Planning a trip to Kauai and starting to think about your Kauai packing list? Keep scrolling for the best packing list for Kauai you’ll find!
This Kauai packing list for Hawaiian vacations was written by Marcie Cheung (a Hawaii travel expert) and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Are you packing for Kauai?
If you’re like most people, you’re probably not sure what to pack for Hawaii. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive Kauai packing list to make your life a little bit easier.
With this list, you’ll be able to pack everything you need without overpacking or forgetting anything important. And don’t worry – we won’t leave out the important details like sunscreen and swimwear!
You’re going to love our list of must-haves for your vacation in Kauai. From clothes and sunscreen to hats and insect repellent, we’ve got everything you need to make your trip perfect.
Want the best Hawaii advice? I’ve visited over 40 times and have tons to share!
Check out our Kauai packing list now and start packing for your trip!
Flying to Kauai: What to Wear on the Airplane
Travel days can often be overlooked when people are packing for Kauai. It’s important to remember that you’ll need dress warmly on the flight there and back.
I recommend wearing clothes like a fleece jacket or sweater with long pants; this will come in handy at both airports (which always seem freezing) AND airplanes.
Most flights don’t hand out blankets anymore, but they do crank up some seriously COLD air. So make sure you’ll stay comfy with the right amount of layers.
Plus, you’ll probably use these items later if you go up to Waimea Canyon or Kokee. It’s much chillier up there than at the beach!
If you’re planning on doing some Kauai adventures, you might as well wear your hiking shoes on the airplane. That saves you space and weight in your suitcase.
While it might seem like a good idea to wear flip flops or sandals on the airplane, I don’t recommend it. That’s because it’s easy to have luggage fall on your feet or break a flip flop in the airport. That’s not how you want to kick off your Kauai vacation!
What to Pack in Your Hawaii Carry-On Bag
Now that you know how to dress for your flight to Kauai, let’s talk about what items are necessary for airline carry-ons.
First and foremost: if traveling with kids, then be sure they have plenty of activities (color books or other fun toys). You’ll want snacks too!
Snacks and Drinks
It’s always a good idea to pack your own snacks when traveling. The flight from the West Coast can take about 6 hours, and there isn’t usually any food on these flights.
So pack something nutritious like nuts, jerky, or granola bars to keep your hunger at bay.
We also make sure everyone has their own water bottle. This is especially helpful if you’re traveling with kids, who tend to make a mess of airplane cups.
We still get the complimentary drinks on the airplane, but we pour them into water bottles. This way, we don’t have to worry about making huge messes, and we stay hydrated during the flight.
One of the best things you can do to enjoy your trip to Kauai is to invest in a pair Bose noise-canceling headphones. These babies will help cut down on that constant background sound the airplanes make, which tends to drain your energy.
It’s also a great way to watch movies on your tablet or iPhone or listen to an audiobook. It’s also great to have these in the hotel room in case you want to watch Netflix without disturbing anyone else.
Make sure to add these headphones to your Kauai packing list asap!
I love traveling with my laptop because it provides me the opportunity to do some research in our hotel room about the coolest things to do on Kauai. The bigger screen is much better than a phone, especially when you want those crisp images!
However, I never check my laptop. I put it in a laptop sleeve and place it in my carry-on backpack. That way, it stays safe, and I can use it in the airport when we have flight delays.
Our kids also bring their iPads and Nintendo Switches. We have sturdy iPad cases for kids that protect them and help the kids prop them up on the airplane tray to watch movies.
My husband also brings his fancy Sony camera and lenses in a special photography backpack.
Trust me when I say that you’ll want to bring any electronics in your carry-on bag instead of checking it. It will give you peace of mind from it being damaged or stolen.
One of the most annoying things that can happen on an airplane is losing power halfway through the flight. Make sure you pack all your charging cables in case this happens!
Some airplane seats now have USB outlets, which means it’s super convenient to keep your devices charged as long as you bring the right cables.
These are great for charging phones, but sometimes they just can’t keep up with tablets. That’s why we bring along battery packs just to make sure we can charge our kids’ iPads mid-flight.
What to Wear in Hawaii
Kauai is a pretty laid-back place, and you can wear just about anything you like. You’ll mostly see tourists and locals wearing shorts, casual dresses, t-shirts, and tank tops. And you’ll see tons of Hawaiian shirts every Aloha Friday!
And, of course, swimsuits are also a Kauai packing list essential. Make sure you don’t forget the sunscreen! If you want to take your Kauai wardrobe to the next level, we love these family-matching swimsuits!
If you’re staying at Kauai resort, you’ll also want to pack a swimsuit coverup to wear to/from the pool area or to grab lunch at a resort restaurant. Most resort resorts don’t allow swimsuits.
Attending a wedding? Here’s what to wear to a wedding in Hawaii!
Book a Hawaii Photo Shoot
Whenever we travel to Hawaii, we almost always book a photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND it guarantees that I’ll have more than just selfies. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.
What to Wear in Kauai in December-March
Kauai is a great place to visit any time of the year, but if you’re looking for an escape from crowds and cheaper prices during winter, then it’s worth checking out. Plus, it’s prime whale watching season!
However, a lot of people don’t realize that Kauai can be quite chilly in the winter, so it’s important to pack accordingly. It’s often in the 60s in the evenings when people are having dinner outside or attending a Kauai luau.
It also tends to rain a bit more in the winter, so it’s nice to bring along a light rain jacket. I usually bring a foldable jacket that I can stash in my bag until I need it.
Kauai is a beautiful island any time of year, so if you’re planning a winter trip, just be sure to pack for the weather, and you’ll have a great time. Check out my full list of what to pack for Hawaii in December!
Things to Pack for Kauai with Babies and Toddlers
Kauai is a fabulous place for families, but you should prepare before going. For those traveling to Kauai with a baby or toddler, you’ll want to bring enough clothes to last your entire trip, plus extras in case of accidents. We also like to bring laundry soap to wash items in the sink and air dry.
It’s also convenient to pack your own diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, pacifiers, medications, etc. Things are expensive in Hawaii, and Kauai doesn’t have a lot of selection.
SPF swimsuits and rashguards are also super helpful for babies and toddlers. And you’ll want swim diapers if your kids aren’t potty trained and you’re staying at a resort with a pool. Many resorts have explicit rules about this.
For footwear, toddlers who are walking should have a pair of sandals and water shoes.
Make sure to figure out which tours/activities you’ll be doing and see if you need anything specific (like long pants or closed-toe shoes). With a little planning, Kauai can be the perfect vacation spot for families with young children.
What to Bring to Hawaii with Kids
Kauai is all about having an outdoor adventure, so make sure to pack plenty of swimsuits and sun protection clothing. Bring a hat too!
If you will be spending time outside most days, it’s best not to wear anything new because the red dirt stains easily onto fabrics here on this island paradise.
Kauai also has some pretty amazing restaurants, so it’s worth packing one “nice” outfit in case you want to go out for dinner or do a luau.
And speaking of luaus, if you’re planning on attending one, it’s customary to wear Hawaiian-print clothing. You can usually find Hawaiian-print shirts and dresses at most retail stores in Hawaii these days, even Target.
Hawaii Essentials Worth Packing
The best way to pack for Hawaii is by determining what you need and then sticking with it. There are a lot of variables when packing, and sometimes these change from person to person so I’ll just list my top essential items.
The state of Hawaii has passed a law to protect its beaches from harmful chemicals.
For years, people have been using sunscreen on these beautiful islands that contains oxybenzone and octinoxate which are banned in Kauai due the destruction it can cause within coral reefs.
Only sunscreen that is reef-safe and does not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate are allowed on Kauai beaches.
While this may seem like a hassle, it’s actually quite easy to find reef-safe sunscreen. You can buy it when you get to Kauai (it’s the only kind they sell) or you can purchase it ahead of time.
Just make sure to add it to your Kauai packing list!
Plastic shopping bags are banned on Kauai.
If your plan includes any kind of retail therapy while visiting this paradise, then be prepared to bring your own reusable or recyclable alternatives instead!
I’m a fan of nylon bags because they fold up and hardly take up any space. Plus, you can use them as extra carry-on bags or stash dirty clothes on your way home.
So, be sure to add a couple of nylon bags to your Kauai packing list.
No trip to Kauai is complete without a beach bag packed with all the essentials. You’ll want to pack your sunscreen and swimsuit, but you also need some other items for that perfect day at the beach!
You can also pack an extra set of clothes in case you get wet, and don’t forget your sunglasses and hat to protect you from the sun.
With these items in your beach bag, you’re sure to have a fun and relaxing time on Kauai’s beaches.
What to Bring to Waimea Canyon
One of the most popular things to do on Kauai is visit Waimea Canyon. It’s a stunning photo spot and tons of tourists flock up there to check out the view.
Many people don’t realize that it’s a lot chillier up at Waimea Canyon (and even more so if you continue up to Koke’e State Park).
It’s important to pack layers. I recommend a light sweater or sweatshirt or you can even bring a rain jacket.
The drive up to Waimea Canyon also has a lot of switchbacks as you climb up to higher elevations, so if you tend to get car sick, you might want to bring along some motion sickness medication.
What to Pack for Kauai Mountain Tubing
One of the most unique Kauai adventures is going mountain tubing down an old sugar cane canal at Mt. Waialeale.
Since it’s mountain water from the wettest spot on Earth, the water is quite cold! I highly recommend wearing a neoprene rash guard as an extra layer of warmth. Plus, that part of the island is pretty chilly because it’s in the mountains.
If you want to take photos or video during your river float, you’ll want to put your phone in a waterproof sleeve. You can wear it around your neck and it’s super convenient for capturing this adventure on Kauai.
Packing List for Kauai Hiking
The lush landscapes and diverse terrain of Kauai make for a hiker’s paradise. But before you head out on the trail, be sure to pack some gear so that your experience is enjoyable!
Kauai can be a bit buggy, especially in the jungle, so be sure to pack bug spray. And you’ll want to protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and a sun hat.
Flip flops are not ideal hiking footwear. I suggest wearing sturdy shoes or hiking sandals. It also helps to wear shoes that are already worn in to help you avoid blisters.
Finally, depending on the intensity of your Kauai hike, you may want to bring additional items such as snacks, water, and a first aid kit.
By following this Kauai packing list, you’ll be sure to have a safe and enjoyable hike.
What to Bring Snorkeling in Kauai
When you go snorkeling on Kauai, there are a few things that should be on your packing list.
First, you’ll need a swimsuit and a rash guard. Rash guards are great for preventing sunburn, and they also help to keep your skin from chafing when you’re swimming.
If you are doing a Kauai snorkeling tour, remember to read the information carefully to see what to wear on the boat and what to bring with you. They will usually provide all the snorkeling gear.
If you are snorkeling on your own, it’s often cheaper to buy a snorkel set rather than renting one. You can pick up a snorkel set at any sporting goods store or even at some grocery stores.
Finally, don’t forget to pack some mask defogger. Mask defogger is great for keeping your mask clear and fog-free while you’re snorkeling.
What to Wear to a Kauai Luau
If you’re headed to Kauai, one of the things you’ll want to do is go to a luau. They’re a lot of fun, and you’ll get to experience some traditional Hawaiian culture. But what should you wear?
For men, khaki shorts or pants with an Aloha shirt will do. Don’t go too casual but also make sure that your outfit isn’t too dressed up either – just aim for something in the middle!
Women have a few more luau options. You can go in a dress or pants and a nice shirt. For dresses, a lot of women opt for maxi dresses – either in solid colors or tropical prints.
Again, you don’t want to be too casual, but you also don’t want to be over the top. The goal is to look great while still feeling comfortable in tropical weather.
As for kids, they can pretty much get away with anything. A lot of families dress their kids in Aloha shirts or dresses, but really any clothes that are comfortable and appropriate for the weather will work.
And for footwear, avoid wearing heels. Some luaus take place in grassy areas or on the beach, so flats work best.
What to Wear for a Kauai Photo Shoot
What better way to commemorate your trip than by booking a Kauai photography session?
Kauai is full of beautiful places, like gorgeous beaches and majestic mountains, that will make it an unforgettable experience.
Most families choose to dress up a bit for their Kauai photo session, with men/boys wearing collared shirts and women/girls wearing dresses.
Wearing all white can look really crisp for Hawaii photos on the beach. And wearing Aloha prints is always a good idea.
Kauai photographers are used to shooting in all types of lighting conditions, so you’ll be sure to get some great shots no matter what time of day you book your session. Although I recommend aiming for close to sunrise or sunset for the ultimate lighting.
Another way to really take your Kauai photos to the next level is to get fresh flower leis to wear. There are even haku leis (like a flower crown) that are so stunning in photos.
Trip to Kauai FAQs
Absolutely! It’s one of the most beautiful islands in Hawaii and it’s great for people who like outdoor adventure, farm-to-table dining, incredible snorkeling, or just relaxing on a breathtaking beach.
Usually, I recommend 7-10 days to explore Kauai, if it’s the only island you are visiting. If you are island hopping in Hawaii, I’d suggest 5-7 days per island.
Kauai is pretty lovely year-round. The winter months (Dec-Mar) can get a bit rainy, so hiking can be dangerous. Otherwise, any month is definitely worth visiting Kauai.
What to Pack for Kauai Wrap Up
I’ve visited Kauai dozens of times, and these are the top items I suggest adding to your Kauai packing list.
Hopefully, you have a better idea about Hawaii vacation clothes to pack, as well as other things to add to your Hawaii checklist.
And finally, don’t forget to pack your sense of adventure! Kauai is an island that has something for everyone.