July 30, 2018

What to pack for Hawaii :: Hawaii Packing List :: Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island

What to pack for Hawaii vacation and put on your Hawaii packing list, whether it's Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island!


So you know what to wear in Hawaii, right? Okay good. 😉

Because here, you’ll find some ideas that aren’t clothes that you may or may not want to bring to Hawaii!

But, this isn’t just any packing list for Hawaii.

Hopefully it will also give you some ideas on places to visit and things to do on Oahu! As well as some things to bring to Hawaii for the beach and for hiking. Because a trip to Hawaii is pretty much a beach vacation and a hiking vacation, right? 😉

What to wear in Hawaii

Wait, you don’t know what to wear in Hawaii?! 😉

Okay, if you’re going hiking:

And if you’re going snorkeling:

And you might also see:

And then…

Also, you really need to wear this in Hawaii – okay – might want to highly consider – because Hawaii’s sun rays are strong!

They are shirts with UV protection for when you’re in the water.

You’ll see lots of tourists wearing them in Hawaii, because those rays are stronger than you’re used to!

And they minimize the amount of sunscreen you need to lather on.

And for more traditional swimwear, have a look:

Now to the list of what to pack for Hawaii!

Affiliate links take you away for your browsing fun!

So… What are some things to pack for Hawaii?


Do people still buy guidebooks when you can find everything online for free?!

Well yes, they do. 😉

Especially when it comes to Hawaii, these books are pretty much the most popular ones out there!

It’s a good way to find some of the more hidden spots, or lesser known areas, in Hawaii.

There is a separate guidebook for each individual Hawaiian island of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

For help in deciding which island to choose, here are some guides to help figure out which Hawaiian islands to visit.

Sun protection

First, sunscreen.

Well, you already know that you should wear sunscreen when you’re in Hawaii… does that mean that you will? Hopefully that answer is yes. 😉

So which sunscreen to choose? Well, there’s nothing like this sunscreen that will get you in the ALOHA spirit! 😉

Or another quality aloha choice would be this sunscreen that Hawaiian lifeguards trust.

How much do Hawaiian lifeguards trust that sunscreen?!

So much so that they put that sunscreen’s monkey face on the end of the lifeguard surfboards! Or is that an ape face…? 😉

See look here…

Hawaii packing list: Pack sun bum sunscreen for an instagram pic with the sun bum monkey face on the lifeguard surfboard at Waikiki beach! ;)

Seems like it would be a totally Instagram-worthy photo:

Posing at a Waikiki beach with your bottle of Sun Bum with the ape face with that lifeguard surfboard with the ape face! 😉

Make sure you’re making the SHAKA sign in true Hawaiian spirit! (That picture with the shaka sign is at Lanikai Beach!)

Waikiki Travel Guide:

Now, to shield you further from the sun’s rays (that are likely much stronger than where you’re coming from, especially if your Hawaii vacation is in winter!), consider adding a sun hat to your Hawaii packing list.

Especially if you’ll be hiking on sun-exposed hiking trails like at the summit of a hike in Kaneohe, one of the best short hikes on Oahu!

Hawaii packing list: Pack a sun hat for hiking the trail of this Kaneohe hike!

A baseball cap is definitely better than no hat at all, but you may also further consider getting a hat that fully covers your ears and neck so you don’t have to be concerned about burning in these highly exposed areas.

If you won’t be wearing a hat with this kind of coverage, be sure to apply sunscreen on these areas too.

For women, have a look at these best selling sun hats. And for men, have a look at these best selling sun hats!

Are you going to Hawaii with kids?

Look at this cute little sun-protected boy! 😉

He’ll get solid protection from Hawaii’s strong sun rays when he’s splashing in the water and look stylish doing it!


How about spending a day at Sans Souci park right near Kapiolani Park laying in your hammock right by the ocean?

Hawaii packing list: Pack a hammock for the beach park in Waikiki!

Or maybe watching a beach sunset with the Waikiki skyline…

Hawaii packing list: Pack a hammock for the beach sunset in Waikiki!

There are also places on the North Shore that you can find to put up your hammock…

Hawaii packing list: Pack a hammock for the beach park on the North Shore!

This area pictured above is just north of Three Tables Beach, which is south of Sharks Cove.

Now, you don’t want to miss out on relaxing like that in Hawaii, do you? 😉

Plus, hammocks + ocean seem very much like Instagram moments. 😉

Depending on the weight limit of the hammock, you can possibly have two people in a single hammock.

Some hammocks sell the suspension straps separately, so be sure you read carefully to have all the pieces and to be able to set up safely.

Also, before you pack your hammock in your suitcase, it would be a good idea to test the hammock out at your local park before you fly off to Hawaii.

That way you’ll be a pro at setting up the hammock and you don’t need to stress about figuring it out when you’re in vacation mode!

This is one of the best hammock brands out there. Lightweight, portable, and friendly to pack in your suitcase!

Water shoes

Hawaii packing list: Pack water shoes to walk no problem in the water, on the beach, and on the pier in Waikiki!

Do you see the lady here above walking ahead on the pier? (This is near Kapiolani Park with the Diamond Head Crater in the background.)

It looks like she’s trying to maintain her balance.

She went from walking along the beach to walking on the pier. She needs to watch her step because she’s barefoot and the rocky pier isn’t completely friendly to the soles of your feet!

Not to mention the pavement can get hot when it’s baking in the sun!

Now, if she was wearing these types of shoes or these crocs, she wouldn’t have to worry about losing her balance on the pier from trying to avoid that step that’ll hurt the feet. 😉

You can go from water to beach to pier without having to head back on over to your stuff to put on your totally aloha flip flops. 😉

Because the pier is just that inviting once you get to it, who wants to go back to get sandals? 😉

Okay, so if the pier isn’t that inviting to you, water shoes are also practical to put on your Hawaii packing list because the shoreline can be a bit rocky depending on what beach you’re at.

This includes on the beach and in the water. Even if a beach or the water looks completely sandy, there could be hidden (sharp!) rocks.

So these water shoes can be a good idea if you’re wading in the water!

Hawaii packing list: Pack water shoes so you don't need to worry about stepping on sharp rocks at Sharks Cove!

This popular North Shore beach, Sharks Cove, is a beach that you’ll want to watch your step carefully so you don’t step on sharp rocks!

Trekking poles

Trekking poles can be useful on a hike like the Koko Head Hike

Hawaii packing list: Pack hiking poles for the Koko Head hike!

And they can also be useful on a hike like the Lanikai Pillbox Hike

Hawaii packing list: Pack hiking poles for the Lanikai Pillbox Hike!

And they can also be useful if you are adventuring on a hike to find a military plane crash from the 1940s!

Why use trekking poles? Well, really, hiking poles can be useful on any hike that has you traversing uneven terrain with hills or boulders… which pretty much describes almost every hike in Hawaii. 😉

Trekking poles aren’t just for advanced hikers or backpackers.

If you bring them for your Hawaii hikes, they can provide extra stability on the trail, and they can also help to save your knees when going down hill.

By using trekking poles going downhill, you reduce the stress felt by your knees, providing a little bit of relief for your lower body.

Get trekking poles that have a comfortable grip like these that are travel-friendly.

They are light and collapsible, making them easy to pack for Hawaii.

It’s probably best to pack trekking poles in your checked luggage so you don’t encounter any problems at the airport.

Also, when you buy the poles, check that you are getting a pair and not just a single one.

Underwater camera + Snorkeling set

Well, if you’re headed for Hawaii, there’s a good chance you’re thinking about getting in the water.

And a Hawaii vacation would be a good excuse to get that dome port to take those epic shots for Instagram of half underwater and half land to go with that GoPro Hero3+ action camera! 😉

Or… if that’s a bit more than you want to spend on taking pictures…

This underwater picture was taken with a phone and this cheap protective casing while snorkeling near Waikiki. 😉

Hawaii packing list: Pack an underwater camera or waterproof phone case for snorkeling at Waikiki Beach or Hanauma Bay!

No matter what kind of camera you choose, an underwater action camera or your phone camera, be sure to add something to that Hawaii packing list that will let you take underwater pictures when you’re snorkeling!

And if you’re not getting your snorkeling gear from places like the Hanauma Bay rental or Sharks Cove rental, you’ll want something like a beginner friendly full-face snorkeling mask like this or a more standard snorkeling set like this!

Beach bag

And with all those consecutive days that you’ll be spending at the beach, you might want a way to be able to dry your wet items quickly!

That’s when packing this type of ALOHA beach bag for your trip to Hawaii becomes useful.

It lets the drying process get started from the moment you leave the beach because of the airy nature of it.

You’ll still want to properly take out your wet items when you get back to your hotel room or airbnb, but in the meantime, you can start to air them out so they can be ready to go for the next beach day!

Hawaii packing list: Pack for a beach vacation to go to North Shore beaches like Shark's Cove!

Most beach umbrellas aren’t suitcase-friendly (too long), but the beach umbrella on the left looks like this one if you’re headed to the beach close to home!

These two beach umbrellas pictured here are hanging out at Sharks Cove on the North Shore!

You can also rent beach umbrellas near Sharks Cove too.

Hiking backpack

Hawaii packing list: Bring a day hiking backpack for Oahu hikes like the Lanikai Pillbox Hike!

This picture here on the Lanikai Pillbox Hike shows a 20oz SmartWater bottle in the side pocket of this backpack. (And there’s also a male version of this backpack.)

But this size water bottle really tests the elasticity of the pocket, so it wouldn’t be recommended to make it a habit to carry your water like this.

Instead, you can put the water bottle in the backpack itself, or this backpack is compatible with a hydration pack like this zip-up 2 liter water pack.

Hiking with a hydration pack makes it so that you don’t have to go digging through your backpack each time you want to take a sip of water.

Instead, the hose is pretty much right there at your chest, so all you do is grab what’s hanging out right in front of you and sip the water!

This can be ideal for hiking in hot weather, because it can get you drinking water more often.

The hydration pack fits into a specially designed back sleeve of the backpack and fits all the way in.

This backpack has a bunch of different features that makes it perfect for a day hike.

If hiking is on your checklist of things to do on Oahu, be sure to bring to Hawaii a good pair of hiking shoes or a pair of top hiking sandals!

The final steps in getting ready for your flight to Hawaii: The actual packing!

Now, here are a few items specific to your luggage that you may want to take a look at!

If you’re packing for a family, save money on your luggage by getting your suitcases as a set.

Get colorful colors so you’ll be able to spot your luggage easily at baggage claim!

Also see:

If you don’t want to have to dig through your entire suitcase to find what you’re looking for the night you land in Hawaii, you need these!

They help you to pack your suitcase efficiently and keep you organized so you don’t have to dump out the contents of your entire suitcase to find that one thing when you are already super tired! (And after that trans-Pacific flight, chances are you’ll be tired!)

Flying over Waikiki…

Hawaii packing list: Bring packing cubes to organize what you pack in your luggage so you don't need to stress the night you arrive into Honolulu airport!

Do you want this view on your flight to Hawaii? See flying to Honolulu Airport for where to sit on your Honolulu flight!


Best shoes for your active vacation

Hit search at the top for any of these items to get more variety on Amazon through these affiliate links!
- Walking: These types of hiking sandals. For walking in hot weather, they are more breathable than shoes, while still giving you necessary traction on the trails. Also see more about the best shoes for hiking in Hawaii.
- Beach: These types of beach shoes. For beach walking, wading in the water, and rocky shorelines, they can prevent cuts from hidden rocks or when bumping into coral reef.

Swimwear for snorkeling and beach

- These UV protection shirts are a hit so you don't have to keep re-applying sunscreen and don't have to worry as much about getting sunburn!

see more:
- What to wear hiking
- Snorkeling essentials for Hawaii
- What to wear on a cruise formal night

more Hawaii travel tips:
-- Oahu travel planning map
-- 3 day Oahu itinerary
-- 2 week Oahu itinerary
-- Best short hikes on Oahu with amazing views
-- Big Island travel planning map
-- 7 day Big Island itinerary
-- Best beach hikes on the Big Island with amazing views

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