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Adventure, solitude - Camping offers both

by Ina Hinklemann, staff writer


Imagine it’s early in the evening and you and a small group of friends are trying to make a campfire. You collect dry woods, put everything on a pile, and then hope that the wind isn’t too strong to blow it out immediately. You are successful and now gather around the fire. Everyone unpacks their food—and soon, the typical smell of barbecue hangs in the air. For dessert, you all brought marshmallows, crackers, and chocolate. You hear the surf break on the cliffs, the wind in the trees, birds sing, taste the salt in the breezy air, and see the sun setting over the ocean. It’s a perfect day out in nature, at a campground on the northeastern coast of O‘ahu.

After the barbecue, you can go for a night swim, walk around, or play card games on the beach. At night, millions of stars appear in the sky. It’s very different than the sky in town with all the bright city lights.

There are more than a dozen beach parks on O‘ahu that allow camping. One of the best campgrounds on the windward coast is the Maleakahana State Recreation Area (Kahuku section), between Kahuku and La‘ie, about 55 yards (50m) off Kamehameha Highway, directly on the beach. There are three campgrounds at Maleakahana Bay. This one is the northernmost of the three.

The campground is surrounded by pine trees and has picnic tables, restrooms, security, warm showers, and a comfort zone, a little hut where people can go in case it is raining. Every campsite also has a fireplace. It’s a great spot to have some quiet and peace and a break from the noisy, fast-paced city life of Honolulu. What is nice about this campground is that one can’t hear the traffic noise from the highway.

The campground is easy to reach on bus number 55, which stops right in front of the entrance of the beach park. If you don’t want to bring food, groceries are available in Kahuku and La‘ie. It’s about a mile to Kahuku and two miles to La‘ie. You can take the bus there or just walk along the highway and enjoy the view of the Ko‘olau mountain range.

Maleakahana Bay is a great spot to go swimming and bodysurfing. The waves aren’t as big as on the North Shore, but it can still be a lot of fun. The beach is wide enough to play ball and never crowded.

Another fun thing to do there is to visit Moku‘auia Island (Goat Island). There are no goats on this tiny island, only nesting seabirds. This seabird sanctuary is situated at the southern end of Maleakahana Bay. During low tide, it is possible to walk there. But if you don’t have shoes to wear in the water, it’s better to swim, because there is reef and this can be quite sharp. Also, the current can become strong when the tide changes or the surf is high. Most people, who paddle out there, have their bodyboards, surfboards, or small boats with them.

There are three beaches on Moku‘auia Island, however, the best one for swimming and the easiest to access is located toward the left. It is already visible when paddling out there. This beach is protected from the surf by cliffs and one can just float in the calm water and enjoy the awesome view of O‘ahu, the mountains, and the beaches.

Whether you go camping with a group of people or just one other person or alone, it can be a great and fun adventure in Hawai‘i because the weather is perfect to do things in the outdoors year round. It can give students a break from the daily routine at school.

Most campgrounds on O‘ahu require permits, which have to be obtained at the State Park Office in advance. But Maleakahana State Recreation Area (Kahuku Section) is a walk-in campground, which means that you can plan your stay spontaneously because you can get the camping permit upon arrival. However, during peak seasons in July and December and around holidays, it’s better to make a reservation. The fee is $5.20 per person per night. Call 293-1736 for more information.



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