Volunteer Packing Information


What To Bring

Ready to get packing? One of the ways Kalani reduces waste and promotes sharing, recycling and upcycling is our “Free Boutique” a volunteer-managed donation space. In addition, some of the items listed below may be available in our on-campus Bookstore.

  • Batteries
  • Books
  • Bug spray
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Flip flops, sandals (slippahs)
  • Hat
  • Long sleeve shirt and pants (for evenings)
  • Phone card for making long-distance calls (Cell phone access is limited)
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Shorts
  • Skirts, dresses, sarongs
  • Sun hat
  • Sunscreen
  • T-shirts, tank tops
  • Toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.)
  • Travel umbrella
  • Yoga mat and props, if you prefer to have your own (we do provide yoga mats and props in our classrooms)

Other useful items that may not be available in on campus:

  • Alarm clock, battery operated
  • Bandana or head coverings (for Kitchen service)
  • Beach towel
  • Camera
  • iPod with headphones
  • Costume party attire (optional)
  • Fabric for decorating your tent, room or cabana
  • Laptop (wireless access available)
  • Lightweight rain coat
  • Medications
  • Sandals with ankle straps that can be worn in the water (If you will be participating in our adventures).
  • Spending money for excursions, shopping, etc. (We do not have an ATM on-site, but ATM services are availble in nearby towns and can be accessed during town runs.)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sweatshirt (for cooler evenings)
  • Swim suit
  • Sneakers or close-toed shoes for walking on lava, hiking (and if working in the kitchen, horticulture, or maintenance) Optional: rain boots (for winter months)

For campers:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping pad/blow up bed (we provide bedding)
  • Fan, battery powered
  • Rechargeable batteries & charger (solar if possible, electricity is available at the campground bathrooms)

What Not To Bring

  • Bedding and towels (we provide these)
  • Pets (there are a few here)
  • Unnecessary valuables


All volunteers are required to provide proof of health insurance coverage for the duration of their stay.

Many of our volunteers have found that International Volunteer Card (IVC) offers effective, low-cost insurance that is suitable for their time at Kalani. IVC also donates a significant portion of their proceeds to humanitarian projects. Click here or on the image below to view further details on IVC and their insurance plan.

Volunteer Card for Voluntourists; Travel Insurance, 24/7 Assistance, and Discounts for Volunteers

Please note that travelers insurance is also adequate.


Kalani plant life

Kalani is in a tropical jungle! It rains more than 100 inches/year on our side of the island, more so in the winter months, so it helps to have a lightweight raincoat/umbrella and rain boots.  Some find the first few weeks to be challenging while getting use to the combined humidity and heat.  The weather here is relatively warm and tropical all year round. Bring sunscreen, as the sun can be very intense during the day.  Day time highs range from mid-70s to mid-90s, and evenings are mild, mid-60s to low-70s. The winter nights can get into the 50s. Once you are acclimated to the weather, evenings can feel somewhat cool and you may want cloths which will keep you warm at night such as long pants and a sweatshirt, especially in the winter months.

Dress Code

dress code

Kalani is very casual, as is most of Hawaii. Most people wear shorts, t-shirts, and sandals or flip flops (‘slippahs’ if you use local word). It is highly recommended to bring footwear with good grip and thick soles, as lava rock is everywhere and shreds everyday footwear very quickly!

If you are assigned to the Maintenance, Horticulture, or Kitchen department, you will need to wear closed-toed shoes during your shifts, as well as a head covering in the Kitchen department. Work in all departments can be dirty at times, so please bring work clothes that are ok to get stained. Kalani also has a great 'free box' that can be a source of clothing for both work and play. There are many opportunities to dress up in costume, so bring your wildest and most wonderful outfits and accessories!

Shopping and Transportation

Kalani is in an isolated location 25 minutes from Pahoa (nearest village) and 50 minutes from Hilo (nearest town).  By choosing to be here you are choosing to leave behind some of the 'city' conveniences.

Pahoa is a tiny local village which has a health food store, post office, supermarket and some restaurants.  Hilo has a shopping center with a Wal-Mart, Borders, Office Max, Ross, a natural foods store, and other stores. Downtown Hilo and Pahoa both have wonderful farmers markets that sell local produce and flowers, as well as lots of local crafts for gifts.

We offer a van ride into Hilo every other Saturday, and every Sunday morning to Pahoa Farmers Market for supplies and shopping. There is also a free county bus that runs between Kalani and Pahoa/Hilo. It comes by a couple times a day and returns in the evening.

Some volunteers choose to rent a vehicle for a portion of their time here to go on short trips and adventures around the island. Several rental car companies offer vehicles at the Hilo Airport which you are able to rent for a few days, a week, or a month at a time.