Everything You Need to Pack for a Trip to Hawaii
Hawaii is an amazing place with an abundance of natural beauty, active volcanoes, rainforests, long beaches, hidden waterfalls and marine reserves full of life. But planning a trip to Hawaii can be daunting.
No matter which islands you plan to visit, the diverse landscapes of the state and many activities available to you (besides just getting some sun at the beach) can make it difficult to know exactly what to bring.
To ensure safe and fun travels to Hawaii, here's everything you need for a trip to the Aloha State.
Let’s start with the obvious. You can’t travel to Hawaii without spending some time in the water. For this, you’ll need a comfortable bathing suit that still looks good in pictures.
We recommend bringing two swimsuits on your trip. Chances are that you’ll spend some time in the water every day, so you’ll want to use one while the other one dries.
We also recommend making one of your swimsuits water sport-friendly, so you can join in activities without worrying about part of your bathing suit coming off.
Having a cover-up for all the time you’ll be spending at the pool and beach is a must. The right cover-up will help you feel comfortable as you head to the beach or as you take a break at your hotel pool bar.
Best Swim Cover-Ups
If you’re planning on surfing or doing other water sports that require hours of sun time, get a rash guard.
These are swim shirts that protect you from getting burned and let you get away with not reapplying sunscreen a billion times.
Rashies are a huge part of surf culture for good reason.
Best Rash Guards
Breathable Sports Top
Visitors usually spend some time in Hawaii hiking in the rainforest or climbing up to the caldera of volcanoes.
For this, you’ll need a moisture-wicking active shirt that’ll keep you cool, even in the hot tropical weather.
Best Breathable Sports Tops
We know that you don’t want to think about it raining during your trip to Hawaii, but the reality is that the state gets a lot of precipitation. You’ll likely also be going on hikes within tropical rainforest, where it’ll be wet and humid and where you’ll probably get at least some drizzle.
For the wetter moments of your trip, lightweight rain jackets that keep you dry without getting you too hot are a lifesaver. The jacket can also work for sunrise or early morning hikes, when the temperature is cooler.
Best Rain Jackets
You’ll probably live in your beach flip-flops — except when you’re out conquering volcanic summits — so choose a pair that’s durable, comfortable and stylish. You want your flip-flops to be made with a material that dries quickly, since you’ll be getting them wet every day.
Pro tip: Look for flip-flops with arch support in case you want them to double up as your shoes for walking around town.
Best Beach Flip-Flops
Waterproof shoes are an absolutely necessary item for your trip to Hawaii. The right shoes will take you hiking around volcanoes, swimming in waterfall pools and exploring caves. They're also great for snorkeling around the state's more rocky beaches.
The islands in Hawaii offer varied landscapes so versatile water shoes that are comfortable enough to walk in but that also look stylish will make your life much easier.
Best Waterproof Shoes
Dressy Summer Shoes
For evenings out or just to look good as you do cultural tours in cities and towns, bring dressy summer shoes. These shoes should bring your outfit up a notch but don’t have to be very formal.
They also should be breathable enough to keep you cool as you walk.
Best Dressy Summer Shoes
Protect your beautiful face from sunburn and premature aging with a sun hat. The right hat will complement your touring and beach outfits while protecting your skin from harmful UVA rays.
Best sun hats:
Best Sun Hats
For those whose style just doesn’t fit sun hats, baseball caps are a classic, simple alternative.
Even if you have a sun hat, we’d recommend also bringing a cap if you’re planning on going on hikes.
You don’t want to be worrying about blocking your peripheral vision or having your hat swept by the wind.
Best Baseball Caps
You’ll wear your sunglasses almost the entire time you’re in Hawaii. Make sure they’re UV-protective so they can do their job right, but don't forget about style.
Sunglasses can make or break an outfit.
Best UV-Protective Sunglasses
Portable Phone Charger
Don’t find yourself in the middle of the most beautiful landscape you’ve ever seen without a way to take pictures.
You’ll be using your phone a lot to capture your trip, so having a way to keep it charged is a smart move.
Best Portable Phone Chargers
Renting snorkeling gear costs about $15-$20. If you’re going to go explore the underwater wonders of Hawaii more than once, it’s more cost-effective to buy your own gear.
As an added plus, it’s also more hygienic.
Best Snorkeling Gear
Waterproof Phone Case
Skip packing a waterproof camera and simply buy a case that will make your phone waterproof.
These phone pouches and cases have a dual function: First, they keep your phone safe while you’re out near water, mud or sand. Second, they let you use your phone’s camera to take pictures and videos underwater.
Your phone will function exactly as it does out of water, and the quality of your pictures won’t suffer.
Best Waterproof Phone Cases
Got diner reservations but want to spend most of the day surfing? Do yourself a favor and invest in a waterproof watch.
You’ll be able to keep track of time while you’re active without having to worry about checking your phone as you enjoy watersports.
You could also invest in a waterproof fitness tracker that doubles as a watch and lets you see how active you’ve been.
Best Waterproof Watches
Quick-dry towels are a magical invention that have made it easier to enjoy the beach, the pool and the gym.
These towels are usually made from microfiber material. Besides drying faster they tend to pack small, which is always a plus when you travel. Another great advantage of these towels is that sand doesn’t stick to them as much.
A quick-dry towel is indispensable in Hawaii, since you’ll be spending a lot of time at the beach. You also can use them for hikes, especially ones where you’ll be going into natural pools or waterfalls.
Best Quick-Dry Towels
Keep your important things secure and dry while you’re out on boating trips. Having a dry bag is the best thing you can do if you’re planning on snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving or caving.
You can skip the million zip lock bags and simply fit everything tightly into the bag. It’ll also keep things from falling into the water and getting lost.
Just make sure you don’t lose the bag.
Best Dry Bags
Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
Listen to music while you’re on the beach or during a boating trip with a waterproof Bluetooth speaker. These handy devices will guarantee high-quality sound without much maintenance.
Remember to not blast music out in trails or places where you might disrupt residents or wildlife.
Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers
Reusable Water Bottle
As a collection of islands, Hawaii is threatened by plastic waste. Bringing a water bottle and refilling it at your hotel or Airbnb is a simple but effective way to reduce your single-use plastic waste.
If you don’t want to carry a heavy bottle around, invest in a collapsible water bottle.
Best Reusable Water Bottles
As a visitor to Hawaii, you have the responsibility of taking care of the state’s beautiful environment. Even if you’re not going snorkeling, you should use a reef-safe sunscreen that will keep the water clean.
Fun fact: Hawaii has banned the sale of sunscreen that is not reef safe.
Best reef-safe sunscreens:
Due to its humid tropical climate, mosquitos are on all of Hawaii’s islands. You can avoid annoying insect bites while you’re out on hikes by wearing mosquito bands.
Sure, you can put on bug spray, but it leaves your skin sticky and smelling like chemicals. We prefer bands that can be taken off once you’re at the hotel and that won’t leave any strong smells behind.
Another option is to carry an electronic mosquito repellent.
Best mosquito bands:
Regardless of your hair routine or how long your hair is, the seasalt, the sun and constant sweat will wreak havoc on your locks.
The easiest way to make sure you have social media-ready hair is to apply a leave-in conditioner every time you wash your hair.
This will keep it smooth and healthy no matter how much beach time you’re getting.
Best leave-in conditioner:
Nothing soothes the skin after a long day in the sun like aloe vera. This natural sun remedy will cool your skin and prevent peeling.
Even if you were careful with the sun, it’s always a good idea to apply some aloe vera cooling gel after the beach.
Best aloe veras:
For when you’re out and about exploring different parts of Hawaii, you’ll want a comfortable day pack. What’s comfortable depends on your travel style and how much you need to pack.
The good news is that there is a day pack for everyone and you can choose from small cross-body bags to larger backpacks that can fit photography gear if you need them to.
Best Day Packs
Foldable Beach Bag
Don’t waste precious suitcase space on your beach bag. Even if you have a trusty old one that has been with you through thick and thin, leave it at home and bring a foldable tote bag instead.
These bags fold small enough to easily fit in a corner of your suitcase but can also hold all your beach gear once opened.
Best Foldable Beach Bags