The best combination of green and budget for accommodations? Camping, of course. State and county parks on all of the Islands provide a range of facilities–from none whatsoever to water, restrooms, showers and barbecue grills. They also vary in accessibility: Kalalau Beach is at the end of an 11-mile hike along the famous Kalalau trail on Kauai; at Laupahoehoe Beach Park in North Hilo, you can drive right up and pitch a tent.
All state and county parks require permits and most are closed at least one day a week to discourage setting up permanent camp. Here are the quick details for camping and permits (prices listed are for Hawaii residents):
Generally, state park campsites are located in more remote areas of the islands.
Starting March 31, you can get permits online at [hawaiistateparks.org] Camping fees start at $12 per campsite per night, except for the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park on Kauai, which is $15 per person per night.
Great state parks for camping
Polihale State Park on Kauai, at the end of the road on the west side. Sand dunes back this long, broad expanse of white-sand beach.
Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park on Kauai. Each of the camping sites, tucked among the folds of the cliffs, is breathlessly beautiful, or maybe it’s just the steep switchbacks leading to them that make it so.
Waianapanapa State Park, in Hana, Maui. Pitch a tent on this grassy, low cliff overlooking the sea and explore the volcanic coastline and black sand beach against striking turquoise waters. This is the stuff tourist brochures are made of.
A listing of Kauai county campsites can be found at: [kauai.gov]
Permits are free for residents and available by mail or in person at any of the offices listed at the above link.
Anini Beach Park on the north shore offers fairly well-kept facilities on a pleasant beach for swimming and snorkeling.
Maui and Molokai county camping information can be found at: [mauicounty.gov]
Sites go for $3 per person on weekdays, $5 on weekends.
There are only two county parks on Maui that allow camping, and neither of them are recommended if you’re looking for an idyllic setting. Papalaua Wayside Park is a narrow strip of shoreline right off the main road and Kanaha Beach Park is next to the airport–airplanes start rumbling overhead in the early, early morning.
For Hawaii county parks–$6 per night–and permits online: [co.hawaii.hi.us]
While Laupahoehoe Beach Park doesn’t offer much in the way of a beach (the tsunami memorial here is a somber reminder of the ocean’s volatility), it’s still a scenic and usually peaceful place to camp.