The information below should give you an idea of what is available for camping on the Big Island. Most of our customers find it unnecessary to plan their entire trip ahead of time, only securing their first night or two and then getting a lay of the land. Once you are here, and you know what part of the island you are going to next, you can easily purchase a permit for the nearest county campground with a smart phone/tablet, with no need to print it out.
A new popular choice for private camping options is Hipcamp (like Airbnb, but offering camping spaces). Lots of safe and beautiful locations, and you can get $20 off by using our link: Hipcamp
There are 10 beautiful County of Hawaii campgrounds to choose from. Vehicle camping is allowed, but in many cases you might be limited to the parking lot. All have bathrooms and outdoor showers.
Three Hawai’i State Parks allow camping, but may not allow vehicle camping.
Kalopa State Recreation Area offers tent camping in addition to cabin lodging.
Manuka State Wayside offers open shelter camping.
Kiholo State Park Reserve provides weekends-only camping along the stark, lava-covered Kona coastline.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has two campgrounds available to vehicles, and is first come/first serve with no reservations.
Private Camping Areas
Arnott’s Lodge (Hilo) Simple campsites right in Hilo with access to bathroom, shower, and kitchen facilities.
Ho’okena Beach Park (South Kona) Beautiful beach park with protected bay and a chance of snorkeling with dolphins.
Recommendations: For Hilo side spots, you should take a look at Kolekole Park, just north of Hilo, or Laupahoehoe Pt. about 45 minutes north, as well as Isaac Hale Beach Park (Pohoiki Beach) out on the eastern end past Pahoa. All of these are in the County Campgrounds section. If you want something right in town and near the airport, we recommend Arnott’s Lodge.
In Volcanoes National Park, Namakanipaio is our first choice.
For the Kona side, we like Kohanaiki County Beach Park, or Spencer Beach Park further north. Ho’okena is a good choice for South Kona.
In the south, open camping anywhere between South Point and Green Sands Beach is spectacular for the adventurous (no facilities), or Punaluu County Beach Park for a spot with full bathroom facilities.