There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track. Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.
Namakani Paio Campground
This is one of my favorite spots to be on earth, to camp under a canopy of fragrant eucalyptus trees, in the embrace of Madame Pele, with nothing but ocean between you and Antarctica, nothing but stars between you and infinity. Nestled snugly between the Hawai’i Belt Road and Mauna Loa, perched on the summit of Kilauea Volcano, this small campground occupies one of the most spectacular, if precarious, positions of any campground, anywhere.
There are trails everywhere here, and I urge you to explore them. Crossing Highway 11, a trail of unsurpassed views of Mauna Loa wanders over the summit of Kilauea in less than a mile to the Jagger Museum. Heading north from behind the restroom, another trail crosses the divide between Mauna Loa and Kilauea to fields and kipukas and the best sunrise view of Mauna Loa, anywhere.
At 4200 feet elevation, days as well as nights can be quite cold and many days in a row of rain and fog are not uncommon. Be sure your clothing and camping gear are up to keeping you comfortable. On clear nights the sky seems pocked with stars here and one can frequently see the glow from the volcano’s fire reflected in the sky. Rarely is the campground troubled by vog.
Namakani Paio Campground is located immediately west of the Main Entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, halfway between the 31 and 32 mile markers. Clean, efficient cabins are available for rent from the National Park Service at Namakani Paio Campground and tent sites are free, available first-come, first served.
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