Sunday, December 13, 2009

Packing lists and microclimates

Speaking of both microclimates AND planning for a trip to the Big Island, I thought it might be helpful to provide readers with a version of our “packing list”.  As noted in my other blog, we both feel it’s important not to plan activities too tightly, but it is important to know something about the island in advance, especially because of it’s microclimates.  It may sound nuts, but we usually like to leave the following in our car at all times: swimsuits, towels, sun block, light hiking shoes, sweatshirts, and jackets.

Another point to keep in mind is that the Big Island still retains much wilderness and wildness.  Depending on what and how you wish to explore, you’ll want to plan accordingly.  For example, the small walks and hikes directly off the two main roads within Volcanoes National Park only require comfortable walking shoes and an extra layer (in case of rain), but serious hikes out of the park boundary require closed-toed shoes, rain gear, and flashlights.  You’ll also want a warm layer if you go up Mauna Kea, which is covered in snow part of the year and sports freezing winds much of the rest of the time.  If you walk from South Point out to the Green Sand Beach or down into Pololu Valley, you’ll need your walking shoes/light hikers again.  The issue here, like at most secluded island locations, is the rocky footing which is unkind to flip-flops and definitely requires shoes with some support.

Some of our guests also like to bring rash guards or half wetsuits for snorkeling.  A rash guard or half wetsuit/wetsuit top may be something you want if you are here in the winter when the current shifts and the water is a little cooler and you plan and spending loads of time out in the water.  I am quite small and have a tendency to cool down if I space out snorkeling and spend more than an hour or so out there.  These items aren’t necessary, but they can also protect you against sunburn.  

Besides these considerations the rest of the island is pretty easy and it’s totally possible to pack light.  This is probably one of the most relaxed islands and the general uniform for guys is t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, and for girls is t-shirt or camisole, shorts, and flip-flops.  The last “dressy” event we went to was a funeral and even there none of the men had on aloha shirts (the dressy-dress of the islands), just tees.

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