After a stellar 1st and 2nd evening of camping in West Maui and Wai’anapanapa State Park, it was time to venture to our third and final campground in Ms. Ruby West, the VW Westfalia of my dreams (minus a hot tub, bubble machine and trampoline, but I’ll forgive her), at Kipahulu Campground in Haleakala National Park.
Since we had camped here once before and had a total freakin’ blast, I could not wait to return, and return in a camper van, at that.
We packed up our gear, and in no particular rush, drove to Hamoa Beach just past Hana Town for a super relaxing morning beneath the palms. The Hana side of Maui has 3 of my top 5 favorite beaches on the island – the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa, the red sand beach in Hana, and the salt-and-pepper sand beach of Hamoa. They’re all unique, super scenic, and if you happen to get there at just the right time of day, fairly empty.
Hungry from all the surfer-watching we did, we headed back to Hana for some quick and easy grinds wherever we could find ’em. Which, let me tell ya, is not many places.
Luckily we stumbled upon the food truck court, and luckily someone agreed to fix us some spicy ass chorizo breakfast burritos in exchange for money. Yum. Energy renewed.
Day 3 – Camping in Kipahulu, East Maui
The entrance to Haleakala National Park is located at mile marker #42, about 15 minutes past Hana Town and through a mix of ranch land, quaint tropical neighborhoods and more curvy jungle roads. This area also happens to be directly beside some majorly awesome nature perks, including ‘Oheo Gulch (aka Seven Sacred Pools), and Pipiwai Trail, the most well known and dramatic of the bamboo forest hikes on Maui.
If you’ve got to pick a single spot to spend an entire day in East Maui, this is probably your best bet, regardless of whether or not you decide to spend the night. Which, by every estimation, is a brilliant and glorious idea. Do it.
We arrived just in time to snag a lovely shaded spot under a tree with a picnic table, and while the bathrooms nearest the campground are the stuff night terrors are made of, it’s better than squatting in hip-high grass while politely asking mosquitoes not to bite you on the ass.
When you get here, make sure to walk down past the other hidden camp spots to the cliffs and stare out for a bit. It’s a really peaceful spot, and the ocean is rough and mesmerizing.
Craving a necessary dunk in a waterfall, we walked the to the Seven Sacred Pools for a refreshing swim, amusingly watching as people selfie-sticked their adventure while others cliff jumped into the pools. This spot in particular sees a ton of foot traffic (being a national park and really awesome and all), but like I mentioned at Wai’anapanapa, the perk of overnight camping is that eventually, almost everyone goes home.
We spent the rest of the evening playing drinking games, swapping stories, building a baby fire, munching on gooey s’mores, and generally enjoying life beneath the stars in one of the most remote campgrounds on Maui.
With original intentions of hiking Pipiwai Trail the next morning, we woke up to a surprisingly thick layer of summertime sweat and instead opted for another swim in the pools, minus the 4-mile hike, before hitting the road back to central Maui. Although the back side drive is technically a shorter journey, much of the road is unpaved, rough and wisely not recommended for the vans. Skip it and head back the Hana way.
Once again, we’d like to give huge mahalos to Aloha Campers for supplying the van, which was an absolute game-changer for our final camping adventures on Maui (*tear).
For approximately the same cost as a budget condo in Kihei, you can have a van with two beds, a kitchen, and everything your little outdoor heart desires. Plus, it’s one of the best ways to move around and really see and experience the island. Holler at them and feel good about making a solid decision in paradise.
Till next time, Ruby…