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What to pack for Hawaii
So you’ve decided to plan a Hawaii vacation, yay! Now you have some things to figure out, where to stay, things to do in Hawaii, and what to pack for Hawaii.
When it comes to what to bring to Hawaii, everyone will need a few basic items. My number one tip is not to overpack. Make sure you have some room in your bags (or an extra bag) to bring home souvenirs.
By the way, you’ll definitely need a rental car, I recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental. You’ll find the best prices on rental cars in Hawaii.
- 7-day Maui Itinerary
- 7-day Kauai Itinerary
- 4-day Kauai Itinerary
- 4-day Big Island Itinerary
- 7-day Big Island Itinerary
- 4-day Maui Itinerary
The best luggage for Hawaii
The first thing you’ll need is the luggage. I like eBags for traveling.
The eBags packing cubes are great for keeping everything organized. I use them every time I travel.
As a photographer, I have quite a few pricey camera bags, but most people won’t need those. If you do have any expensive camera equipment, make sure it’s well packed!
We also have this DSLR backpack that’s perfect for hiking. It has just enough room for a camera, one or two lenses, a GoPro, and water. It also fits under the airplane seat. Even though it’s less than $50, this bag has held up well for many trips, and we’re still using it.
Even if you don’t have a DSLR, you can put things like a GoPro or a smaller camera in the padded part of the bag for extra protection.
What clothing to pack for Hawaii
Everyone is different when it comes to clothing. I’m definitely not going to tell you what to wear on your vacation! However, I will say that Hawaii is very casual.
You don’t need to bring very many formal outfits if any. Shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, and flip-flops (slippers) are the norm in Hawaii.
A collared shirt or sundress will be dressy enough for almost any restaurant. When in doubt, ask your resort (or your travel agent) about restaurant dress code requirements.
You’ll probably be walking a lot. Make sure to bring comfortable shoes. For me, this means my Teva sandals.
For you, this might mean athletic shoes. Again, remember that everyone in Hawaii wears slippers (flip flops/sandals) so make sure to bring those too.
One of my top packing tips is to roll your clothing instead of folding it. You’ll have a lot more room.
Basic Hawaii packing list for men
- polo shirts
- one pair of pants (if you want to wear them to a nicer restaurant-optional)
- two pairs of swimming shorts
- one lightweight jacket
Basic Hawaii packing list for women
- tank tops,
- skirts/dresses (if you wear them)
- two bathing suits
- one light jacket
Yes, you will probably need a jacket! If you plan to visit higher altitudes like Mauna Kea or Haleakala, a jacket is a necessity.
It gets cold and even snows sometimes, at higher altitudes in Hawaii. I like to wear my jacket on the flight because flights are always cold. Check out how to survive to flight to Hawaii for more tips.
Pro tip – Unless you’re staying in a very rural area, there will be plenty of opportunities to do laundry. Most resorts and hotels have laundry facilities. Most condos and villas have a washer and dryer in the unit or the building. Pack light and plan to do some laundry in the middle of your trip.
Yes, you’ll need two bathing suits. One to wear and one to dry! If you tend to burn, you might also consider a rash guard. The sun is very intense in Hawaii.
Bring a camera to Hawaii.
Bring a camera! Not just your phone. I’m a big fan of putting the phones away and enjoying your vacation. At the very least, bring a GoPro.
Hawaii is the perfect location to use a GoPro. You can take it underwater on a snorkeling adventure or even on a Dune Buggy. Most places will offer GoPro rentals, so you might as well bring your own.
Pack a refillable water bottle and at least one reusable bag
Hawaii has banned plastic bags, so bring at least one reusable bag for shopping. Of course, you can always buy a reusable bag on the island.
You might want to check out 10 things to know before going to Hawaii to learn more.
We love our tropical theme Target bags! Make sure also to bring a refillable water bottle to fill up at the airport and for outings. There is so much plastic in the ocean already; avoiding plastic water bottles is one small way to help.
My favorite reusable water bottle is definitely the Hydroflask. It keeps drinks cold all day, even in Hawaii! Lately, I’ve been traveling with my Berkey Sport. It filters water right out of the bottle. Great for nasty airport water.
I like using foldable reusable grocery bags while traveling.
Don’t forget your chargers.
Don’t forget a charger for your phone, camera, etc. You might also want to get extra memory cards for any camera.
Pack your documents in your carry on
The last thing you want to do is lose your important documents.
If you’re checking a bag, make sure to keep items like your license, insurance cards, and passport in your carry-on. I also advise keeping a bathing suit and at least one set of clothes in your carry-on, just in case something happens with your luggage.
Beach Bag essentials for Hawaii
If you are out during the sunniest part of the day, you’re going to want to pack sunscreen. Make sure to pack a reef-safe sunscreen, no matter where you are.
I love to read! Although I prefer “real” books, books can get heavy. I like to read on my Kindle when I am traveling. I use a Kindle Unlimited subscription during the times that I travel often.
Make sure to use one that’s safe for your body and contains sunscreen. Again, I like the All Good brand.
You may not need this until after, but it’s good to keep in your bag. Don’t use the chemical-filled green goop. My favorite is from a brand called Hanalei.
Such a simple thing, but you don’t want to be stuck at the beach without hair ties if you have long hair as I do. Grab this set of 27 on Amazon for just over $2!
If you like listening to music or listening to audiobooks on the beach, headphones are a must. They’re also great if you decide to go for a walk or jog along the beach.
I got my Power Beats for Christmas a few years ago, and they’re so much better than anything else I’ve tried.
Waterproof phone pouch
The beach is full of things that can ruin your phone—sand, water, etc. Keeping your phone in a waterproof pouch will keep it protected.
Protect your eyes by keeping a pair of sunglasses in your beach bag at all times. Quay is a popular brand and fairly inexpensive too.
Another important beach bag essential is some leave-in conditioner. I like Sun Bum because it’s gluten-free, vegan, paraben-free, and color-safe.
It has fairly natural ingredients, but coconut oil works great if you want something all-natural. You’ll have to wash it out later. 🙂
A wristlet is great for holding your keys and money. I love this one because it has pineapples on it!
I love my Sand Cloud towel because it’s a towel, beach blanket, and coverup all in one. You can save 25% by going here and using the code AmyFil25.
Toss a simple beach cover-up or romper in your beach bag, and you’ll be good to go. In Hawaii, almost everyone dresses very casually. You can go straight from the beach to dinner with a cute cover-up top and a pair of shorts.
A good beach bag
I recommend having a nice, large bag to keep everything in. Here are a few of my favorites on Amazon:
Hawaii Packing List
Did this Hawaii packing list help you figure out what to pack for Hawaii? If you have anything add, please share it in the comments!
If you’re looking for more Hawaii travel tips, make sure to check out:
- What not to do in Hawaii
- Is Hawaii safe?
- Maui vs. Kauai
- What is Hawaii like right now?
- How much does it cost to go to Hawaii?
Although I am a Hawaii Travel Agent, I am only taking on a few clients for 2021. You can contact me if you’d like more information. I would recommend starting with my Hawaii travel guide if you plan to DIY your vacation!
The best way to get Hawaii travel tips and the most current travel information is to sign up for my email list. I send out one weekly email with the latest news, travel deals, and more. Sign up below.
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