How to Camp on the Big Island with a Small Budget

Photo by  Abigail Lynn  on  Unsplash

Who doesn’t love the presence of Hawaii- palm trees swaying in the Pacific wind, the hula moving you to roll the hips to the sound of the Polynesian drums, and the sweet smell of coconuts and pineapples wafting in the air as the cerulean ocean wave crash and bubbles against the smooth sand…Ah!

Besides the high price of staying at local resorts and hotels and state taxes, Hawaii shouldn’t turn you off from visiting the U.S. state. There is an alternative! Below I break it down from one lodging accommodation I believe may pique your tropical interest and show your wallet some saving love.

Lodging & Things to Do

I am an outdoorsy kind of girl. I enjoy observing nature in all its glory. So of the course, the cheap dig that I have found on the Hawaiian island as far as lodging is camping. If it is on the beach or inland, Hawaii has many state parks where travelers and locals alike can pitch a tent and camp out by a fireside. I prefer more of the beach scene for the amazing view and accessibility to the water. You will need a camping permit obtaining one is easy, affordable and can be brought online in a matter of minutes.

Of the many state parks, the Malaekahana State Recreation Area appears to be an awesome place for everybody especially those with the little ones to enjoy the seaside. The majority of the time, the water currents is calm and great for swimming and boarding in the ocean. Besides the lovely wooded beach scene, there seems to be so many water activities to get into such as: swimming, body boarding, and fishing.

Another activity is volunteering – whether recurring or one-time on the campground. You can be a part of a special project to support a local cause. Great for family time with the kids to stay active and learn the importance of supporting the environment 

There are about 37 camping sites that are available for camping tents from Friday to Wednesday. For tent and vehicle camping, the rate is USD $9.41/night per person. If you prefer more indoor lodging, that is available too in the form of a plantation suite from $59 to the max of  $388/nightly depending on size and number of guests.

For more information on the assortment of accommodations, check-in times and rules (which I highly encourage when arranging your flight plans) check out their FAQs.

Besides camping, the amenities that are available to all the guests are picnic tables, outdoor showers, water fountains, restrooms, pay phones and trash cans. Awesome part is that the camping sites are ADA accessible for those with disabilities.

Camping in Malaekahana State Park. Oahu, Hawaii. Van supplied by "Hawaii Campers." Go to for more travel videos. Cameras and editing by Lisle Fehlauer.

In addition to the unbeatable camping rates, is the accessibility to the park’s camp store. You can buy food, toiletries, and apparel. Also, camping rentals are available as well – everything from tents, air mattresses, campfire grill tops, umbrellas, etc.

One reviewer mentioned about purchasing his camping gear at a local Walmart but realized that he spent more there than had he purchased on the campsite. Be smart and if given the time, comparison shopping always helps from time to time.


To get to Malaekahana involves having transportation so a rental car would be a necessary. Through my investigation, I have found that Rental Cars offers reasonable daily rates. Below, I screenshot an example if I were to rent an economical vehicle for about five days in the first week of August and the rate is not as expensive as I thought it would be. It sure beats having to stay at an expensive resort and  not getting around as much to see a good view of the island.

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The state park is an easy but a close to an hour-long drive from Honolulu International Airport. From the airport, you take I-H-1 East from Ala Onaona Street and follow Interstate 63 Northbound to Interstate 83 West to La’ie. La’ie is a census-designated place or town and is in the Koolauloa district on the island of Oahu.

Google Map of Oahu, Hawaii- From Honolulu International Airport to state park

Google Map of Oahu, Hawaii- From Honolulu International Airport to state park


Food is so important to me and I probably should have listed this one first  I mentioned before about the camp store but if you choose to venture into the surrounding area there are dining options if you so choose to. Outside the park and off the Interstate 83 are town centers, restaurants, and a supermarket. A seven minute drive can lead you to an awesome place known as the Kahuku Farm Cafe where you can indulge in an Acai bowl for breakfast or a Grilled Veggie Panini for lunch.

The other cool thing about the park is the Food Truck that stops along the main Kamehameha Hwy! These food trucks can be found near Malaekahana and quite a few provide both breakfast and lunch or dinner options. From coffee to fro-yo desserts to burgers, pizza to shrimp scampi and tacos, you can bound to find something to delight your palate.

Visiting Hawaii shouldn’t have to burn a hole in your wallet. With a little knowledge, an open mind, and sensibility you can visit the island in style. Camping sounds so appealing when you mixed it up with a beach scene on a volcanic island and the practicality of this style of accommodation– time to get lei! Aloha!

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