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 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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