If you are looking for a jungle-feel state park getaway, then the Kalopa State Recreation Area is the ideal destination for you in Hawaii. It is one of the favorite campsites on the big island since it has a beautiful wilderness feel with stunning views, and a range of accommodation options.
Kalopa State Recreation Area is located 40 miles northwest of the bustling town of Hilo. The park is on an elevation of 2,000 feet and is home to many rare plants including the endangered Loulou plants and stunning hibiscus. The campsites are dispersed among picturesque native trees with stunning flowers. The area is beloved by hikers and nature lovers. Since the state park is at a high altitude, it does get quite chilly and damp during the night time, so make sure to bring warm clothes! The rain forest and frequent showers provide a welcome relief from the heat closer to the ocean.
The state park includes facilities such as restrooms, camp spots, drinking water, and cabins. No animals are permitted, and bins are provided to dispose of all your trash. There are lovely restaurants a short drive away, along with a grocery stores for all your camping needs. There is a beach 15 minutes away where you can go for a quick dip and swim in the crystal clear water. Basically, all you could hope for from a Hawaiian RV getaway!
Kalopa State Recreation Area is located at 2,000 feet of altitude at the end of a winding windy road, which provides picturesque views of the big island. It rains often, so make sure to be careful on the road. The beach is only 15 minutes away from the campground, where visitors can enjoy the clear water. There are restaurants, shops, and facilities within a 10-minute drive from the campsites. The camping grounds have paved roads, with plenty of space to maneuver your vehicle to your campsite. There is also plenty of parking available if you wish to stay at the cabins.
At the end of a windy road, there is a collection of tall trees with campsites and cabins dispersed among them. This gives all campers sufficient privacy away from other visitors. The campsites are ADA-accessible, with opportunities for visitors to stay in cabins if they do not wish to camp outdoors. Other facilities include picnic tables, shared kitchen facilities, a bathhouse with cold showers, and trashcans.
There are several parking spaces, and a waste disposal site for RVs and campervans. Unfortunately, no pets are allowed at this campsite. There are no hookups available. Reserve your spots well in advance since these sites can fill up quickly.
If you chose to stay in a cabin, they can snugly accommodate up to eight people. These duplex cabins provide bunk beds, toilet facilities, and a hot shower. There is also a dining hall equipped with cooking facilities for all cabins. The furnishings are simple but include a gas cooker, water heater, refrigerator, tables, and chairs. You must bring your own linen.
Nature lovers enjoy the hiking trails available from the Kalopa State Recreational area. The most popular quick trail is a 0.7-mile hike which takes you through a loop of the native forest trees. These ohi a lehua trees are stunning local trees which bloom red flowers, and thick water absorbing leaves. There are many other endemic plants which bloom stunning flowers. The walk is easy, allowing anyone to experience the beauty of Hawaiian wilderness.
If you wish to go on longer walk there is a three-mile hike up a narrow, windy road from Highway 19. The trails are well-maintained, and there is a Polynesian Garden along the stunning trail through the woodland. Make sure to bring a rain jacket, since the rain can come out of nowhere.
The Kalopa State Recreation Area has several mountain bike trails, giving you spectacular views of the Big Island. One of the favorites is the Old Growth Fern Rain Forest Loop. This one takes you through the thriving local rain forest and beautiful views of the coast. The trail is a multi-use track of moderate difficulty level. Dogs are allowed on this trail, so you can bring your four legged friend for some exercise.
The whole area surrounding the campground is expansive wilderness and gorgeous Hawaiian landscape. So why not grab your mountain bike out of the camper and explore the surrounding areas. The weather frequently changes in these areas, so make sure to bring a range of clothing options along with drinkable water.
While the beach is not right by the the campsite, it is one of the absolute must dos in the area. The beach is a 15-minute drive away and leads you into the crystal clear water to cool off on a warm day. If you have your own snorkeling gear, make sure to bring it in your rig to keep an eye out below the surface.
Under water you will be greeted by a large array of healthy corals, rocky outcrops, and fish families swimming around. Mostly you will be seeing little reef fish, so take your time to enjoy their beautiful colors and diverse ecosystems. If you are lucky, you will be able to spot a Hawksbill turtle grazing on the algae that grows on the rocks.
The rare 'ihi'a lehua, 'ohi'a, or just lehua tree, which is scientifically known as the Metrosideros Polymorpha, is a famous endemic Hawaiian tree. It can grow in just about any soil type, and presents itself in diverse forms from a twisted shrub or a tall straight tree. It's one of the first trees that can colonize new lava flows and does not mind the toxic volcanic gases. You can spot this wondrous tree and many other native trees and plants during your Hawaiian RV trip.
The 'Ohi'a tree is a home for many native birds and insects on the Big Island. Some of the native Hawaiian Birds include the Apapane and Akohekohe, which depend on the flowers for their nectar. Unfortunately, many other bird species that are now extinct once depended on the tree and its flower's nectar.
Another bird you might see when walking through the forest include the Tiwi, with a sickle-shaped bill. These birds originally depended on Lobelias, however due to the loss of their habitat, they have began adapting to depend on the 'Ohi'a as they are a hardier tree. The more common birds on the Big Island include the house finch, Mynah, Black Crowned Night Hero, Cattle Egret, Grey Francolin, Hawaiian Goose Nene, or the Hawaiian Stilt.
During any time of the year, picnicking in the beautiful nature of Hawaii is the perfect activity for the whole family. Luckily for you, there is a grocery store a short 15-minute drive away from the Kalopa State Recreational Area where you can pick up any picnicking necessities. The campground also provides picnic tables under the shade of the towering trees, and with pleasant background sounds of chirping birds.
You can always take your picnic basket down along the 0.7-mile loop walk through the forest, and see if you can spot one of the beautiful and elusive Tiwi Birds feeding off the famous 'Ohi'a tree's flowers. Keep an eye out of wallabies, mule deers, or chitals!