Packing Guide: What To Take On A Hawaii Trip

Flip Flops
Flip Flops | ©David Spencer/Flickr
Uniqua Hardy

Heading to Hawaii? The stress involved with packing might sometimes feel inevitable, but it isn’t the way to start the vacation of a lifetime. Considering the tropical climate and the many possibilities for outdoor adventures, ranging from scuba diving to lava rock hiking and zip-lining, here’s our guide on what you’ll need.

Casual Clothing

With its chilled island vibe, you should avoid getting too dressed up in Hawaii. Instead, your holiday wardrobe should reflect the destination’s mood with cool, relaxed and comfortable clothes. T-shirts, polo shirts, lightweight tops, and shorts are perfect for casual daytime wear. A couple of good casual dresses and skirts are also good for women to pack, but the islands do get windy, which is something to take into consideration. Plan your outfits before hand and try to get as many outfits as possible by mixing and matching your tops with your bottoms – the less you pack, the better (see this guide for help). A lot of Hawaii’s outdoor activities require long trousers, so pack at least one pair made of light material.

Though the weather is warm year-round, a light jacket or sweater can come in handy in the evenings, on your flight, and if hiking or staying in high altitudes. Also pack a disposable rain poncho in case of bad weather – it’s best to find one that comes in a small, folded pack, so that it doesn’t take much space in your suitcase.

Casual, Cool Shirts

Tank Tops




Flat Shoes/Sandals

Long Trousers (at least one pair)

Light jacket

Light Sweater

Disposable Raincoat

A traditional Hawaiian luau

Beach Essentials

Beach essentials are an obvious part of packing for Hawaii’s tropical climate. Flip flops don’t take much space and they’re perfect for walking around your hotel area or spending a day at the beach. No one likes putting on a wet swimsuit, so you should pack at least two to alternate between. A beach cover up is essential to bring, as walking around with too much skin out is frowned upon in public places, even if it’s just your hotel lobby.

Extending from the beach, general essentials in Hawaii are polarized sunglasses, head protection, sunscreen, and a good reusable water bottle to keep you hydrated at all times. Even if the sun is covered by clouds, the UV index of Hawaii can be very high, so you should pack a sunscreen that has a higher SPF than you use at home. To save room in your suitcase and avoid complications that come with traveling with liquids, you can wait until you get to your destination to buy sunscreen – but make sure it’s the first thing you do!

Flip Flops

2 Swimsuits

Sunglasses (ideally polarized)

Cover up

Hat or Visor


Water Bottle

Lip balm with SPF

Beach Book

Flip Flops

Water Activity Essentials

If you plan on spending a lot of time in the water, snorkeling equipment and a waterproof camera case are worth either packing or getting at your destination. A cheap pair of closed-toe reef shoes or water sandals are also something to consider, as they’re a lifesaver when it comes to comfortably exploring the waters and walking over lava rock. Last but not least, a rash guard top is perfect for days spent in the waters of Hawaii. They have built in sun protection, so you won’t have to constantly worry about adding more sunscreen throughout your day.

Reef Shoes

Snorkling Equipment

Underwater case

Rash Guard Top

Sandy Beach at Oahu, Hawaii

Extra Bag

Hiking, horseback riding, zip-lining, scuba diving, or just relaxing and sunbathing on the beach – Hawaii has countless activities to experience over your stay. Depending on how you’re going to spend your holiday, either a light backpack or beach bag is essential to take along. If you’re going to be adventurous and active outdoors, bring a light backpack that has room for your necessities (water bottle, guidebooks, snacks, lightweight jacket, etc.), but is also easy to fold into your suitcase. If your plans consist of relaxing on the back, a light tote bag is ideal. For mostly water-based activities, consider packing a waterproof bag.

Light Backpack / Beach Tote / Waterproof bag


Adventure Essentials

If you’re adventurous and plan to stay active outdoors, pack either lightweight, breathable trainers or a pair of sturdy hiking sandals. For birdwatching, wale watching and stargazing, bring a pair of binoculars to get the best views. A flashlight is essential for evening activities, like evening hikes, navigating your way through lava tubes and stargazing. To be prepared for accidents and potential bug bites, make sure you pack bug spray and a small first aid kit (with bandages for cuts and scrapes, pain relievers, and antibiotic ointment).


Bug Spray

Flashlight or Headlamp

Travel First Aid Kit: Bandages, Antibiotic Ointment, Pain Relievers

Waipio Valley at Big Island, Hawaii


Your phone’s camera might be enough for capturing daily moments at home, but taking a digital camera along on your trip will ensure that you get all of your memories captured in the best quality. Depending on your plans, a portable GPS could be helpful, and packing a portable phone charger will save you from the panic of an empty battery on the go. Always take your phone, laptop, camera and other electronics in your carry-on luggage, and remember to bring all of the chargers you’ll need as well as appropriate adaptors.



Laptop / iPod / Tablet / Other electronics

Portable GPS

Portable Phone Charger

Wall Chargers



Travel Documents and Toiletries

Lastly, pack a guidebook/map of your destination in Hawaii, all of your essential toiletries, and make sure you have all of your travel documents with you. Depending on where you’re staying, your hotel might have complimentary toiletries – this is good to check beforehand to avoid wasting space. Leaving all your toiletries home and buying them in Hawaii is also an option, which will save you from the airport’s liquid regulations. Before heading off, always triple check that you have your passport, travel documents, any important medications, and your credit card/cash.

Tooth brush, floss and toothpaste

Hair brush

Travel shampoo, conditioner and shower gel

Razors and shaving cream

Travel documents (hotel and flight conformations)


Driver’s license/ ID

Cash, credit card, or traveler’s cheques


Health Insurance

Guide Books and Maps

Travel Packing

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