First Time Visiting the Big Island Hilo Side? You'll want to bring:
SNORKEL GEAR: bring it if you have it. If you don't, you can buy fins and masks in Hilo at one of the dive shops or Walmart. You will certainly want to explore the coral reefs and see tropical fishes. (We keep our own snorkel gear at the Kapehu house. If it fits you, you are welcome to borrow our gear, but please take good care of it. After using it in the ocean, be sure to thoroughly rinse all the salt water out of it with fresh water, to keep it from getting damaged by mold.)
FLIP FLOPS or easy slip-on shoes, because you'll be slipping them on and off constantly, every time you step outside and back indoors. Locals call them slippas. Slip them off every time you enter the house, not only Kapehu, but if you enter any private home you'll first remove your shoes to avoid offending your host. Bring an extra pair or two of slippas if you have them, so you can park a pair outside each door of the house - then you won't need to go searching for them each time you step outside. SOCKS, because our marble and hardwood floors feel cold under bare feet, especially on chilly nights and mornings.
RAIN JACKETS and UMBRELLAS Expect frequent rain showers in East Hawaii.
SWEATER OR JACKET, and LONG PANTS. Yes, you're going to the tropics, and afternoon temps can climb into the low 80's. But if you bring nothing but shorts and tank tops, you'll be shivering in the cool evenings and mornings, especially in winter and spring. The Kapehu Retreat House sits at an elevation of 900 feet, making it 5 degrees cooler than Hilo on average. (Before you come, check the weather forecast for Hilo and subtract 5 degrees.) If you plan to visit the high mountain elevations, bring warm jackets - it's cold and windy up there, and you may encounter hail or snow any time of year.
HIKING SHOES if you intend to hike any of the beautiful nature trails in the national park. Lava rock is hard and sharp, and it will shred the soft rubber soles on sneakers.
If you are a wilderness adventurer, bring your BACKPACK and SUMMERWEIGHT SLEEPING BAG. There are some awesome wilderness trails in Volcanoes National Park that take longer than a day. Talk to the park service rangers about back-country permits.
OBVIOUS SUNDRIES: swim suit, sunblock, sunglasses, camera, sun hat, etc. Bring insect repellent if you intend to hike in the rainforest. On the beaches and in open areas of East Hawaii, bugs aren't much of a bother thanks to the lovely trade winds carrying them away. And the Kapehu property is bordered by a grove of eucalyptus trees emitting a sweet fragrance that bugs avoid. But in the rainforest, mosquitoes can be thick, and a certain Asian species of mosquito that carries dengue fever has been found on the Big Island.
No need to bring towels or linens: We provide linens and plenty of towels, including beach towels, for you to use during your stay.