So you know that the Road to Hana is one of the MUST-DO activities when you’re on Maui.
And you know that there are TONS of stops to make along the Hana Highway. (aka stops on the Road to Hana.)
And you also are reading about how most people do the Road to Hana as a one day thing, often as an exhausting 12-hour day.
Actual first response of someone who just completed the Road to Hana and was asked, “how was it?” (Followed up by yes it was amazing but tiring!)
When there are soooo many stops to make on the Road to Hana, how can you possibly choose what stops to make in one day?! You have no choice but to make it into a jam-packed day… right?!
No!! You don’t have to do the Road to Hana in just one day!!
First, the quick list of the campgrounds on the Hana Highway.
Then, a bit more about WHY you might want to consider camping on Maui!
And then, a little bit more about each of the campgrounds!
And then finally, tips for what to pack for camping on the Road to Hana, including specific camping gear to bring, in particular if you’re flying in!
Some of the best campgrounds in Maui
aka campgrounds on the Road to Hana!
1. Camp Keanae campground
Moving into 2021 and beyond, I’m not sure if this campground will be similar as in the past. Or if it will be a campground at all. Notes below.
2. Waianapanapa campground
State park camping!
National park camping!
Here's some info on Hawaii trip prep!
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- 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
To sound corny, the Road to Hana is special. It’s something like 60 miles long, but there are truly SO many things to see along the way! And you can make the Road to Hana an even more special experience by making it a camping trip in Hawaii!
And if you’re having doubts because you’ve never camped before… there’s no better time for your very first camping trip than camping in Hawaii!!
Imagine someone asking… Where was your first camping trip?
Your answer: HAWAII!
Well, that’s my answer too!! Well, Hawaii was my first camping trip alone! (See tips for solo travel to Hawaii.)
Maui, and specifically the Road to Hana, was my first solo camping trip, which also means it was my first time pitching a tent on my own. And I managed just fine!
If you get the right kind of camping gear, then setting up a tent can almost be easy! (Go for lightweight camping gear that the long-distance backpackers get! This is designed to be easy to set up too.)
It might feel like a bit of a hassle to set up a tent on your own.
But when you consider that it can save you money, allow you to explore a part of Maui at a slower pace over several days when most people just zip through in a day, AND you get to have a completely unique Hawaii experience… the hassles seem minor!
Plus, once you’re back home, you won’t even remember all the effort you put into setting up camp. It’ll be the good memories on the Road to Hana that will stand out! 🙂
So even if you’ve never camped before, there’s no better time to camp for the first time than during your trip to Maui!
A bit more about the campgrounds on the Road to Hana
So there are basically now 2 campgrounds on the Road to Hana.
These 2 campgrounds are in somewhat different locations along the Hana Highway, and this can make for a fine Road to Hana camping trip that lasts for several days! Setting up a base at the different locations that will allow you to explore a different part of the Hana Highway.
There is also a campground that offers alternative accommodations aside from tent camping, which means that if you want a real indoor shelter and a break from sleeping in the true outdoors for a day or 2, you can do that too! I totally did.
This is how I did it.
Where to stay when camping on the Road to Hana:
- 2 nights tent camping at Kipahulu campground in Haleakala National Park
- 2 nights in a dorm-style cabin at YMCA Camp Keanae (this may no longer be available in 2021)
- 1 night tent camping at Waianapanapa State Park
- 2 nights cabin at Waianapanapa State Park
See more of how I did one week on the Road to Hana! (aka the Road to Hana camping itinerary)
Now, a bit more info, in the order that these campgrounds go when doing the traditional Road to Hana drive:
- Camp Keanae
- Waianapanapa State Park campground (and cabin)
- Kipahulu campground
1. Camp Keanae campground
In 2020 and previous to that, this was the first campground you would come across on the Road to Hana. It was the YMCA Camp Keanae.
Camp Keanae is near the popular Keanae Peninsula which offers scenic lookout points. (It’s also where you’ll find the popular banana bread, at Aunty Sandy’s.)
In 2021, it seem that there is now new management of Camp Keanae. It is no longer the YMCA Camp Keanae.
At the YMCA Camp Keanae, space was offered for tent camping and car camping. There was also dorm-style cabins available. It was also the only tent camping on the Road to Hana that offered hot showers! The camping on the Road to Hana at the YMCA Camp Keanae cost around $35 a night. There were also cottages located here for more comfort.
I guess only time will tell if they will operate in a similar way as the previous YMCA Camp Keanae or if it will be turned into something completely different.
2. Waianapanapa State Park campground
The next campground that you’ll come across on the Road to Hana is at Waianapanapa State Park.
This is home of THE famous black sand beach of Maui.
This is a popular stop and many people come and see the black sand beach and leave for more stops on the Road to Hana.
This is also where you can find the black sand beach lava tube that opens up to the ocean!
While most people here just come and go pretty quickly, you might consider spending a night or 2 here so you can take the time to hike in both directions of the Waianapanapa coastal trail. (Which I think is one of the best hiking trails on Maui!)
You’ll be walking with ocean views pretty much the whole time, and if the ocean is rough, then it’s a sight to see the waves crashing against the lava formations!
On the coastal trail you might come across a number of sea arches, blowholes, and lava rock pools.
There is tent camping at Waianapanapa State Park which is around $30 a night.
There are also cabins available, at around $100 a night. Your cabin may be located a 15-second walk to the Waianapanapa coastal trail! The only thing blocking your view of the ocean are palm trees!
The cabins tend to be in high demand, so it will either require advanced planning or a little bit of luck! When I checked the cabin availability calendar there just happened to be an opening with dates that I thought I could work with, so I took it!
Cabins typically require a minimum stay of 2 nights. Cabins do have hot showers.
Both tent camping and cabins do require permits, and they tell you to have your permit printed off. This is especially important for camping.
Waianapanapa State Park: See more about this to do near this Maui camping spot.
3. Kipahulu campground in Haleakala National Park
And then past Hana town is the Haleakala National Park, and there is the Kipahulu campground located here.
One of the main attractions of this part of the national park is the Pipiwai Trail to see a bamboo forest and magnificent waterfalls.
People do both tent camping and car camping here.
The national park is typically the last point at which people will turn around for the out-and-back Road to Hana trip.
Spending a night or 2 here can mean that you can do the popular Pipiwai Trail in the morning without the crowds.
You can also spend a day to head towards the back road to Hana as far as you feel comfortable, by car or by foot!
While I walked 15 miles round trip, a 5 mile walk round trip to Kamilo Point can be worth it, I think!
See more about the back road to Hana.
Prior to the 2020 travel shutdown, there were no reservations necessary (or possible) for Kipahulu Campground which meant that you set up camp where you can find a spot on the campground.
At that time, outside of the national park entry fee, there was no additional fee to camp at the Kipahulu campground.
As of 2021, the Kipahulu Campground is closed. See current updates.
When it does re-open, it’s quite possible that camping reservations for Kipahulu Campground will be necessary. It’s also quite possible that there will be a camping fee for Kipahulu Campground. This is what happened for Haleakala National Park’s other campground, which previously was also free and first come first serve.
Kipahulu Campground: See more about this Maui camping spot.
And that’s a bit about the campgrounds on the Hana Highway!
Rent camping gear on Maui, or bring your own from home if you’re flying to Hawaii?!
So there are places to rent camping gear on Maui.
Depending on how many days you’ll be camping, it could be worth it to bring camping gear from home though!
I did not rent. I camped with stuff I brought from home.
This picture is from camping near the beach on Lanai, but this is the same luggage for the Road to Hana camping trip that I had on my flight to Hawaii.
Of course, if you’re flying to Hawaii, this means that you also have added luggage for the flight.
Packing for a camping trip that you’re doing as a road trip from home is a little different from packing for a camping trip when you’re flying to your destination!
If you’re driving to a campground from home, you can basically just pack things into your car without AS much thought about taking too much.
When you need to pack for checking in a bag onto a flight, well, you need to be much more concerned about space and weight!
What to pack for camping on the Road to Hana
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Here’s the quick list of the basics of what to pack for camping in Maui:
- Backpacking tent
- Inflatable sleeping pad
- Solar camping lantern
- Small flashlight
- Turkish towel
- Inflatable pillow
Be sure to see ideas for what to pack for camping in Hawaii!
Renting a car for the Road to Hana
If you’re doing a camping trip on the Road to Hana, you will need to rent a car. There is no public transportation that goes to the main attractions along the Hana Highway.
And that’s a bit about camping on the Road to Hana!
You can also make it an overnight trip from Maui with some beach camping on Lanai! (No car required!)
HAPPY CAMPING ON MAUI ON THE ROAD TO HANA!
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