You’ve booked your plane tickets, the hotel, scoped out great activities to do and taken the vacation time; next up is putting together the perfect Hawaii packing list.
This is naturally, one of the more stressful parts of vacation planning. Hawaii has several islands and variable weather so we’ve made this awesome guide to have you packed and ready in no time.
Don’t leave home without: DK Eyewitness Hawaii (Travel Guide)
Ultimate Hawaii Packing List
Things to consider for your Hawaii Packing List:
- Will you be adventuring or beach bumming it? Or perhaps, you will do a bit of both! Decide ahead of time to make sure you are properly prepared.
- Will you be visiting fancy restaurants for dinners or scoping out some more laid back local hangouts? Depending on these things will help narrow the number of clothing items.
- How many days are you gone and will you have access to laundry services? Will you repeat your basics or pack extra to avoid laundry?
- What time of year are you visiting? Be knowledgable and check the weather near your departure date to make sure you are prepared!
Check out our guide on the Best Hawaiian Islands to Visit
Packing Quick Tips
- Toiletries: Remember to pack the essentials but you can always ask your hotel ahead of time if they provide free toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, razors, and shaving cream.
- Medications: Don’t forget to bring any important prescription medications in your carry on bag.
- Pack expensive items in your carry-on: Always pack cameras, laptops, and electronics in your carry-on luggage.
- Pack snacks: Bringing your own snacks is convenient and a much healthier option. Bonus – it will save you money in the long run.
Classic Comfy Tshirts
The best part about these classic tees is they are very reasonably priced and you won’t feel bad if they are ruined on vacation.
Hawaii can see a lot of rain, especially depending on what time of year and which island you visit. Chances are you will get caught in at least one thunderstorm while visiting Hawaii.
Pack a rain jacket just to be on the safe side. There are several rain jackets on the market ranging from low to high in price. We really enjoy our Columbia rain jackets. They are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof and windproof.
Of course, most any rain jacket will do but the higher-priced ones tend to hold up better in more inclement weather.
Lightweight Down Jacket
You will rarely catch us on an adventure without a down jacket. They are so versatile and lightweight that they are a staple for every trip we take.
If you have plans to adventure while exploring the Hawaiian Islands, we recommend you pack a lightweight down jacket that also offers water resistance for those unexpected rain showers.
If you plan on heading to higher elevations, particularly on the Big Island, they do experience bitter cold in winter months and regularly have temperatures fall below freezing due to the elevation.
We both really love the down jackets from Eddie Bauer. We have tried several jackets from them and are never disappointed. For men and women, we suggest the CirrusLite down jacket. This jacket is ultralight, versatile, and packable.
Comfortable pants are a staple when planning a trip to Hawaii. Linen blend pants are our favorite as they are lightweight and breathable but also provide some warmth during the cooler nights.
There are a variety of styles for men and women to choose from. The other great thing about linen pants is they can be easily dressed up for dinner with a nice shirt. Special bonus, they take up virtually no room in your luggage.
You’re heading to Hawaii, so you will probably be visiting their fabulous beaches at some point during your vacation.
When we travel, we each always pack at least two suits so we always have a dry suit if needed. No matter which island you visit you will have plenty of beach options to fill your day with.
Decide ahead of time which, if any, activities you will be participating in while in the ocean. For ladies especially, it’s nice to have a comfortable and supportive one-piece suit for water activities to ensure there are no accidental exposures.
For men, we like dark wash men’s swim shorts as they hold up better against the sun and saltwater.
We can’t speak highly enough about having a rash guard with us on any beach vacation.
Just as you can buy UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing you can also purchase men’s and women’s rash guards with UPF in them to keep your upper body protected while spending the day in the sun.
Not only do they provide sun protection but they also help protect your skin from other things in the water, such as coral and rocks. We definitely recommend buying one if you plan on trying out surfing while in Hawaii.
Beach Cover Up
A beach cover-up or sarong is essential when traveling to Hawaii. Most of my cover-ups come from Coolibar. A beach cover-up is great to have near when you are walking between beaches and restaurants.
Just as we recommend casual t-shirts for your packing lists, tank tops are also a must-have for our travels.
We typically pack solid colors so that they go with everything. They’re super functional as they can be worn under a blouse or alone with a pair of jeans or capris.
I don’t ever leave home without at least one pair of my favorite leggings. They are my go-to option when doing long hikes or physical activity while on vacation.
I absolutely love Beyond Yoga Spacedye High Waisted Leggings. They are lightweight and super comfortable no matter what activity. These leggings offer no outside seaming for reduced irritation and chafing.
You may look pretty silly wearing a T-shirt to a nice meal in Hawaii. We suggest men pack at least one to two dress shirts for a trip to Hawaii.
I recommend sticking with a classic color like blue or white that will never go out of style. Another great item for men is chino pants. They are more casual than suit pants but can be dressed up by a nice shirt.
Deciding ahead of time what the activities are on your agenda, will ultimately help you pick a sandal type for your trip. We always travel to beach destinations with a nice multi-functional sandal that can be worn at the beach or hiking.
The islands of Hawaii are home to some fantastic hiking. You will find incredible viewpoints, hidden waterfalls, and tropical forests. Since the islands see an adequate amount of rainfall expect the trails to be muddy or have standing water.
A good pair of hiking boots will come in handy if you plan to explore the island on foot. I love the Merrell Women’s Siren Edge Hiking Boot and Dave really likes the Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot.
Sun Protection Essentials
UPF clothing may be one of the best things to happen ever. With skin cancer on the rise, UPF clothing offers you an alternative to slathering on sunscreen every 80 minutes while out in the sun all day.
This type of clothing will protect any area it’s covering from the sun just like if you had sunscreen on, the best part though? It’s lightweight, sweat-wicking, and quick-drying. Making it the ultimate addition to any beach vacation.
Another perk to UPF clothing becoming more popular is that you will have a variety of styles to choose from. In saying this, UPF clothing is the ultimate essential for your Hawaii packing list.
A good option for sun protection that is often overlooked is a sun hat. Areas that are most commonly forgotten when applying sunscreen are your ears and the back of the neck.
An easy solution to this is to bring a wide brim hat. You can buy them in all different sizes and brands, but we recommend a hat with at least a 3-inch brim.
In addition to providing sun protection, a sun hat is also a very lightweight and breathable option like this Columbia Bora Bora Booney Hat, so your head is not getting hot and sweaty as with normal baseball caps.
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun since you are likely to spend a lot of time out in it while on vacation. There are a lot of options for sunglasses but everyone should bring at least one pair that has UV protection.
In addition to UV protection, you can opt for a pair that are polarized as well. Polarized sunglasses reduce the glare from the sun making your view through the lenses more clear. However, polarization does not increase UV protection, which is very important.
Pick a pair that fit you well, don’t pinch your nose and won’t easily fall off if you look down. We both like Oakley sunglasses. They seem to fit well and are very durable. They make several different styles for men and women.
To help protect against the sun make sure to pack a good waterproof SPF 50+ sunscreen.
The absolute best is to get one with zinc oxide as the main ingredient like REN Clean Screen Mineral Sunscreen because zinc oxide provides a physical barrier from the sun in addition to the many chemical barriers all sunscreens contain.
Always bring a sunscreen you are familiar with. The worst thing is to start applying your sunscreen and you don’t like how it goes on or how it smells. This leads to you being less likely to want to re-apply as needed throughout your day in the sun.
Other Hawaii Packing List Essentials
A guidebook is an invaluable item to have when traveling. They provide great hotel, restaurant, and activity recommendations making it easy for you to plan ahead for your vacation.
I always pick up a guidebook when I am headed to a new location. I read it when I have downtime to help get me inspired and excited about my upcoming trip!
Don’t leave home without: DK Eyewitness Hawaii (Travel Guide)
It is always a good idea to bring along a tote or day pack if you will be spending time by the water throughout your vacation. You can find them in a couple of different designs like a shoulder bag or a backpack.
Selecting a dry bag instead of a regular bag will ensure that items like your towel, camera, phone, etc. remain dry and sand-free throughout your day by the water. This is a Hawaii packing list essential item.
However, if your vacation will be more of the city variety, you may want to just pack a great day pack. I always like to pick one that has a lot of pockets and one that can be worn as a cross-body style or backpack.
Hawaii has year-round warm weather and lots of rain, in other words, it is breeding ground for mosquitos. They love to hang around forests, ponds, lagoons, or anywhere with still water.
Pack a bottle of insect repellant that has DEET for ultimate protection. Keep in mind that DEET can destroy plastic so mindful of where your sunglasses or camera are when using.
Fins & Snorkel Gear
If you are thinking of snorkeling on your trip it is a great idea to purchase your gear at home and bring them with you.
Unless you are staying at a place that provides them, this is a great way to save money and always have gear with you whenever you find a place to explore.
Snorkel gear is always more reasonable at home than at the destination so prepare ahead of time to save yourself some money!
Hawaii is an easy place to lounge around and do absolutely nothing. If you are wondering what to pack for Hawaii for more than a week consider a travel hammock that you can string up between trees. It’s perfect for those times when you want to relax in nature.
A great camera is an invaluable Hawaii packing list item, especially if you want some great shots while on your vacation. We travel with a bunch of cameras, but the one we universally recommend is the Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera 24.3MP SLR Camera.
For capturing crucial moments that go by in a blink, the a6000 can shoot 11 photos in one second. It’s compact and easy to use, too. Two quick-access dials let you change settings on the fly.
Whichever camera you choose to bring along always pack extra batteries so you are always ready to get the best shot.
In addition to a great regular camera, you may also want to bring with or invest in buying, a GoPro camera. With a great wide-angle lens and video options, it is a great small camera to have with you on vacation.
You can also buy waterproof essentials to take it with you snorkeling. We like the GoPro dome port as you can take pictures that are above and below the water in one shot!
Check out our helpful guide: How to Master GoPro Photography
We never leave home for a trip without our power bank. They are lightweight and are a great way to ensure your devices never die.
They are compact and have the ability to charge and even re-charge your electronic devices on the go multiple times. This is why they should be on every Hawaii packing list.
The larger the mAh (milliamp hours) the better the ability it has to store power for charging devices. Opt for one with at least 10,000mAh.
This Anker PowerCore 20100mAh power bank offers high-speed charging and voltage boost for the fastest possible charge on the go.
No matter where I travel, I always bring along my kindle for entertainment. You can find several different E-Reader options on the market today but personally, nothing beats the Kindle Paperwhite.
Not only does the E-reader have a battery life of up to 8 weeks on one single charge but it also adjusts to being easily read in the sunlight without reflection or glare and has great dim settings for easy reading at night.
Alternatively, you can download the Amazon Kindle app for your phone. However, this will drain your battery and you will not get the added benefit of no reflection or glare.
Traveling to the beach with fresh water in hand is important as you will easily get dehydrated in the sun on the beach. We like to use the Camelbak Chute water bottles.
This is a BPA-free water bottle that is leak-proof and delivers high water flow without a mess. This water bottle is also lightweight and durable with a small hook for easy attachment to your bag.
It is a good idea to pack your own quick-drying towel for any trip with beaches or water activities. If you see yourself being out and about at beaches where there are no towels provided it may be a good idea to pack one.
Most microfiber towels come in multiple sizes and pack down very small. The material is designed to be anti-odor and anti-mildew which will be great for all-day outdoor activities as they also dry up to 10 times faster than cloth or cotton towels. This makes them a Hawaii packing list essential.
We really like the Rainleaf Microfiber Towel. This towel is ultra-compact and light-weight. It is practical and easy to hang anywhere thanks to its reusable carry bag and hanging snap loop.
More on Hawaii:
- The Best Hawaiian Islands to Visit: Island Comparison Guide
- 21 Bucket List Things to do in Hawaii
- 13 Epic Things to do in Honolulu
- 42 Awesome Things To Do in Maui
- Extreme Doors Off Helicopter Tour in Maui, Hawaii
- Maui Whale Watching in Hawaii
- Molokini Snorkeling Trip in Maui: Overview & Planning Guide
- Best Time to Visit Maui: MONTH by MONTH Breakdown
- Best Luau in Maui: Pick from the Top 10!
- 10 Best Maui Hikes for Insane Views
- 20 Best Beaches in Maui: Ultimate Maui Beach Guide
- Where to Stay in Maui: Best Districts & Hotels