Hawaii camper vans - legal or practical?

Is This The Craziest Honolulu Hotel Deal Ever?

Face it! Honolulu hotel prices are nuts. For five nights in a standard room with a 3-star rating, we found price tags close to $2,000 this July. If that didn’t give us whiplash, this next listing did on Booking.com, where we typically start our Hawaii hotel search to get the lay of the land. Would you go for this lower-priced accommodation?

“Compact Car or SUV with Canopy, Camp Gear or Beach Gear, Free Waikiki Parking, book your own campsite around Oahu.” There was one lone positive review that read, “The location of the vehicle pickup is great, you get to park for free in the garage, and it’s close to everything.”

Grand total for 5 nights of car camping with taxes and fees: $1,137.50. That charge will also go up if you leave their location and relocate to a campground with fees that can hover around $50 nightly.

We dug further. Because even camping comes with a hefty price tag. Maybe that’s the message behind this listing at Booking.com.

“Features accommodations in Honolulu near the US Army Museum of Hawaii and Magic Island. With free private parking, the property is an 8-minute walk from Kahanamoku Beach and half a mile from Fort DeRussy Beach.”

Would you bite the bullet for this?

Screenshot from Booking.com.

Hawaii is looking to control this controversial form of vacation rental accommodation for which the state may be ill-equipped. Obviously, camper van rentals attract a unique Hawaii visitor. Perhaps someone who doesn’t value the conveniences of resort stays, or who wants to be able to move about freely, with little or no advance planning. And theoretically, a lower cost.

Good luck trying to find a place to spend the night.

It’s illegal for vehicles to be used for human habitation from 6 PM to 6 AM, according to state law. That’s true when it is parked on any public street, road, highway, or other public property. To what degree this is being enforced by police and park officials isn’t clear. We understand that if you have a rental like this, you need to show proof of camping permit for every night of your stay or return to the host property nightly.

State DLNR may consider making these legal at specified parks.

The state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources is looking into that possibility. On the other hand, there is significant pushback from many about these novel accommodations adding to the impact of congestion that’s already significant in Hawaii parks. Private parks are another possibility. These are legal on private property, and residents or farmers can allow them if they wish.

The idea of parking on a remote beach in Hawaii may be more idyllic than it is realistic.

Finding a place that’s legal to park and camp in Hawaii can prove very challenging. RV parks are one possibility, but some of those require camping permits that add to the complexity. On the other hand, campgrounds are often booked well in advance and are designed for tent camping, not camper vans.

Maneuvering a camper van on some of Hawaii’s roads may also prove challenging.

All of the Hawaiian islands have small roads that present additional driving constraints you would not encounter in a regular car. Additionally, entering city spaces on the islands and parking there will have challenges.

What did the Beat of Hawaii do?

We went to Airbnb and found a studio next to the ocean with a full kitchen and a great view for $1,548, including taxes and fees. About the same as renting this SUV with a canopy considering all the potential costs. What would you have done?

Leave a Comment

Comment policy:
* No profanity, rudeness, personal attacks, or bullying.
* Hawaii focused only. General comments won't be published.
* No links or UPPER CASE text. English please.
* No duplicate posts or using multiple names.
* Use a real first name, last initial.
* Comments edited/published/responded to at our discretion.
* Beat of Hawaii has no relationship with our commentors.
* 750 character limit.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

14 thoughts on “Is This The Craziest Honolulu Hotel Deal Ever?”

  1. What could possibly go wrong? So, now instead of just getting your belongings stolen from your car, you can possible get kidnapped as well. I’m going to pass on this.

  2. Well, in the ole days, I was a camper around the islands and had no issues, used proper permits and it was quite an inexpensive experience. Now, with the homeless issue, unemployment factor and the over crowding of the world that equates to more crime, my answer straight up would be the studio!

  3. Oh, no. That is the last thing we need. Adding RV’s to the already overcrowded roads and beaches. I don’t even want to think that they will then venture onto the narrow roads to Hana!

  4. Some years ago Kauai had a company named Holo Holo Campers. My husband, son, & I rented one for a week or two and had a grand time traveling around to the various parks. We were seasoned campers who had camped around Europe for 3 months in a VW van previously.

  5. I would stay at the Ilima hotel in Waikiki in a room for 4 people for under $200.00 a night. You have a kitchen and lanai. Also a swimming pool.

    1. Hi Carol.

      Ilima hotel king studio for the same dates including all taxes and fees was $1,470.


      1. Carol that hotel takes me back to 1975 when we stayed at Edmunds hotel apartments in Waikiki for $200 a week. Those were the days my friend! Mahalo for the good memories🌺

  6. What would l do? Costa Rico has a nice sound to it and beaches galore or Puerto Rico? Been your way for much less, let W. coasters w all the bucks pay up.

    1. Aloha.
      You couldn’t pay me to go out of Country anymore, I’d rather stay home. Granted, my home is in the islands of Hawai’i, and Puerto Rico is a US territory.
      That being said. No one is compelled to come to the islands, unless enlisted.
      Mahalo for your thoughtful comment.

      1. Hi Pam.

        Thank you. You and Patrick are even at 250 comments each. We really appreciate your input!


Scroll to Top