10 Military Recreation Facilities For Your Next Vacation - OCONUS Edition
by Stephanie Montague - March 28th, 2022
Individual countries set their own rules and restrictions for travel during the coronavirus pandemic. Before planning a trip to any of these military recreation facilities, contact local authorities so you understand any limitations on travel, including the necessity of vaccinations or negative COVID tests before visiting.
There are some perks to this military life including OCONUS travel (traveling outside the continental U.S.). You may be familiar with the Armed Forces Recreation Centers, which include fantastic military resorts like 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 ten lesser-known OCONUS Military Recreation Facilities to try this year!
OCONUS military recreation facilities in Hawaii
Whether you're stationed OCONUS and need a quick getaway or you're taking a dedicated destination vacation, these military recreation facilities can make your getaway unforgettable.
Pro-tip: Are you PCSing overseas? Check out our free reviews and area guides for hundreds of military bases around the world. Click here to access reviews or click on the banner below.
1. The Cottages at Kaneohe Bay
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 (as most beautiful) courses in the military.
The cottages are basic but are fully furnished with kitchens and private decks. All 13 cottages have two bedrooms and one bath and can accommodate up to 4 guests. Rates start at $165 per night for all patrons year round, making it an ideal location for an affordable and relaxing military vacation.
Active duty stationed at Kaneohe Bay or Camp Smith: up to four months in advance
Active duty Marines not stationed on Kaneohe Bay: up to three months in advance
Other active duty, reservist, or retired military: up to two months in advance
2. Bellows Air Force Station
This beautiful military 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. The recreation area also offers fun adventures like snorkeling tours, stand-up paddleboard lessons, and Hawaiian culture classes.
Standard cabins sleep up to six guests and cost $127 per night. The condo units also accommodate six people at a rate of $159 per night. Other options include the “rustic” Cedar Camper cabins ($40/night) and the family campsites ($27/night).
The peak summer season at this OCONUS military resort runs from late May to early August. 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.
3. Pacific Missle Range Facility (PMRF) Barking Sands Beach Cottages
Enjoy an escape to paradise on the lush island of Kauai. It takes a little extra effort to get to this OCONUS military area, but you will be rewarded with peace, quiet, and incredible views! Barking Sands is also a great base camp from which you can 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 two-bedroom, one-bath cottages sleep up to six people while the three-bedroom, two-bath cottages can accommodate eight guests. Click here to make reservations and check current rates.
Reservation policy: Up to one year in advance for active duty, six months for all others.
If you are concerned about the current water situation on Hawaii military bases, we encourage you to visit the Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam Facebook Page. You can also check out the Commander Pacific Fleet- Water Updates Page, which will have all pertinent information for the new incoming families. Information includes where you can go for lodging, updated lab results, town halls and daily updates, laundry facilities, and water distribution should you move into a home that has been affected by the water crisis, and more.
And we invite you to watch this video with encouragement for families dealing with the current water crisis in Hawaii:
Other OCONUS military recreation facilities
Hawaii isn't the only great place for military vacations. There are plenty of other OCONUS military recreation facilities offering affordable and unforgettable adventures.
4. Seward Military Resort, Alaska
This full-service OCONUS military recreation facility is located in Seward, Alaska, just over two hours from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Anchorage. It offers year-round activities for adventurous travelers, including charter fishing tours, snow sports, hiking, zip-lining, and glacier-viewing.
Seward Military 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.
PCSing to Alaska? PCSgrades has you covered! Check out the Know Before You Go blog to make your PCS a little smoother.
5. Okuma Beach, Japan
Okuma Beach is an amazing beachfront military resort 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 six months in advance. Non-peak reservations can be made up to 11 months out.
6. Tama Hills Recreation Center, Japan
If you’re looking for an OCONUS escape near the Tokyo/Yokohama area in Japan, Tama Hills is the perfect place to relax and spend time outdoors. This military recreation area 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 $50 for a single to $88 for a DV. Cabins are $77 and up. Visitors can also stay in a yurt or at a campsite. Click here for the most updated information.
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.
Military Vacations in Europe
7. Wild B.O.A.R. Outdoor Recreation cabins, Germany
This OCONUS military recreation 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 two-bedroom cabins accommodate up to five people and cost $169 per night. The three-bedroom cabins sleep up to seven guests for $199 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 two-bedroom cabin sleeps four and is $139 per night. A three-bedroom cabin can accommodate up to six people for $169 per night. Facilities near the cabins include a playground, camping area, an RV parking area, and a sports field.
Reservation policy: All military ID cardholders may make reservations on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no official timeline.
Do you have PCS orders to Germany? Check out the Know Before You Go: Germany Edition post for valuable information about your overseas PCS.
8. Carney Park, Italy
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 $50 to $80 per night.
Reservation policy: Eligible patrons may reserve up to one year in advance.
PCSing to Italy? Read the Know Before You Go: Italy post here to learn more about the country, your move, and how you can prepare.
9. Souda Bay Outdoor Recreation, Greece
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.
10. Rota Naval Base Community Recreation, Spain
Located in southern Spain, Rota Naval Base is another great OCONUS spot to create your own military 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.
Rota Naval Base has two lodging options: a Navy Lodge and a Navy Gateway Inns & Suites.
PCSing to Rota? Learn more about your housing options here.
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