Planning a trip to Kauai with kids and starting to think about your Kauai packing list? Keep scrolling for the best packing list for Kauai vacation you’ll find!
This Kauai packing list was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung 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.
Out of 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.
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!
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
- Na Pali Coast Snorkeling Tour (this one also goes to the forbidden island of Ni’ihau)
- Kauai Helicopter Tour (this is the BEST way to see waterfalls on Kauai)
- ATV Tour to a Private Waterfall (this is a romantic adventure that feels like a secret getaway)
- Mountain Tubing (this is a low-key adventure down an old sugar cane canal)
- Luau Kalamaku (you can do a little train ride and feed farm animals before the luau)
- Book a Photo Shoot (this is a Hawaii souvenir you’ll treasure forever)
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.
Kauai with Kids FAQs
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.
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!
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 need to wear on your way from your house to the airport and during the flight itself. 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 comes in handy at the airport (which is always freezing) and on the airplane. Most airlines have stopped handing out blankets but they 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 athletic shoes that 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 is going to fall on your foot while traveling. And, flip flops have been known to break.
What to Pack in Your Hawaii Carry On Bag
Now that you know what to wear on your flight to Hawaii, let’s talk about what to include in your Hawaii packing list for your carry-on.
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.
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 even listen to anything. It cuts down on the background noise (which usually drains my energy) so I feel more refreshed when we land.
And I can still hear my kids when they ask me for help, but I’m able to relax. Check out the latest prices and more details.
My family is BIG on electronics and that’s the majority of our baggage weight. Most end up in our carry-on bags so we only bring our 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.
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 thinks he’ll want 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.
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.
Now that you have all your electronics sorted out, you’ll want to make sure they stay charged up.
Most airplane seats now have USB outlets, but they aren’t really strong enough to charge iPads very quickly. Our kids learned that the hard way.
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 and you can wear pretty much anything you like. You’ll mostly see residents and tourists wearing shorts, dresses, t-shirts, and tank tops.
If you’re staying at Kauai resort, you’ll also want to pack some sort of swimsuit coverup to wear to/from the pool area or to 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.
Things to Pack for Hawaii with Babies and Toddlers
It’s also easiest to pack your own diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, pacifiers, medications, etc. Things are expensive in Hawaii and you won’t want to race around Kauai looking for these items.
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’ll be doing a lot of hiking or outdoor activities, keep in mind that Kauai is famous for its red dirt and it 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.
There are tons of things you should add to your packing list for Hawaii and they vary from family to family.
But, I’ll share the top 3 things to bring to Hawaii that are super helpful:
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 you can purchase ahead of time.
Find out my favorite reef safe sunscreen for Hawaii!
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 bags.
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.
You’ll definitely want to have a beach bag when traveling to Kauai with kids. And it helps to stash some wet/dry bags inside to keep swimsuits from getting the rest of your stuff wet. Find the best prices here.
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. It’s nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and it only takes a quick glance to see the resemblance.
If you’re just going to hang out at 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 even 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.
Because of the wind, a lot of 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 sleeve rashguard or pullover) to protect your skin.
And 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.
You’ll definitely need to wear sturdy shoes or hiking sandals 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 along 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.
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 versus 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.
Discover the best Kauai snorkeling beaches!
What to Wear at a Kauai Luau
One of my favorite things to do in Kauai is going to a luau. They are always so much fun and it’s something our whole family likes.
But figuring out what to wear can be tricky. Guests usually dress up a little bit, so you might feel under-dressed if you show up in shorts and a t-shirt.
Women tend to wear either a cute dress or pants and a nice shirt. You’ll see a lot of women wear some sort of maxi dress (either solid or tropical print.)
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, it’s an easy way to get your holiday card photo 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 a lot of options in terms of clothing. Most families tend to dress up a little bit 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 Aloha prints 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. There are even Lei Po’o (like a flower crown) that are so stunning in photos.
Click HERE to save $25 on your Kauai Photo Shoot!
Ok, that’s all I can come up with at the moment about things you might want to add 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 packing for Hawaii list.
Plus, you’ll want to read my guide to what to pack for Hawaii vs what to buy in Hawaii.