Words by Rebecca Parsons
Oahu is a standup paddler's paradise. From vibrant reefs to world famous surf breaks, this dreamy island has something for paddlers of all abilities and skill levels. While a stay at the iconic Royal Hawaiian may sound inviting, it's going to run you a few hundred dollars a night. If budget is holding you back from visiting Hawaii's most populated island, we have some good news. Because in addition to five-star hotels and resorts, there are a number of affordable accommodations available on the island. We've rounded up five of our favorite campgrounds and hostels that will allow you to have your cake and eat it too.
Malaekahana Beach Campground
Located between Laie and Kahuku on the northeastern shore, Malaekahana is one of the most popular campgrounds on the island. Malaekahana historically has been known as "Puuhonua," or place of refuge, and still serves as a retreat for locals and travelers alike. Situated on 36,288 acres of beachfront property, the site allows for easy access to swimming, surfing, sailing and standup paddling. The campsite offers a number of different accommodation options including tent camping and vehicle camping, Plantation Hale's, Plantation Suites, and a Pavilion Package. Amenities include a small camp store, equipment rentals, and surf and SUP lessons for an additional fee. Sites start at $9.41 per night per person.
Waikiki Beachside Hostel
Located less than a block from world-famous Waikiki Beach, the Waikiki Beachside Hostel has been housing travelers from all corners of the globe since 2001. In addition to the beach, the hostel is located within walking distance to restaurants, shopping, and nightlife, as well as most major activities and attractions. Home to surf legend Duke Kahanamoku, Waikiki typically offers calm waves, making it a great place to learn to SUP. The hostel includes a number of different room options including mixed dorms, female dorms, semi-private and private rooms. Hostel amenities include daily breakfast, free wifi and weekly outdoor live entertainment. Bunks start at $36.54 per night.
Bellows Field Beach Park Campground
Located on the windward side of the island, Bellows Field Beach Park is a 40-minute drive from Waikiki and is home to fifty campsites situated amongst the ironwood trees. The picturesque beach offers white sand and clear, blue waters. The shape of the wave is most inviting to bodyboarders but other surf craft frequent the waters as well. The beach is located on an active military training ground, so it is only open to the public from noon on Fridays to midnight on Sundays. Permits are required for camping and go quickly, so take that into consideration when planning your trip. Amenities include outdoor showers, two comfort stations, bbq grills, picnic tables, and limited parking. $32 for a 3-day camping permit.
Backpackers Vacation Inn & Hostel
Located on a stretch of beachfront property on the North Shore, Backpackers Hawaii offers affordable accommodations for budget travelers. A number of world-famous surf breaks are located within walking distance including Pipeline, Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach. During the calm summer months, enjoy mellow paddles and snorkeling directly in front of the hostel or stroll down the beach to Sharks Cove. With four main buildings, there are a number of different accommodation options including dorm beds, private beach studios and even entire cabins. Dorm-style cabins start at $30 per night per person.
Hawaii Surf Campers
This might not be the cheapest option but it is quite possibly the coolest. Hawaii Surf Campers offers a range of decked out camper vans, complete with everything you need for the ultimate SUP adventure. There are a number of different vans and buses to choose from, all of which are very photo-worthy. Keep in mind vans can only house SUPs smaller than 11 feet, so it's probably best to leave your raceboard at home. The cost breaks down to about $160 per night, but when you take into consideration the fact that the price includes both your accommodation and wheels, it's not a bad deal. For an added fee, they'll even pick you up from the airport.