhere allows for great fun and flexibility.

However you camp you’ve got to bring a cooler of camping friendly food, and fun play equipment. Football, Frisbee, bocce ball, musical instruments, light up toys, etc. Organize a treasure hunt on a hike or gather firewood, site permitting. Also remember a child carrier that works for you. We love the ergo carrier and have used it for a four year old on long hikes.

Maybe the best thing though about camping is how much you and your kids will appreciate the comforts of home once you get back!

Image Credit: Meredith Richmond

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Joseph Stafford grew up in Pennsylvania, went to college and moved to Hawaii for a job as a DOE School Psychologist and met Kristen. They married and have two wonderful kids, Emily and Sam. You can contact him at