Your Packing Guide to Kayaking the Na Pali Coast

Your Packing Guide – What You Need and Why:

Kayaking the Na Pali Coast, on the north side of the island of Kauai, is one of the best sea-kayak trips you can make on this planet. Along the beautiful 16-mile stretch of coastline, you will see large soaring cliffs, deep valleys full of flora and fauna, and waterfalls spilling straight into the ocean (See the pictures here). It’s raw, intense, pristine, and makes for one of the most memorable camping trips you’ll ever have. 

One of the coolest parts about this trip is that you will need to provide for yourself. Your own self-sufficiency determines if you survive. It’s like taking a step back in time – with minimal modern amenities at your disposal. You’ll have to prepare for a few days of camping. Packing correctly is essential. 

Below, I’ve created a list of items you need to bring on the trip and the reasons why. This list will help you prepare correctly for your adventure. 

The Packing Guide:

Dry Bags:

Most kayak companies provide dry bags, however sometimes they do have tiny leaks near the seals. Your stuff will get a little bit wet. It’s not the end of the world, but a little disappointing. However, if you use your own new dry bag, it will almost always guarantee that you will have dry clothes, tents and sleeping bags, and cameras on your trip down the coast. Two 40L backpacks or two 55L duffels will be sufficient for a few day long trip. I recommend this Marchway Drybag because it functions as a backpack afterwards.

Na Pali Coast Packing Item: Marchway Floating Waterproof Drybag – 4.7/5 stars – 956 reviews.

Water Filter & Sterilizer:

Consider this as an investment into your health for your current trip and future outdoor adventures down the line, a water filter and sterilizer will allow you to have clean water throughout the whole adventure. Although the water coming down from the Kauai mountains will be as clean as you can get, harmful bacteria can still be present. Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread from the urine of infected animals, is prevalent within Hawaii’s ecosystem. You can also pick up the Giardia parasite, which causes diarrhea. You’ll want to filter your water for large particles – like algae and moss, and then sterilize the water afterwards. The Steripen Ultra and Sawyer Water Filter System will be the best way to do a second purification.

Na Pali Coast Packing Item: Sawyer Water Filter System – 4.6/5 stars – 4,960 reviews.

Na Pali Coast Packing Item: Steripen Ultra – 3.9/5 stars – 217 reviews.

Water Bottles & Containers:

The Na Pali Coast is one of the most pristine places in the world. You will see zero waste in the ground or in the ocean. It’s as if the modern pollution problem doesn’t exist here. But it needs your help to keep it that way. Bringing reusable water containers helps to preserve the environment here. These 32 ounce Hydro Flasks are the perfect size for on-land adventures. You’ll want a few to keep cold water available on your campsite or while kayaking. In addition, you can buy 32 ounce and 64 ounce squeezable water pouches for the Sawyer Water Filter System (see item above).

Na Pali Coast Packing Item: 32/64 ounce Sawyer Squeezable Pouch– 4.2/5 stars – 511 reviews.

Tent and Sleeping Bag:

To camp in Kalalau or Miloli’i Beaches, you’ll need a tent. It’s certainly possible to camp on the beach under the stars, but there’s a high chance of bug bites and crabs pinching you in the middle of the night. Perhaps if you are going for only a night, it might be worth it, otherwise bring a tent. This REI Co-op Camp Dome 2 tent does the job in terms of quality, ease of setup, and weight and this REI Co-op Radiant 19 Sleeping Bag will be useful on this trip and others.

Rain Jacket:

Located right below the wettest place on earth, Kalalau gets its share of water from the sky. The frequent rain is what makes the Na Pali Coast so amazing, as it provides endless waterfalls, and fresh water to drink (please purify it beforehand though – see point above). However, this can also end your trip quite quickly.  Although you’ll be in a hot, tropical place, the rain may make it cold to the point of uncomfort. You’ll likely want to keep dry in the first place.


Because there is no light sources along the coast, you’ll have to rely on a headlamp for seeing in the dark. This rechargable Elmchee Head Light is very powerful – perhaps even too powerful for just the regular camper. But its benefits include a full range of lighting modes, strobes, water resistance, and a two-year warranty.

Camping Stove & Kitchenware:

A camping stove will have to be purchased on the island. Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t allow camping stoves at all and will confiscate it even if it is brand new. Other airlines have similarly strict policies. Your best bet is to buy a new camping stove at Walmart in Lihue, or mail it between islands a few days ahead of time for it to arrive. You will also want to bring a pan or pot to cook your food in/boil water.

Dehydrated Meals & Snacks:

You’ll need to bring in your own food and the best way is through dehydrated meals. This lowers the weight and size of food you need to bring. With the camping stove and a pot to boil water, you can have a hot meal for lunches and dinners. Mountain House brand is the most likely choice and it’s a few bucks cheaper online compared to buying at Walmart in Lihue.

First Aid Kit:

The only way to get out of the Na Pali Coast is by hiking out, kayaking out, or getting helicoptered out – the last one will be a very expensive trip. So you will want to make sure you take care of your body while on this trip. Bring a few medical supplies in case something goes wrong. An emergency option is to hop on a tour boat passing through and getting a ride back north to Hanalei.

Waterproof Camera Case:

For anyone wanting a better photos, you either want to bring a small DSLR and hard shell water proof case, or a regular DSLR and a soft shell case (if you have the money, then go for an SPL case). This is the housing I use on my DSLR whenever I go on a trip and it has worked out fine.

Waterproof Phone Case:

If you want to get some quick photos of some actual kayaking in the water, and don’t want to drag around your large DSLR camera every time you want to take a photo, then you’ll want to get a durable waterproof phone case. The Lifeproof Waterproof Case is an investment into the safety of your phone. You can drop it, toss it into the water, and not have to worry about dust or sand getting in. 

Reading Device (Kindle):

During the middle of the day you’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy. But being on a kayaking trip will expose you to the sun more than most other trips. This is a good time to catch up on reading. A Kindle is the perfect addition to a bag because of its economy of size and power. You’ll have millions of books to choose from, just make sure you download them before leaving shore.


Other times, it’s better to enjoy the sun and good weather. You can bring this Oontz Angle 3 speaker anywhere, connect it to your phone, and have music playing on the beach. 

External Battery Pack:

Although there is no service in the Na Pali Coast Region, you will still want to bring an external battery pack to restart any devices that accidentally ran out of power on your trip. Leaving your phone on by accident will drain the battery and leave you without any means of communications once you land in Polihale. It can also be used to recharge the battery to your speaker.

Reef Safe Sunscreen and Sun Protection:

Sunscreen on a kayaking trip is a must, so bring along a bottle of reef safe broad spectrum UVA/UBA protection. This Sun Bum bottle is rated 4.4/5 stars and has 2,286 reviews.

Mask, Snorkel, and Fins:

proper mask, snorkel, and fins will allow you to explore the waters of the Na Pali Coast safely. There’s a few good reef spots hidden within the coves. I suggest this for anyone who enjoys swimming in the water, but if you don’t have room, then it is acceptable to leave behind the fins. I brought just a normal pair of swim goggles.

Frequently Missed Items:

Cups, utensils, pot & pans, toilet paper, trash bags, mosquito repellent, large broad rimmed hat, extra batteries, lighter, matches.

If You Have Extra Room in Your Bag:

Sleeping Pad, towel, extra snacks.

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