Kīpahulu is one of two drive-in campgrounds in the Haleakalā National Park (the other being Hosmer Grove Campground) and the only one that’s near the ocean. It’s situated just south of the Kīpahulu Visitor Center and is accessible by way of the famous Road to Hana. The campground itself is a wide-open grassy area and has a stunning view of the sea and a cliff band that plunges to the water below, making for an unparalleled ambience as you fall asleep to the sound of the crashing waves. If you feel as though you’re not a seasoned camper or are not prepared to stay warm in near freezing weather, this is your better bet over Hosmer, though be sure you’re well-prepared to battle the mosquitos that are famous for harassing campers.
Picnic tables, barbecues and pit toilets can be found on-site, though you’ll have quite a winding 10 miles to drive back to Hana to if you forget a necessity. There’s no potable water in the campground, but it’s easy to swing up the road to the visitor center to get some from the restrooms. There are only five established campsites, and they’re all first-come, first-served. This campsite isn't known for being extremely crowded, but, to be safe, aim for early weekdays and you’ll have a better chance of snagging yourself a site.
Though there are many lovely hikes accessible from the campground, the hike to the gigantic Waimoku Falls is an enjoyable 2 miles. The gradual, uphill hike travels through a thick bamboo stand, over a lovely bridge and underneath a behemoth banyan tree that has been defaced over and over again by irreverent hikers — it’s at once humbling, shocking and infuriating; a clear reminder why protection and advocacy for these wild spaces are as important now as they have always been.
A shorter, but equally pleasant hike from the campground is the Kuloa Point and Kahakai Trail out-and-back. The views of crashing waves are second to none.
Also, it's important to take note that while many flock to the area for a chance to travel through the Pools of Ohe’o Gulch, at the time of publication, the park service has closed the gulch indefinitely thanks to a series of landslides that have plagued the area.