Updated June 23, 2020.
There are plenty of Hawaii-inspired packing guides out there, but packing for Molokai is different because Molokai is different from all the other Hawaiian islands. It’s more rugged, less populated, less “touristy,” and by many standards, it’s more Hawaiian. This is the island where hula started, but you won’t find a luau here. So this packing list is different: a little less fancy, a little more rugged!
You won’t need statement jewelry or a lacy evening dress for a night on the town. What you will need are comfortable clothes to be ready for a variety of adventures!
I recommend one to two casual dresses if you’re a dress person like I am. These are perfect for plumeria picking, macadamia nut cracking, shopping local, eating local, visiting the couple of museums on the island, or lounging at your accommodation! They can both be used as dresses by themselves or bathing suit cover-ups as needed!
Most of your time will be spent hiking, and exploring all the island has to offer, so comfortable and practical hiking clothes are a must!
Make sure your tops are moisture-wicking and comfortable! Like any island, Molokai has several microclimates around the island. You could go from chilly and breezy to rainy at a moment’s notice, or from desert to rain forest after a quick drive across the island!
I recommend ankle pants or capris over shorts to protect your legs from bug bites and scratches. Molokai is off the beaten path, and so are their hiking trails, so it’s worth taking a few more precautions than usual!
Read on: Lei Making at Molokai Plumeria Farm
Choose your shoes wisely! You’ll definitely want a car on the island, but you’ll also find that much of the island is best traversed on foot. Forego the blisters and don’t forget to wear in your shoes at least two weeks in advance!
I usually opt for running shoes on a hike, but because Molokai is more rugged (and their trails less manicured) than the other Hawaiian islands, you may want something a bit tougher. Use your best judgement for your body and your feet! Here are two great options:
Sandals are better for your feet than flip flops. At least that what my podiatrist and foot surgeon told me! Look for sandals with an ankle strap and arch support.
You will be glad you brought designated water shoes! The beaches on Molokai are beautiful, and in fact Molokai has one of the largest beaches in the Hawaiian islands. However, the beaches feature course sand, rocks, and broken pieces of coral that wash up. All of which are rough on your feet and can even cut you, which is definitely not what you want! Water shoes will protect your feet and won’t hinder you in the water either.
Read on: Visiting Kalaupapa Peninsula, Molokai
And speaking of those beaches, you’ll want to enjoy relaxing on them! Take a couple of suits with you, and wear one under your clothes when you hike Halawa Valley so you can swim at the waterfall!
The two most popular hikes on Molokai will be guided: Halawa Valley and Kalaupapa Trail. Other hikes can be done on your own, but for all of the hikes, you’ll want a few things with you!
Make sure you bring a day bag so you’ll have a place to keep your water, snacks, sunscreen, and extra bug repellent! Even better if it’s packable or can be used as your airplane personal item.
Save some all-important room in your TSA liquids bag and bring solid bug repellent instead of a spray! This brand really works, even for my husband who is so sweet, the bugs can’t stay away from him.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! It’s so important to stay hydrated on your travels, and especially when hiking.
There are very few restaurants on Molokai, and almost all of them are in the town Kaunakakai, so definitely bring snacks with you, even if you think it’ll be a short hike.
Always bring a hat to shield your face and eyes!
Read on: Hiking Halawa Valley, Molokai
Some time during your trip to Molokai, you have to go out to Papohaku Beach, which is one of the largest beaches in the islands! Definitely designate one day as a “beach day.”
Reef Safe Sunscreen
Hawaii has banned the sale of non-reef safe sunscreen as of January 1, 2021. This is very important as the wrong sunscreen can damage coral reefs. Molokai has one of the longest fringing reefs in the world, so it’s important to protect it!
Protect your valuables (phone, wallet, keys, etc.) from water and theft with a dry bag! I like ours so much, and I never go to the beach without it! The bag floats, so you can take it out into the water with you instead of leaving it on the beach.
Travel towels are useful for many different reasons. Use them to clean up after a muddy or rainy hike, lay on the beach, dry off after a swim, use it as a picnic blanket, and more! You’ll be glad you brought one to Molokai.
Sunglasses and Case
Sunglasses are essential for a day at the beach (and don’t forget them on your hike, too!). Just make sure they are polarized and in a hard case to protect them in your luggage, backpack, or purse!
The important thing about the luggage you take to Molokai is that it will have to go on a tiny plane. You’ll take a full-size jet from the Mainland U.S. to the Hawaiian Islands, but any island hopping flights you take, including to Molokai, will be smaller, and likely will be propeller planes! Just be mindful that your larger luggage will have to go under the plane, so you may want a hard case if you have any breakable items. And make sure your personal item is large enough to fit your electronics or external batteries and chargers, as those cannot go under the plane.
I always prefer a backpack for my luggage! I can have both hands free for coffee, phone, boarding pass, and holding hands with my husband!
Hard Side Roll-aboard
This luggage comes in carry-on and checked sizes!
Packing cubes are the best organizational element of luggage since… ever. This set includes the most useful sizes, and it comes in solid colors or these fun patterns!
Your personal item is the one that can stay with you, even on the tiny planes with no overhead bin space. You should always keep a change of clothes, your electronics, external batteries, and a water bottle in your personal item!
Want more packing tips and strategies? Check out my Packing Page!
All my best Hawaiian tips, itineraries, and insider info are on my Pacific Islands Page!
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