Molokai is an island about twenty-eight miles east of Honolulu and about thirty-five miles across, full of gorgeous spaces to relax and enjoy camping on Molokai. This is a cozy island, just the fifth largest in Hawaii, and has earned the name, “The Friendly Island.” There are lots of ways to enjoy a relaxing camping experience while exploring Hawaii—let’s take a look!
Pala’au State Park
On excellent option for camping on Molokai is smack dab in the middle of the island at Pala’au State Park. This spot features 233 acres of mostly mountain hiking. Before you bed down for the night, you can enjoy making your way through an ironwood forest to a spectacular lookout over Kalaupapa, a secluded part of the island where lepers were forced to live, from a thousand feet up. When you’re finished there, head over to Kaule O Nanahoa, a.k.a. the Phallus of Nanahoa, to view a sacred rock known for supposedly increasing fertility.
This is the only official state park with camping. You’ll need a permit to set up a tent, running you $12 for Hawaii residents, or $18 for non-residents. You’re only allowed tent camping, and only in the ironwoods. It’s worth noting that, while there are restrooms, no drinking water is available, so make sure to pack it in.
One Alii Beach Park
One of only two parks on the island to allow overnight camping—just make sure to grab a permit from the Parks Department for just $3. This is a relaxing spot to enjoy shallow wading waters as well as a large fish pond. There’s more amenities here, though fewer attractions. You’ll find restrooms, drinking water, and showers for your convenience. Even more convenient is its close proximity to downtown Kaunakakai where you can find whatever modern necessities you require.
Papohaku Beach Park
Just twenty miles west of Kaunakakai is this three-mile wide, white sand beach. This is the perfect spot for incredible sunsets, spectacular morning jogs, and watching the waves. That said, this is not a great spot for swimming. The currents are extremely strong and incredibly dangerous. It’s best to avoid getting in the water, even if it looks calm.
The campsite is in the shade of some kiawe trees, set back a bit from the water. A permit is required, but only runs you $3 per adult. For that you get restrooms, showers, drinking water, parking, picnic tables, and barbecue pits.
Molokai State Forest Reserve
This option for camping on Molokai is tough to get to, requiring a drive up a ten mile long dirt road to arrive at the Waikolu Valley lookout. That said, once you make it to the dizzying 3500 foot elevation, you’re treated to a truly spectacular view of the Waikolu Valley. If you’re lucky, or plan well, taking in the view just after a rain storm makes for an even more impressive view as the water runoff streams down the valley walls in stunning little waterfalls.
The campsite is grassy and comfortable, but lacks any drinking water, so be sure to pack a bunch in. From the site you’ll be able to explore lots of the nearby trails in the reserve. The permit cost is $18 per site for up to six people each night. Take care to reserve at least seven days beforehand.