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Essential Kauai Packing List for A Perfect Family Vacation

Planning a trip to Kauai with kids and starting to think about your Kauai packing list? Keep scrolling for the best packing list for the Kauai vacation you’ll ever find!

Ready for your family trip to the Garden Isle? Then this is the Kauai packing list you need!

Among all the islands, one of the best places to visit in Hawaii with kids is the beautiful island of Kauai. We’ve gone many times with our boys, and it’s always a memorable trip.

I love that it has amazing beaches, awesome attractions, fun tours, and day trips. And there are tons of kid-friendly Kauai resorts!

But, one of the biggest Hawaii mistakes I see families make is not using a packing list for Hawaii. That’s almost a surefire way to forget something important.

So, if you’re wondering what to pack for a trip to Hawaii, I’ve got you covered with this suggested packing list for Kauai! I prepared a packing list of essentials for families so everything is taken care of.

The list includes everything – what to wear in Kauai and other things to bring to Kauai for a fantastic family vacation.

Keep scrolling to find out some of the best things to take to Hawaii so you’re totally prepared and can spend your time planning your awesome Kauai itinerary!

First trip to Hawaii? Get my step-by-step Hawaii planning guide!

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Kauai.

Popular Kauai Tours/Activities

Favorite Kauai Resorts/Hotels

  • Grand Hyatt Kauai (this Poipu resort has a luxurious pool area, romantic restaurants, and a stunning ocean view)
  • Koloa Landing Resort (this is a luxury resort with an amazing pool area and truly spacious rooms)
  • Royal Sonesta Kauai (we LOVE the pool here because it’s the largest one in Hawaii)

Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.

Click here for step-by-step Kauai travel planning help

Kauai with Kids FAQs

Is Kauai the best Hawaiian island for kids?

It can be! Choosing the best Hawaii island for kids really depends on what you’re looking for. Kauai has some pretty epic outdoor adventures the whole family can enjoy. There are several kid-friendly resorts, lots of activities, and plenty of amazing food options. Plus, it’s got a laid-back vibe families love.

What are the top attractions to visit on Kauai?

Some of the best kid-friendly Kauai attractions include Waimea Canyon, Spouting Horn, Kilohana Plantation, Kilauea Lighthouse, Hanalei Bay, the Na Aina Kai Botanical Garden, Smith’s Tropical Plantation, and more!

What are the best outdoor activities on Kauai for kids?

Families love going ziplining, riding ATVs, snorkeling, playing mini golf, learning to surf, taking a Kauai food tour, hiking through the jungle, trying stand up paddling, kayaking the Wailua River, tubing down a sugar cane canal, and taking a snorkeling boat cruise.

What to Wear on Plane to Kauai

Ok, I’m kicking off this post with what you must wear on your way from your house to the airport and during the flight. When people are packing for Hawaii, they usually forget about travel days.

Our family lives in Seattle, and unless we’re traveling to Hawaii in Summer, we always dress warmly on the drive to the airport. I mean, we don’t wear heavy coats, but we definitely wear fleece jackets, sweaters or sweatshirts and long pants.

Wearing warm clothes is handy at the airport (always freezing) and on the airplane. Most airlines have stopped handing out blankets but still crank up the cold air.

It may seem like overkill at first, but you’ll probably use these items later if you go up to Kokee State Park or get up super early to watch the sunrise.

Another tip is to wear your heaviest shoes. For us, that’s usually the athletic shoes we take to go hiking on Kauai. Wearing them will save you space in your suitcase.

Avoid wearing flip-flops or open-toed shoes when flying to Hawaii because you never know if a piece of luggage will fall on your foot while traveling. And, flip flops have been known to break.

Heading to Hawaii for your honeymoon? Check out my Kauai honeymoon packing list!

What to Pack for Kauai in Your Carry-On Bag

Now that you know what to wear on your flight to Hawaii, let’s talk about the packing list for your airplane essentials or what to put in your carry-on bag.

You’ll definitely want to have lots of activities for your kids. This Hawaii Kids’ Adventure Journal is a fun way for them to learn about Hawaii, do some activity pages, and start to write about their trip.

There are a few things to pack to Hawaii that can make flying to Hawaii more comfortable.

Food and Drink

It takes about 6 hours to fly to Kauai from the West Coast and about 10 hours from the East Coast. Most flights to Hawaii don’t provide a complimentary meal, and some don’t even offer food to purchase.

That’s why I suggest packing your own snacks. We usually bring something with protein (like nuts or jerky), granola bars, crackers, and so many more snacks for the kids.

We also make sure everyone has their own water bottle. This is especially helpful with little kids, who tend to make a mess of airplane cups. Each person has their own color, and we let the kids decorate their bottles with stickers.

We still get the complimentary drinks on the airplane, but we pour them into the kids’ water bottles to avoid spillage. Check out the latest prices and more details.

We always pack Hydro Flask water bottles for our flight to Hawaii. Image of a teal Hydro Flask water bottle.
We love our Hydro Flasks!


In addition to bringing food, you’ll want to think about entertaining yourself on the flight.

One of the best birthday presents my husband gave me was a pair of Bose noise-canceling headphones. They are seriously game-changers.

They work really well for watching movies on my phone or listening to music while I try to sleep.

But, most of the time, I don’t listen to anything. It cuts down on the background noise (which usually drains my energy), so I feel more refreshed when we land.

I can still hear my kids when they ask me for help, but I can relax. Check out the latest prices and more details.

I always add my noise cancelling headphones to my Hawaii packing list for the airplane. Image of silver Bose noise cancelling headphones.
My Bose headphones are my true BFF.


My family is BIG on electronics, and that’s the majority of our baggage weight. Most end up in carry-on bags, so we only bring essentials.

Because I’m a travel blogger and usually end up working on our trips, I always travel with my laptop. I don’t bring a separate bag for it, but I do use a laptop sleeve so I can just stick it in my backpack. Check out the latest prices and more details.

I always put my laptop in a laptop sleeve like this in my Hawaii carry on bag. Perfect addition to a Kauai packing list. Image of a tropical print laptop case.
Isn’t this a cute way to protect a laptop?

Our kids also bring their iPads and Nintendo Switches for the airplane and downtime in the hotel. They have special iPad cases for kids that help the kids prop them up to watch movies. Find the best prices here.

My husband also brings his “fancy” camera and lenses if he wants to take photos on the trip. Those go in a special camera backpack with padding for all his camera gear.

I usually leave my big camera at home and rely on my phone for photos these days. But, I do bring my DJI Osmo Pocket. It’s a tiny video camera that’s super lightweight and takes up hardly any room. Check out the latest prices and more details.

The DJI Osmo Pocket is a super portable video camera perfect for a Hawaii vacation. It's always at the top of my Kauai packing list. Image of a small handheld video camera.
I’m totally obsessed with this mini video camera!

Regardless of which electronics you bring, you’ll want to put them in your carry-on bag instead of checking it. It’s the best way to protect them from damage or getting stolen.

Book a Family Photo Shoot

Whenever we travel to Hawaii, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND it guarantees that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.

Power Cords

Now that you have all your electronics sorted out, you’ll want to make sure they stay charged up.

I suggest packing all your charging cables (for any device you plan on using on board) in your carry-on bag. Find the best prices here.

Most airplane seats now have USB outlets, but they aren’t strong enough to charge iPads quickly. Our kids learned that the hard way.

So now we always bring along battery packs just to make sure we can charge devices mid-flight. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Don't forget portable battery chargers in your Hawaii carry on bag. Image of a black portable battery pack.
These battery packs are SO useful!

Get my full airplane packing list for Hawaii HERE!

What to Wear in Hawaii

Another top question first-timers have is how to dress in Hawaii.

Really, Kauai is a super laid-back island; you can wear pretty much anything you like. You’ll mostly see residents and tourists wearing shorts, dresses, t-shirts, and tank tops.

Of course, swimsuits are a major Hawaii packing list essential! We love getting matching family swimsuits!

If you’re staying at Kauai resort, you’ll also want to pack some swimsuit coverup to wear to/from the pool area or grab lunch at a resort restaurant.

And it’s a smart idea to pack along with sun hats and sunglasses for everyone in your group.

Are you attending a wedding? Find out what to wear to a wedding in Hawaii.

I’ll go into more details about what to pack for Hawaii for specific activities later in this post.

If you’re short on time, consider ordering a Wantable style box. You can request cute Hawaii outfits, and they will send you 7 items to try on.

What to Wear in Hawaii in December-March

So, most people don’t realize that Kauai can get pretty chilly in the winter. It can get down to the 60s in the evenings.

And that can change the types of clothes to wear in Hawaii.

Personally, I get cold fairly quickly, so I usually pack a couple of lightweight sweaters, long pants, and maxi dresses. Then, I just throw on extra layers if I’m worried about being cold.

Winter is also the rainy season in Kauai, so it’s nice to bring along a light rain jacket. I usually bring a foldable light rain jacket that I can stash in my bag until I need it. Find the best prices here.

Don't forget to include a jacket on your Kauai packing list. Image of a purple Columbia rain jacket.
This one folds up nicely!

Things to Pack for Hawaii with Babies and Toddlers

If you’re heading to Hawaii with a baby or toddler, remember that you’ll want to bring enough clothes to last your whole trip. And then throw in a few more in case of accidents.

It’s also easiest to pack your own diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, pacifiers, medications, etc. Hawaii is expensive, so you won’t want to race around Kauai for these items.

SPF swimsuits and rashguards are also super helpful for these ages. And you’ll need swim diapers if you plan on swimming in the resort pool. Find the best prices here.

Heading to Hawaii with a baby or toddler? Don't forget swim diapers on your Hawaii packing list! Image of Pampers Splashers swim diapers.
Don’t forget swim diapers!

While babies don’t really need shoes, toddlers who are walking should have a pair of sandals. And it can be helpful to bring a pair of water shoes if they are going to play at the beach.

See which beach essentials for babies I recommend HERE!

Plus, you’ll want to figure out which Kauai toddler activities you want to do so you can make sure to pack any activity-specific clothing/items.

What to Bring to Hawaii with Kids

Make sure to pack enough clothes for Hawaii and swimsuits to last your entire trip. Let your kids pick out hats (that they will actually wear) to protect themselves from the sun.

It can also help to bring one “nice” outfit. This is for if/when you go out for a fancy dinner, attend a Kauai luau, or do a family photo shoot.

If you are doing a lot of hiking or outdoor activities, keep in mind that Kauai is famous for its red dirt and WILL stain clothing.

It’s actually better to bring old clothes that are okay to get stained rather than being worried about staining new clothes.

Read more: Hawaii Hiking Essentials

Hawaii Essentials

There are tons of things you should add to your packing list for Hawaii, and they vary from family to family.

I have a full post about everything people ALWAYS forget on their Hawaii packing list that you can read HERE.

But, I’ll share the top 3 things to bring to Hawaii that are super helpful:

Reef Safe Sunscreen

So, Kauai first-timers might not know, but Hawaii recently passed a law that states the only sunscreen allowed in Hawaii must be reef-safe sunscreen.

Basically, it just means you need to use sunscreen that doesn’t have specific chemicals known to harm the ocean.

You can buy reef-safe sunscreen when you get to Kauai (it’s the only kind they sell) or purchase it beforehand. That way, you get to enjoy the Hawaiian sun without any worries.

You'll definitely want to add reef safe sunscreen to your Kauai packing list. Image of a bottle of Sun Bum sunscreen.
We usually buy our reef-safe sunscreen ahead of time.

Find out my favorite reef-safe sunscreen for Hawaii!

Reusable Bags

Plastic bags are banned in Hawaii. So, if you think you might go grocery shopping (or any kind of shopping on Kauai) you’ll need to bring your own reusable shopping bag.

Personally, I like to pack nylon bags because they fold up neatly and hardly take up any space. Plus, we use them as extra carry-on bags for snacks or pack our dirty clothes in them. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Hawaii doesn't allow plastic bags so it's helpful to add nylon bags to your Kauai packing list. Image of tropical reusable bags.
These ones fold up into their own pouch.

Beach Bags

You’ll definitely want to have a beach bag when traveling to Kauai with kids. I’d like to bring the bigger ones that could fit everything we need for a day at the beach – from sunscreen to beach towels and even my kids’ toys.

It also helps to stash some wet/dry bags inside to keep swimsuits from getting the rest of your stuff wet. Find the best prices here.

You can choose a tote bag style or even a beach backpack.

Be sure to pack a beach bag for Hawaii. Image of a blue and pink tropical beach bag.
It’s nice to get a water-resistant beach bag.

Check out the best beach backpacks for Hawaii!

What to Bring to Waimea Canyon

One of the most popular places to go on Kauai is Waimea Canyon State Park. It’s nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, and it only takes a quick glance to see the resemblance.

Waimea Canyon is one of the top Kauai attractions for families.
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

The road to Waimea Canyon is a little steep and has some switchbacks, so if you get car sick, you might want to bring some Dramamine or ginger chews.

If you’re just going to hang out on the lookout, you don’t need much. It helps to bring cash if you want to buy any snacks from vendors there. Otherwise, it’s an awesome photo spot for big cameras or cellphones.

If you decide to keep going past Waimea Canyon, you’ll get to Kokee State Park. It’s much chillier up there, so be sure to pack jackets or sweatshirts.

Kauai Packing for Boat Trips

One of the most popular things to do on Kauai is taking a boat trip. And there are TONS to choose from.

A woman sits on a boat in front of the Na Pali Coast on Kauai
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono

Because of the wind, many people don’t realize they are getting sunburned. Be sure to wear sunscreen and re-apply often. Lip sunscreen can also help prevent chapped lips.

I also recommend wearing SPF clothing (like a long-sleeved rashguard or pullover) to protect your skin.

Check with the boat company to see if it’s a barefoot cruise or if you should bring sandals or water shoes.

Packing List for Kauai Hiking

Because Hawaii is known for epic hiking, I’ve actually written a complete post about what to add to a Hawaii hiking packing list, but these are the highlights.

Make sure to pack all the essentials when hiking on Kauai. Image of a man wearing an orange backpack hiking on Kauai
Kauai has tons of cool hiking trails.

You’ll definitely need to wear sturdy shoes, hiking boots or hiking shoes that fit comfortably. Please don’t try hiking in flip-flops. I’ve seen way too many tourists injure themselves that way. Here are some of my favorite sandals for active kids.

Kauai can also be a bit buggy in the jungle, so bring some bug spray. And you’ll want to protect your skin with sunscreen and a sun hat.

What to Bring Snorkeling in Kauai

Whether you are snorkeling on your own or doing a Kauai snorkeling tour, you’ll want to add a few things to your Kauai packing list.

Top 9 Places for the Best Snorkeling on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Find out the best Kauai snorkeling spots
Snorkeling on Kauai is pretty amazing!

This might go without saying, but you’ll need a swimsuit and a rash guard.

If you are snorkeling on your own, it can be cheaper to buy a snorkel set than renting one. You can either pack one in your suitcase or buy one on Kauai (they sell them everywhere, even in grocery stores.) Check out the latest prices and more details.

Wearing fins is totally a personal preference. And sometimes mask defogger can be useful.

Discover the best Kauai snorkeling beaches!

What to Wear at a Kauai Luau

One of my favorite things in Kauai is going to a luau. They are always so much fun, which our whole family likes.

But figuring out what to wear can be tricky. Guests usually dress up a little, so you might feel under-dressed if you show up in shorts and a t-shirt.

For men, khaki shorts or pants and a polo shirt or Aloha shirt are popular options.

Women tend to wear cute dresses, pants, and a nice shirt. You’ll see a lot of women wear some sort of maxi dress (either solid or tropical print.)

Kids can get away with just about any type of clothing, but many families have them wear Aloha shirts or dresses. That’s super cute for photos.

And for footwear, I suggest avoiding wearing heels. Some luaus take place in grassy areas, so flats work best. Plus, Kauai is rainy, and the ground might be squishy.

Find out the best Kauai luaus worth booking!

What to Wear for a Kauai Photo Shoot

It’s becoming more and more popular for families to book a Kauai photography session during their trip. The setting alone is pretty stunning.

Plus, getting your holiday card photo is easy, so you’ll be ahead of the game. And who doesn’t want a nice photo of their family having fun on Kauai? Check out the latest prices and more details.

Kauai is such a lush backdrop that you have many options in terms of clothing. Most families tend to dress up a little for photos, 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 an Aloha shirt or dress is always a good idea.

Another way to really take your Kauai family photos to the next level is to get fresh flower leis to wear. Some Lei Po’o (like a flower crown) are so stunning in photos.

Click HERE to save $25 on your Kauai Photo Shoot!

Kauai Packing List Wrap-Up

Ok, that’s all I can come up with now about things you might want to add to your Kauai packing list.

Hopefully, you have a better idea about Hawaii vacation clothes to pack and other things to add to your packing for Hawaii list.

Plus, you’ll want to read my guide to what to pack for Hawaii vs what to buy in Hawaii.

Looking for more Kauai Travel Resources? Get my Kauai Helicopter Tips, find out the Best Kauai Food Trucks, book a Kauai Jungle Tub Photo Session, check out the Best Kauai Sunset Spots, and 10 Things to Know BEFORE Your Trip to Kauai!

Check out this Kauai packing list by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids!