You planned your next trip, yay! But do you really know what to pack for Hawaii?
The Hawaiian islands are an exotic destination with a lot of diversity. Let’s make sure you have all the travel essentials you’re absolutely going to need. With lots of Hawaii outfit ideas!
Trying to decide what to wear in Hawaii is a difficult task. Should you just pack a bunch of bikinis? Will a sarong be enough if you want to hit the Waikiki nightlife? What kind of stuff should you bring to the beach?
I had so many questions before our first trip to Hawaii.
After all, it was going to be a super long flight.
And we had no idea what to expect once we got there!
Hopefully this packing list for Hawaii will be useful for you!
I decided to note down all the essentials you’re going to need.
Plus a few extra tips for those who are visiting Hawaii on a budget with just a carry-on.
Let me know in the comments if I missed something!
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When to go to Hawaii?
Roughly speaking, Hawaii has two seasons: winter and summer.
The months that go from November to March are the rainiest ones.
From June to November we also tend to avoid visiting because it’s hurricane season.
The very best months to visit Hawaii are thus April, May, September and October.
My packing list for Hawaii will refer to these months.
The warmest months are awesome and you’ll want to look your best!
What to wear in Hawaii – Everyday Essentials
Before you decide what you should bring to Hawaii, you have to prepare your itinerary.
The Hawaiian islands are an archipelago of eight major islands and several atolls.
The weather can vary greatly, based on your location and itinerary.
After all, Hawaii has 10 different climates! You will definitely need a variety of clothing that matches the places you’re going to visit.
While trying to decide all the things to pack for a vacation, I also make sure to delete the non-essentials from my checklist.
This is especially true for Hawaii, because bringing an extra suitcase can be super expensive!
Buy water and snacks once you’re there.
Every Hawaiian island has a lot of fresh fruit available. We found coconut vendors and ananas stands everywhere in Maui!
Take advantage of the local fruit instead of bringing snacks with you. It’ll be healthier and you’ll save a lot of space in your suitcase.
Oh, before I forget!
I won’t mention stuff like a toothbrush or underwear in this list. I’m sure you already have it on your Hawaii packing list, right?
Reusable Water Bottle
Having one reusable water bottle for each member of your party is super important.
Plastic is bad for our planet and we do not want to pollute a dreamy destination like Hawaii, right?
You’ll find out soon that a reusable water bottle is useful for hiking, to go to the beach or even just for a road trip.
We always carry ours with us, everywhere we go!
Make sure you choose a reusable water bottle that keeps water cold for many hours.
Our favorite ones are those that can also keep liquids hot for a long time.
So we can also use them for our winter trips!
Floppy Straw Hat
Some would object that floppy straw hats are not among the travel essentials for Hawaii.
I would never!
A floppy straw hat is a great prop for your pictures. It’ll be invaluable, especially if you’re going to shoot at the instagrammable spots in Hawaii!
Also because the sun can sometimes be too much, you should wear your hat everywhere you go.
Especially at the beach!
Small First Aid Kit
In my opinion, a small, ultralight first aid kit is one of the Hawaii essentials you can’t travel without.
There’s a number of places in Hawaii where you could scratch or hurt yourself. Whether you’re hiking or just snorkeling.
Both the lava rocks and the reef can cut you. And while you might not notice anything while swimming, it’s very important to apply a bandage as soon as possible.
A good first aid kit for Hawaii includes waterproof bandages and all the basic supplies.
Waterproof Phone Case
Sometimes less is more: we do have a GoPro but we never bring it just to take underwater pictures. It takes up that extra space in our luggage we could use for something else!
Modern smartphones take beautiful pictures and you’ll want photo proof of marine life!
So add a waterproof case to your Hawaii packing list.
It’s cheap and it’ll also keep your phone safe.
In case it slips in the water or if someone spills their drink on it!
While trying to decide what to pack for Hawaii, don’t forget to add a power bank to your list!
Bringing a portable charger is important, no matter what kind of trip you’re planning.
I always have one with me, especially when I travel on my own.
There’s nothing worse than being left with like 10% battery on my phone. Like… when I need GPS. Ugh!
A power bank will be super useful for your trip to Hawaii.
Whether you’re staying out for the whole day or if you take a ton of pictures, you’ll be able to recharge on the go.
The modern power banks are light and small. They fit in every purse, pocket and backpack. And you won’t even have to recharge it every night.
Another bonus, especially if you’re going camping!
Extra USB Cord
I always keep one in my backpack. So if I need to recharge my phone on the go, I can easily do so.
When we rent a car to explore, we leave the extra USB cord in the car. Otherwise, I’d keep on forgetting it in our room!
Add it to your Hawaii checklist!
If you’re planning to hike to the waterfalls, scroll down to find a specific packing list for that, too!
You’ll want light and fresh clothes for your trip to Hawaii.
It will be hot and you don’t want to sweat the whole day!
You also won’t need to pack your entire closet for just one week in Hawaii.
So select a few tops, shorts, skirts and sundresses.
Then mix and match to create different outfits!
One thing we always do to pack light, is to take advantage of the laundromats in Hawaii.
They’re easy to use and pretty cheap.
A Few Nicer Outfits
Make sure to pack at least 1-2 nicer outfits or long dresses!
You’ll get to use them for a fancy dinner or a night out.
Long maxi dresses are absolutely amazing also for a Hawaii photo shooting.
Some instagrammers also carry one with them when they hike. So they can just slip it on their regular clothes when they need to take a particularly instagrammable picture.
If you’re going to hike a lot, then you’ll want shoes or boots and not sandals.
Yet you can hardly wear hiking boots with that very nice summer dress, right?
I find sandals to be one of the Hawaii essentials, because it’s super hot. They’re comfy and can be super versatile.
Sandals are also pretty tiny, so they won’t take too much space in your luggage!
Cardigan or Lightweight Rain Jacket
One thing we immediately noticed on our first trip to Hawaii was the “weird” weather.
On the beach it was so very hot. But all of a sudden you’d get a chilly wind. Just like that.
We learned the hard way that you absolutely need to dress in layers when visiting Hawaii.
Bring something to cover your shoulders in case there’s a sudden change in weather.
UV Protective Sunglasses
UV protective sunglasses are very important in Hawaii.
The sun is pretty intense and you do not want to hurt your eyes.
Lip Balm (with SPF!)
Lip balm should always be on your Hawaii checklist.
I chose a SPF 50 lip balm because I’m a fair skinned girl. So if I don’t protect my skin I end up looking like a boiled lobster within 24 hours or so!
Make sure you apply your lip balm also at the beach. And reapply it often throughout the day.
You might not notice it on the first day but the Hawaii sun is pretty harsh and a good lip balm with SPF makes the difference!
In case you’re wondering if you need bug spray in Hawaii… yes. Oh, gosh. Absolutely yes!
There are a lot of mosquitoes in Hawaii, so you will definitely use it a lot.
Both when you’re hiking and at night.
If you’re packing for Hawaii in a carry-on, you’ll have to buy bug spray once you land in Hawaii.
You can’t have it in your cabin baggage.
On the contrary, if you have a checked baggage, it’ll be cheaper to buy 1-2 bottles of bug spray online.
I know, I know. I’m always reminding people to get packing cubes.
But they really are the best way to keep your luggage in order!
You’ll get to pack a lot of cute clothes to wear in Hawaii. And the best thing is that you’ll fit them all in a tiny bag.
No, there won’t be wrinkles!
Packing cubes are also very important if you’re planning to visit more than one island in Hawaii.
Island hopping can be a lot of fun. What I just don’t like is having to pack and unpack every few days.
With packing cubes I know exactly what’s in each one of them. So I just grab what I need, without having to open every bag to find that cute outfit I was going to wear at dinner.
Extra Bonus: Travel-sized blender
This is one of the packing tips for Hawaii you won’t find anywhere else.
Fruity drinks on the beach in Hawaii can be pretty expensive. Same goes for breakfast smoothies.
So if you have enough space and are visiting on a budget, there’s a way to save quite a lot of money.
Get yourself a tiny, travel-sized blender. I’ve seen some that were super cheap.
Then buy fruit at any fruit stand – before you go to the beach.
Once you have what you need, make your own fruity drink for less!
Things to Bring to the Beach: Hawaii checklist
What to wear in Hawaii might still be up to debate. Everyone of us has a different style. Which is absolutely great, if you ask me!
But some things to bring to the beach are absolutely mandatory.
Especially if you’re planning to visit Hawaii when it’s super hot-and-super crowded.
Let me offer a few packing tips for Hawaii, for those of you who are spending most of their time at the beach!
Sunscreen is one of the first things you should be packing for a trip to Hawaii.
The sun is pretty harsh and it will burn your skin badly if you’re not careful.
Make sure to re-apply sunscreen a few times during the day. Especially after a swim!
It will reduce your chance of sunburn.
Note: to all the fair skinned ladies out there – reapply every 30 minutes or so to avoid that “boiled lobster” look. Been there, done that!
What sunscreens are illegal in Hawaii?
Not many people know about it, but since January 2021, some sunscreens have become illegal in Hawaii.
We experienced something similar while exploring the best beaches in St. Thomas. So we knew what to do already.
The fact is that some chemicals are toxic to the coral reef. They are used for sunscreens, so when you go for a swim, you’re actively going to kill the reef.
The two chemicals that are illegal in Hawaii are oxybenzone and octinoxate.
Check sunscreen ingredients especially for those two!
Sarongs / Swimsuit cover ups
While many people in Maui walk around in their swimsuits, we still found it proper to bring some cover-ups.
The Hawaii life can be amazing, but you just won’t be allowed to enter many shops or restaurants unless you are wearing proper clothes.
So pack a couple of swimsuit cover-ups or, even better, some sarongs!
Sarongs are by far my favorite thing to wear in Hawaii.
They’re large pieces of brightly colored fabric that you can wear in different ways. According to how you tie them around your body.
The reason why I find them super practical is that they can become cute outfits for Hawaii.
They’re also lightweight, and if you wash them, they’ll immediately get dry. So you can re-use them throughout the trip!
I truly believe they should be among the top 5 things on your Hawaii packing list!
Spend some time looking for the perfect bikini for your body. Then you’ll feel super confident at the beach!
Bringing the best bikinis in Hawaii also means taking gorgeous pictures for Instagram.
Sandy toes, salty hair and the perfect bikini?
That sounds like a great setting for a photo session!
Your packing list for Hawaii should also include foot protection for the water.
Sharp corals and rocks can cut your skin easily and it’s never fun.
I highly recommend mesh water shoes.
They offer more grip than sandals and you can leave them to dry on the sand. By the time you’re ready to get back to your hotel room, they’ll look good again.
Beach Towel with Hidden Zipper Pocket
As a girl who travels on her own a lot, I have had to learn how to be extra careful.
I could never leave my belongings in plain sight, especially on the beach!
Imagine my surprise when I realized that they actually sell beach towels with a hidden zipper pocket!
Add them to the things to pack for Hawaii, because they’re super useful!
The secret pocket hides your valuables on the beach. So you can go for a swim without having to worry about your phone, keys or passport.
Coolers were in fact the one thing we found pretty expensive.
We didn’t want to buy a disposable foam cooler. Yet we also didn’t have the chance to bring a larger one back home with us.
A collapsible cooler is also great for the beach. As I already mentioned, drinks at the beach in Hawaii can be pretty expensive!
Another important thing to pack for Hawaii if you’re fair skinned or if you’re planning a lot of water activities like surfing, snorkeling etc, is a rash guard.
Flip flops are one of the beach essentials you will need basically everywhere.
Flip flops compliment a lot of cute Hawaiian outfits. Even if they’re not going to be the best option if you’re planning to walk a lot!
Wrist or Waist Wallet
I know what you’re thinking.
Oh-my-gosh! Not a fanny pack!
But they can actually be pretty useful, and they seem to be back in style!
In 2021 fanny packs were officially high-fashion items.
So do not feel weird or anything if you want one.
They’re actually practical and useful, for every trip!
Choosing the right beach bag is almost as important as trying to decide what to pack for Hawaii.
You’ll want one that is large enough for you to stash your sunscreen, beach towel, water bottle and book. But not too large that it’ll take too much space in your luggage.
A stylish beach bag is also great for when you want to spend some time by the pool.
If you don’t have enough space in your suitcase, just bring a day pack for Hawaii. You’ll use it for the beach and also for when you want to go hiking!
Snorkeling in Hawaii: The Must-Haves
When I asked myself “what should I bring to Hawaii?” I never really thought of all the snorkeling gear.
The reason why is pretty simple. In between layovers and everything, it took us over 20 hours to get from Naples (Italy) to Kihei (Maui, Hawaii).
The flights were already super expensive and we decided not to get the extra fee for +1 suitcase.
We were going to rent everything we needed on location.
Of course it all depends on where you’re flying to Hawaii from, if you’re visiting on a budget, etc.
So if you are visiting specifically to snorkel, then by all means, bring your own gear!
We never bring our stuff because it’d take too much space in our luggage. And we haven’t found it difficult to rent what we need in Hawaii.
Now let’s see what else you should bring to go snorkeling in Hawaii.
Here’s a handy packing checklist!
- Snorkeling Gear (Optional)
- GoPro or Waterproof Phone Case (for underwater pictures)
- Swim Cap or Bandana
- Rash Guard
What to Pack for Hawaii if you’re Hiking
Hiking sandals are designed to give you a little more traction. So they’re great for easy hiking trails.
They are sturdy enough that they will also protect your feet from getting hurt by the reef or the lava rocks.
Quick-dry shirts are always in my top 3 positions for my Hawaii packing list.
Clothes can get wet easily. Then you’d have two issues.
The first one is to carry everything back to your hotel room without getting anything else wet.
The second one is that you need something else to wear.
Quick-dry shirts are thus absolutely perfect for Hawaii!
They’re lightweight and if you’re sweating on a hike, they’ll get dry again within minutes.
They will be great also for the moderate-difficult trails.
And… you can save space in your luggage by wearing them at the airport.
A backpack is essential for any Hawaii hike.
You need to stash sunscreen, water bottle, snacks and many other things.
Packing a sun hat for Hawaii is super important.
The sun is intense and you’ll want to protect yourself, because you’re definitely going to spend a lot of time in the open.
Bonus points if it’s wide-brimmed. Your face will thank you by the evening!
Body glide is super useful for when there are body parts that like to rub together.
I find it super annoying, especially in summer.
Basically, by applying some body glide, you’ll avoid chafing.
Am I the only one who finds this thing absolutely awesome?
Pack a small tube of body glide in your Hawaii suitcase and wear everything you want.
Freedom, at long last!
Lightweight Rain Jacket
While trying to decide what to pack for Hawaii, you might be thinking “it’s always sunny!“.
And it really is… most of the time.
Yet you should still pack a lightweight rain jacket, because the wind can sometimes be insane.
We have been hiking at the Haleakala National Park.
While the rest of Maui was sunny and super warm, the Haleakala crater was so cold. We couldn’t believe how much the weather had changed!
So by all means, if you’re planning to hike in Hawaii, make sure you pack one of those lightweight rain jackets.
Because you can fold them, put them at the bottom of your backpack whenever you go out for a hike. You’ll be thankful to have it!
Hawaii Honeymoon Packing List
You have planned a honeymoon in Hawaii (or a romantic babymoon!). Congratulations!
Now what should you pack?
Your packing list for Hawaii will be more or less the same.
But you should factor in a few cuter and romantic outfits for when you two will go out at night.
Whether you’re planning to go to a luau, or just to dine overlooking the ocean, make sure you pack 1-2 elegant outfits.
When visiting Hawaii, I always try to pack a long, flowy skirt that matches a pair of cute-but-comfy sandals.
I prefer long and flowy skirts over miniskirts and sheath dresses because they’re much more comfortable when it’s hot.
Hawaii Essentials – What if you travel with a carry-on?
It can be very difficult to decide what to pack for a trip to Hawaii if you only have a carry-on.
Difficult, but not impossible.
To save more space, compression packing cubes are perfect.
Make sure you get yourself a set!
But what will you do with the liquids?
As you might already know, there are quite a few restrictions on carry-on liquids, basically on every flight.
Each passenger may carry liquids, gels and aerosols in travel-size containers that are 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters.
All your liquids will have to fit into a one quart-size bag.
The best way to go is thus to get yourself travel sized liquids!
Prepare a list of the products you can’t live without. Get them in travel size.
The rest you can just buy in Hawaii.
I generally make sure to bring just enough skin products to last me to the end of the trip. So when I fly back home, I have enough space for liquid souvenirs like body butters or the likes.
Did you find this guide on what to pack for Hawaii useful? What did I miss?
Let me know in the comments!
You might also like:
– How to visit Hawaii on a budget
– What to do in Waikiki at night
– The best stops on the Road to Hana
– Top Hawaii souvenirs you can’t forget!
– USA Babymoon Ideas on a Budget
– Why you should travel with your partner
– What to Pack for Hawaii
– 30 Most Instagrammable Places in Oahu
– 9 Jaw-Dropping Oahu Scenic Drives
– Discover 10 hidden gems in Oahu!
– Oahu Bucket List Destinations You Will Love
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Travelling Dany – Danila Caputo
Danila Caputo is a bilingual travel writer living in between Naples and the Amalfi Coast (Italy), graduating from the University of Naples Suor Orsola Benincasa in Foreign Languages and Literature. She travels and works with her husband Aldo, photographer and videographer. Their blog chronicles their adventures around the world, their love for the USA (where they have family), Italian/European culture and tips on how to be responsible travelers. You can find out more about their latest trips and their life on Youtube, Instagram and Facebook.