The Malaekahana State Recreation Area on O‘ahu has so much potential – with a beautiful stretch of white sand that borders the wooded beach park and campgrounds that have been called a place of refuge in an "Old Hawai‘i" setting. But the park seems to lack the upkeep needed to help reach that potential, as unsanitary conditions and theft continue to plague the park.
I've camped here several times growing up and noticed the conditions have gotten progressively worse over the years. It's not like the park keepers aren't trying though. They recently put in hot showers and a wi-fi and battery charging area called the "comfort station." Now, they just need to maintain it. The comfort station's metal roof is rusting and falling apart, and by the end of the night, the bathroom floors are usually littered with trash.
And although they advertise the campgrounds as being secured, theft continues to be a huge problem here. I've never had anything stolen from me while camping, but I have heard horror stories by fellow campers – money, electronics and other valuables have been taken right out of their tents; swimsuits drying on the clothesline have also gotten stolen. Even the comfort station has become a target of theft, where charging cell phones and laptops often go missing.
Theft, however, can easily be prevented. The main office has lockers available to guests; just make sure to bring your own lock, and please make sure not to leave any valuables unattended. That goes anything left at the comfort station, in your tent or in your parked car. Whenever I travel, I always make sure to have my valuables with me at all times. I would never leave them unattended, even at a coffee shop or on the beach. It's a hassle at times, but it's well worth not having your belongings stolen.
This doesn't mean that Malaekahana isn't worth stopping at, even if for a day trip. The generally calm ocean conditions make this a prime spot for swimming and snorkeling. Even long walks on the beach offer scenic views you won't forget. Just make sure to follow our advice, and you'll have a great time.
MALAEKAHANA STATE RECREATION AREA / 56-335 Kamehameha Hwy., La‘ie, HI 96762 (Map) / Amenities: showers, picnic tables, restrooms, comfort station, clothesline / Activities: snorkeling, swimming, bodysurfing, shore fishing / Free parking, fee for camping / 808-293-1736
January 2nd, 2013