So you’re traveling to Hawaii and want to know what to pack. Lucky for you, I’ve collected a list of everything you need to pack for your trip to Hawaii. From local tips learned during my time as a Hawaii resident, to my experiences visiting the islands with a carry-on, you’ll find all the “must-have” items for your island visit in this Hawaii Packing List.
The Ultimate Hawaii Packing List
Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and mountains in the world. From challenging ridge-line hikes to world-class snorkeling and diving, the activities are diverse and the options seem endless. These are all the items you should pack to help make the most of your trip to Hawaii.
Reef Safe Sunscreen
The State of Hawaii has officially banned the sale of sunscreens containing Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, which cause damage to marine environments. Opt to pack in reef-safe options to minimize your impact on local coral reef systems.
Take it a step further and choose non-nano Zinc Oxide sunblock for the safest and most effective sun protection for both you and the environment. Raw Elements Face + Body SPF 30 offers 80 minutes of water resistance to get the most out of a single application. My favorite reef-safe option for the face is SuperGoop’s Unseen Screen.
Water Resistant Beach Bag
These ALOHA Collection bags are popular in Hawaii for a reason. They keep your belongings dry, are spacious enough for day trips while also being carry-on compliant, and include a reversible design for 2 totes-in-one. ALOHA collection also donates 5% of annual profits to Hawaii-based conservation organizations to help protect the natural beauty of Hawaii.
TOP 3 PLACES TO STAY ON OAHU
Sand Resistant Beach Towel
This sand-proof Turkish beach towel is an excellent way to enjoy the beaches of Hawaii without bringing them back to your hotel room. These are OekoTex Certified, 100% cotton, and quick-dry. As an added bonus, a camouflaged zippered pocket allows discrete storage for your valuables.
Although not native to Hawaii, mosquitos run rampant in the hot, humid climate. If you plan to visit any of the waterfall trails, jungle hikes, or even take photos under the iconic banyan trees, it’d be best to pack an effective Deet-free mosquito repellant like this one.
Waterproof Phone Case
Many smartphones are advertised as water-resistant these days, but water-resistant is far from waterproof. A waterlogged phone is the most easily preventable way to ruin a trip to Hawaii. Save yourself the trouble and invest in a waterproof phone pouch like this. Or, if you want to turn your phone into an underwater camera rig, the Axis GO is a great investment.
- Touch-screen & camera friendly
- Flexible pouch fits most phones
- Adjustable lanyard
GoPro Hero 12
With so many beaches, waterfalls, and ocean activities on offer, having a waterproof camera on hand is always a good call. With the GoPro Hero 12‘s HyperSmooth available in 4K resolution and slow motion, shaky, dull vacation footage is a thing of the past.
Water shoes are a great way to explore Hawaii without cutting up your feet on the volcanic rock that often accompanies its white sandy beaches. They can also protect your feet against hot, midday sand, provide traction on muddy waterfall trails, and protect your feet from sea urchin stings and accidental coral abrasions. These Xero Water Shoes tick all the boxes, with these NRS Water Shoes offering a slightly more cost-effective option.
An easy way to ensure all your electronics and valuables stay dry, traveling to an island without one seems negligent. If you plan to do any waterfall, boat, or kayaking tours, a dry bag is highly recommended. This dry bag is large enough to fit all your valuables and includes backpack straps for easy carry. For a more minimal approach, this EarthPak Dry Bag provides 5 liters of protection at a more budget-friendly price.
Sun protection in Hawaii should not be taken lightly. Whether you’re snorkeling, surfing, or lounging on the beach, the right rashguard will keep you cool and protected from the harsh tropical sun. My top picks include this Carve Design’s Rashguard for women and this Rashguard Hoodie for men.
A wide-brimmed hat offers an extra layer of sun protection while also keeping beach hair under control. A crushable hat makes for the most travel-friendly option. If you’re looking for something you can also take hiking, this Lanzom Crushable Fedora also offers UPF 50 protection, sweat wicking fabric, and a chin strap.
While you can rent snorkeling gear locally, the price of this full set is about $10 less than a week-long rental. Many snorkeling tours include free gear rentals, but it’s generally a better experience going in with your own gear that fits well and hasn’t been shared by a few hundred people.
Floatation Strap for Phone
Calm and clear conditions are no guarantee that your waterproof electronics will be found if dropped accidentally. Similar to the waterproof phone pouch in its extreme dorkyness but great utility, if you’re anywhere near the water with a phone or waterproof camera, this floatation strap is your best friend.
Sea Sickness Medication
Getting seasick is an easy way to ruin a sunset cruise or scuba dive. Aside from packing over-the-counter medication like Dramamine, this FDA-cleared wristband is a drug-free form of relief. Psi wristbands are waterproof, adjustable, and reusable, and utilize acupressure to stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities for relief from motion sickness and other forms of nausea.
Leave In Hair Conditioner
Salt and sun can be extremely stressful to your locks. My girlfriend worked on a dive boat in Hawaii and swore by this leave-in conditioner to keep her hair from frizzing and breaking despite being in the water day in and out. Perks of this product include its eco-conscious packaging and natural, reef-safe ingredients
You should never travel without a travel adapter. Even if you’re visiting Hawaii from within the States, this universal travel adapter includes 2 USB ports to allow multi-device charging, as well as covering over 150 countries for future travels. It’s a lightweight and convenient way to improve your travel kit for a couple of bucks.
Travel Day Pack
Whether you’re carrying water and musubi to the top of a hike, or need something to carry your haul home from the ABC store. An ultralight travel pack should always have room in your carry-on. This Sea to Summit travel day pack has a 20 Liter capacity all while managing to fit into your pocket.
Being on a tropical island shouldn’t be the only time you’re eco-conscious, but it can be a great reminder. Help keep Hawaii clean by opting out of plastic water bottles, and carrying a refillable Hydroflask instead. There are plenty of public fountains, and most bars and restaurants will happily fill a reusable bottle. Keeping your cold beverages cool is just an added bonus.
If you’re hitting the sandbar or want some tunes to play at the beach, a waterproof speaker can be a great investment. This portable Bluetooth speaker packs up to 12 hours of play and can be linked to 2 more JBL’s in Party Boost. Just make sure you’re not that guy, and be mindful of your neighbors.
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Hawaii Packing Checklist
Aside from the highly-recommended items above, here is a complete Hawaii Packing Checklist so you can start packing for your island vacation:
- Quick-dry shorts (1-2 pairs)
- Breathable t-shirts (2-3 pairs)
- 1 pair of full-length pants (can be chilly in the evenings in winter)
- Long-sleeved outer layer
- Rain jacket
- Puffy jacket (if visiting one of the volcanic peaks)
- Activewear for hikes or gym
- Bathing suits/ board-shorts
- Beach cover-ups & sundresses for women
- Long-sleeved button-up shirts for men
- Hiking/walking shoes
- Flip flops
- 1 dressier shoe (some nightclubs require for entry)
- First-aid / medication
- Camera / electronics
- Charging cables
- A good book
Anyway, that’s it for my Ultimate Hawaii Packing List. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy your visit to the Hawaiian islands. Just remember to respect the islands and the locals, support local businesses, and travel responsibly. Below you’ll find a few more tips that may help with planning your trip to Hawaii.
Do you need to pack differently for different Hawaiian Islands?
It’s a good idea to consider packing differently for different Hawaiian islands, as each island can have its own unique climate, terrain, and activities. Here are some factors to keep in mind when deciding what to pack for specific Hawaiian islands:
- Oahu: Oahu, home to Honolulu and Waikiki, tends to be more urban and developed. You might want to pack casual resort wear for beach days and city exploration. If you plan to visit Pearl Harbor or hike Diamond Head, comfortable walking shoes are essential.
- Maui: Maui offers a mix of outdoor adventures and relaxation. You’ll need beachwear, but also consider packing hiking attire if you plan to explore Haleakalā National Park or the Hana Highway. Don’t forget your swimsuit for snorkeling, as Maui has some excellent spots for it.
- Hawaii (Big Island): The Big Island has diverse landscapes, including active volcanoes. Depending on your activities, you might need hiking boots, rain gear, and layers for cooler elevations. If you plan to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, consider packing a flashlight for lava tube tours.
- Kauai: Known as the “Garden Isle,” Kauai is lush and great for hiking. Pack lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing for hikes to places like Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast. Sturdy hiking boots are a good idea, and don’t forget insect repellent for outdoor adventures.
- Lanai and Molokai: These two smaller islands are more remote and have fewer tourist amenities. Pack essentials like sunscreen, swimwear, and comfortable clothing. Be prepared to explore nature and enjoy the tranquility.
- Molokini Crater: If you plan to visit Molokini Crater for snorkeling, make sure to bring snorkel gear or inquire if it’s available for rent.
What’s the weather like in Hawaii, and how does it affect what you should pack?
The weather in Hawaii is generally warm and pleasant year-round, but it can vary depending on the time of year and the specific island you’re visiting. Understanding the weather can indeed impact what you should pack for your trip. Here’s an overview of Hawaii’s climate and how it can affect your packing:
- Year-Round Warmth: Hawaii enjoys a tropical climate, so you can expect warm temperatures no matter when you visit. Average temperatures typically range from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (24-29°C). Lightweight, breathable clothing is a must.
- Rainfall: Hawaii experiences both wet and dry seasons. The wet season generally falls between November and March, while the dry season is from April to October. During the wet season, it’s a good idea to pack a lightweight, waterproof jacket or poncho.
- Trade Winds: Hawaii’s trade winds can provide a nice breeze, but they can also make evenings cooler, especially at higher elevations. Consider packing a light sweater or long-sleeved shirt for cooler evenings.
- Sun Protection: With Hawaii’s proximity to the equator, the sun can be intense. Pack sunscreen with a high SPF, sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and swimwear. If you plan to be in the water, consider a rash guard for sun protection.
- Hiking and Outdoor Activities: If you’re planning on hiking or participating in outdoor activities, bring comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing and sturdy hiking shoes. Don’t forget a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.
- Evening Attire: While Hawaii is generally casual, some restaurants and activities may have dress codes. You might want to pack a slightly dressier outfit for such occasions.
- Island-Specific Considerations: Keep in mind that each Hawaiian island can have its microclimates. For example, the Big Island has a wide range of climates due to its size, from tropical beaches to cooler, high-altitude areas. Adjust your packing list accordingly if you plan to visit different regions on the same island.
- Swimwear and Snorkeling Gear: Hawaii’s beautiful beaches and clear waters make it a perfect destination for swimming and snorkeling. Pack swimwear, flip-flops, and any snorkeling gear you prefer, although gear may also be available for rent.
- Insect Repellent: In some areas, especially when hiking, you may encounter mosquitoes. Packing insect repellent can be useful for added comfort.
Suitable footwear to pack for Hawaii
Choosing the right footwear for Hawaii largely depends on your planned activities and the specific island you’ll be visiting. Here are some suitable footwear options for various activities in Hawaii:
- Flip-Flops (Slippers): Flip-flops are a popular choice for casual beachwear and strolling along the shoreline. They’re easy to slip on and off, allowing your feet to breathe in the warm tropical climate. Many locals wear them, and they’re often referred to as “slippers” in Hawaii.
- Sandals: Comfortable and supportive sandals are a good choice for exploring towns, shopping, or enjoying casual outings. Look for sandals with arch support if you plan to do a lot of walking.
- Water Shoes: If you’re planning water activities like snorkeling, reef walking, or hiking in wet conditions, water shoes with good grip can help protect your feet and provide traction on slippery surfaces. They’re also great for exploring rocky shorelines.
- Hiking Boots/Shoes: If you intend to hike, especially in areas with uneven terrain or higher elevations, invest in a sturdy pair of hiking boots or shoes with ankle support and good traction. Hawaii offers numerous hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty.
- Running or Athletic Shoes: If you plan to stay active with activities like jogging, running, or working out, bring your athletic shoes. They can also be a comfortable option for casual sightseeing.
- Casual Sneakers: Lightweight sneakers or walking shoes are suitable for exploring cities, visiting museums, and other low-impact activities. Make sure they’re comfortable for walking.
- Closed-Toe Shoes: For certain outdoor adventures or if you’re concerned about protecting your feet from the elements, you might want to pack a pair of closed-toe shoes, like comfortable sneakers or trail shoes.
- Dressier Shoes: If you have plans for fine dining or more formal occasions, consider packing a pair of dressier shoes. Although Hawaii is generally casual, some restaurants and events may have dress codes.
THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS
- Doors-Off Oahu Helicopter Flight Tour: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off) and be blown away when you see Oahu from the air.
- North Shore Shark Cage Tour: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks!
- Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins on this exact tour.
- Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: The number 1 MOST POPULAR snorkel tour on Oahu. GUARANTEED Turtles!
WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach with a private lagoon.
- Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
- Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
- Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
- Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.
MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!
- What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK
- A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII
- The best Waterfalls: AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
- Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU
- Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU
- The best Waterfall Hikes: TOP WATERFALL HIKES ON OAHU
- Best Tours: 20 BEST TOURS ON OAHU
- The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON OAHU
What are my favorite pieces of trekking gear?
There are six pieces of gear that I simply never forget when I go trekking. These are five items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my trekking essentials.
- Arcteryx BETA AR Rain Jacket: This is my go-to rain jacket. It’s super light, folds down into a tiny ball, and protects brilliantly in a storm. This one never leaves my backpack.
- Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots: For the best ankle support, waterproofing, and durable exterior I’m a fan of tough but light hiking boots like these Salomons for my adventures.
- Black Diamond Head Torch: I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve arrived back from a hike unexpectedly late. I always keep this lightweight but strong headtorch in my bag for the unexpected.
- Darn Tough Socks: These are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever worn and last for years. They also have a lifetime warranty and you just send them in with a hole and they replace it no questions asked.
- Osprey Atmos AG 65L Backpack: I’ve never had a more comfortable 65L pack than this one. I got it in the Navy Blue and have trekked with it through many a mountain.
- Black Diamond Trekking Poles: They might feel weird at first, but on a long trek with incline and decline you’ll begin to love these.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: I’ve used this for three years. It filters your water with one press and you can drink directly from it. Never buy a plastic water bottle again!