Hawaii’s heartland has tropical beaches, active volcanoes, and a rich cultural heritage.
The Big Island is every bit the Hawaiian paradise you’ve seen in the movies. Azure waters and black- and white-sand beaches draw sunseekers to the coast, while rugged volcanic peaks and swathes of emerald-green rainforest tempt adventurers inland, and everywhere you go, you’ll be met with a vibrant fusion of Polynesian cultures. Hawaii’s tropical climate makes camping a four-season pastime with lots of options. Pitch a tent or rent a cabin at a state park, camp by the beachside at a county park, or park your campervan on a private farm.
=The Big Island’s Gold Coast stretches along the west shore, fringed with sandy beaches and colorful coral reefs. Seaside campers will find plenty of ways to get on the water, whether swimming and snorkeling at Kahalu'u Beach Park, paddling around Kealakekua Bay in a kayak, or setting sail on a whale or dolphin-watching cruise. Back on land, take a tour of a Kona coffee plantation and pay a visit to the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.
Rugged lava fields meet golden beaches and pastoral farmlands in Kohala at the island’s northwestern tip, where you’ll also find some of Hawaii’s most luxurious resorts, spas, and restaurants. Swing by the regional capital Waimea, where you can saddle up for a horseback ride with a paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy), admire the views from the Pololu Valley Lookout, then rent an A-frame at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area.
Black-sand beaches, waterfalls, and tropical fruit plantations provide plenty of photo fodder along the eastern Hamakua Coast. Drive the Hamakua Heritage Corridor from Hilo all the way to the Waipio Valley Lookout, stopping along the way to see Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls before settling into camp.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the headline act of the south, where still-smoking lava fields surround two of the world's most active volcanoes, and hikers can choose from two national park campgrounds or rent a cabin. There are more lava-sculpted landscapes in nearby Puna, where camping options include treehouses and jungle campsites. Don’t miss Lava Tree State Park, the green-colored sands at Papakolea Beach, or the black-sand Punalu’u Beach.