There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click on any of these links, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you (which I really appreciate, thank you!) The full disclosure policy can be found here.
What to pack for Hawaii
One of the most common questions I get is what to pack for Hawaii. When it comes to what to bring to Hawaii, there are a few basic items that everyone will need. My number one tip is not to overpack. Make sure you have some room in your bags (or an extra bag) to bring home souvenirs.
First stop: Luggage
The first thing you’ll need is luggage. I like eBags for traveling. I am a big fan of packing as little as possible. The eBags Kalya bag is the perfect under-the-seat back, with a handle! I also love the Mother Lode Mini 21″ for a carry-on. The eBags packing cubes are great for keeping everything organized.
As a photographer, I have quite a few pricey camera bags, but the majority of people won’t need those. If you do have any expensive camera equipment, make sure it’s well packed! We also have this DSLR backpack that’s perfect for hiking. It has just enough room for a camera, one or two lenses, a GoPro, and water. It also fits under the airplane seat. Even though it’s less than $50, this bag has held up well for many trips and we’re still using it.
Even if you don’t have a DSLR, you can put things like a GoPro or smaller camera in the padded part of the bag for extra protection.
What to pack for Hawaii – clothing
Everyone is different when it comes to clothing. I’m definitely not going to tell you what to wear on your vacation! However, I will say that Hawaii is very casual. You don’t need to bring very many formal outfits if any. Shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, and flip-flops (slippers) are the norm in Hawaii. A collared shirt or sundress will be dressy enough for almost any restaurant. When in doubt, ask your resort (or your travel agent) about restaurant dress requirements.
You’ll probably be walking, a lot. Make sure to bring comfortable shoes. For me, this means my Teva sandals. For you, this might mean athletic shoes. Again, remember that everyone in Hawaii wears slippers (flip flops/sandals) so make sure to bring those too.
One of my top tips for packing is to roll your clothing instead of folding it. You’ll have a lot more room.
Basic Hawaii packing list for men
T-shirts, polo shirts, shorts, one pair of pants (if you want to wear them to a nicer restaurant,) two pairs of swimming shorts, one lightweight jacket.
Basic Hawaii packing list for women
T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, skirts/dresses (if you wear them,) two bathing suits and one light jacket.
Yes, you will probably need a jacket! If you plan to visit higher altitudes like Mauna Kea or Haleakala, a jacket is a necessity. It gets cold, and even snows sometimes, at higher altitudes in Hawaii. I like to wear my jacket on the flight because flights are always cold.
Pro tip – Unless you’re staying in a very rural area, there will be plenty of opportunities to do laundry. Most resorts and hotels have laundry facilities. Most condos and villas have a washer and dryer in the unit or in the building. Pack light and plan to do some laundry in the middle of your trip.
Yes, you’ll need two bathing suits. One to wear and one to dry! If you tend to burn, you might also consider a rash guard. The sun is very intense in Hawaii.
Capture those memories, bring a camera!
Bring a camera! Not just your phone. I’m a big fan of putting the phones away and enjoying your vacation. At the very least, bring a GoPro. Hawaii is the perfect location to use a GoPro. You can take it underwater on a snorkeling adventure, or even on a Dune Buggy. Most places will offer GoPro rentals, so you might as well just bring your own.
Pack a refillable water bottle and at least one reusable bag
Hawaii has banned plastic bags, so bring at least one reusable bag for shopping. Of course, you can always buy a reusable bag on the island. We love our tropical theme Target bags! Make sure to also bring a refillable water bottle to fill up at the airport and for outings. There is so much plastic in the ocean already, avoiding plastic water bottles is one small way to help.
Don’t forget your chargers
Don’t forget a charger for your phone, camera, etc. You might also want to get extra memory cards for any camera.
You might also enjoy: 10 things to know before going to Hawaii
Bring a good book
Bring a book to read on the plane, or on the beach! I like to bring my Kindle since I can bring multiple books with minimal space. You can get a 30-day free trial of Kindle Unlimited here.
Pack your documents in your carry on
If you’re checking a bag, make sure to keep items like your license, insurance cards and passport in your carry-on.
Other things you might want to pack for Hawaii
- Reef-safe sunscreen (find out more about why reef-safe sunscreen is important.)
- After-sun care.
- A good beach towel (I use a Sand Cloud towel that doubles as my airplane blanket. You can use my code AmyFil25 for 25% off.)
- A good hat.
- Toiletries. Don’t forget to bring your favorite lotion, shampoo, etc. Many resorts will supply basic toiletries. If you want to bring your own, make sure the lids are on tight!
I hope that this list of what to pack for Hawaii helps! Are you planning your Hawaii vacation now? I’d love to help you. I specialize in Hawaii travel and am a certified Hawaii Expert. I’d love to help you decide which island is best for you, help find activities, and more. Make sure to contact me if you have any questions!