by Noelani Rosehill

Do you like to camp out in the great outdoors? To sleep under a clear, star-filled O'ahu sky is absolute heaven. There is a beautiful camping and picnic spot on the north side of O'ahu, Malaekahana State Recreation Park. Malaekahana is a spectacular place to retreat to from the hustle and bustle of city life. All the information needed is right here.

About an hour and ten minute drive from central Honolulu, the continuous change in scenery will make the ride worthwhile. Malaekahana is located between two towns, Lai'e and Kahuku. From the Honolulu International Airport, take the H-1 freeway Honolulu on ramp - east bound. Change to the farthest left lane and exit on the School Middle Streetcut-off. Stay in right lane, this lane will lead on to the Likelike Highway exit. As you drive on the Likelike, it will take you to the Windward side of the island. Before you reach the Windward side, you will pass through the Wilson Tunnel. Once through the tunnel, stay in right lane. Take the Kahekili Highway 83 exit to traffic light. Drive slowly so you don't miss the exit. Stay on this road, eventually it will meet up to the Kamehameha Highway 830. The ocean will be on the right side; that is when Kahekili Highway changes to Kamehameha Highway. Continue to follow road. Do not panic-- it's a long drive, and you will reach your destination. Once you pass the Polynesian Cultural Center, this is the town of Lai'e, all you have left is one mile. The Cultural Center is on the left hand side - mountain (mauka) side. Malaekahana is located on the right hand side - ocean (makai) side. Look for a wooden sign that says, Malaekahana. Drive to the green office and pick up the envelope with your last name on it. Now off to find your campsite.

Malaekahana stimulates the sense of sight, sound, smell, and feel. What visitors see upon arrival are the tall pine trees and a beautiful stretch of beach that goes on as far as the eyes can see. The ocean is clear and inviting. The water is perfect for body boarding, swimming, and body surfing. The sand is soft and tantalizing for sunbathing. The park itself is well taken care of. Everyone who camps there, help to keeps the area clean of litter and debris. The change in noise grabs the attention of the listener. The sounds of traffic and noisy neighbors are gone. It is instantly replaced with the sounds of the wind whispering through the pine-trees and the ocean washing up on the shore. In the mornings birds sing and chirp to each other - natures alarm clock. It is a pleasant sound to wake up to. The smell in the air is a combination of pine- trees and the ocean. The best nose pleasing smell is, the smell of food cooking. This is one of the best things about camping: the ono (delicious in Hawaiian) food. The thought of rushing home and cooking dinner never enters the mind. To just be there at Malaekahana relaxes the body, mind, and soul. I find camping here therapeutic.

Malaekahana was chosen one of O'ahu's best beaches by Sunset Magazine. A camping permit is needed and can be obtained by mail from the Hawaii State Park Office. No fee is charged for State parks and no permit is needed if you choose to only have a picnic.

This camping site used to be a "Puuhonua" (city of refuge). In earlier days, Hawaiians grew taro and sugar cane there. In 1975 the Governor gave the thumbs up for Malaekahana to be turned in to a State Beach Park. Thus, this is how Malaekahana came to be. Off the shore of Malaekahana is two State Bird Refuges islands. The largest island is, Mokuauia and the other, Kihewamoku Island. Both islands can be walked to during low-tide and serves as a very educational excursion. Adults as well as children find the islands and reef intriguing. Along the park are buildings that can be rented if sleeping in tents do not appeal to you.

To enhance enjoyment while camping at Malaekahana State Recreation Park, here is a suggested list of supplies to bring: tent, tarp, tools for tent and tarp preparation, sleeping bag or blanket, pillow, clothes, swimsuit, personal hygiene supplies, bath/beach towel, flashlights, lanterns, propane or kerosene stove, barbeque grill, food and condiments to last trip, coolers with ice to store perishable food and drinks, utensils for cooking and eating, paper cups, dish washing liquid with sponge, clothesline/rope, and clothes pins. And don't forget the most important item, the permit.

Malaekahana is a very special place to me. From the time I was little, to now that I am an adult, I have been camping at this site every year with my family. Many of my fond memories were from spending time there with the people I love most, my family. I remember going on crab hunts with my sister and cousins at night. We would race to see who could catch the largest crab. We sometimes woke up at dawn to search the shore line for glass floaters. These floaters were from nets of Japanese fishing boats. One year our family reunion was held at Malaekahana. As I said earlier, this is a special place to me. It is a safe environment to bring the entire family. The facilities are kept clean and the local people are friendly.

Why don't you start a family tradition and spend it at Malaekahana State Recreation Park. Start the memories of fun, laughter and unity with your family.

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