Details About Car-Camping in Hawaii
GETTING THERE: All flights from Washington to Maui or the Big Island are connecting. Round-trip fares to either island start at about $700. For Maui, you will want to fly into Kahului; for the Big Island, fly into Hilo. If you want to visit both islands, Hawaiian Airlines offers frequent service, with one-way fares from the Big Island to Maui starting at $74.
CAMPER RENTAL: To date, only two companies rent campers on the islands: Happy Campers Hawaii (888-550-3918, http:/
CAMPSITES: Both islands have a number of drive-in campgrounds in a variety of natural environments (beach, volcanic rocks, ocean cliffs, etc.). The owners of the camper companies are longtime Hawaii residents and can suggest overnight spots, driving routes and attractions.
Although this may seem like a wing-it vacation, some planning is needed. Several campgrounds require reservations and a permit (you can book online), which might necessitate a visit to the county parks and recreation office in Maui (fortunately, only a block away from the Aloha Campers office). A few places are first-come, first-served.
Amenities at the sites can be spare (just porta-potties, for example) or generous (hot showers, laundry, barbecue pits, etc.). Some of my favorite overnight spots on the Big Island were Ho'okena Beach Park (808-961-8311, http:/
TIPS: Even though you are car-camping, there is still an element of adventure, so be prepared. Always have extra drinking water in the car; some campgrounds don't have potable water, and after hikes and beachgoing, you will need liquids. Never let the gas tank veer toward empty. Drive times can be longer than anticipated, and the availability of gas stations may be spotty. Sleep only in designated areas. Roads can be narrow and curvy, and rain squalls often blow through, so drive with prudence. (On Hana Road, be kind to the drivers behind you and pull over to let them pass.) For packing, best to use duffels or soft luggage, so you can store your items and keep your camper tidy.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, 800-GO-HAWAII, http:/