It’s really easy to overpack when you come to Hawaii for a vacation. There’s no need to pack a lot of clothing in order to be prepared for any occasion,” although it’s a good idea to pack with a lot of empty space so you have room to stash all the stuff you won’t be able to resist buying while you’re here.

Here’s all you actually will need while you’re here:

  • Shorts, sandals and some good walking shoes
  • Short-sleeved shirts or tops
  • A hat and sunglasses (even if you don’t wear them at home)
  • Swimwear

In the evenings, or if you’ll be attending business functions, bring these along:

  • Casual pants and shirts (men)
  • Dress or skirt and top (women)
  • Sport coat (which you aren’t likely to need)
  • A light jacket or sweater

Now, here are some exceptions to the foregoing general rules:

  • You’ll need warmer clothes if you’ll be going to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island, or to Maui’s Haleakala National Park on Maui.
  • If you’ll be hiking at higher elevations or if you plan to spend time on the ocean, it can get cool and you’re likely to encounter showers. Bring a jacket or sweater.
  • That also applies if you’ll be spending time inland and up-country on one of the islands.

If you plan to explore trails through rainforests, bring shoes you don’t mind getting really muddy. If you plan to walk the lava fields of Volcano’s National Park, some lava is very sharp and proper hiking shoes are necessary.

Remember you’ll be outside most of the time – on the beach, shopping, riding, sailing, boating, strolling or swimming. Prepare for the sun. Bring your own hat and sunscreen so you have them, although both are easy to find wherever you’re staying.

Pack at least two bathing suits so you have one to wear while the other is drying. (You’ll probably find you spend most of your time in bathing suits.)

Most hotels in Hawaii have self-service laundromats, and condominiums usually provide washer-dryers. It should be easy to do a load or two of laundry while you’re here.

Check ahead with your hotel or condominium to see if either an iron, a hair dryer or both are included as amenities.

For heaven’s sake, bring a camera and film, even if you don’t normally take pictures. If you don’t have photos to show off to your families and friends back home, you’ll probably regret it.

Check with any tour or activity provider with whom you’ve booked. They’ll give you precise instructions as to what you’ll need to bring, and what equipment or special clothing is included with your package. (For example, a stargazing tour on the Big Island will be cold, but parkas, mittens, hot beverages and soup will be provided by the tour group.) If you’re a professional or amateur enthusiast with special equipment needs, you’ll probably be bringing most of your equipment with you.

Items such as beachwear, shampoo and conditioners are readily available everywhere. Specialized items such as scuba and snorkeling equipment, kayaks, surfboards, and even golf clubs are available for rental or purchase everywhere.

And these are just reminders of things you shouldn’t forget (Don’t check them through; keep them with you):

  • A prescription for your eyeglasses or contact lenses, in case they are lost or damaged.
  • Any medications you take regularly, as well as the prescriptions.
  • Health insurance cards and personal, picture identification.
  • If you’re going to rent a car, your driver’s license, auto insurance card and the confirmation document from the car rental company.
  • Airline tickets, confirmation documentation from your condominium, hotel, bed and breakfast or other pre-arranged lodging, confirmations for any pre-booked tours or activities, and any printed itineraries you may have received.
  • User manuals for any new cameras or electronic equipment that you’ve purchased for your trip.
  • These things should never be packed in your checked luggage: cameras, laptops, portable tape and CD players, hand-held electronic games, electronic organizers, video cameras, travelers checks or cash.

The basic rule is to travel light. There aren’t many – if there are any – more casual vacation destinations than Hawaii is.

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