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“Very mixed experience. Nature lovely. Staff great. Facilities - ugh :(” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Malaekahana State Recreation Area

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Malaekahana State Recreation Area
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56-335 Kamehameha Highway, Laie, Oahu, HI 96825   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Laie
Honolulu, Hawaii
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Very mixed experience. Nature lovely. Staff great. Facilities - ugh :(”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2012

I've camped all over the world - so have some basis for comparison. I had high hopes of having a real "nature" Hawaii experience. I did - but also had a real "down and out" "noisy" ill-mannered camper neighbor experiences - including theft of my cell phone at 7:30 in the morning when the place appeared deserted. Alas, it seems there is an ongoing problem with continual petty thieves roaming the grounds. During my stay, people lost clothes drying on their clotheslines, wet suit stolen from the grass shack clothesline, my cell phone from the "comfort station", CD players and CD's, luggage, money taken from slashed suitcases inside tents... these are a few stories fellow campers shared with me.

Security told me they know who the regular kids are who steal from the campground. Isn't that nice to know? You will find out after the fact that staff knows who takes stuff from campers. What's wrong with this picture?



I was looking so forward to being with nature on the beach - which is hard to come by in Hawaii due to the great numbers of homeless people and druggies who claim the beaches as their own throughout the islands. This campground advertised security. I never saw any patrolling or pro-active security measures. On weekends and holidays the camping circles were filled with LOUD noisy groups, including screaming children beginning at sunrise, radios, bright flood lights, noisy intrusive young men shouting, kids running around with flashlights shining through the walls in your tent til 2 AM and later.... you get the picture. Oh yes, the roosters: First crow around 2 AM, then warming up by 4 AM, then 6 AM and on... non stop. Right outside your tent!

In the camping circles, people start their fire with various lighter fluids - so the whole campground reeks with chemical smells at night. I guess few people know how to make a fire anymore with crumpled newspaper, twigs, and firewood.

The toilets had been condemned.... so there were porta-potties in use. No one likes porta-potties, of course, but the staff did a great job of keeping them clean and supplied with toilet paper.

The handles did not work in the showers... so at best I could get a few moments of warmish water... then it was pot luck if the water was warm to cold - as the mixing valves didn't mix the water temperatures.

The shower areas were also not cleaned... one day I picked up two big bags of old toiletry containers, used diapers, sanitary supplies, used condoms... etc. The owner said they would add that to their daily cleaning list. I wonder what I had to even mention it?

The wifi area worked well during my stay. At night, scroungy characters were hanging around the wifi station. Later, the owner put up a sign telling non-registered people to not use the wifi station.
I do not call this good security, nor a patrolled campground.

Seems the owner is off island a lot - so much is untended. The staff tries their best, but seem untrained in a lot of things. The staff was very friendly and amiable on a personal level.

There is so much potential for this beautiful spot. I would like to see some competent management of the grounds and facilitye - and real security as they advertised on their website.

That said, the experience with the wonderful beach is incredible. You can walk the whole beach down to the State Recreation Area of Malaekahana. On my walks I enjoyed watching the sand crabs scuttle around, and one day a HUGE sea lion laying on the beach.

Two days a week, homeless people stay at the campground when the public beach parks are closed. They do register.

Room Tip: If its raining a lot, stay away from the sites by the creek. It flooded during heavy rains and campe...
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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36 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (5)
Date | Rating
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  • German first
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English first
Aiea, Hawaii
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2012

Many of the reviews here are pretty accurate when describing the apparent lack of upkeep in some areas of this campground, but to say the place is not worth the stop because of some 'seedy characters' in the parking lot? The beach is clean, the surf safe and it's nice for a day visit if not camping. Our experience was quite different, mainly because we camped with a large group and stayed at the recently renovated "B" camp sites. This area is for tent camping only and is located at the far south end of the parking area. The Rest Rooms were recently renovated, stocked with toilet paper, cleaned daily and were spotless! This was a surprise to many of us expecting worse conditions. The only thing was that the showers are not heated here, but that sure helped wake you up! The site is close to the beach and nearby is an emergency access road that anyone can walk up, so there were many surfers and beachgoers that transited the camp site during the day, but with a group continually there, we had no problems with theft or vagrants. I can't say the same thing for many of the 'A' camp sites, but they are working on some renovations that are supposed to be completed by summer. Overall an enjoyable weekend for us.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hawaii
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 6, 2012

My boyfriend and I have been staying at the Malaekahana Cabins campground at least 20 times over the last 8 years. We noticed the condition of the campground has deteriorated over that time. After they built the new hot showers in 2008 no maintenance has been done to them. Same for the comfort zone (a small shack with a few chairs in it) and the restrooms there. They are in bad shape! And not only that, but the "comfort" zone is more like a hazard zone. The roof is falling apart and small rusty metal pieces are hanging from the ceiling.

I found a very interesting link showing the most recent condition of the campground facilities - [-----]. Last time we visited we also saw that some of the restrooms were removed so currently there are only 2 or 3 restrooms for the entire campground which are often times clogged or busy especially in the morning. We used to love this campground, but we are not happy that it's not maintained properly. On top of all, they have recently increased their campsite rates. Oh did I mention, we also stayed several times in yurt number 4. It used to have a fridge and the last time we were there in 2009 it was gone.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis
Top Contributor
191 reviews 191 reviews
51 hotel reviews
Reviews in 105 cities Reviews in 105 cities
137 helpful votes 137 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 9, 2011 via mobile

We came here hoping to cross to goat island. The water was too rough for this in December. The beach was fairly nice, but the parking lot was scary, full of seedy looking characters. This place was not worth the trip.

  • Stayed December 2011
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
anchorage
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2011

I used to live on Maui, and I know that camping on the beach is a bit sketchy. It's just not easy with all the alleged rip-off by itinerants and others who prey on visitors. I really wanted to camp, though, as I was on a budget, and I'd read some great reviews about Malaekahana. When I arrived it was raining, so things were a bit messy. I wasn't really prepared to set up in the rain, but one of the staff helped out, so by the next day, when the sun came out, life was good again.

I met the owner of Malaekahana, and learned many details about the place. The campground is run as a non-profit, and it employs a number of locals who might otherwise find employment difficult to find on Oahu's North Shore. The disparity between the 'haves' and the have-nots is very apparent here, and it's truly a shame that wealthy people have locked up much of the coast, and taxes are so high that even local Hawaiians who had land in the family for generations or had 100-year leases, cannot afford to pay the taxes on it, and thus have lost their land. No comment on the Mormon Church and their hand in 'purchasing' most of the East and North Shores in 1850.

Anyway, the owner of Malaekahana has saved this land from privatization, in my opinion, and has created a feeling of Ohana for both Hawaiians and visitors. I'm impressed with the alternative energy developments. Shower water is heated with solar. Greywater and sewage goes through a multi-faceted filter system. Cottages and many buildings constructed using steel containers that have been recycled. The campground was taking on shredded trees from a landscaping company to help build the soil and nurture the plants. The owner is embarking on a waste veggie oil project that is admirable. What can I say? Friends of Malaekahana is doing good in the world.

There are some really cool-looking apartment-type dwellings that have refrigerators and if you have a group this would be a great place. Very new and clean. Okay, some of the outbuildings are a little tired, and yes, you can expect to find insects in the tropics. When there is food you can be sure there are cockroaches. Keep a clean camp, close up your tent properly, and there's no problem. There are lots of chickens on the property and they seem to take care of lots of insects. I'm not too fond of all the cats running around, though. We had no mosquitoes or roaches in our camp. Just bring everything you need--cooler, ice, toilet paper, etc.

The beach is beautiful, they close the gates at 7 pm, so it feels safe. The problem of itinerants seems to increase with the economic situation in Hawaii and elsewhere in the States, and it's no different here. There was one guy who obviously seemed a bit sketchy, seemed to be sneaking into and out of the camp to sleep, but I felt safe here, just as long as I kept my valuables with me. Hard with a computer or any valuables in Hawaii in general, as the reputation is that you can't leave anything of value in a car, as it might be broken into.

I had a good stay on a beautiful beach, with good swimming and waves, lots of good local hiking in the mountains and valleys.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alaska
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 2, 2011

This is the third year in a row that I have stayed at Friends of Malaekahana. I love the beach and the weather is of course amazing. We try a new camp site each time and found our favorite in the back. There were no cats back there and a squirt gun educated the chickens to stay away rather effectively. The price is right, the facilities are adequate (make sure to bring your own toilet paper because they ALWAYS run out during the day). The warm showers work nice. I am only giving an average rating this year because it feels like the place is not being kept up as well as in prior years. There was quite a bit of trash that had blown around, more homeless people, and not as much attention to the bathroom facilities. Security was not as present as had been in prior years.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 2011

I am a seasoned camper and very accustomed to traveling ‘rough’, especially in the third world. I also travel A LOT for work, where I am paid to stay in high end accommodations. Both have their merits, for different reasons, and you only sometimes get what you pay for. This place was a case in point. Beautiful location, but the place is a mess and maintenance/security staff scary. Some of the staff and what seemed like the owner were nice and really helped us, but the security guy seemed to have a chip on his shoulder and we definitely didn’t feel safe here - we had stuff taken from our tent (though admittedly shouldn't have left anything lying around). There was lots of trash around the place, and an abandoned tarp, beer bottles and wet clothing in our campsite when we arrived. Bathrooms were disgusting, no hot water in any of the shower facilities, and there is no communal kitchen, so plan to bring your own esky and ice. Better yet, don’t stay here unless you are on such a tight budget you can’t afford anything else! If you aren’t camping, be warned too that the other accommodations at this place weren’t much better, as some of the other guests reported the yurts had roaches and spiders, mattresses mildewey etc. If you are contemplating this with kids, try juggling a little kid in a bathroom with no toilet paper, where everything is so dirty you don’t want them touching any surfaces, and they cry because the water in the shower is cold. Maybe there were some apartments that were ok, but I would recommend paying to stay someone a bit more comfortable. Better yet, go to a different island in Hawaii. I have been to the other islands, and Oahu is what they say it is– trashy and cheap, and in this case you get what you pay for.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Malaekahana State Recreation Area

Address: 56-335 Kamehameha Highway, Laie, Oahu, HI 96825
Location: United States > Hawaii > Oahu > Laie
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Laie
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Malaekahana Park at Kahuku is a Public Campground with cabins available. It is a privately managed, Non-Profit Organization. No state permit required to camp. Please visit Staff reorganized December of 2008. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Malaekahana State Recreation Area Hotel Laie
Malaekahana State Recreation Area Laie, Oahu, Hawaii

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