Maui is famous for its luxurious beach resorts, but there’s something incomparably special that comes with sleeping under the stars.
Dozing off while listening to gentle crashing waves and waking up to the warmth of the sun’s rays make camping on island the ultimate outdoor experience. From the mountains to the sea, these are a few of our favorite places to retreat back to nature, where you can plan fun-filled and affordable staycations with family and friends:
Nestled at 6,200 feet up the slopes of Haleakala, you’ll find Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area, one of the only state-managed parks in Maui. Ascend into another world as you climb in elevation, surrounded by trails that meander through old-growth forests — including Redwoods. If you plan your trip in advance, you can reserve the sole cabin in the park. Or, set up at one of the undesignated campsites, many of which offer a panoramic view of the verdant Upcountry landscape that leads to Maui’s azure coasts.
YMCA Camp Keanae
PHOTO: Forest and Kim Starr
Most people who make it out toward East Maui to camp go to Waianapanapa or 'Ohe'o Gulch. But there’s a hidden gem along the way — a YMCA-run campsite with a panoramic view of the Keanae Peninsula. Located on Hana Highway’s mile marker 16, you can rent entire cottages, bunks in cabins, campsites or parking spots for vans. Plus, you can access all of the amenities of the YMCA facilities on site, including a fitness center, hot showers, ice machine, fire pits and pond for swimming.
PHOTO: Forest and Kim Starr
For those who want to beat the crowds at the Haleakala Crater, the campsites at Hosmer Grove in Haleakala National Park are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No permit or reservation required or accepted. Cedar, spruce, pine and eucalyptus trees exude pleasant aromas that fill the crisp air, and you’ll occasionally hear the sounds of rare birds in the mountain forest. Located at 7,000 feet in elevation, it can get chilly, so be sure to bring a jacket.
Camping doesn't have to mean roughing it. At Camp Olowalu, you can kick back and relax in raised-platform “tentalows,” each with its own private, open-air shower, sink and dressing area. This luxurious glamping experience makes the campsite one of the most highly rated on island, where visitors can access equipment rentals for snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, just minutes from some of Maui’s best snorkel spots.
Besides the tentalows, the facility also rents luxury cabins, spots to park your vehicle and beachside tent sites. Guests can access bathrooms, hot showers, WiFi at the check-in area, charging stations, an outdoor dishwashing station, among a plethora of other amenities. For good reason, Camp Olowalu is one of Maui’s most popular camping destinations.