And how about stepping outside your tent first thing in the morning and wake up to seeing a sunrise over the ocean?!
So the first thing to know about Haleakala National Park is that there are 2 sides to the park – the coastal district and the summit district. These 2 separate areas aren’t connected by road through the park, and they are in completely separate areas, at least in terms of driving.
And yes, the Kipahulu campground is located in the Kipahulu district, so that makes the Kipahulu campground one camping spot on the Road to Hana!
This is a campground that you can drive to.
Camping on the Road to Hana is GREAT because it gives you more time to explore the sights along the Hana Highway. For example, see this Road to Hana camping itinerary.
Within Haleakala National Park, there’s the Pipiwai Trail, where you can see THE bamboo forest of Maui and some magnificent waterfalls at the end of the trail. In another part of the park, there is also the “seven sacred pools” here, along with a coastal trail.
Swimming is possible in both. (Flash flooding is a thing on Maui though, so take care! See this video.) In the opposite direction, I also walked part of the backroad to Hana.
See the camping itinerary for more!
See below for more about camping in Haleakala National Park at the Kipahulu campground!
Here's some info on Hawaii trip prep!
- Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii
- The perfect type of shirt for swimming in Hawaii
- Do you need water shoes for Hawaii?
- THE top things to pack for Hawaii
- The top 5 Maui adventures you definitely need to think about doing: Maui tour OR on your own?
- Driving to the top of the Haleakala summit
- Road to Hana food stops
- Best Road to Hana hikes
- Things to do in Hana
- Things to do in the West Maui mountains
Here are some quick things to know about the Kipahulu campground
First, be sure to check for current camping updates to see if the Kipahulu campground is still closed on the National Park Service website.
1. Because this campground is on Haleakala National Park grounds, it requires a national park entry fee.
If you will also be going to the summit side, keep in mind that an individual pass will last for 3 days.
If you want more time, consider getting the Hawaii national park pass so you have no date restriction during your time on Maui.
2. Aside from the national park entry fee, camping at the Kipahulu campground is FREE!
3. There are no camping permits or reservations necessary, or possible.
4. Your camping spot is first-come first-serve.
So if you are in the area earlier in the day, it could be better to arrive to claim your spot by leaving your tent up or something.
5. There are pit toilets (no-flush) at the campground but no running water.
When I was there, there were a couple of bottles of hand sanitizer around since you can’t wash your hands as usual.
6. No running water means no showers.
7. You can use the bathroom right outside the Kipahulu visitor center that is about a 10 minute walk away.
This is a proper bathroom facility aka normal toilets and sinks if you want to wash up a little bit. There’s also a drinking fountain around here.
8. There are grills around the campground. Cook and eat with ocean views!
9. East Maui is the wet side of Maui!
Overnight rain is not unusual. You might wake up to a rainbow!
Spot the double rainbow!
10. You can find some slightly more hidden campsites at the Kipahulu campground.
11. People do car camping here.
aka camping without a tent aka sleeping in the car
12. For more official information about this campground (and to check for updated information), here’s the National Park Service website, including what’s open and what’s closed right now.
Arriving at the campground
So the Kipahulu district is at the “end” of the Road to Hana, past Hana town, when you are driving it in the normal direction that most people do. (aka when you’re not driving the backroad to Hana.)
If you’re looking at a map, the normal way is to follow the Hana Highway along the east coast, passing through Paia town.
Here are some estimated driving times following the traditional route on the Hana Highway:
- Paia to Kipahulu campground: 2.5 hours
- Kahalui airport OGG to Kipahulu campground: 2.5 hours
- Wailea (South Maui) to Kipahulu campground: 3 hours
- Kaanapali (West Maui) to Kipahulu campground: 3.5 hours
Drive time can vary based on traffic. And of course if you want to make stops along the way! I pretty much drove straight through from Paia to Kipahulu starting at 8am and there was minimal traffic.
Once you start getting closer to Haleakala National Park…
You will see a sign for Haleakala National Park!
And then once you’ve paid the Haleakala National Park entry fee or shown a park pass…
You’ll see another sign!
So you can either head for the parking lot, which will be closer to the Pipiwai Trail and Kipahulu Visitor Center, or you can head straight for the campground.
The road to the campground will come with ocean views!
And then once you’re at the campground, you will see that there is a dirt road that goes around in a loop. There are campsites lined along this loop, and you can set up camp in a spot you like! You don’t need to check in with anyone or anything like that.
How to find the SECRET campsites at Kipahulu campground!
Well, I’m calling them secret because I’m guessing a lot of people who arrive at the campground don’t even know that campsites exist this way. Not initially anyway. These are more hidden campsites compared to the others you’ll see immediately no matter what though!
So once you are at the campground, you will see a trail that leads to the ocean. You can basically just follow this trail to look for open campsites!
And even if you decide to camp in the main campground area, you can also make this a place to have lunch or dinner with ocean views! There are picnic tables.
And even if you decide not to camp or eat around one of these hidden campsites, it’s still worth going on this trail for the coastal views!
And that’s a bit about camping on the Hana Highway!
Be sure to see more for planning your EPIC camping trip along the Hana Highway!
- Campgrounds on the Road to Hana (cabins too)
- How to spend one week on the Road to Hana (aka the Maui camping itinerary)
- The big list of things to see on the Road to Hana
- Waterfalls to see on the Hana Highway
- Beaches to see on the Hana Highway
- And for camping on the other side of Haleakala National Park: The summit area drive-up campground
And preparing for an island camping trip is a little different than preparing for a camping trip that you can drive to! Be sure to see ideas for what to pack for camping in Hawaii!
Plus, if you are interested in Kipahulu Campground, then you may also be interested in these top activities on Maui:
- Pipiwai Trail
- Sliding Sands Trail
- Waihee Ridge Trail
- Iao Valley lookout
- How to spend one day in the West Maui Mountains
- Kapalua Coastal Trail
- Nakalele Blowhole
- Hoapili Trail
- Best of Maui hiking
HAPPY CAMPING IN HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK IN THE KIPAHULU AREA!
Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!
The ultimate beach towel for travel?!Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
Possibly among the best Maui maps for tourists!The Franko maps of Hawaii have a high level of detail for activities and it's beachproof aka waterproof. There's an "adventure" guide map and a "snorkel/dive" guide map. Plus a wall map for home to get you excited for your upcoming trip!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phoneYou can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.
Be sure to take a look at the reviews of these amazing tours on Maui:
- Molokini Crater and Turtle Town snorkeling or snuba tour
- Haleakala sunrise tour with breakfast
- Road to Hana driving tour with lunch
- Dream Hawaii helicopter flight #1: Fly over 2 Hawaiian islands to see Maui and Molokai waterfalls, rainforest, and sea cliffs
- Dream Hawaii helicopter flight #2: Hana waterfalls and rainforest from above plus Hana fruit plantation walk on the ground
- Sailing the ocean with a sail + snorkel trip