The Ultimate Hawaii Packing List: What to Bring and What to Skip

June 24, 2022

Don’t let daydreaming about your upcoming Hawaii vacation get in the way of planning the details, like packing.

Before you go, get your ducks in a row so you can let the waves carry you away once you arrive!

The anticipation of a trip to a destination as exciting as the Hawaiian Islands could leave you forgoing some planning when it comes to packing. Don’t be a beach bum and slack when you pack. Follow this guide to get started.

suitcase packed for tripWhat to Bring to Hawaii

When traveling to Hawaii, it may be tempting to grab everything you see and cram it into your suitcase. Resist the urge to bring your entire closet and pack lightly instead. Here are the essentials for your stint as a Hawaiian tourist.

Clothing

Come prepared with the right clothing to ensure your vacation will be free of any wardrobe snafus.

Related Post: Current Events and Festivals in Hawaii

To meander through a tropical paradise, comfortable attire is a must. Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts, and flip flops are all acceptable when you’re living on island time.

However, if you want a less costumey look, here’s what you’ll need for hikes, beach days, and tours in Hawaii: 

  • Swimsuits
  • T-shirts and tank tops
  • Shorts
  • Sandals
  • Tennis shoes
  • Hiking shoes or boots, if desired, for extreme hikes
  • Jeans
  • Light jacket
  • Hat
  • Undergarments
  • Socks
  • Pajamas

Be sure to check the weather before you visit, and note that nights by the breezy shore could get a bit chilly.

Related Post: 33 Incredibly Fun & Free Things to Do in Hawaii

To err on the safe side, stash a pair of jeans and a light jacket in your suitcase. 

Toiletries

Before jetting off to Hawaii, make sure you pack the essentials:

  • Personal medicine
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Makeup
  • Face wash 
  • Moisturizer
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair products
  • Deodorant 

If you forget one of these necessities, no sweat! There are plenty of convenience stores to stock up on anything you may overlook when packing.

Related Post: Hawaii for First Time Visitors: 8 Tips to Know Before You Go

They have a bevy of toiletries, in addition to souvenirs and food items. 

Likewise, you can always ask the helpful front desk agent at your Hawaiian resort about the nearest store.

Outdoor Gear

Unless you’re planning on camping on your trip, you can leave most of your outdoor gear behind. However, you’ll want to add these to your packing list:

  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Beach towels
  • Comfortable and supportive backpack
  • Tote bag

Don’t forget the bags! Packing a bag in your bag may seem a bit redundant, but a backpack is essential for hiking trips, and a tote bag is a must for beach days. 

And, if you searching for alternative 'beyond the beach' activities at these isles of paradise, we have tickets for thrill-seekers like a Maverick Helicopter Tour or Northshore Zipline Tour through the beautiful Maui backcountry. There's also the Delux Morning Snorkel & Dolphin Watch Cruise on the Kailua Kona, Big Island.

Miscellaneous Items

Here are a few more items you’ll want on your trip:

  • Extra bag for souvenirs
  • Emergency cash
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Camera

Bringing an extra bag for souvenirs will help you place some limits on how much you can take back to the mainland.

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A small duffel bag as an additional carry-on could help you stay within your shopping budget. If you’re planning a shopping spree, on the other hand, bring an entire suitcase to check.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a more economic trip, we have plenty of ways to save. Read our 8 Fun and Free Things to Do on Big Island.

Pro Tip: A refillable water bottle is one way to help you stick to a budget while visiting Hawaii. Skip buying water bottles to spare some cash!

There will be more photo ops than you can count on your trip, so pack a camera if you want to take your photos to the next level. Or, don’t worry about this and just use your phone!

woman stuffing black suitcase full of clothes while sittingWhat to Leave Off of Your Hawaii Packing List

To free up some precious suitcase space, cut these items from your packing list. We’re looking at you, packrats. 

Clothing

Here are some items your Hawaiian wardrobe can probably do without:

  • Extra dressy clothing
  • High heels
  • Bulky jackets
  • Scarves

Unless you’re heading to the Hawaiian Islands for a wedding or other upscale event, exploring beaches and tropical forests all day means you can leave your Sunday best behind.

Related Post: The Most Festive Things to Do in Hawaii During Christmas

Even if you have a dinner cruise planned, a nice sundress or shirt and tie will suffice. No need to impress -- vacation time is time to kick back and relax!

For incredible Pacific Ocean views, dancing, cocktails and delicious cuisine, try a sunset cruise on Hawaii's largest, award-winning Star of Honolulu!

We mentioned you might want a jacket at night earlier, but keep this on the lighter side. Don’t waste space with a winter coat!

It may be common sense to forget scarves when traveling to a tropical climate, but we wanted to remind you even a thin scarf worn as an accessory could leave you a little extra sticky.

Toiletries

One of the nicest things about staying at a resort is the abundance of complimentary amenities. Take advantage of all your hotel has to offer during your stay! Don’t worry about grabbing these items:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Hairdryer
  • Bath towels

Why pack these items when they’re waiting for you in your Hawaiian hotel room?

Related Post: Which is the Least Expensive Hawaiian Island to Visit?

This will make your travel days smoother, too, as you can eliminate some liquids to worry about in the airport security line!

Outdoor Gear

Save yourself some trouble and leave these outdoor items off of your Hawaii packing list:

  • Snorkeling and scuba diving equipment
  • Surfboards and boogie boards
  • Beach toys
  • Beach chairs

 

If you’re a pro surfer, by all means, skip these tips and hang ten! However, if you’re a tourist, you won’t want to mess with juggling any of these items.

Opt to rent or purchase inexpensive gear once you get there. You’ll thank us later when we save you a Hawaiian hassle going through airport security. 

Hula dancer performing at Paradise Cove Luau in Oahu, Hawaii, USAMiscellaneous Items - Hawaii Packing List

Here are a few more things to cross off your packing list:

Here is the official list of things you absolutely can’t bring with you, legally. Unfortunately, you’ll have to leave your fur children with a pet sitter during your trip.

And, keep in mind you’ll have to eat any golden, juicy pineapples you find on the Islands before you go.

Related Post: Which is the Best Hawaiian Island for Kids?

When it comes to laptops, we’re doing you a favor. Use this list as an excuse to forget about your work email for a while. This will help you fully rest and recharge. Ah… true paradise. 

Woman snorkeling through a group of orange fish in Maui, Hawaii, USAFollow Our Hawaii Packing List for the Best Vacation Ever

Now that you know what to pack and what to pass over for your vacation in Hawaii, it’s time to start planning your trip itinerary! Head over to Tripster so you can fill it with activities and bundles that will help you pack in the fun while sparing some dough. 

Related Post: 5 of the Best Big Island Scenic Hikes

Ready to get lost in paradise on earth? Grab your sunnies and your floppy hat. It’s time to say, “Aloha!” If you're feeling overwhelmed on which great island destination to explore first, maximize your time on the island with our Big Island 5-day Itinerary

What Did We Miss?

Anything else we should add to our Hawaii packing list? Anything we should leave at home? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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