We just wrapped up a two-week trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, and it’s a gorgeous and fun island! There’s so much to do and see, it’s easy to fill up your days and nights with all sorts of activities. If you’re going to the island soon, here’s a Big Island Hawaii packing list that might help you plan!
While I generally try to think about every possible need and scenario in advance of a trip, there were a few key things I forgot, and a few key things you might find helpful.
While it is true some things on the island are more expensive (hello $4.30 per gallon for gas), with the addition of Costco, Target, and Walmart on the island, many items you’d find at home are just as available here. But in general, if you can bring as much as you might need from home as possible, you will eliminate many unnecessary trips to the various stores.
P.S. — This list is not comprehensive to include basics like shirts, shoes, pants, bathing suits, etc. It is a list of important items you might forget and should really bring with you from home. I own and have tried all of the items on the list, and these are my best picks.
So here’s my essential Big Island Hawaii packing list!
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If you’re going to be snorkeling, you definitely want to pick up some reef safe sunscreen.
Something I learned while here is that there’s a difference between reef safe and reef friendly sunscreens. Reef safe only has Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, while reef friendly still has a few other chemicals that could harm reefs. Sun Bum has an interesting article on the differences between the two.
And while you’re buying sunscreen, check out my article on getting reimbursed for sunscreen through your FSA account!
One thing you *absolutely don’t* want to buy on the island is snorkel gear. You can buy it at home for a much better price, and have all the possible options you want in advance. So make sure to bring your wetsuits (because the lava rock is incredibly sharp), water socks, face mask, and snorkel from home as part of your Big Island Hawaii packing list!
As the sun is incredibly strong in Hawaii, you will want to bring along a packable wide brim sun hat. The wide brim will help protect your ears and lips since it will give your head much more shade.
There are some cute styles out there, as well as more utilitarian options. I personally have both the “trekking” looking one as well as the straw hat, which I can roll up and stuff into a bag.
Are you noticing a theme in this Big Island Hawaii packing list yet? The sun! You really just want to protect your skin as much as possible.
I like wearing sun shirts in lieu of, or in combination with, sunscreen on my arms, back, and chest. They can provide good coverage of about 50 UPF, and can also be worn while swimming, hiking, playing sports, or working out.
A little known tip is that oil based cleansers can break down sunscreen and help remove it off of your skin. I can’t be the only one who hates the feel of greasy sunscreen on my face, even after washing it.
If you pick up something that has some oil in it, it really helps to removes the oily sunscreen residue from your face. I also use it on my arms and legs if they still feel greasy at the end of the day. Basically, just lather it anywhere where you feel the residue!
You might want to bring some biodegradable shampoo, especially if you think you might go camping or be close to direct water sources like rivers.
I’ve linked some of my favorite biodegradable shampoo and conditioner options here, or you can check out my full post with a more complete list!
Now, this is something I didn’t pack, but wish I did! After two weeks of sun and snorkeling, my hair is basically straw. So you might want to throw in a deep conditioner in your toiletry bag or pick one up on the island.
A quick dry towel is an essential item on any Big Island Hawaii packing list. They pack down super small and light, so you can really throw them in a purse, backpack, or beach bag. You never know when you will need a soft surface to sit on, whether it’s at a beach or on a hike.
Water shoes are an essential in Hawaii. Especially on the Big Island, there is so much lava rock, you really don’t want to get down to the water with bare feet. They will get torn to shreds. So you need something more stable and sturdy to protect your feet.
They’re also great for short walks or quick errands since they have a rubber bottom sole and can provide stability and comfort.
Please don’t tell me I am the only crazy person who packs a couple laundry pods on trips!! After traveling so much and paying out the nose to buy a full pack of pods when I might only need 1 or 2, I always throw a couple laundry and dish pods in my bag now.
The most important thing is that you get DRY pods, not something wet and smashable like Tide pods. The Arm & Hammer ones linked below are what I always pack for clothes and the Finish for dishes.
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Hey there, I am Stephanie, aka “The Roving Fox!” I started this blog to share travel tips with friends, and eventually started incorporating more info about my hip labrum surgery, beauty products I love, and restaurant reviews. Please say hi here on the blog, on Instagram, or Facebook!
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