Ultimate Hawaii Packing List: All You Need to Bring (2024)

January 25, 2024

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Need a little Aloha in your life? Are you dreaming of a perfect Hawaii vacation, imaging yourself watching the best sunrises on pristine beaches, spotting Hawaii sea turtles, or gazing in awe at the mesmerizing beauty of Volcano National Park? I feel you!

Imagine the disappointment of arriving in paradise only to realize you forgot essential items or packed impractical gear. To ensure the perfect Hawaii vacation, it all starts with getting the right essentials.

As seasoned travelers with over 20+ Hawaii trips under our belts and having lived on the Hawaiian Islands, we’re sharing our ultimate Hawaii packing list to help make planning your trip easeful. Whether you’re visiting as a couple or family, our guide will guarantee you’re fully equipped to embrace every moment of your perfect Hawaii vacation!

From the essential light rain jacket to protect against the occasional island shower to a waterproof phone case for capturing memories while kayaking, we’ve got you covered. Now, let’s dive into the essentials for your Hawaiian adventure!

Planning a trip to Hawaii? Save our travel tips, including the best sunrise spots in Hawaii, where to see turtles, and ways to be a ethical visitor.

Have you ever seen such a beautiful sunrises Hawaii truly has the best sunrises in the world!

My Top Hawaii Recommendations
Before we dive into this guide, here are a few things you can’t miss on your trip to Hawaii!

🐢Swimming With Hawaiian Sea Turtles: Hawaii is one of the best places to swim, snorkel, and dive with Hawaiian sea turtles. Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!  Best turtle snorkel tour.

🚤Nighttime Swimming with Manta Rays: Hawaii’s Kailua-Kona is only place in the world to have a resident of Manta Rays that stay there year round. It is one of the best places to swim with huge Manta Rays, beautiful gentle creatures. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!  Best Manta Ray Cruise (only on Big Island).

🚌Oahu Island Circle Tour: Experience the top sightseeing bus tour on Oahu with this island day trip. Explore Oahu’s natural wonders, cultural sites, surfing spots, and shopping meccas on this full-day tour. Exceptional Oahu Circle Island tour.

🚌Luau and Polynesian Cultural Center: The Ha Breath of Life Luau at Polynesian Cultural Center is the best luau in Hawaii. The interactive activities at the center is one of the best family and couples activity to learn about Hawaiian culture. Best Luau and cultural excursion.

🌴Lanikai Beach: Called Hawaii’s most beautiful beach, Lanikai beach is a 30 minutes north of Honolulu and is a must-visit spot during sunrise!

🐋Whale Watching Boat Tour: Embark of a whale exploration for the day. Whale season starts in December and lasts until mid-April. Whales arrive yearly in the Hawaiian Islands after a 3,000 mile journey. If you are visiting Hawaii during this time, don’t miss out and reserve your seat to see these magnificent creatures.

🦖Jurassic Valley Zipline Tour: Zipline through world-famous Kualoa Ranch and soar over Jurassic Valley on over a quarter mile of the world famous moutains. Get a bird’s eye view of famous iconic scenery from Jurassic Park, Jurassic World. Best zipline tour.

🏨Where to Stay: An ocean view suite with boho luxury vibes at the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, a gorgeous modern suite with a ocean front view near the beautiful Ala Moana Beach and the world-famous Waikiki Beach, at Prince Waikiki, or a downtown friendly suite outside of town near the Hawaii State Art Museum at Aston at the Exceutive Centre Hotel,

Now on to the best things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!

Best Shoes for Hawaii

Let’s kick things off with footwear because, in our opinion, it’s one of the most important additions that significantly enhanced our Hawaii experiences—an investment that truly paid off. The versatility of Chacos hiking sandals (men’s and women’s) is unparalleled; whether you’re hitting the beach, tackling a challenging hike, or embarking on a day of local exploration, these shoes have got you covered.

We absolutely adore our Chacos, and they’ve become our daily go-to footwear! Their nonslip design, exceptional grip on even the sharpest rocks, and convenient slip-on style make them an absolute favorite. Having experimented with various other hiking sandals, we can confidently say that none quite match up in terms of quality. Moreover, Jade, who has flat feet, finds these sandals exceptionally comfortable.

Pro-tip: Unless you’re hiking hard core rocky hikes, you won’t need to pack hiking boots, a hiking sandal is enough! If you want a hiking boot, we love these Columbia Women’s Waterproof Hiking Boots and these comfortable men’s hiking boots.

Sun Protection, Sun Hat, Rash Guards for Hawaii

Rash Guard with 50+ UPF Sun Protection:

Hawaii is close to the equator and it gets hot year round! Some visitors are surprised to get sunburned because the cool trade winds mask the heat. Stay stylish while safeguarding your skin from the Hawaiian sun’s rays, especially during extended periods in the water.

We LOVE (understatement) this Women’s Roxy UPF 50+ Rash Guard and Quick Silver Men’s UPF 50+ Rash Guard. A fully covered rash guard has been a game changer to protect our skin, while still allowing us to stay cool and enjoy the sun’s benefits. We’ve tried our share of rash guards, and these were the most flattering and provided fully covered sun protection.

For men’s swim bottoms, we love this men’s swim pants with 50+ SPF protection. For women’s, we love these aqua women’s swim capri pants and these long swimming rash guard pants both with 50+ SPF protection. Trust us when we say, it gets HOT in Hawaii no matter what time of the year it is. You definitely want to cover up so you can protect your skin, and go to beach as many times as you want!

This covers your swimming suit, however you can also back additional bathing suits if you’d like. Bask in the glorious Hawaiian sun with confidence and style!

Breathable Outdoor Hat with SPF Protection

The Breathable Outdoor Hat with SPF Protection is an absolute must-pack for your Hawaii adventure, offering the perfect blend of sun protection and comfort for outdoor activities. We’re huge fans of these hats and make them a staple every time we head out for a SUP paddle, kayak, or hiking expedition. What makes them stand out is their fantastic combination of features – they’re easily packable, provide SPF 50 protection, offer excellent breathability, and the wide brim ensures our face and neck stay shielded from the sun’s rays.

Lastly, when the wind picks up, the handy drawstring ensures the hat stays securely in place, making it an all-around winner for sun-soaked escapades in Hawaii!

Wide Brim Hats for Photos

An essential addition to our Hawaii packing list includes wide-brim hats for women and stylish fedoras for men. While the breathable hats mentioned earlier prioritize skin protection, it’s equally delightful to capture stylish, picture-perfect moments. Elevate your look with the added flair of a wide-brimmed hat for women or a classic fedora for men, seamlessly blending style and sun protection. These versatile accessories are perfect things to bring to your Hawaiian getaway, effortlessly complementing any cute outfit you choose to rock.


  • Coral-Reef Safe Sunscreen: Ensure comprehensive sun protection with water-resistant options for those beach escapes. Protect the delicate marine ecosystem by using sunscreens that are safe for coral reefs. Ensure your skin and the ocean stay healthy.
  • Blue Lizard sunscreen is the best face sunscreen and we love the easy application stick
  • Supergoop SPF 50 Antioxidant Body Mist is a great sunscreen. A more affordable alternative is Alba Hawaiian sunscreen with SPF 50.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Stay clean on the go, especially important in outdoor and beach settings.

Swimming and Snorkel Gear Essentials for Hawaii

Next, we’re diving right right into swimming gear because if you’re going to Hawaii, most likely it’s to head to the beach! Dive into Hawaii’s gorgeous beaches with the right gear. You might even spot a Hawaiian sea turtle and learn about its spiritual meaning!

You can buy/rent snorkel gear in Hawaii, but we always recommend buying them in advance to get the best quality gear that fit properly so you enjoy every moment with ease. We also recommend buying your snorkel gear in advance and trying them on, so that you can choose the style that suits you best, enhancing your comfort and enjoyment during underwater exploration.

Snorkel Masks:

Snorkeling allows you to explore vibrant coral reefs and marine life. Having the right gear ensures a comfortable and immersive experience. Pick from the following options:

Full Face Snorkel Mask: Deeshen prefers a full face snorkel mask like the WSTOO Snorkel Mask (pink and blue). We love it because it has a 180 Degree panoramic view and you can breathe normally comfortably, without having to breath through a mouth piece. It looks quite cool and we always get a ton of comments like “whoa, I wish we got one of those!” from fellow snorkel-ers. The color selection is also on point!

If you prefer the traditional snorkel face mask where you breathe out of a mouthpiece, we love this Fritton Snorkel Mask (clear and black). We’ve tested a bunch of them because Jade had a hard time getting used to mouth pieces, other mask sets would make her gag. This was the best one and zero leakage! Snorkel masks protect your eyes from saltwater and enhance your underwater visibility during snorkeling.

Snorkel Fins:

Improve your underwater agility and make the most of your snorkeling adventures with the right fins. We love these affordable and reliable CAPAS Snorkel Fins (turquoise and purple) If you’re snorkeling anywhere that has a current, you’re going to want to be wearing snorkel fins. It’ll help you glide fast in the water and not get washed away with the current!

Snorkel Shoes:

Some days, you just don’t want to wear big fins and swim closer to shore. For those days, protect your feet from sharp rocks and coral with snorkel shoes, enhancing both safety and comfort. We absolutely love these women’s water shoes and men’s water shoes, it has a simple no-tie laces, and works for casual hikes. In our 5 years of visiting Hawaii and tropical places, we’ve only had to replace these snorkel shoes once.

Swim Life Jackets:

Safety first! Even confident swimmers can benefit from the added security of a life jacket, especially when exploring unfamiliar waters. We LOVE these inflatable life jackets (black or blue) for snorkeling and paddling. These lifejackets are inflatable so it’s easy to pack for on-the-go; you can easily throw it in a tote bag or dry bag. They also look pretty fashionable compared to most life jackets.

Dry Bag:

Aside from a beach bag, you’ll need a dry bag. Keep your valuables safe and dry, allowing you to fully enjoy water activities worry-free. We regularly use these HEETA dry bags (pink or blue) We’ve had ours for 5 years and it’s gone with us to paddling, kayaking, water excursions; it’s still holding up strong so it’s definitely worth the investment! We regularly use the 10L size; it’s perfect for throwing in keys, wallet, one inflatable life jacket, and one water bottle. If you also want to pack a jacket or snacks in the bag, go for the 20L size.

Exploration essentials to pack for Hawaii

Embark on thrilling hikes and scenic explorations with the right gear!


Ensure your Hawaii vacation packing list is complete with the best on-the-go Binoculars! Binoculars an essential item to pack, especially if you plan to explore Hawaii’s Big Island and marvel at the spectacular Kīlauea volcano or engage in the fascinating world of bird watching. Kīlauea, being the youngest and most active volcano in the world, provides a mesmerizing display of nature’s raw power! When the volcano is erupting, having binoculars on hand becomes indispensable, allowing you to witness the incredible lifeforce of the lava – a truly life-changing experience.

If you are as fascinated with bird watching as we are, Hawaii offers some exceptional spots. Our favorite bird watching spots in Hawaii are Kaena Point Bird Sanctuary on Oahu’s Northshore, Popoia Island on Oahu’s east side (accessible by kayak or paddle), or the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge in Kauai. These locations promise unforgettable birdwatching experiences, and binoculars will enhance your ability to observe the diverse avian life! If your family’s itinerary includes any of these activities, then packing binoculars is not just a suggestion – it’s a necessity for an enriching and memorable Hawaii vacation.

Beach Blanket and Resistant Beach Towel

Ensure your beach days are pure relaxation with a lightweight, sand-resistant beach blanket and resistant beach towel, and a big beach bag to pack all your gear in. Perfect for lounging, picnics, and soaking in the sun.

Water bottle

Hydration is key, especially in the tropical Hawaiian climate. Bring a durable, reusable water bottle to stay refreshed whether you’re on the beach or conquering hiking trails.


Opt for a versatile and comfortable backpack to carry your essentials. From reef safe sunscreens to snacks, having a reliable backpack ensures you’re well-prepared for any adventure that comes your way.

Clothing and Outfits for Hawaii Vacation:

Pack wisely for varying conditions in Hawaii, where the weather can be unpredictable.

Outfit Checklist for Hawaii vacation:

  • Five outfits for six days. Pack breathable clothing such as dresses, shorts, shirts, and tank tops. Opt for breathable materials made with cotton, linen or polyester material. Leave denim and jeans at home.
  • Rash guards and bathing suits – 2-3 so that you don’t have to wait for them to dry
  • Undergarments
  • Socks
  • Light rain jacket – One light rain jacket for cooler evenings or breezy mornings. Hawaii is a tropical place so the trade winds often blow by.

Below are 3 of Jade’s favorite dresses for Hawaii and tropical vacations🌴

Add a Light Rain Jacket to Your Packing List for Hawaii

Rain and Islands Go Hand in Hand. There are more than 200 words in Hawaiian for rain. The majority of the time, rain falls as mist, or kili ʻohu. During the summer, ua loa (rainstorms) are rare and might come and go rapidly. Be prepared for sudden changes in the tropical weather, ensuring you stay comfortable during cooler evenings or unexpected rain showers. Deeshen loves his Helly-Hansen Men’s Crew Hooded Midlayer Jacket. We’ve had it for 3 years and it still looks new after many adventures around the world.


Proper footwear is essential for Hawaii’s diverse trails. From beach to steep ascents to muddy paths, having the right shoes ensures a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

  • Hiking sandals are the most versatile shoes for a Hawaii vacation. If you only pack one pair of shoes, pack the Chacos hiking sandals we recommended.
  • Hiking shoes if I plan to adventurous trails with rocks. If it’s not rocky, hiking sandals is sufficient.
  • Snorkel Shoes – This will absolutely unlevel any Hawaii vacation and allow you to go in the water with confident and no foot pain.
  • Tennis shoes – great for the plane ride, and easy strolls. Hiking sandals will still be your best friends.
  • Flip flops aka Slippah’s – what locals call in place of sandals here. These are perfect for home or lounging around in beaches.
  • 1 pair of high heels IF you plan to go for fancy date nights. If not, skip it.

Camera Stuff

Capture the moments with stability and clarity using a camera, tripod, and stabilizer.

  • Phone: Often your phone is the best camera for quick shots
  • Waterproof phone case: If you bring your phone, it’s also a good idea to get a waterproof phone case so you can protect your phone while you’re paddling, kayaking, or swimming
  • Professional Camera for Wildlife, Volcanoes National Park, and Nature: If you’re looking for more professionals shots, we love the Sony Alpha a7S III Mirrorless DSLR with the 24-70mm lens. It’s the top of the line camera in capturing both cinematic videos and photos.
  • On-the-go Camera: If you’re looking for something more on the go, we love the the Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Compact Camera and the DJI Pocket 2 for a portable vlogging style
  • Underwater Camera: GoPro Hero10 Black for underwater captures and capturing marine life

Visiting Hawaii but have no idea what to bring to Hawaii for a week? Borrow our Hawaii packing list with all the things to pack For your Hawaii vacation with family or friends. From the best snorkel gear, to best rash guards, sunscreens, outfits, essentials, and more!

Travel Essentials:

Keep your important documents organized and accessible.

Important Documents:

  • Passport
  • Driver’s license

Print Outs or Digitalized Copies of Important Documents:

  • Have backups of essential documents such as your passport, plane tickets, and car rental confirmation, ensuring a smooth journey.

Emergency Supplies:

  • Downloaded Offline Maps: Ensure you can navigate even without an internet connection.
  • Pads, Band-Aids, and any necessary personal medications.

Phone + Chargers:

  • Phone chargers
  • Plug converters if you’re coming from another country
  • Music and Podcasts: USB with a curated playlist. Downloaded podcasts for the road.

Vacation Journal: Spend Time Reflecting

Traveling to Hawaii is transformational. Keeping a notebook is one method to get the most out of your trip. Write down your inner thoughts or write on what you’ve just learned. Writing down your sentiments and observations while enjoying a historical site, dining locally, or simply relaxing on the beach can help you remember those moments and will help you remember better when you return home and need a little taste of paradise.

Hawaii Packing List Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

And there you have it… our ultimate Hawaii packing list with all the best time tested products from over 20+ trips to Hawaii! Hawaii is one of the best places to travel in the world and it will change your life! Say aloha to stress-free packing and to the vacation of a lifetime.

Below are a few additional FAQs on packing for Hawaii. If you have any other questions, feel free to comment it below and we’ll answer them!

Your Vacation Itinerary will impact your Packing List for Hawaii

What you pack for Hawaii will be influenced by the activities you have scheduled, the islands you visit, the season, the length of your trip, and even the side of the island you are staying on. If you’re looking to go see the sunrise every day, or paddling to spot Hawaii sea turtles, your gear is going to different. It’s a good idea to plan your vacation activities before packing.

What Are Your Vacation Goals?

If your main intention for your Hawaii vacation is to unwind by the sea and sunbathe, warm clothing and beachwear should be plenty. You’ll need a extra necessities, though, if you intend to engage in outdoor activities like hiking, bird watching, water sports, or touring the numerous cultural sites.

For instance, in the mountains and rainforests, wearing warmer clothing and applying insect repellent will be crucial. If you are staying on an island with more rainfall, such as Kauaʻi, you will need a rain jacket for the windward areas of the islands. Additionally, bug repellent and hiking boots must to be on your Hawaii packing list if you intend to travel through tropical forests.

When is the best time to visit Hawaii?

We’ve lived in Hawaii in all seasons and visited all Islands, and anytime is a good time to visit! Hawaii has warm temperatures all year round. Plan your trip during the “shoulder seasons” of April, May, September, and October if you want to cut costs a little. Travel in the winter if you want to see professional surfers or go whale spotting. Winter is when whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii, and is a great time to visit!

The greatest time to visit Hawaii truly depends on your interests, however if you want to avoid the crowds, June, July, and December are often the busiest months for tourists. If you travel in the early mornings, crowds won’t matter.

Packing for Volcano National Park Viewing

Witnessing an active volcano is an unforgettable experience. On your trip to the Big Island’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you might get a chance to witness Kīlauea in action.

Prior to ascending the mountain, check the weather and the Windy app for wind conditions. You should dress appropriately because it might get chilly and windy when the observation platform is open.

Similarly, Haleakalā National Park on Maui experiences occasionally cold temperatures. Wear pants and bring a lightweight jacket if you intend to watch the breathtaking sunrise from the summit. The early morning wake-up call will be worthwhile.

What to Wear to a Luau?

Wearing Hawaiian clothing is common when attending a luau. Once you’re here, you can pick up an Aloha shirt or dress at a nearby store. If not, dress like you would to a restaurant; Hawaiian designs are not required.

Remember that luaus are frequently conducted outside on sandy beaches or other soft surfaces, so flat sandals are advised.

Now that you’re ready to start packing for your trip, get ready to soak up the sun, embrace the breathtaking landscapes, and make the most of your Hawaiian adventure! 🌺🌴

Do I need a car to get around Hawaii?

Yes! You will need a car to get around Hawaii. Hawaii has so many hidden beaches, sunrises, and gems, and a car is needed to help you get to those life changing spots. Take note that if you’re going to rent a car, make sure to pack a reliable phone mount so you can safely navigate. Here’s our favorite phone mount that we carry on ALL our vacations, and it’s been a life saver in 5+ years of travels around the world!

We use DiscoverCars, a highly rated platform for booking rental cars. It has a flexible free cancellation policy and often offers free additional drivers. You can also book rental cars without paying first, and only paying when you pickup your car. This is great to lock in a good rate!

Do You Really Need Bug Spray?

You will need insect repellant if you intend to hike or spend any time in tropical rainforests. It’s likely unnecessary at the beach, but if you’re heading inland, it’s always a good idea to carry it with you. But once you are here, you can easily purchase this.

3 Items to Leave Off Your Hawaii Packing List

If you follow the categories in the list above, you should have everything you need to fully enjoy your vacation. But there are a few things we want to encourage you to leave at home.

As noted, island environments are delicate ecosystems and as such, Hawaii has rules about what you can bring—rules created to maintain the beautiful place we call home. We ask for your kōkua (help) to protect the Hawaiian islands for generations to come.

1. Fruits, Vegetables, and Invasive Plants

The Department of Agriculture has strict guidelines prohibiting the introduction of foreign organisms that put Hawaii’s unique plant and animal life at risk. Furthermore, the Agriculture Department has stringent regulations against the introduction of foreign organisms that put Hawaii’s unique plant and animal life at risk.

Clean your hiking boots and backpacks before you leave for your tropical holiday. It’s possible that during their prior usage, they gathered up seeds, which might later fall off and bring invasive plant species into Hawaii.

In addition, a lot of fruits and vegetables are forbidden. You won’t miss anything because the Hawaiian islands are home to a large number of grocery stores that stock the same products as the mainland.

2. PetsLeave Max at Home

Animals entering Hawaii are quarantined and subject to strict guidelines. Your animal will be much happier with a pet sitter at home. If you have a service dog, know the requirements before showing up. 

3. Excessive Electronics

While it’s important to have essentials like your a tablet or laptop, consider leaving behind excessive electronic devices. You’ll likely spend much of your time outdoors enjoying Hawaii’s natural beauty, so minimize distractions and focus on immersing yourself in the surroundings. Opt for a reflection journal instead, and putting your phone on silent.

  1. Janhavi says:

    This is an extensive packing list that can elevate Hawaiian adventure without any doubt. I appreciate that you covered everything be it sunscreen, shoes, hat, swimming and snorkelling gears, life jacket, and dry bag.

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