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There are some perks to this military life including OCONUS travel. You may be familiar with the Armed Forces Recreation Centers, which include Edelweiss in Germany, the Hale Koa in Hawaii, and Dragon Hill Lodge in Korea. Those resorts are amazing, but they tend to fill up fast during common getaway times such as spring break or summer vacation. Here are 10 lesser-known OCONUS Military Recreation Facilities to try this year!
OCONUS Military Recreation Facilities in Hawaii
These serene beach cottages are located on Marine Corps Base (MCB) Hawaii. They offer amazing views of Kaneohe Bay, a beautiful stretch along the coast of Oahu. While you’re there, you can also enjoy the other facilities on MCB Hawaii. The famous Kaneohe Klipper golf course is known as one of the best courses in the military.
The cottages are basic but are fully furnished with kitchens and private decks. All 13 cottages have 2 bedrooms and 1 bath and can accommodate up to 4 guests. The rate is $144 per night for all patrons year round.
- Active duty stationed at Kaneohe Bay or Camp Smith: up to 4 months in advance
- Active duty Marines not stationed on Kaneohe Bay: up to 3 months in advance
- Other active duty, reservist or retired military: up to 2 months in advance
This beautiful recreation area is located on Waimānalo beach on the southeastern side of Oahu, Hawaii. Bellows has 117 lodging units, including cabins, condos, and campsites. You can rent virtually any type of beach, camping, or sport equipment from the Turtle Cove recreation station. They also offer fun adventures like snorkeling tours, stand-up paddle board lessons, and Hawaiian culture classes.
Standard cabins sleep up to 6 guests and cost $105 per night. Additionally, the condo units also accommodate 6 people at a rate of $132 per night. Other options including the “rustic” Cedar Camper cabins ($33/night) and the family campsites ($22/night).
The peak summer season runs from late May to early August at this OCONUS location. The window for active duty reservations opens in December. Other eligible patrons can reserve for summer starting March 1. Reservations for non-peak season can be made up to 13 months in advance if you book online. For the full reservation policy, visit the Bellows website.
Enjoy an escape to paradise on the island of Kauai. It takes a little extra effort to get to this OCONUS location, but you will be rewarded with peace and quiet and great views! It’s also good base to explore one of Hawaii’s less-visited islands. While staying at Barking Sands, you also have access to other facilities on PMRF, including the fitness center. Additionally, the Community Recreation Center rents all of the equipment you need to enjoy your time at the beach.
Barking Sands has 24 cottages. Half are beachfront, but all have ocean views. The 2-bedroom, 1-bath cottages sleep up to 6 people and are $120 per night. The 3-bedroom, 2-bath cottages can accommodate 8 guests and are $135 per night.
Reservation Policy: Up to 1 year in advance for active duty, 6 months for all others.
Other OCONUS Military Recreation Facilities
This full-service recreational OCONUS facility is located in Seward, Alaska. It offers year-round activities for adventurous travelers, including charter fishing tours, snow sports, hiking, zip-lining, and glacier-viewing.
Seward Resort has many accommodation options, including a motel, townhouses, log cabins, and RV/camping sites. Prices vary by rank, season, and type of accommodation. Visit their website to see the full list of rates.
Reservation Policy: All guests may reserve up to a year in advance.
Okuma Beach is an amazing beachfront recreation area at the northern end of Okinawa, Japan. About a 90-minute drive from Kadena Air Base, it makes for a great getaway from the cluster of U.S. military bases on the central part of the island. You can enjoy a variety of beach and marine activities, including jet ski rental, glass bottom boat tours, and snorkeling. Okuma Beach also has facilities for tennis, golf, and Go-Karting.
Lodging options at Okuma Beach include cottages, cabins, bungalows, and individual studios/suites. Prices vary depending on the accommodation and time of year. Peak season is April through September.
Reservation Policy: All patrons can reserve for peak season up to 6 months in advance. Non-peak reservations can be made up to 11 months out.
If you’re looking for an OCONUS escape near the Tokyo/Yokohama area in Japan, Tama Hills is a great way to relax and spend time outdoors. This facility includes a golf course and numerous other sports fields. You can also enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and archery. Additionally, the Outdoor Recreation Office rents a broad range of camping, sports, and outdoor equipment.
Tama Hills has a lodge with rooms ranging from $48 for a single to $80 for a DV. Cabins are $70 and up.
Reservation Policy: Only SOFA status personnel stationed in Japan may reserve lodging at Tama Hills. Eligible patrons stationed at Yokota Air Base can reserve rooms up to 120 days in advance. Patrons stationed elsewhere in Japan have a shorter reservation window or other restrictions. Visit the Tama Hills website for details.
Places to Visit in Europe
This OCONUS facility is an activity of Grafenwoehr, Germany MWR and includes cabins in two different locations.
The cabins at Grafenwoehr (Tower Barracks), along with the entire Wild B.O.A.R. Outdoor Recreation center, are located on scenic Dickhäuter Lake. The 2-bedroom cabins accommodate up to 5 people and cost $125 per night. The 3-bedroom cabins sleep up to 7 guests for $150 per night. Each cabin is equipped with a kitchenette and free Wi-Fi. While staying at the cabins, you have access to all of Wild B.O.A.R. Outdoor Recreation’s activities. There is also an on-site climbing wall and ropes course, equipment rental for a huge range of outdoor activities year-round, and many day trips and tours.
The cabins at Vilseck (Rose Barracks) are a bit more rustic but have modern furniture. They also have full kitchens, but no Wi-Fi. A 2-bedroom cabin sleeps 4 and is $75 per night. A 3-bedroom cabin can accommodate up to 6 people for $90 per night. Facilities near the cabins include a playground, camping area, an RV parking area, and a sports field.
Reservation Policy: All military ID card holders may make reservations on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no official timeline.
Carney Park is an activity of Navy MWR Naples (Italy). This unique park is located in the crater of an extinct volcano. It includes a golf course, numerous sports fields, and an Olympic-size swimming pool. You can also rent bikes, tents, and other recreation equipment or book tours through the Navy Outdoor Recreation Center.
There are 27 cabins available for rent as well as camping and RV sites. Cabin prices range from $40 to $70 per night or $200 to $350 per week. Their website has details of the lodging options.
Reservation Policy: Eligible patrons may reserve up to one year in advance.
While not a military recreation facility, you can stay at the Navy Gateway Inns & Suites (NGIS) at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay (Greece) and enjoy a fantastic vacation. Take advantage of the base’s amazing location on the island of Crete and use their Outdoor Adventure Center to enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, cycling, and a range of other activities. You can use their rental equipment and plan your own adventure, or you can join one of their many day and overnight trips.
Nightly rates at NGIS range from $39 for a private room with shared bath to $100 for a VIP room.
Travel to Spain
Located in southern Spain, Rota Naval Base is another great OCONUS spot to create your own adventure vacation. Rota is a charming town with beautiful beaches and proximity to many other fantastic destinations. You can take a short ferry ride to Cadiz, the oldest city in Europe, or drive to the famous city of Seville. Rota’s Outdoor Recreation office has amazing day and overnight trips, including hiking, skiing, canyoning and mountain biking. Their Tickets & Travel office plans fun outings like touring a bodega with Sherry tasting, Flamenco shows, and regional city tours. More details are available in the book, “Welcome to Rota,” written by military spouse Lizann Lightfoot, who lived there for three years.
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Stephanie Montague is a communications consultant and freelance writer. She is the founder of Poppin’ Smoke, a website designed to encourage members of the military community to use their military benefits for (fun) travel. Stephanie shares news from military MWR facilities, updates from other military blogs, and links to great travel content on the Poppin’ Smoke Facebook Page.