A vacation in Hawaii is the trip of a lifetime for many people. With so many things to do there, you’ll want to make sure you take everything you need, whether you’re at the beach, attending a luau, or hiking a rainforest. If you’re not careful, your ultimate Hawaii packing list can grow longer than a receipt from CVS!
Good news, though, with a bit of planning and our Hawaii travel checklist, you’ll know what to wear in Hawaii. You’ll also learn what accessories you need to add to your vacation packing list and answers to commonly asked questions about vacationing in Hawaii.
What to Pack for Hawaii
Sometimes you just need a little insight from someone who’s been there to help you out. Even though I’m usually very organized when it comes to packing, it never fails that I leave something important out when I ditch the packing list.
(Note to self: never ditch the packing list!)
Scroll through this list of essentials I’ve put together so you’ll know exactly what to pack for Hawaii. Then you can rest assured you’ve got everything you need for a vacation in paradise!
Packing List for Hawaii: What to Wear
Since most people are looking for advice on what to wear to Hawaii, that’s a great place to start. Keep in mind while you’re planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, many of these items can be used for any beach trip, anywhere.
For starters, comfort is key! You’re going to Hawaii to relax, so don’t stress too much over what Hawaii fashion looks like. Unless you have a formal event that requires a fancy get-up, your outfits for a perfect Hawaii vacation can be pretty simple.
Hawaii Attire: What Should Women Wear in Hawaii
Pretty much every Hawaii packing checklist for women (we’ll get to the men next) includes a few summer dresses. Whether you opt for tropical patterns like this one or something more universal, you’ll want some breezy dresses to add to your wardrobe. Bonus: if you’re planning on attending a Hawaiian luau, this would be the perfect dress to wear!
Who knew these would come back in style? I love that these look a bit more feminine, yet the shorts under them make them much more practical than a regular skirt would. When you’re planning what to pack for Hawaii, include at least one pair of skorts and I promise you won’t regret it. Two thumbs up for the running skort!
Lightweight Summer Sweater
Even in the summer, you may need a light jacket or a lightweight summer sweater like this one once the sun goes down. Choose one that’s easy to pack without wrinkling, or better yet, wear it on the plane since it can also get chilly there!
Comfy Flip Flops
If you don’t own flip flops, these should be one of the first things you put on your packing for Hawaii list. As soon as you hit the beach, you can kick them off and walk barefoot through the sand. Unless the sand is too hot, then you slip them right back on! Seriously, flip flops rule and are considered essentials for what to wear to Hawaii.
Trust me. You do not want to forget your sun glasses (or sun shades if you’re from my neck of the woods.) Of course, you’ll be able to buy some there, but you’ll pay more for them. Be prepared and maybe even pack an extra pair. Then, get outside and enjoy that tropical sunshine!
Floppy Sun Hat
Don’t usually wear hats? Reconsider, just this once! You’re heading to Hawaii to soak in the sun, but you don’t necessarily want it in your eyes! Even if you wear sunglasses, there are times you just really need the brim of a hat to help block the sun. A big floppy one like this can help cover your neck, too. One more thing, they also work great to cover your face when you’re lounging by the water taking a nap! When you’re on island time, napping in the sun is totally acceptable!
➡️ You may also want to read: Best Time to Visit Hawaii: How to Plan the Ultimate Vacation
Hawaii Attire: What Should Men Wear in Hawaii
Hawaiian Print Shirt
Can you even go to Hawaii and not bring at least one Hawaiian print shirt? No. No, you can’t. If you’re planning even one night out (luau, special dinner, anything), this is the perfect style shirt for men to wear in Hawaii.
Of course, nobody wants to iron anything when they’re on vacation, so be sure to pack one that’s wrinkle-free!
This is probably item #1 on your packing checklist for Hawaii, as they should be! Whether you spend time in the ocean or a pool, you’ll want to pack two pairs of swim shorts. That way, one can be drying while you wear the other. Don’t skimp on old shorts that aren’t comfortable, either. You’re going to spend a considerable amount of your vacation in these, so make sure you have some you really like!
Not a flip flop kind of guy? No problem. You can get slip-ons, leather sandals, or anything else your feet love. Just make sure they’re super easy to get off and on and don’t collect sand in them. Nothing’s worse than getting a shoe full of sand when you’re trying to enjoy a walk on the beach! (Unless it’s having to put your wet feet into tennis shoes after playing in the water because you didn’t bring slip-ons.) You’re also going to want water shoes for certain activities, but these are easier for the rest of the trip. Plan ahead and tick these off your Hawaii checklist if you don’t already have some!
Moisture Wicking Shirt
You may be going to a tropical island, but Hawaii has a higher than average humidity level. Plainly spoken, that means you’re going to sweat. Do yourself a favor and get a pack of these moisture-wicking shirts to get you through the weak comfortably. They pull the sweat away from your body and are quick-drying, so you’ll stay cooler and more comfortable. That’s a good thing when you’re on vacation, right?
Quick Dry Cargo Shorts
Cargo-style shorts are perfect for any warm-weather vacation, especially when you’ll be out and about for much of the day. You can use the zipper pockets to keep things safe, like car keys, hotel room cards, and any cash you’re carrying. Not only is there no chance of anything falling out of your pocket, but you’ll be safe from pick-pocketers, too. Plus, they’re just cool looking, so there’s that. Pack a couple of these to go with the moisture- shirts and you’re all set!
Rash Guard Shirt
Don’t think you need a rash guard shirt? Maybe not, but if you even think you might get a sunburn, this UPF 50+ swim shirt is your friend! Don’t underestimate how much time you’re going to be in the sun. I mean, you’re going to Hawaii to enjoy the warm sunshine, right? While we all want to come back with a nice, golden tan, you also don’t want to spend any time nursing a bad sunburn because you didn’t keep up with constantly putting on suntan lotion. Love your skin enough to protect it from burning and potentially getting skin cancer.
Sunglasses are one of the easiest things to forget when you’re planning what to pack for Hawaii. Mine are usually in my car and I regret like heck the times I forget to grab them! I now have a pair I keep in my travel bag so I can’t forget them. Yes, you’ll be able to buy them in Hawaii if you forget yours, but they’ll be more expensive there. Even better if you bring a spare pair like these classic aviator sunglasses. You’ll probably wear these more than any other item you bring with you to Hawaii, so make sure you love the ones you have! (And don’t forget to pack them!)
What’s the best purse and wallet for a Hawaiian vacation?
Cross Body Travel Purse
This is my preferred purse style everywhere I travel, not just when I’m considering what to pack for Hawaii. Having the cross-body purse keeps my hands free and relieves shoulder pain because let’s face it, we women can fill a purse with everything but the kitchen sink! Another benefit of having a small purse is the ability to stash it in your backpack as you’re getting on the plane. That way, it doesn’t count as one of your carry-on bags!
RDIF Blocking Card Holder or Wallet
This really is a must, no matter where you’re traveling. The RDIF blocking card holder keeps your credit cards secure from hackers everywhere. No matter if you’re in the airport, a restaurant, or a busy tourist attraction, no one will be able to steal your info electronically. In fact, why not use it in your purse all the time?
Another option for keeping your cards and cash safe is to keep them in a neck wallet. There’s no way for a pick-pocketer to steal what’s not in your pocket, right? We’ve used these on several occasions when we planned to carry more cash than we were comfortable keeping in our wallets. No one will ever know!
What Swimwear to Pack for Hawaii
Your checklist for Hawaii is simply not complete without a couple of cute swimsuits. My favorite is the tankini, simply because it’s so much easier to get in and out of! Also, if you have the opportunity to get a beach massage, you’ll want to be able to easily remove your swim top. If you’d rather have a one-piece, this tummy-tucking swimsuit has great reviews, too.
Bathing Suit Cover Up
Be sure to add a swimsuit cover-up when going over what to pack for Hawaii. They’re easy to stick in your beach bag and throw on whenever you want to. Plus, you’ll look super stylish in your cover-up and flip flops! While it doesn’t really matter what you wear to swim in, it’s more appropriate to wear a cover up when you run to the market or are walking around the resort. Here’s an open-front option that’s also quite popular.
Waterproof Phone Case Holder
Let’s face it, you’re going to want to take a thousand pictures in Hawaii, and half of those are going to be near water. You may even decide to get in the pool or the ocean with your phone. I promise you’ll feel so much better about it if you use this waterproof phone case holder. It also allows you to keep your expensive phone on you, even when you’re snorkeling or swimming in the ocean.
(Note: this is probably the most popular item on this entire list! However, I’ve since switched to wearing this pouch instead. It holds more like my car key, hotel room card, and any cash I have with me. I like it around my waist instead of my neck.)
What to Pack to Hawaii for the Beach
Rash Guard Shirt
You may think this isn’t necessary because you really want to tan, or maybe you think sunscreen will be enough. Maybe, but your skin will thank you if you cover it up during the hottest parts of the day! This is especially important if you’re snorkeling with your back exposed to the sun for long periods of time. You may only wear it a few hours a day, but skin cancer is serious and you can help prevent it by wearing a rash guard shirt with UV protection. (This is a must for children!)
Put this one high up on your packing for Hawaii list! The best beach bag is mesh and waterproof so you can literally shake the sand out and it’s good to go. You can use it to hold all your things to spend the day at the beach (or out shopping) and can even use it as a carry-on bag for your flight! You’ll end up using it as a tote bag every day you’re in Hawaii, not just beach days, so don’t skip this one.
Your flip flops will get you most places you’re going, but water shoes can get you places slips-ons won’t be good for. You can wear water shoes instead of hiking shoes on muddy hikes. They’re perfect on slippery surfaces like boat tours. They’ll protect your feet if you want to explore a rocky beach and keep your toes from getting shredded doing water sports. Plus, they’re easy to pack and are super lightweight, so your whole family can bring mesh water shoes without taking up too much space in your luggage.
Planning on doing any water excursions? This waterproof dry bag is the perfect way to bring your things with you, while keeping them dry. Whether you’re kayaking and need to bring a few things with you or hanging out by the pool where kids are splashing like crazy, stash your stuff in this waterproof bag and you’re all set. This one comes with a waterproof phone pouch, too, which is always a good idea to use.
Sand Free Beach Blanket
This super light, easy-to-pack blanket is just what you need for a day at the beach! The fabric is made with super tiny holes in it and most of the sand slips right through. Use the pocket in the corner to put things like a hotel room key or even your phone to keep it out of sight and protected. We’ve used this one on several beach trips now and give it two thumbs up!
Best travel accessories to pack for trip to Hawaii
There’s more to packing for Hawaii than just figuring out how to dress in Hawaii. These travel accessories will help make things go more smoothly for you. While they might not seem important now, you’re going to be glad you brought them once you’re there!
While we usually try to travel with carry-on luggage only, we’re also huge fans of Southwest Airlines, especially because you can check two bags each for free! If you have room for these things, they’re worth having and will make your trip that much more enjoyable.
Portable Power Charge
Nothing’s worse than going to take the most epic sunset photo in your life only to find you’ve already drained the battery on your phone and you can’t! Since you’ll be taking so many pictures and away from wi-fi most of the time, your phone battery may not last all day long. I always bring a portable phone charger with me so I can charge on the go. This goes in the “must pack” category of my packing checklist for Hawaii!
Travel Power Strip
I keep this in my suitcase so it’s always ready to go when I am. Some hotels are great about having plenty of outlets for everything you need to plug in. Others barely have enough for one person’s electronics, let alone a family the size of ours! Having a power strip makes it so much easier to plug everyone’s phone’s in at night and not have to take turns sharing outlets.
Collapsible Water Bottle
These collapsible water bottles are so handy to have! Since they fold up in size, they take up very little space so you can easily stash them in a backpack until you need them. Buying bottles of water every day can really add up! Fill these with cold water before you leave your hotel and you’ll save yourself a lot of money over time. Plus, they come in different colors so everyone in your family can pick their favorite.
What’s worse than trying to wriggle into a cold, wet swimsuit that didn’t dry overnight? Not much. Use this travel clothesline in your hotel room and you won’t have to worry about that anymore! This one is so small you can easily stick it in your suitcase along with a packet or two of laundry detergent. That way, you’re prepared if you need to hand wash anything and hang it up to dry.
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Toiletries to pack for your trip to Hawaii
Your travel checklist for Hawaii isn’t finished without adding a few essential toiletries. Luckily, you can get most of these in travel-size packages, or you can transfer them to small containers. That way, you’re taking just what you might need without taking up too much space in your luggage. Honestly, I put these staples on all my packing lists, and we don’t travel without them!
|Reef Safe Sunscreen
|Deet Free Bug Spray
|Bug Bite ThingⓇ
|Poopouri Toilet Spray
|First Aid Kit
|Quick Dry Towel
|Space Saving Liquids Dispenser
You might not have thought to put these things on your packing lists for Hawaii. However, if you go somewhere like the Pipiwai Trail on the Road to Hana in Maui, you’re going to wish you had some bug spray with you! Sharing a bathroom with the family? Do NOT leave home without a bottle of Poopouri in your luggage. (Seriously, it’s one of the best Hawaii travel tips I can give you!)
Take a small first aid kit with you, too. You never know when you’ll need a band-aid or Neosporin for cuts and blisters. You don’t want to spend any of your precious vacation time hunting down a drug store!
Luggage accessories to help you pack for Hawaii like a Pro
Now that we’ve gone over your list of things to pack for Hawaii, here are some things I highly recommend that will help make packing even more effortless. You can use these on every single trip so if you don’t have them now, consider adding something from this list every time you travel.
Before long, you’ll be packing like a pro on every vacation you take.
I didn’t know what I was missing before I started using these. Every Hawaii packing list blog post you come across lists these, but I couldn’t see how they would make packing any easier.
Was I ever wrong! They really do keep you organized, and I can pack more in my carry-on than I can without them. (I did a comparison test and the packing cubes definitely made it easier to pack more!)
Don’t get the super cheap ones, though, because the zippers break too easily. (Speaking from experience.) I’ve had this set for several years now and they’ve held up great!
TSA Approved Padlock
Ever had anything stolen while traveling? Unfortunately, many people have. While these padlocks aren’t theft-proof, you have to either have the approved key or something to cut them off to open your luggage.
Every bit of extra security you can add helps deter people with sticky fingers! Keep your luggage locked while traveling. Furthermore, keep it locked when you leave your room. It just may make the difference in whether you’re robbed or not.
Electronics Organizer for Traveling
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you can stop stashing all your electronic cords and chargers in every nook and cranny of your luggage! This waterproof case can hold it all in one place, so all you have to do is remember where you packed it! (PS. I put mine in my backpack so it’s easy to pull out on the plane when I need it.)
Silicone Travel Bottles Set
Save yourself some money and skip the cute travel-size bottles of shampoos and lotions. Buy this instead and fill them with products you already have at home. It’s less expensive, saves space, and you’ll have them for all your trips from now on. When you fly to Hawaii, you’ll need to put all your liquids in a clear, quart-size bag. You also have to make each bottle is less than 3.4 oz in size. Use a travel set like this and you’ll be able to get so much more inside your quart-size bag!
Hopefully, you’ll give this list some thought and decide what’s most important to you for your vacation in Hawaii. You can buy almost anything when you get to Hawaii. However, that takes time and most likely more money than you would spend if you get it ahead of time.
Aloha, and enjoy your trip! 🌸
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.