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Requirements regarding camping in Hawaii vary by jurisdiction, island, campsite, and facilities. The following information applies to the Island of Hawaii (Big Island)
Note: Camping information is subject to change without notice. Please contact the applicable local office for current information.

(as at February 20, 2004)

Island of Hawaii District Office
Dept. of Land & Natural Resources
P. O. Box 4849
(19 E. Kawili Street)
Hilo, HI 96720
Tel. (808) 974-4221
Hours: 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Mon-Fri. (Closed Weekends/State Holidays)
The following information applies to camping and lodging (shelters, cabin, bunkhouse) in Big Island's Forest Reserves. For additional information and free site maps, please contact the above office.

  • Campgrounds are open 7 days per week, all year.
  • Tent camping is permitted. (Self-contained mobile campers are not allowed - campsites are hike-in only.) Lodging is available at certain campgrounds (see below).
  • Except for the Muliwai Trail Shelter, permits are required for tent camping and lodging. Applicants must be age 18 or older.
  • To obtain a permit, please telephone the above office no earlier than one month in advance of actual date of camping.
  • Permits for tent camping are free. Fees for lodging vary (see below).
  • The max.stay allowed varies by campground (see below).
  • Except for the Muliwai Trail Shelter, reservations are required for all tent camping and lodging. (The Muliwai Trail Shelter is shared on a first come/first served basis and reservations and a camping permit are not required.)
  • Once a camping reservation has been made, written permits may be obtained from the above district office, or from the Kamuela State Tree Nursery in Waimea.



The Waimanu Valley/Muliwai Trail cuts across both the Waipio and Waimanu Valleys on the Hamakua Coast. These beautiful valleys are rich in cultural history having supported large populations of Hawaiians in the past. The Trailhead (Muliwai Trail) starts at the bottom of the west wall of Waipio Valley. Vehicle access into the valley is by 4-wheel drive only. The trail is challenging and measured from the trailhead it is a 15.3 mile round trip. (Note: If starting the hike from the Waipio Lookout County Park, the round trip is approximately 19 miles. Parking at Waipio Lookout County Park is limited to 24 hours. Longer term parking is available for a fee at the Waipio Valley Artworks (808) 775-0958.)
  • Waimanu Valley Campsites: There are 9 designated campsites. The campsites can accommodate from 2 to 12 campers. There are three composting outhouses among campsites in the Waimanu Valley. No drinking water - all spring and stream water must be treated. Tent camping is free. A maximum stay of 6 nights (7 days) is allowed.
  • Muliwai Trail Shelter (half-way house): Floored shed with half-walls and a pit toilet. No drinking water. The shelter is shared on a first come/first served basis. A camping permit is not required. Tent camping is free. A maximum stay of 1 night is allowed (overnight only).
 Note: There is currently no camping in Waipio Valley.


The Ainapo Trail, from Kapapala to Mokuaweoweo, the summit caldera on Mauna Loa, was pioneered by prehistoric Hawaiians. The trailhead for the Ainapo Trail begins at the 5,650-foot elevation, within the Kapapala Forest Reserve. It is accessible via an 8 mile, 4-wheel drive road originating at the cattleguard between mile markers 40 and 41 on Highway 11. The distance from the trailhead to the Ainapo Trail Shelter at Halewai is approximately 2.7 miles (hiking time approx. 2.5 hours). After Halewai, the trail ascends 5,500 ft. in 7.5 miles (hiking time approx. 8-12 hours) to the Mauna Loa cabin on the rim of Mokuaweoweo within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (This latter section of the trail is considered challenging and should not be attempted by novice hikers or those unfamiliar with the extreme environmental conditions which may be encountered.)

  • Ainapo Trail Shelter: located at the 7,750-foot elevation on Mauna Loa. The shelter has 6 bunks with mattresses, table and stools. A separate structure houses a dishwashing area. There are no heating facilities. Open fires are not permitted. A 400 gallon water catchment tank provides water for washing only - not recommended for drinking unless it has been treated. A composting toilet is provided. Stay at the shelter is free. Maximum stay of 2 nights (3 days) allowed.
  • Day use of Ainapo trail does not require a permit, however, hikers are required to contact Kapapala Ranch at 808-928-8403 to obtain the combination for the locked gate. Users are required to call the night before between 7:30 pm and 8:30 schedule entry. Lock combinations are changed daily and given out daily at the same phone number from 4:30 am to 7:00 am on entry day. Everyone using this public access will sign in and out on the log sheet located in the mailbox on the gate.
  • Hikers who intend to travel through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in conjunction with the Ainapo Trail must obtain a permit from the National Park's Kilauea Visitor Center (see separate section on National Park).

Located at the 5,280-foot elevation of Mauna Kea, along Mana Road. Accessible only via 4-wheel drive.

  • Keanakolu Ranger Cabin: accommodates up to 5 persons (living room and 2 bedrooms). Rates: $15 per cabin per night. A refundable deposit of $40 is required.
  • Keanakolu Bunkhouse: accommodates up to 20 persons (20 metal bunks without mattresses). Rates: $30 per night for bunkhouse. A refundable deposit of $40 is required.
The above facilities:

  • each have an iron fireplace, composting toilet, covered BBQ area. Keanakolu Ranger Cabin has an inside wash basin. The Bunkhouse has an outside sink.
  • do not include kitchen facilities, bedding, bathing facilities, firewood, power or lanterns, cooking or eating utensils, screened cooler, rubbish dump or rubbish cans. There is no drinking water - catchment water must be treated. Taking your own stove is recommended to conserve firewood.
  • have a maximum length of stay of 2 consecutive nights. Weekend reservations are limited to one weekend only during a six month period (Fri-Sun). There is no restriction on number of reservations for weekday use.
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