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It’s official! You are headed to Kauai for your vacation and you couldn’t be more excited. Now, it’s time to pack and you might just be interested in a few tips from a local perspective. After thirty years in the travel industry, I have nearly seen it all. Most folks get it right, or pretty close, but I often hear, “I wish I would have known….I wish I would have brought.”

When traveling to Kauai just remember that old adage, “less is more”. In a humid climate, you need light clothing that keeps you cool and dries fast. Re-purposing is the name of the game.

The number one mistake I see is when travelers pack their summer whites. Summer whites make you look crisp, clean, sharp, and stylish, but on Kauai, your summer whites will make you look just plain dirty. Unless you are spending your entire vacation at a resort, I would recommend that you leave your whites at home. Just one hiking excursion can leave you permanently stained with Kauai red dirt. Red dirt is so troublesome on Kauai, that some companies actually use it as dye to make their red dirt shirts.

Avoid bringing jeans; they are bulky and retain moisture. Instead, opt for a lighter-weight pant that you can use for hiking and other outdoor activities. For dinner outings, bring khakis or capris. In fact, there is no need to overdress; most dining is casual. For men this means khakis or cargo shorts and an aloha shirt, and for ladies a summer dress. Sandals work well, but heels tend to get stuck in unpaved areas that are common in garden areas surrounding Kauai’s restaurants and Luau grounds.

Bring rubber flip-flops (locals call them slippers) for the beach. They can double as foot protection in the shower. Leave the reef walkers home! They will not protect your feet; they will facilitate your fall. Kauai’s reefs and river rocks are covered with slippery algae and reef walkers do not offer good enough grip. Locals use felt soled shoes called tobbies for fishing and reef walking. A good pair of sneakers is a must for outdoor activities; just make sure you are willing to get them dirty.

It rains everyday somewhere on Kauai. Bring a light rain jacket. During winter months (January-April), also bring a fleece jacket. While the temperatures listed on the weather report may look mild, when the wind turns north, it can suck the heat right out of you.

Please help keep Kauai sustainable and bring your own water bottle. Plastic water bottles that you purchase have to be shipped off-island for recycling. Also bring a re-usable shopping bag. Kauai has banned the use of plastic shopping bags, so you will need to bring your own. It won’t go to waste. You can use it as your beach bag and on the plane to bring home your souvenirs.
Here’s a tip you probably won’t hear elsewhere. Bring a small collapsible cooler. This will make a great lunchbox for car excursions, sightseeing, and trips to the beach. To keep your drinks cool, just fill Ziploc bags with ice from your hotel.

Please bring reef-friendly sunscreen. It has been shown that chemical sunscreens can kill corals. Try chemical-free sunscreens instead. Another option is a good hat and rashguard, which can protect you from the sun without having to apply anything to your skin.

Now that you know what to pack, it’s time to start planning all your Kauai Activities.