Mālaekahana is a favorite camping destination for local residents along the windward coast. Camping is not a large part of the culture here, but many people have camped here at least once with friends, family, or local groups and gatherings. Along with the many private options and the nearby State Recreation Area, a reasonable number of visitors enjoy the tropical nights in their tents.
The bay and the beach are both large and full of ways to have fun. In the summer months the water is calm enough to do some stand-up paddle boarding, and in the winter there is legitimate shore break to be reckoned with. You can fish, bodysurf, boogie board, or longboard on the right days. The wide beach is perfect for some beach football or horseshoes. There are a whopping 74 tent sites and 20 rentable cabins, and reservations are available.
This part of O'ahu really makes you feel like you are in old Hawaii. Fewer houses, no large buildings, and large stretches of nothing but trees and grazing lands. Between Kailua and the North Shore is one of the last uncrowded sections of the island. Nearby attractions include the North Shore of O'ahu, the Polynesian Cultural Center, Lā'ie Point, and a bit farther south, Kualoa Ranch. Not to be confused with the similarly named Mālaekahana State Recreation Area Campground, this beach campground is located farther north in the bay of the same name. Make sure you are booking the right one and follow the correct directions, or it can get a bit frustrating. Keep an eye on your valuables, especially if they are onshore while you are enjoying the ocean.