Packing for your Trip

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Punaluu Black Sand Beach

As you will know, the Big Island is larger than all the other Hawaiian Islands put together and very diverse. To fully enjoy your vacation here, you must pack accordingly. We’ll skip the usual packing list of swim suit, sandals, and t-shirts, but focus on some items that will make your trip more comfortable and enjoyable.

Although Kailua-Kona and the Kohala Coast resorts receive very little rain, there are many parts of the Big Island that get a good amount of rain. If you plan on visiting the eastern, Hilo side of the island, make sure you pack a light rain coat or gore-tex jacket. Attractions near Hilo town, Akaka Falls, Waipio Valley, Waimea, and even the Volcano can receive a lot of rain and even a downpour - so be ready!

If you plan on leaving the beach and exploring the rest of the island, do some hiking, maybe visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you will need to pack a few extra items. The weather at the Volcano is quite unpredictable. Your best bet is to check the Big Island Weather Forecast, but still prepare for cold and possibly damp conditions due to the high altitude of more than 4,000 feet in elevation. At the summit of the volcano, temperatures may be 12 to 15 degrees cooler than at sea level.

The coastal plain at the end of Chain of Craters Road, where lava is entering the ocean, is often hot, dry, and windy with the possibility of passing showers. You should plan on layered clothing that you can remove as you get hot while hiking or when the sun comes out. Packing a sweatshirt or fleece in addition to your rain coat or gore-tex is your best bet. Also, if you plan on doing any hiking at the park, sturdy hiking shoes or boots are desirable, closed-toed shoes are a minimum. If you are hiking to the active lava flow, check out our lava hiking guide.

If you plan on doing any hiking on the island, make sure you bring enough water. Whether you are on the arid Volcano or the lush Waipio Valley, count on drinking a gallon of water (4 liters) on a full day of hiking. If you can, try to bring a Camelbak Unbottle or other type of hydration device that makes for easy hands-free operation while hiking.

Because the temperatures are mild, even in the summer, visitors often do not realize the power of the sun while in Hawaii. Consequently, many visitors end up very red and sun-burned. Use sun block and wear a hat to minimize the sun. When snorkeling or riding the waves, or kayaking, your back will be highly exposed to the sun and the best way to prevent a sun burn is to wear a rash guard. These can be purchased locally at any dive or surf store if you don’t have one already. Enjoy the sun and the fun!

What to Bring

  1. Waterproof Sun Block
  2. More than one swimsuit
  3. Sturdy (close-toed) shoes for hiking
  4. Flip flops or aqua shoes for the beach and shore
  5. Snorkeling gear - mask, snorkel, fins
  6. Underwater camera (disposable or water-proof casing)
  7. Extra batteries for your cameras
  8. Flashlight for hiking to the lava flow at night (one per person)
  9. Bug Spray (mosquito repellant)
  10. Light rain jacket, especially if you are visiting Hilo or Volcano
  11. Sweatshirt or fleece top, especially if you are visiting Waimea, the Volcano, or the summit of Mauna Kea
  12. Hat or cap to protect you from the sun
  13. Sunglasses
  14. Global Positioning System receiver (GPS)
  15. Dry bags (water-proof gear bags) to keep your stuff dry when kayaking, on a dive boat, or in your hiking backpack in case you get caught in the rain.

Read our next article: Gear Guide

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