Free Camping in Maui

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Camping in Maui Part 2: Free Camping in Maui

What’s better than camping in Maui? Free camping in Maui. Yep, I’m cheap, but I also just like to get away from the crowds and create our own adventures. We found a couple awesome, beautiful, free places to camp, did some boogie boarding, hiking (pig hunting without killing any pigs), spearfishing and made some killer beach sushi.   We’ll tell you all about it, but first check out the video:

We hiked south of La Perouse bay along the shoreline, in and out of lava fields and forest and found a perfect place to pitch our tents for the night.   free camping in maui - camping south of la Perouse bay It was totally quiet except the sounds of the waves and perfectly dark except for the stars. In the evening and early morning you will have this place all to yourself. The diving and spearfishing can be amazing with good water clarity and was ok with limited visibility (still good enough to get dinner). This is a reasonably popular hiking route and so it’s not a place to set up and sprawl. It is, however, a great place to explore and throw together a quick camp for the night. You could easily hike along the trail and find a half dozen or more places to pitch a tent.

free camping in maui - south of la Perouse bay

The other great place we found for free camping in Maui was along the southern shore between Kula and Hana.

free camping in maui - south side beach

It’s about an hour drive from the airport at the mile 30 marker. You’ll pull off on the south side of the road into a grove of kiawe trees. There is a black boulder beach which offers an amazing view but will not likely allow easy water access. The diving and spearfishing can be great off the lava flows to the east (drive to a gated, but not locked, 4×4 road just a minute up the road). There are a number of “camping areas” spread out nicely so you are likely to have an area to yourself. I loved this place because it was so easy (you drive right to your spot) and was still very quiet and private.

free camping in Maui - camping on the south shore

Ok, the beach sushi (my name for it) is my interpretation of this recipe from Dana at

free camping in maui - beach sushi

With limited kitchen equipment, a beach towel and Ziploc bag were sufficient for the mechanical portion of sushi roll construction. We added tempura fish into the roll and topped it with raw black durgeon (one of our go-to reef fish).

free camping in maui - beach sushi rolls

What to bring?

If you’re thinking of joining the gridlessness nation next year in maui, consider Rose’s camping essential list:

  • Swimsuits x2
  • Shorts and tee shirts x2 (you won’t need any, or have room for, additional cloths)
  • Flipflops/Crocs
  • Light coat
  • Travelling pillow (or, if you’re tough, just roll up your light coat)
  • Tent (full fly if you’re going to Hana)
  • Thermorest
  • Light sheets (no sleeping bag necessary)
  • Table cloth
  • Spices (for all your fish)
  • Two-cup measuring cup and spoon/fork (one per person, the only dish you’ll need)
  • big knife (fish, bread, pineapple etc)
  • Cooking pot
  • Little propane or backpacking stove (a lot of cooking can be done with charcoal briquettes, but a stove is pretty handy for boiling water, rice, noodles etc)

This is Important: Consider owning a good cooler with wheels and a handle. Pack your camping gear in the cooler and check it at the airport as one of your bags. Once in Maui, spill the contents of your cooler into your rental and fill cooler with ice and drinks. Enjoy.

Did you already see our first instalment of camping in Maui?  If not, check it out here.

Let us know what you think of Free Camping in Maui.  Got questions on how it works, what to bring etc?  Leave us a comment below and we’ll tell you what we know.  Feel free to try out the fancy like or share buttons below.  If you like it, subscribe, you’ll get the next off grid adventure video emailed right to your doorstep.

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Camping in Maui

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Camping in maui is awesome.  You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. You have ultimate freedom in where you stay, what you do, what you eat and what stuff you can bring with you.

Check out this video for the lowdown on camping in Maui:

In truth, I never wanted to come here.  I don’t like being a tourist, I don’t like stuffing kids in hotel rooms and I don’t like spending tremendous amounts of money so Maui was out of the question.  Then I found out you can hunt here; Axis deer, wild goats and wild boar. And then I found out that you can spearfish here.  My anti-maui position was eroding.   After I discovered I could camp in Maui, I no longer had a credible defence against the pro-maui team (all six girls).

Where to camp in Maui:

We have stayed at three separate locations to date.  Each has its own pros and cons on which I will elaborate below:

Papalaua Wayside Park:

Papalaua is an easy place to get to quickly from the airport in Kahului and just spill onto the beach.  You can leave town and have your tent set up 30 minutes later.  The beach has great sand, a beautiful south facing view and front row whale watching seats. Snorkeling and spearfishing are not good directly in front of Papalaua but good spots are a very quick drive in either direction.  This place is great place to let the kids run around, catch crabs on the beach, splash in the water and generally stay out of trouble.

Camping in Maui

It is however right beside the highway.  It seems that you can fall asleep to the sound of the waves but wake up to the sound of traffic.  It also has no facilities except poorly maintained plastic washrooms.  The pricing, method of payment, and mid-week closures are also lame.  You have to buy a camping permit in town (during office hours) and non-resident families get gouged (pricing is per person), especially on the weekends (price is double), and there is no camping on Wednesday or Thursday (why? thats just weird).  We have thus far avoided/refused paying full price.

Wai’anapanapa State Park:

Camping in Maui

Wai’anapanapa, or the Black Sand Beach, is a great camping adventure.  First you get to experience the road to Hana, forty miles of tight curves and single-lane bridges through the jungle.  Most people come to Hana just during the day so when you camp here, you really get the mornings and evenings to yourself.  You will not know where to start or end taking pictures, the black lava shoreline separating jungle green from ocean blue is mesmerizing.

Camping in Maui

Hamoa beach usually has the perfect waves for boogie boarding while Koki is more of a surfers spot.  Anywhere that you can safely get in and out of the water on this side of the island seems to have great spearfishing.  A twenty minute walk up through a cattle pasture will bring you to a cross erected on a hill above Hana. Pick some guavas on the way up, and then enjoy them as you overlook Hana Bay and the town.

Camping in Maui

The only drawback of Hana is that it rains a little more here.  It could actually rain quite a bit.  I would avoid using a tent that does not have a full fly.


Olowalu is a private campsite with great beachfront camping and good facilities (which they seem to be developing further).  This spot is also easily accessed from the Lahaina Highway, only a few miles further west past Papalaua.  It has an easy self check-in process which the state parks could learn from.  The snorkeling is good at the very east end of the beach, the sand is ok and the views are great.

Camping in Maui

The price again is a little discriminating against a large family as it is based on the number of people (instead of combined weight which would benefit me and my clan of lightweight little women).

Camping in Maui is a great off-grid holiday.  You can collect your own meat by hunting and spearfishing.  The kids can run wild on beaches all over the island.   You can enjoy the climate, the beaches and the water.

Let us know what you think of Camping in Maui.  Got questions on how it works, what to bring etc?  Leave us a comment below and we’ll tell you what we know.  Feel free to try out the fancy like or share buttons below.  If you like it, subscribe, you’ll get the next off grid adventure video emailed right to your doorstep.

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