If given the opportunity, staying at the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) while on the Big Island is sure to be a memorable experience. However, you need to be affiliated with the Department of Defense in order to book KMC cottages. I’ll be honest here. Don’t expect luxury at KMC. It’s clean, it’s functional, all the amenities are there, and it’s inexpensive. The cottages have been remodeled over the years, but if you’ve been to the cabins at Bellows then you’ve experienced a typical KMC cottage. Again, nothing wrong, just keep things in perspective.
There are a variety of cottage configurations, generally offered in 1 to 3 bedroom setups. However, the kinds of bed in each cottage could vary. A one bedroom cottage could have one bed in the single bedroom along with a sofa bed in the living room, or there could be two beds and a sofa bed. It all depends. When calling to make a reservation, just explain your desired arrangement and the workers will try their best to accommodate.
Each cottage is equipped with heaters in each room (including the bathroom), and there’s a fireplace in the living area (you do have to pay/buy the Duraflame logs). And there’s good reason for this heat. Located 4000 feet up in a rainforest, the weather is much different than downtown Hilo. You can expect 20-degree temperature swings from 80 degrees in Hilo then 60 degrees (and colder) on Kilauea.
On location, there’s a general store that covers all your basic needs, laundry facilities, an bowling alley, and an arcade. Although we didn’t eat at KMC, there are dining facilities and a bar. I didn’t check out the Fitness Center, but I made good use of the free Wifi in our cottage. Parking is typically available right outside.
KMC is actually located inside of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, making it super easy to experience the national park’s attractions. You do need to pay a park entry fee, but it’s good for a week. Being inside the park has great advantages of fully exploring all the attractions and getting an early head start before all the visitors arrive. More about park’s attractions in my next post.
There are some things to consider before reserving your stay at KMC. Your plans and itinerary while on the Big Island matter. KMC is somewhat remotely located, about a 45-minute drive from Hilo. Most likely, you won’t be commuting between KMC and Hilo in a single day. Once you head out for the day, you’ll probably stay out. When you come back at night, drive carefully. As you drive further up the volcano, there are less and less street lights. Somewhat windy roads, single lanes, and poor lighting are challenges. Then there’s the rain. Yes, Kilauea is a rainforest. Clear skies could change to downpours very quickly. So add the factor of rain and slick roads to the other conditions, and you’ll be faced with this.
Overall, lodging at KMC is well worth it. There are activities around the area that can last a day or two, and really, it’s just amazing to see how different the climate of Kilauea is.
A few more pictures of the Kilauea Military Camp.