Updated July 1, 2021.
Planning a trip to Kauai this year? I approve! Kauai is my most favorite place in the world. It’s absolutely gorgeous, the people are kind and friendly, and island life is just a better life, y’all. I’ve come up with the ultimate packing list for you so you can look adorable, be comfortable, and be ready for anything from river tubing to hiking to beach lounging! I’ve included several options in each category, so if you follow the recommendations you’ll have the perfect clothing and accessories for a week on the most beautiful island in the world!
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The Best Sundresses
I love sundresses! The feel of the sun, the flattering cuts, the easy-flowing materials—they’re the best! Choose three options below in any combination, and you’ll have the right number of adorable dresses (or rompers!) for your trip.
Midi dresses are perfect for shopping at the ABC Stores and local boutiques, strolling the gorgeous beaches, and touring the Kauai Coffee Plantation! They can be dressed up or down to take you from day time excursions to date night.
Didn’t want to shave? Maxi time! Don’t have your ideal leg tan yet? Maxi! Burned your legs and need some extra coverage? Choose a maxi dress! They’re beautiful for dinner dates, perfect on the flight to or from the islands, and if they’re too long, just tie a knot at the hemline like the kids do these days.
I am late to the romper game, but I’m totally sold on them! They’re adorable, kind of flirty, and always beach ready! Dress it up or down with just a few accessories!
Choose one of these. Either will go with any of the looks above! After having bunion surgery on both feet in my twenties, I follow my podiatrist’s advice on sandals: low or no heel, arch support, and an ankle strap. Never flip flops if you’re walking farther than to the pool or beach!
The Best Accessories
I love accessories almost as much as I love Kauai! Choose a few pieces of jewelry that go with the dresses or rompers you pack, and use them to totally change your look so you can always look fresh. I recommend bringing at least one scarf, one kimono, and as much jewelry as you want since it takes up so little space!
They’ll keep you comfortable in the sea breezes, change the look of your whole outfit, and even double as a towel if you need it!
I love that these can be a light cover-up, towel, scarf, or be balled up as a pillow to use on the long flights to and from the islands!
I highly recommend getting a silicone ring to wear on the islands and to leave your wedding set at home. My husband’s wedding band is currently somewhere off the coast of Kauai. He now has a silicone ring to wear at the beach!
The Best Swimwear
Quick tip: If you’re going hiking and know there’s a waterfall on the hike, wear your bathing suit under your hiking clothes! And, of course, whether you’re poolside, beachside, or on a boat, you’ll be thankful you went for a practical suit that is also cute! Choose two to three bathing suit options, one cover-up, and do not leave for your trip without a pair of water shoes!
Sometimes a one-piece can be so flattering, and there’s no worry of belly burn!
The fun thing about a two-piece is that sometimes the top can go with a skirt or shorts and go from the beach to the town!
The right coverup can go from the beach to a lunch date!
You will absolutely want water shoes on Kauai. The broken coral pieces and rocks that wash up can be sharp! Your feet will thank you. Never go barefoot on the beaches or in the water.
The Best Outdoor Wear
Kauai is full of fun things to do in the great outdoors. You’ll be able to go hiking, horseback riding, river tubing, kayaking, and more! And you’ll be ready for all of it with three tops, three bottoms, and your choice of two pair of shoes.
I always suggest a top with a built-in bra. More supportive and less to pack is always a winning combination!
Or sometimes you prefer something else:
Choose three of these in any combination. They’re all moisture-wcking, so you can easily wash and rewear if needed!
I love good capri pants with pockets!
A little running skirt is all you need to feel feminine, even while hiking in the mud!
I’m not a lover of shorts, but for those who are:
You’re already bringing sandals and water shoes. I always try to choose one pair of shoes for most or all of my outdoor activities. If you prefer hiking to running, bring hiking shoes. If you’re a runner or just prefer a lighter shoe, bring running shoes. These are my faves:
Running and Multi-purpose
The Best Safety Precautions
Kauai is gorgeous, but there are some practical matters to remember so you can enjoy it safely!
Quick Dry Towel
You’ll be amazed at how glad you’ll be that you brought a microfiber towel on your trip to Kauai. Use it on the beach, to dry off after being in the ocean or pool, wipe yourself down after a muddy hike, protect your rental car’s seats after your muddy hike, use it as a blanket on the airplane… the list goes on!
Reef Safe Sunscreen
Hawaii has banned the sale of all sunscreens that bleach coral and damage our oceans, starting in January 2021. Here are the best solid options (to save room in your liquids bag!) that are also reef safe!
Bug repellent also comes in a solid!
You will definitely want to bring water with you everywhere. Start with a full bottle every day!
It’s so important to protect your eyes!
The Best Gear
The most important part of packing is not what you pack so much as how you pack it—and what you pack it in! These are the best of the best. I suggest bringing one of each.
If you’ve never had a dry bag before, it is perfect for a day at the beach. You can bring it in the ocean with you, and it keeps the sand out, too! A 10 L is plenty big enough for a day at the beach or a drizzly hike.
A packable day bag is such a great things to bring with you. It takes up so little space and has so many uses throughout your trip!
How cute are these travel-themed packing cubes!
The best luggage is the kind you can tote yourself. I never suggest checking a bag, but if you must, get a hardy bag for maximum protection! Choose between these two according to your needs.
Need more to prepare for your Hawaiian vacation? You’ll find everything you need to know on my Hawaiian Islands Page!
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