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THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY

THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY

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.

FACE + BODY SPF 30

  • Reef safe
  • Non-nano zinc particles
  • 80+ minutes water resistant
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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.

Aloha Beach Bag

  • Water-resistant
  • Reversible design
  • 5% of profits donated

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.

Turkish Beach Towel

  • OekoTex Certified 100% Cotton
  • Hidden zipper pocket
  • Doubles as beachwear

Insect Repellant

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.

Picaridin Insect Repellent

  • DEET free
  • Repels mosquitoes, ticks, & flies
  • Doesn’t harm gear or equipment
  • Low-odor, non-greasy lotion

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.

Waterproof Phone Case

  • Touch-screen & camera friendly
  • Flexible pouch fits most phones
  • Adjustable lanyard

GoPro Hero 10

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 10‘s HyperSmooth available in 4K resolution and slow motion, shaky, dull vacation footage is a thing of the past.

GoPro Hero 10

  • Waterproof to 10m (33ft)
  • 60fps ; 4K resolution
  • 120fps ; 2.7K resolution
  • Hypersmooth 4.0 stabilization

Reef Shoes

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.

  • Quick-dry linings
  • Removable 2mm insole
  • Grippy 5mm FeelTrue sole
  • Vegan friendly
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Dry Bag

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 Sea to Summit Dry Bag provides 5 liters of protection at a more budget-friendly price.

SeaLine Dry Backpack

  • 100% waterproof
  • DrySeal™ roll-top
  • Removable straps and hip-belt
  • Exterior bungee system

Rashguard

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 Vissla Twisted Hoodie for men.

Carve Design’s Rashguard

  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Adjustable drawstrings
  • Front half-zip

Sunhat

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 Columbia Bora Bora Booney II hat also offers UPF 50 protection, sweat wicking fabric, and a chin strap.

Crushable Sunhat

  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Adjustable size
  • Chinstrap
  • Travel friendly

Snorkeling Gear

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.

Snorkeling Kit

  • Full mask-fin set
  • Dry-top valve snorkel
  • Adjustable fins
  • Mesh carry bag included

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.

Flotation Strap for phone

  • Floats up to 7 oz / 200 gm
  • Available in bright colors
  • soft, foam-filled neoprene
  • compatible with phones, cameras, keys, etc.

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.

Motion Sickness Bands

  • FDA-cleared
  • Adjustable pressure
  • Waterproof and reusable
  • Drug-free

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

Leave in Conditioner

  • Reef safe
  • Paraben & Sulfate-free
  • Lasting UV protection
  • Detangles and restores shine
A girl snorkeling over coral reef full of ocean underwater life. Freediver watching sea turtles in natural habitat.

Travel Adapter

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.

Universal Travel Adapter

  • Covers 150+ countries
  • Dual USB ports
  • LED power indicator

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.

Sea to Summit Day Pack

  • Siliconized Cordura® nylon
  • Carabiner included with stuff sack
  • Fits into pocket

Hydroflask

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.

Hydroflask Water Bottle

  • TempShield™ vacuum insulation
  • Food-grade stainless steel
  • BPA-free
  • Covered by a lifetime warranty

Waterproof Speaker

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.

JBL Flip 5

  • Waterproof to 1m for 30 minutes
  • 12-hour playtime
  • Links to 2 or more speakers

HOLD UP! Are you sure you’re ready to start hiking and traveling? GET INSURED FIRST!

If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. Don’t wait for an accident to happen, Get insured. I fractured an ankle halfway through a multi-day trek and had THOUSANDS covered by through insurance claim.

I’ve been using World Nomads and SafetyWing for the past 6 years. I’ve made successful claims with both and found them professional, helpful, and reliable but most importantly.. cheap! I trust them both. World Nomads is great for travel up to two months and SafetyWing is perfect for long-term travel.

To find out why I choose World Nomads and SafetyWing, check out my review: Best (Cheap) Travel Insurance or get a quote below.

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
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Hiking/walking shoes
  • Flip flops
  • 1 dressier shoe (some nightclubs require for entry)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Toiletries
  • First-aid / medication
  • Camera / electronics
  • Charging cables
  • Powerbank
  • A good book
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Anyway, that’s it for my Ultimate Hawaii Packing List. If you’ve made it this far, mahalo 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.

THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS

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 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!

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love the powerbank, definetely most vital fillness of feeling and power. now normal to see sternenbild..... krasss