Updated on June 14th, 2023 by Okinawa Hai
Hawaii is an incredible destination that offers so much variety. From the iconic beaches to the jagged mountain ranges, there are seemingly endless experiences to be had on this tropical archipelago.
To get the most out of your Hawaiian vacation, it’s important to be prepared for all that Hawaii has to offer and pack accordingly. Below you will find a packing list of must-have items for Hawaii, as well as how to dress for the weather, what NOT to pack, and FAQs.
What to Pack for Hawaii Vacations
Beach / Pool
A trip to Hawaii isn’t complete without plenty of time spent relaxing on the beach or by the pool. You’ll likely enjoy your hotel’s pool or the nearby pristine beach on a daily basis, so be sure that you pack everything you will need.
1. Sand-Resistant Beach Blanket
Forget the beach towels. Sand clings to them like a magnet, and they never seem big enough to lounge on. Whenever we go to the beach, I always bring a sandproof blanket. It’s large enough to fit the whole family but packs down super small. It comes with stakes to secure the blanket to the ground so it doesn’t blow away on a windy day at the beach.
2. Waterproof Phone Case
A waterproof phone case is a must for all the time you will spend by the water in Hawaii. Your phone will stay protected in case of any accidental drops in the pool, and it’ll prevent sand from getting lodged in the important ports and speakers of your phone. If you do want to intentionally take your phone in the water with you, this universal phone case will keep it protected and even allows you to take photos underwater.
3. Beach Bag
A waterproof tote bag will help you carry everything you’ll need for a beach or pool day while staying organized. There are lots of little necessities you’ll need to take with you like sunscreen, snacks, and towels. This tote bag is the perfect size for our family of four.
4. Swimsuit Cover-Up
When I need to step away from the beach or pool, it’s often necessary to be covered in order to enter a restaurant or a shop.I always pack a swimsuit cover-up because they are more convenient to throw on over a wet swimsuit than normal clothing. They also offer some protection from the sun if you don’t want to fully lather up on sunscreen. This one is really cute and functional. It comes with me on every beach vacation.
Hawaii’s beaches are probably what first comes to mind when picturing a Hawaiian vacation. However, the lush mountains are equally magnificent. To hike high on the mountain ridges that overlook the pacific ocean is one of the most incredible and unique experiences waiting for you in Hawaii. Don’t forget about the volcano hikes, either!
5. Cooling Towel
Cooling towels are these clever little towels that use the natural process of evaporation to get to 10-20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. All you have to do is wet the towel, wring it out, and let evaporation work its magic. Within seconds the towel is ice cold and oh so refreshing.
6. LifeStraw Water Bottle
It’s important to stay hydrated on any hike. The LifeStraw water bottle is the perfect adventure bottle because if you ever find yourself in an emergency without water, you can safely drink water from a natural spring or river thanks to the built-in filter. We even like to use it with potable tap water when traveling to new places because often even clean drinking water has different bacteria than you’re used to at home.
7. Bug Spray
Although not native to Hawaii, mosquitos can be a nuisance in certain areas. If you plan on hiking in highly vegetated, wet parts of the islands, be sure to bring bug spray. We prefer to use natural, DEET-free repellent on ourselves and our little ones and can’t recommend this one enough. It’s non-irritating and really keeps those pesky mosques away.
8. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger
We use our phones for so many things, and often the battery doesn’t last until we get back to our hotel rooms to charge it. I always have a portable charger when I know I’ll be out exploring for several hours in case my phone dies on me. This lipstick-sized portable charger is perfect because it’s lightweight and can recharge a phone several times on one single charge.
9. Day Pack
There are so many different ocean activities that await you in Hawaii. You can go sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, or diving, just to name a few. Our family is a big fan of water activities, and below are some of our must-bring items.
10. Quick-Dry Travel Towel
Beach towels are bulky and take too long to dry. When going out on an ocean adventure, it’s best to pack light. Quick-dry travel towels are perfect to take with you because they are super compact, fast-drying, and sand-resistant. They’ll dry you off after swimming in the ocean but won’t take up much room and don’t stay wet for very long.
11. Affordable Action Camera
There is so much going on under the ocean’s surface. Having an action camera (but one that doesn’t break the bank) will make underwater experiences even more fun and memorable. These cameras are great for kids, too, because they are built tough and should be able to withstand whatever adventures little ones throw at them.
12. Flotation Strap
13. Rash Guard
A rash guard is an excellent way to protect yourself from sunburn when spending hours in the sun surfing, snorkeling, or kayaking. I find wearing a rash guard to be easier and more convenient than having to reapply sunscreen every few hours.
These clever products make packing and traveling even more enjoyable. You can bet these items are coming with me no matter where I’m traveling to.
14. Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are the ultimate hack to having an organized suitcase. A set like this one comes with varying-sized cubes making it easy to organize all of your belongings so that they’re always easy to find. This set even comes with two spacious laundry bags to keep your dirty and clean clothes separate.
15. Windproof Travel Umbrella
A quality umbrella is a travel staple. I’ve used a lot of cheap umbrellas on my trips, and of course, they didn’t last very long. I love this travel umbrella in particular because it feels so much more solid and well-made than any other umbrella I’ve tried. It is indeed windproof and has kept me dry even on the rainiest of days.
16. Personal Item Bag
A personal item bag is always a must when traveling. If you don’t want to check a bag, then a personal item bag along with a carry-on can fit probably most of what you’ll need if you want to pack light. This one has a shoulder strap, plenty of compartments, and comfortably sits on top of your carry-on for easy transport through the airport.
17. Luggage Strap
Your luggage goes through a lot as it travels from airport to airport. Luggage straps are extremely useful for compacting tightly packed suitcases, identifying your suitcase at crowded baggage claims, and extending the lifespan of your luggage.
18. Hanging Toiletry Bag
A hanging toiletry bag is the best way to keep your travel toiletries together and easy to find. This one is spacious and has several zippered compartments making organization a breeze. You can hang it behind your bathroom door or on the shower rail so that all of your toiletries are easily accessible.
19. Travel Sized Toiletry Bottles (TSA Approved)
You don’t have to travel without your favorite toiletry products. I love these silicone travel bottles because I can fill each one with my favorite shampoos, conditioners, and moisturizers, so I can take them with me on any trip. They are easy to fill and reuse.
Travel Safety Essentials
Safety is always number one, especially when traveling someplace new. Below are some of our favorite items that we always take on trips to make sure we travel as safely as possible.
20. Neck Wallet
A neck wallet is my preferred way of keeping all of my cash, bank cards, important documents, and phone together in one convenient place. I like this neck wallet in particular because it fits everything I need to have handy when traveling and has secured zippered pockets and RFID blocking to prevent e-theft.
A VPN (virtual private network) gives you a secure network to use your devices on when connected to public wifi. When traveling, it’s almost inevitable that we will connect to public wifi at the hotel, a restaurant, or a coffee shop. When we connect to public networks, we run the risk of having our private digital information hacked. The best way to avoid this and protect our passwords and bank information is by using a VPN like NordVPN
22. Luggage Locks
Keep your luggage secure when it’s out of sight with TSA-approved luggage locks. I always put one on any bag that I check. They are also useful for carry-ons or backpacks that you want to stay locked and secure.
23. Travel Insurance
Travel insurance can really save the day in case something doesn’t go according to plan on your vacation. There are plans that will cover you for cancelations, stolen or lost belongings, illnesses, and accidents. We like to use TravelInsurance.com because you can compare policies from top companies and find the best one that fits our family and our travel plans.
Other Hawaii Packing List Items Not to Leave at Home
- Insulated Water Bottle
- Sunglasses Case
- Mesh Slip-On Water Shoes: Women’s & Men’s
- TSA-Approved Plastic Bag
- Solid Shampoo
- Shampoo Bar Case
- Stain Remover Wipes
- Lip Balm
- Aloe Vera
- After Bite
- Insect Repellent
- Toothbrush Cover
- Loofah Glove
- Mini Hairbrush
- First-Aid Kit
- Selfie Stick
- Memory Card
- Flash Drive
- Kindle Cover
- Sleep Mask
- Travel Pillow
- Face Wipes
What to Pack for the Weather & Different Seasons
Summer – May, June, July, August, September, October
Summer is warm and dry, especially close to the coast. Further inland, the weather will be more tropical and rainy, so you might still want to pack a raincoat and good hiking boots. Waters tend to be calmer during the summer, and big waves are less common. Summertime is great for snorkeling and diving since the water is at its warmest. Air temperatures range between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and water temperatures are close to 80 degrees.
Winter – November, December, January, February, March
Winter in Hawaii is cooler and rainier than in the summertime months. Still pack your favorite beach wear, but you’ll also want to bring warm layers like a fleece jacket for chilly evenings. Be sure to bring a rain jacket or umbrella and a pair of waterproof hiking boots if you plan on going hiking. Even in the winter, Hawaii has great weather. Temperatures range from 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the water temperature average is 77 degrees Fahrenheit which still isn’t too cold for swimming.
What to wear
No matter what time of year you visit Hawaii, pack for warm weather. Clothes like shorts, tank tops, and t-shirts will be your daily staples. Ladies will get a lot of use out of skirts and sundresses too. For dinners out, be sure to pack a couple of more elegant outfits if you like to dress up. However, Hawaii’s dress code is pretty casual so don’t feel pressured to wear overly formal attire. Don’t forget to bring your favorite beachwear and consider packing activewear for hiking. A fleece jacket will come in handy on chilly nights, especially during the winter. Lastly, pack rain gear for hiking or at least a travel umbrella for the rainier winter months.
- Hiking Pants
- Fleece Jacket
- Hiking Shoes
- Beach Cover Up
- Sun Hat
- Maxi Dress
- Tank Top
- Denim Shorts
- Walking Shoes
- Board Shorts
- Swim Trunks
- Khaki Pants
- Linen Shorts
- Button Up Shirt
- Walking Shoes
- Fleece Jacket
- Sun Hat
- Hiking Shoes
- Fishing Shirt
- Rain Jacket
- Active Shorts
What NOT to Bring to Hawaii
- Bulky Clothes
Hawaii is a warm destination year-round. The most you’ll ever need is a light sweater during the winter. Leave thick, heavy fabrics at home and instead pack breathable ones.
- Beach Towels
Your hotel usually provides beach or pool towels. Don’t waste valuable packing space bringing these bulky towels. Instead, you can pack a travel towel that is compact and quick-drying.
- Expensive Jewelry
With the amount of time you’ll be in the water and doing activities, it could be easy for jewelry to slip off. If you don’t want to lose any valuable jewelry, do not bring it in the first place.
- Power Adapter
If you are coming from North America, then you won’t need a power adapter as Hawaii uses the same outlets as the United States and Canada.
- Hair Dryer
A hairdryer takes up a lot of space, and most hotels provide one. Leave the hair styling accessories at home and instead go for that beachy wind-swept look.
FAQs About What to Pack for Hawaii
- Can I bring a drone?
Yes, you can bring a drone to Hawaii, but there are state rules and regulations that limit their use. You probably won’t be able to use it in as many places as you’d hope. For instance, they aren’t allowed in any national parks or monuments. Consider if it’s really worth bringing along or if you’re better off leaving it at home.
- Should I bring my own snorkeling/diving gear?
Snorkeling and diving gear takes up a lot of space. You can rent any water sports gear you can think of on the islands, so it’s not necessary to bring your own. If you plan on taking a tour, then all the gear you’ll need is usually included in the tour price. There are some useful items like water shoes or a wetsuit jacket that you might consider bringing along since they usually aren’t included with the other tour gear.
- Do I need to bring warm clothes?
Warm layers are useful for chilly winter evenings and are a necessity if you plan on hiking Mt. Haleakala or other high-altitude peaks. A fleece jacket will be enough for a vacation by the beach, but for high elevation hiking, you’ll likely need a hat and even gloves in addition to a warm jacket and base layers.
- Should I pack a raincoat?
For most people that are vacationing in Hawaii just for the beach, a travel umbrella will be sufficient. However, if you plan on seeking out adventurous activities like zip-lining or hiking, then a raincoat will be really useful, especially if you visit in the rainier winter months.
- What should I pack if I want to learn to surf?
Surfing is a wonderful sport because all you really need is a bathing suit and a board. There are plenty of surf schools in Hawaii to choose from, and they have a wide variety of surfboards for all levels and ages. Besides a swimsuit, you may consider bringing your own rash guard or wetsuit jacket if you tend to get cold in the water.