Camping is an amazing way to spend time in Kauai and to really take in the beauty of the island. In addition to seeing the best of Kauai, it is a great way to save money while visiting this island. With that said, booking a campsite is not as easy as we first anticipated. The permit system for Kauai camping is not centralized. As a result, depending on which department has oversight (county, state, etc…), there are different methods to booking a reservation. The Ultimate Guide for Camping and Permits in Kauai will cover all of your options for you!
If you are not planning to bring your own gear for camping, don’t exclude camping as an option. There are several places to rent all the camping gear you need. Gear rentals depending on the type of equipment can be rented between $25 and $40 per day from Kayak Kauai, Just Live, and Kauai Adventure Camp. Purchase fuel canisters (i.e. MSR) in Lihue from Sports Authority.
County Camping Permits
County permits are $3 per person per night for non-Hawaiian residents (free for Hawaiian residents). There are seven county campgrounds on the island located at different beach parks. To obtain permits apply in person at one of the four locations: Lihu’e, Kapa’a, Kilauea, Kalaheo and Hanapepe neighborhood centers. These locations are open for limited hours. Find out more information at the county website: http://www.kauai.gov/Camping
Haena Park (closed Monday nights for maintenance)
Hanalei Blackpot Park (open Friday & Saturday only)
Anini Beach Park (closed Tuesday nights for maintenance)
Anahola Beach Park (closed Thursday nights for maintenance)
Hanamaulu Beach Park: day use only
Salt Pond Park (closed Tuesday nights for maintenance)
Lucy Wright Park (closed Monday nights for maintenance)
Lydgate Park Camp Ground (closed Tuesday nights for maintenance)
Our favorite campgrounds for camping were Salt Pond, Anini Beach, and Haena Park.
Backcountry permits can be obtained in person at 3060 Elwa Street (room 306) at the Forestry and Wildlife office. Backcountry camping is available in Waimea Canyon but not in Koke’e State Park. Backcountry permits are free. The office can assist with hiking trails and places to camp. There are several locations available for backcountry camping in Waimea Canyon.
State Park Permits
Camping within state parks cost $12 per campsite for Hawaiian residents and $18 per campsite (up to 6 people) for non-residents. The only exception is camping within the Na’Pali Coast State Park on the Kalalau Trail, which costs $20 per person/night. There are three excellent state parks to explore with camping options. Permits can be obtained in person at 3060 Elwa Street (room 306) at the Department of Home Lands or book ahead at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/kauai/.
For more information on the Kalalau Trail, read our Ultimate Guide to the Kalalau Trail.
Koke’e State Park
Koke’e is accessed from the town of Waimea. With endless amounts of hiking, coastal views, mountains, and lush jungle, this is the best state park to explore in Kauai. There is a wonderful scenic drive to the Kalalau lookout. Don’t miss the Cliff Trail and the Awa’awapuhi Trail. There is one campground in Koke’e.
Na’Pali Coast State Park
The Kalalau trail, on the Na’Pali Coast, is one of the most famous hikes in the U.S.. It boasts amazing coastlines and lush valleys filled with waterfalls. The Kalalau can be visited as a day hike for the first 6 miles, beyond that it is required to obtain a permit. Camping costs $20 per person per night, and must be reserved ahead online.
Polihale State Park
Polihale State Park is on the northwest corner of Kauai. This beautiful long stretch of beach is accessed by a dirt road. It is a 30 minutes and can be reached by 2WD car. However, if rain has recently occurred, driving may in impassible in a small vehicle. There is a designated area for camping.
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Visited in January 2016.