A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! 

Tripoto
Photo of Hawaii, USA by Manali

It is elusive to say anything that could potentially be disparate or more eloquent than what is already known about Maui! I guess it's imperative to start by stating the obvious and getting it out of my way. On my 3 day Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii, I got the opportunity to witness one of the most picturesque and adventurous drives such as road to Hana, the backside of Hana and the road leading to Haleakala Summit. I got to endure one of the most surprising weather where on the East side of Maui you see it being windy enough to blow your hammock tied between two palm trees or experience the temperature dropping down as you drive towards Hosmer Grove Campground where you see the clouds embracing the most handsome mountains as you keep driving above them and some balmy weather on the West of Maui. Another apparent thing being, it is too expensive. I and my friend Madhu were broke, but we had to pursue this trip before Madhu commenced her new job in Seattle (Yay!) and that's how we started "planning" our Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip to Hawaii.

Both of us being absolutely busy and caught up at work, had no time to plan the trip. However, we knew we wanted to camp in Hawaii and decided to book a camper jeep on Airbnb and just wing it from there. A well equipped and well maintained 4*4 Jeep compass with rooftop tent was perfect for us. We didn't book any campsite or any kind of excursion prior to our trip which actually worked out in our favor!

Rainbows every now and then

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

A Budget Trip in Hawaii

Our Camper Jeep

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Stay in a Camper Jeep/Van

Book a Camper Jeep for $130 per night. We booked it for 3 nights for $536 on Airbnb. You could also rent a Westfalia Camper Van which I have heard are very comfortable. We also saw a couple of them on the campsites. You will end up saving much more on stay and renting a car separately. All you need is your own car insurance and drivers license, the insurance on your credit cards don't cover these vehicles. The only difference with booking via Airbnb and directly through Camper Van websites is you save on security deposit with the former one. While looking at our options on this website we had to pay around $500 security deposit and the rental cost around $450 for 3 nights, hence we chose Airbnb. It is your call really! If you are okay with pitching a tent every now and then, the Camper Jeep is not a bad option.

Camper Vans/Jeep provide a great flexibility to drive on any side of Maui and stay on the most exquisite locations for which you would otherwise end up paying $200/night or more. Also Waianapanapa State Park, Oheo Gulch, Haleakala National Park don't have good Hotels/Airbnb's close by and you definitely don't want to miss the sunrise at these places.

A sunset view on our way to Hosmer Grove Campground

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Fuel up just once or twice maybe!

Fuel is expensive but you end up fueling maybe once or twice, since the island is significantly small. It is about $40 to fill the tank up in a Jeep Compass.

And some Rainbow stops on our way!

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Campgrounds are cheap

Campsites cost you only $20-25, first come first serve. Some of them include restrooms, showers, barbecue grill, beach and ocean view, but not all. More details below!

We succumbed to the temptation!

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Waterfall showers

Take a shower in the waterfalls! A stimulating and implausible experience. On our way to Hana we came across 5-6 waterfalls and decided to take a dip in one when we couldn't resist anymore. After our waterfall shower, we would go back and change in our car and get back on en-route! At some places we also ended up using public showers at the beach such as Kapalua Bay.

Chingsss stop!

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Cook your own food

We bought ready-to-eat food with us like pasta, maggie, some snacks and local coffee so we could cook and save on eating outside. I was also carrying my Aero-press with me which made coffee stops lot more convenient. Got to admit, it is one of the most flavorful coffee I've had. We must have eaten outside probably twice or thrice, each meal costing us about $30.

A little Coffee and breakfast break on our way back from Haleakala summit

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Pitching a tent is effortless

It is indeed easy to pitch a rooftop tent. We found a video that we saw prior to our trip. Tent is comfortable and the view of the moonlight, stars or beach is hard to beat from.

The pristine Iao Valley!

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Fly during off season

Flight tickets during off season are cheap, around $284 roundtrip from Seattle to Maui. Off season being September to December.

Breath taking views on your drive! Backside of Hana

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Rent the Snorkel Gears

We rented snorkel gear and a surf board for $15 and $10 respectively for 24 hours from Snorkel Bob's, they are everywhere in Hawaii. Hawaiian snorkeling experience cannot beat the Belizean Barrier Reef. Hence, I didn't mind renting gears and going by the bay instead of taking a tour. But you could also book a snorkeling tour here.

Highway to Hana!

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Camper Van/Jeep comes with all the basic amenities

The jeep comes with almost everything you need, the first aid kit, a propane tank, a stove, beach chairs, beach towels, a torch, a lantern, a lighter, a big Sleeping bag that easily fits two people, pillows, pullovers, basic utensils to cook omelette, maggie, coffee etc, a hammock, a grill to barbecue etc. Thus covering the basics!

Backside of Hana is spectacular

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Get some fruits on your way for breakfast, they are cheap!

You'll also see a lot of fruit stands on your way, so make sure you have cash on you. You can stop and pick some fresh fruits for breakfast if you like, just for $1 or $2!

Road-tripping in Maui, things to see!

We started our drive from Maui airport where we picked up our Camper Jeep and got en-route!

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Day 1 (Money spent $57)

We ended up spending $21 on two cartons of water, $11 on Local Coffee and $25 Haleakala National Park entrance fee.

At the Twin Falls

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Twin Falls

Our first stop was Twin falls, a 5 minute walk from the entrance and you are right in front of the falls. We got here late around 4:00PM, with the whole place to ourselves. You can get into the water or just admire, either way I would suggest getting a bug spray.

Fresh Coconut Water near Huelo Look out point

Photo of Twin Falls Maui Waterfall, Hana Highway, Haiku, Hawaii, USA by Manali

Huelo Lookout point

Our second stop was Huelo lookout point, view from the point wasn't impressive but the coconut water and fresh fruits stall right outside was a savior!

Drive to Hosmer Grove Campground.

Photo of Huelo Point Lookout, Door of Faith Road, Haiku, HI, USA by Manali

Drive to Hosmer Grove Campground

Hosmer Grove campground is about an hour long drive from Maui. A drive filled with breathtaking views of green fields, emerald coasts and mighty clouds wrapping their arms around the mountains. It is located inside Haleakala National Park which is at an elevation of 10,000! Hence it is normally chilly in this area unlike the rest of the Island. In the evening the roads are foggy and driving becomes a bit difficult. We had to drive slowly throughout because of the sharp turns and the fog. I loved this drive as you literally drive through the clouds and above them, the view is flabbergasting. You will get to see the clouds like never before! We stopped and made us some fresh coffee here while we soaked every bit of beauteous unusualness around us.

Photo of Hosmer Grove Campground, Kula, HI, USA by Manali

Day 2 (Money spent - $45)

We ended up spending $35 on fueling the tank up and $10 on fresh coconut water at Huelo Look out point

Sunrise at Haleakala Summit

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

They call it House of the Sun

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Haleakala National Park, Summit

Wake up early morning at 3:00 am and drive to Haleaekala Summit point to watch the sunrise, famously known as the house of the Sun. It is one of the most divine experiences to see the sun rising above the still clouds in front of you. There are a lot of tour companies taking you here at 3:00am. We were staying at Hosmer Grove Campground the night before and woke up around 5:00am. We wrapped up our tent and drove to the summit around 5:30am and made it before sunrise time 6:15 am. You will see on a couple of websites that you need reservation to get here for the sunrise since the place tends to get crowded with no available parking. We had no prior reservation only National Park ticket that we bought the night earlier. We didn't see anyone checking for reservations at the entrance, so I am guessing we got lucky! However, you could make reservation on their website.

Random Waterfalls on our way!

Photo of Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii, USA by Manali

Drive to Hana

Take the Hana Highway and explore one of the most daring drive. It is a one lane highway that winds around the luscious green mountains, passing through some tempting waterfalls and a good looking coastline. I felt like I was on the sets of Jumanji!

Cave on the Black Sand Beach

Photo of Hana Highway, Hana, HI, USA by Manali

Black Sand Beach in Wai'anapanapa State Park

Drive to Wai'anapanapa State Park to see the Black Sand Beach. It is one of the busiest places. There is a cave on the beach which I decided to hide in, while Madhu went up the cliff to get an uninterrupted view of the ocean!

Hamoa Beach

The Black Sand Beach

Photo of Waianapanapa State Park, Hana, HI, USA by Manali

Hamoa Beach, Red Sand Beach, Venus Pools, there is a lot to see near Wai'anapanapa State Park. I would rather get my hammock out and unwind by the beach.

Seven Sacred Pools

Photo of Hāmoa Beach, Hawaii, USA by Manali

View near Oheo Gulch

Photo of Hāmoa Beach, Hawaii, USA by Manali

Drive to Oheo Gulch

I felt like this park was much better than Wai'anapanapa State Park. Seven Sacred Pools and Bamboo forest were my favorites here! Camp here for the night and catch the most colorful sunrise next day!

Photo of ‘Ohe‘o Gulch, Hawaii, USA by Manali

Day 3 (Money spent $108)

We spent $25 total on renting snorkel gear and surf board, $37 per person on food in Tiki Tiki Thai Cuisine in Lahaina Downtown. I also bought some souvenirs here like a Hawaiian T-shirt, fridge magnet and some more coffee to take back home, which cost me around $46 total.

Drive on the back side of Hana

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Beautiful views on your secluded drive

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Take the road behind Hana

Take the road behind Hana to be startled. If you like taking the less traversed, secluded roads, you will love this drive. It reminded me of Highway 1 in California, with much better views of Craters and other Islands surrounding it.

Endless views on your way to Honolua Bay

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Snorkel in Lahaina

Drive to Lahaina for snorkeling at either Molokini Crater, Honolua bay or Kapalua bay. Molokini Crater will require for you to take a tour, however the other bays are easily accessible by the beach but mostly swamped with people.

Monkeying near Twin Falls.

Photo of Lahaina, HI, USA by Manali

Pineapple Fried Rice in Tiki Tiki Thai Cuisine

Get some good food at Tiki Tiki Thai Cuisine 2 at Lahaina downtown area. We loved their pineapple fried rice served in a pineapple. You can also catch a luau in the evening.

Iao Valley

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Iao Valley

We drove to lao valley instead of catching a Luau, to see the glory of this sacred place! It was magical. It is a lush, stream-cut valley and also a state monument in Old Lahaina located in West Maui. Kepaniwai Park is located at the foot of the Valley which serves as a good picnic spot and is open until 7:00PM.

Photo of Iao Valley, Hawaii, USA by Manali

Day 4 (Money spent $33)

We spent the day in Paia Bay where we had to drop our jeep back. It is a perfect place to do window shopping with a variety of options. We ended up spending only $15 on coffee and sandwich. We also took a uber back to the airport which cost us $18.

A foggy drive like this!

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

Sip a Coffee in Paia Bay

Spend some time in Paia Bay Coffee house and try their Vegan Bagel, it's delicious!

Sunrise in Oheo Gulch

Photo of Paia Bay, Paia, HI, USA by Manali

Window Shopping in Lahaina Downtown

You can also go window shopping in Lahaina Downtown area. A variety of handicrafts, Hawaiian t-shirts, Coffee, Chocolates and much more!

Camping in Maui!

1. Hosmer Grove campground

when we couldn’t get enough of it!

Photo of Hosmer Grove Campground, Kula, HI, USA by Manali

This was definitely one of my favorites in Maui. The drive here was rather gorgeous, we felt like we were driving up above the clouds. This campground is located in the Haleakala National Park to the East of Maui and costs $25 entrance fee. Once you cross the entrance, you can park your camper jeep/van anywhere in the designated areas on the campground. It is a convenient night stop if you are planning on catching the sunrise at Haleakala Summit. It is a first come first serve campground, so no prior reservations are required, try to get here before sunset and you should find a place. The campground is equipped with restrooms only!

2. Oheo Gulch campground

Calming place for a beautiful sunrise, at Oheo Gulch

Photo of ‘Ohe‘o Gulch, Hawaii, USA by Manali

We drove here to see the seven sacred pools, bamboo forest and ended up camping here instead of Waianapanapa State Park where we were originally going to stay. It is equipped with restrooms, barbecue grill and a fantastic view of the ocean. It falls in Haleakala National Park hence, a convenient option if you already have a ticket. This is first come first serve as well, but the space is comparatively bigger and has a high occupancy to accommodate more people and vehicles.

3. Waianapanapa Campground

En-route Waianapanapa State Park

Photo of Waianapanapa State Park, Hana, HI, USA by Manali

This state park is heavily crowded due to its' famous Black Sand Beach and the scenic views of the coast. We wanted to camp here at first but after seeing Oheo Gulch, we were smitten! This campground provides restrooms and a beach access. There are a couple of attractions around such as the Black sand beach, Hamoa beach, Red sand beach and Venus pools. This is also a first come first serve place.

4. Olowalu Campground

At the entrance of Olowalu Cmpground

Photo of Camp Olowalu, Olowalu Village Road, Lahaina, HI, USA by Manali

This campground is not that great in terms of view except for that of a humongous mountain range in front of you. I really loved their tentalows, but they were all booked. However, for $20 per person you get to use their campsite to park your camper jeep/van, restrooms and shower! This is the only place offering showers, that I came across in the whole trip. You can also snorkel here. Lahaina downtown, Kapalua bay, Honolua bay, Napilini Bay and Molokini Crater are all close-by! You can reserve the campsite for your jeep/van online. However, you can find a spot on the go!

This was our little Road trip/ Budget trip/ Camping trip to Hawaii on small island of Maui, which served as a perfect adventurous weekend getaway!

Photo of A Road trip/ Camping trip/ Budget trip in Hawaii! by Manali

This blog was originally posted on The Inquisitive Robot.

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