Easily accessible, Malaekahana State Park is an amazing camping spot, full of beautiful views and fun activities. Simply drive over to Laie, pitch a tent and enjoy this beautiful landscape. You can go for a swim in the ocean, take a walk out to Goat Island, make some smores by the campfire-- the choice is yours at Malaekahana. It's a great way to escape from the hustle and bustle and be surrounded by nature.
I would call myself a lover of nature and the outdoors. There's nothing quite like being high on a ridge or deep in a forest, completely immersed in natural beauty. However, I am a complete novice when it comes to camping. I've done it a total of three times in my life, and retained zero skills. And yet, the idea of sleeping on the ground, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the wild has always intrigued me. But somehow after two and a half years, I have never pulled the trigger and done it in beautiful Hawaii.
Finally, I found a friend who's enthusiasm for the outdoors exceeded my own. But more importantly, she had a tent and some camping experience. After some research, we settled on Malaekahana State Park as great place for our first Hawaii camping adventure. We loaded up our gear and began our drive to the northeastern part of Oahu, to beautiful and secluded Laie.
Well, one quick pitstop on the way there, we decided to knock out a little hike before we set up camp. In my mind, hiking goes hand in hand with camping, and what better location than Crouching Lion! It's tough for me to pick favorite hikes, but if I had to, Crouching Lion or it's neighbor Pu'u Manamana would be near the top of the list. It has fun rock scrambling, the hike is variable in length (as short as 30 minutes and as long as 4+hours), but most importantly look at that view! A great way to spend our afternoon.
This hike would provide us with more than just a workout and amazing view. After returning to our car, we found a couple who's car battery had died. I happen to have jumper cables in my car, although I am still unsure of how they got there. This was the first time I could be of use! With a little bit of trial and error, we were able to successfully jump the car. The couple thanked us by giving us a piece of breadfruit they had picked nearby. This would prove a great addition to our evening feast.
We made our way to Malaekahana State Park in the late afternoon. It is pretty easy to camp here, but it does require some $$$ and a permit to stay overnight. You can find all that information at this website. The perk of paying is that there are working bathrooms and even showers at this site. Maybe not quite the total immersion into nature I had planned, but it will work.
There's even some wildlife roaming around the park. I believed this to be a peacock, although it wouldn't show us it's feathers, so I can't be sure.
After hauling our stuff to our campsite, we pitched our tent, getting ready for the evening. Prime real estate if you ask me.
Because 30 seconds from our tent was the beach! I even noticed some people even decided to pitch their tents right on the beach. Hawaii camping at its finest. The clouds began to change color as the sun settled behind the Ko'olau Mountain Range, so I decided to make my way back to our campsite. It's dinner time!
I learned a quick lesson as we started prepping our dinner, it's very easy to forget something when camping. For us that was an easy and efficient means of cooking our food. We had no pan, or grate, just a few skewers and some tin foil.
I learned a second lesson as well, it's easy to get creative and overcome any issues. With a little rearranging of the logs and some extensive use of tin foil, we were able to find a way to get our sausages, peppers, and potatoes cooked to perfection. That food coupled with some wine and that soft crackling of the fire is exactly how I had envisioned this camping experience.
But the highlight for me was cooking and eating that breadfruit. Maybe it was the fact that we had acquired it in the matter of bartering, or maybe it was because it was the first time I had ever had it, but it was delightful. It's not particularly flavorful, it does taste like bread, but the starchy consistency and warmth made it go down easy. Bellies full and a nice wine buzz going, we retired to our tent.
We woke up at dawn to meander out to the beach to watch the sunrise. As is typical for Hawaii sunrises, it was spectacular. I took the opportunity to fly my drone around. The way the light illuminates the beach and ridges is just amazing. Unfortunately, I lost all my photos from that morning after incorrectly transferring them to my computer. So this low quality photo transferred from my phone will have to do. Even at 500KB, it still isn't too bad.
Here's an eagle eye view of Mokuauia AKA "Goat Island." Supposedly this looks like a goat, hence the name, but it is actually a seabird sanctuary. If the tide is low enough, you can actually walk out here and explore it. Unfortunately, low tide for us was at midnight, so we wouldn't have the opportunity. Oh well, guess that just means we will have to come back!
Breakfast time! And if you can't tell from this picture, we had quite the interesting breakfast. Having used all our cookable food last night, we resorted to the packaged stuff. That there is American cheese, spam, and avocado spread on a rice cake. It's the new age avocado toast! And instead of $17 it was like $2! And I'll admit it, I actually enjoyed this little meal. Even as I write this, I can still taste that salty spam, blended with the smooth avocado, coupled with the crunch of the rice cake.
I wasn't expecting to learn so much from this one night camping adventure, but I certainly did. I was able to learn that you can't plan for everything and there is no "right" way to camp, whether it's how you cook your food or how you decide to spend your time. You simply adapt to the challenges and just do what feels right. And I learned one more thing-- this certainly will not be my last camping adventure.
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Also Check Out:
- DLNR's information and reservation page for Malaekahana
- To Hawaii's page about Goat Island