You’ve decided to spend winter on Kauai, now for a packing list. Kauai’s rainy season generally runs from November to March (although in 2018 they had extensive flooding in April). I recommend you go prepared for rain and cooler temperatures and take things that can be layered. In order to save room in my suitcase, I usually wear my heavier layers on the flight, plus it keeps me warm during the flight. My clothing philosophy is to re-wear bottoms a lot and change tops every day.
The Garden Isle is very casual so it is unnecessary to take anything very dressy. I did take a knit dress that I ended up wearing once, just because it was easy to pack into my backpack to change into before dinner after a long day of hiking. If you are going to spend a lot of time at the beach, you might want to have a dress to use as a cover-up. One dress might come in handy, two is probably overkill.
If you are doing a boat ride, it can be chilly out on the water. It is also pretty cool before the sun comes up, so if you are going to enjoy the sunrise, I would layer up. I would not rely too heavily on the forecast; I watched the weather prior to the trip and while we were there and never thought it was very accurate.
Main Suitcase – I LOVE this carry-on suitcase from Amazon. I’ve taken it on two trips and it has served me well.
- Rain jacket/windbreaker – I have this versatile rain jacket from REI and love it
- Light weight cardigan or hoodie
- Scarf (optional)
- Packing Cubes – these make packing SO MUCH easier
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 1 pair of lightweight jeans
- 1 pair of lightweight pants
- 5 tops
- 2 fitness tops
- 1 pair of cropped fitness tights – wore over my swimsuit on boat ride
- underwear that you would wear during that time frame
- 2 pairs of socks – I only wore socks on air travel days
- 3 swimsuits – I took two high neck tankini’s which I ended up wearing as tops a couple of days and one bikini
- 1 pair of swim shorts
- 1 rash guard
- Night clothes for return flight – you will likely return on a red-eye. I took a tunic and leggings to wear with my lightweight cardigan for the return – comfortable but not pajamas
- toiletry bag for non-liquids
- fold up laundry hamper (optional ) – this folds up small and is pretty easy to pack. I like having a place to keep my dirty clothes. If I were going to be staying at multiple places, I probably wouldn’t bother taking this, but it’s nice to have when you are in the same place for a week
- sun hat – to wear on boat rides and at the beach
- baseball cap – I did not pack a baseball cap and ended up buying one while I was there for hiking; if you won’t be hiking this isn’t really necessary.
- dry bag – good for boat rides, hiking through water, and the beach
- water shoes – if you are going to do any hiking, I would buy a pair of these and plan on tossing them at the end of the trip. The trails are muddy and often require walking through streams.
- sneakers – I ended up only wearing my sneakers traveling there and back
Backpack (fits under the seat on the plane). I bought this inexpensive backpack specifically for this trip and love it. It has lots of compartments and can hold quite a bit, yet it isn’t bulky.
- TSA approved toiletry bag with essentials
- small travel purse
- waterproof phone case
- deodorant wipes
- portable charger/battery
- travel pillow
- reusable grocery bag – I usually take one of these wherever I go, I can use it at the grocery store or as a beach bag
- sandals – I took these and wore them almost the entire time; I packed them in my backpack for easy access upon arrival. They are comfortable and easy to wash off if they get too sandy.
Buy on Arrival
Since I didn’t check my bags, I opted to buy sunscreen and bug spray upon arrival. I also purchased some food for breakfast smoothies and coffee to make at the house in the mornings. Hawaii can be expensive, and depending on where you shop, you might not be able to find the products you prefer, so I would pack as much as possible. Kauai does not have chain drug stores on every corner like those of us on the mainland are accustomed to finding. Next trip, I will probably stop at Walmart before leaving Lihue.
Have you been to Kauai? What are your packing recommendations?