Camping on Oahu

Waterfalls, WWII history, and world-class surf await on Hawaii’s most populated island.

92% (1703 reviews)
92% (1703 reviews)

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Camping on Oahu guide

Overview

With its sugary sands, surf beaches, tropical rainforest backdrop, and melting pot of Pacific culture, Oahu is Hawaii’s flagship vacation destination. Whether you want beachside adventures, panoramic-view hikes, or history, Oahu has everything in abundance, and you can take your pick of beachside villas and coastal campsites. Spring and fall are popular times to visit Oahu, with balmy temperatures and festivals such as the King Kamehameha Floral Parade and Aloha Festival taking place, but winter campers can still enjoy average daytime temperatures of 80°F (26°C), and this is prime time for surfing.

Where to go

North Shore

With more than 51 (count ‘em!) beaches and waves reaching up to 30 feet in the winter months, Oahu’s North Shore boasts some of Hawaii’s most legendary surf breaks. Check into the state campground at Malaekahana or snag an oceanside campsite at Hau'ula Beach, go surfing and snorkeling at Sunset Beach or Waimea Beach, or head inland to explore the Waimea Valley and cool off beneath Waimea Falls.

Windward Coast

Hemmed in by the lush peaks of the Koʻolau Mountains, Oahu’s eastern shore offers a change of pace from the buzzing resort towns of the North Shore. Grab a kayak or paddleboard to paddle the coast at Kailua and Lanikai beaches, pitch your tent by the hiking trails of the Ahupua'a O Kahana State Park, or camp with a view of the mountains at Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden.

Leeward Coast

The western Leeward or Wai’anae Coast is Oahu’s least developed, making it the ideal spot to escape the crowds. Set out on a scenic road trip, climbing through the Waianae Mountains and hopping between sleepy seaside towns and secluded beaches along the coast. Campers can take their pick of five public beachside campgrounds, but make sure you get a permit.

South Oahu

Most travelers pass through Honolulu, Hawaii’s fun-loving capital, where the only urban campsite is located at Sand Island, right on Honolulu Harbor. Once you’ve explored the city, head out to Waikiki Beach, famous for its white sands, surf schools, and nightlife, or continue east to the Hanauma Bay marine conservation area to snorkel amid schools of tropical fish and sea turtles.

Central Oahu

Just west of Honolulu, the National Historic Landmark of Pearl Harbor is the site of one of the most pivotal World War II attacks, and it’s the main reason why travelers venture into central Oahu. Inland, there’s camping at Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area, known for its sacred Keaiwa Heiau temple.

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