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Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

Perth, Australia
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Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

Hi,

We are thinking of hiring a camper van (Happy Campers) or a motor home (Harpers) and travelling around the big island for four or five nights. It would be two couples with a van each or one motorhome. Has anyone used these companies before? I would be interested to hear some reviews. and after reading some reviews already a lot of people are saying it isn't safe to camp on the big island - is this still the case. It would be two guys and two girls on our trip so I don't think we would have a problem but just wanted to hear some opinions. I know that we have to get camping permits for the parks and things but is there anything else that we would have to consider?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Rylee

Island of Hawaii...
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1. Re: Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

There are no RV parks here and the Big Island is not camping friendly at all.

Island of Hawaii...
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2. Re: Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

Where do the companies suggest you camp?

I can tell you that it's illegal to sleep in a vehicle on the Big Island, unless you're camping by permit or on private property. You most certainly cannot pull over and lead the gypsy life at beaches or roadside or where you will.

So you need a campground list which accepts RV's, and I most certainly would not rent from the companies unless they provide you with one. If you get a list, we can provide you with feedback on the spots.

From a resident's point of view, one of the great things about the island is no RV's on the road, no getting stuck behind them like on the mainland, so I wouldn't expect this to be popular with residents as a trend. Tent or cabin camping is more the local style.

Do the rental companies deal with emptying the holding tanks? I'm fairly sure there are no facilities at our parks.

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3. Re: Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

Don't do it. Crime is really bad on the island.

Island of Hawaii...
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4. Re: Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

I wouldn't say there's a lot of crime here. I think it's better to stay in real lodgings if you don't know what you're doing and don't know the culture here. I think it would be really hot in a van.

Denver, Colorado
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5. Re: Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

I believe you can do this one. Keep searching for reviews of that company before you committ. I remember someone commenting recently on that rental outfit and they had a good experience.

Your best bets will be Volcano National Park and private campgounds that allow you to park, shower, cook, etc.

Remember the less surpervised the camping area the more at risk you are for the occasional rogue trouble makers especially at night. Say if you are at a remote camping spot w/ no cell phone coverage and need help you are S.O.L.

Two smaller vans sounds better than one big one cause roads are not friendly to slow moving vehicles. If so remember to pull off every 15 minutes or so to let traffic go by. Second van would allow you to park first one and use other for day excursions.

Also, compare the total cost vs. budget lodging such as Manago Hotel, My Island B&B, and Kamuela Inn and add a reasonable size car might be less money than the camper vans. Places like Kamuela Inn have kitchenette units w/ multiple bedrooms if you wanna split the cost and save on food.

Here's all of your camping options for the island.

www.alternative-hawaii.com/accom/bicc.htm

Island of Hawaii...
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6. Re: Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

I did some research, and Hawai'i County allows RV's to camp in campgrounds, as long as you have a permit. It wouldn't hurt to call for info.

Here's their general info page from the bottom of the page:

hawaii-county.com/parks/pdf/CampingInformati…

As to safety, here's the official caution.

"e. Vehicles should be parked in designated areas only and locked since break-ins are not uncommon. Do not leave personal belongings unattended. There are no motor home courts, but recreation vehicles are permitted to park in designated parking areas at the campground.

f. Security guard service is provided only at Spencer & Isaac Hale Beach Parks—all other camping and picnic sites do not provide this service. Use good judgment while staying at camp and picnic sites because some incidents of harassment and other unpleasant experiences have been reported in the past. "

I would not want to drive a full-sized RV on the winding roads here. A regular van would be easier, unless you have experience with driving RV's. I recommend finding campgrounds with some shade; otherwise I can't imagine that these don't become hot boxes (or hot cans) in the tropical sun.

Edited: 16 July 2010, 00:13
Kona, Hawaii
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7. Re: Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

Oh please, crime is not bad here in comparison to most places.

I would ask how much with the RV/Van cost and compare that to having a nice AC condo or hotel with real hot showers :) For 4 or 5 nights it might be about the same.

Corvallis, Oregon
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8. Re: Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

"unpleasant experiences" , I like that one. At least the county finally showed some willingness to go after the most vicious perpetrators after the Hookena unpleasant experiences made the news in Oahu.

I'd be careful on any van rentals without doing a lot of research first. I actually did the winnebago thing as a kid on Kauai, had a blast, but those were different times.

If I recall, there was a really negative VW microbus rental review, probably from another island, on here a few months back. Just make sure you know exactly what your getting when you sign up. Adeline makes a decent point in that you can probably get a pretty decent price on a condo, and I'd add, probably a rental car, if you check around. Unless camping in a vehicle is your romantic dream that you just gotta do, I'd rethink it... I heard there's a vacancy coming up in a rental down in Milolii... from another thread where people recommended some thought.

Perth, Australia
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9. Re: Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

Thank you for all your comments

Island of Hawaii...
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10. Re: Hiring van and camping on the Big Island

The bad review was on the Maui company that rents Vanagons. The vehicle was supposedly in poor condition, and the renter found nowhere legal to camp, not having done research, and not having gotten any guidance from the company. (My recollection of the complaint.).

At least here there are legal places to camp.