A Hawaii packing list seems pretty straightforward. All you really need are some shorts and tops, a bathing suit, and a camera, right?!

But there are a few things you might not think to bring that you will definitely want once you get here.

The changing weather, hot sun, and different activities that you will be doing here all require different clothes and different gear. A typical day in Hawaii might go like this: In the morning you might hike Diamond Head. After the hike, you might come back to your hotel, take the shower, and change. You might then head down to the ocean for a swim and some beach time. You might come back to your room again to rinse off before going out for drinks and a nice dinner in the evening.

After hosting family and friends and loaning out quite a few sweatshirts, I can tell you that there are a few things on this list you probably didn’t think of. So, print out this packing list and check things off as you pack them to ensure you have everything you need for your Hawaiian vacation.

Clothes

  • A nice outfit

    While this is completely optional and most restaurants in Hawaii are casual, some have dress codes. If you plan to visit a nice restaurant, bring a nice outfit. If you don’t know where you are going to eat, it doesn’t hurt to throw in once nice outfit, just to be ready. For most restaurants, men can wear shorts or khakis with a collared shirt. Women can wear sundresses, skirts, or nice shorts/pants. Nicer restaurants might have dress codes, so be sure to check before you go.

  • Tank tops or T-shirts

    The amount you will bring depends on how long you are staying. You probably can do laundry in your hotel, but keep in mind that if you are doing activities like hiking, you will probably want to change once during the day. Check with your hotel to see if laundry is available.

  • 2 pairs of shorts

    I usually wear my shorts a few times before watching them. But if a pair gets muddy from a hike or wet from the rain, it’s good to have a spare.

  • Jeans or long pants

    Why would you need jeans in Hawaii? I always wear long pants on the plane because it gets so cold. But having pants can be good if it cools down at night or if you plan to go to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where the temperature is much cooler at night.

  • Light jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt

    I always have a jacket with me that I keep in the car. Sometimes you will stop at a restaurant and the air conditioning will be blasting, so it’s good to have one of these on hand. It sometimes cools down at night, depending on the time of year.

  • Rain jacket

    In Hawaii, one minute it will be sunny, the next it will be raining. Although it usually doesn’t rain for long, I like to keep a rain jacket in my car. You never know when the weather will change in Hawaii or when it will start to rain hard. These are especially handy on hikes. I just throw one in my backpack. They are so light that they don’t add extra weight.

  • Undergarments, socks

    Bring more than you think you need, especially if you plan to be active.

  • Pajamas

    Pajamas are so easy to forget, but so important!

  • 2 swimsuits

    That way, when one is wet, you will have a dry one.

  • A swimsuit cover up

    You will want something you can throw over your wet bathing suit so that you can walk through your hotel and back to your room.

Footwear

  • Sandals/flip flops

    A necessity for the pool and going out to dinner,

  • Sneakers

    For walking around and doing things like visiting Pearl Harbor.

Gear

  • Sunglasses

    The Hawaii sun is strong. You will want these whether you are hiking or just walking around Waikiki.

  • Camera

    This is a vacation that you will want to remember.

  • Waterproof camera

    Take it from me, you will want pictures from swimming, being in the pool, and snorkeling. I also hate lugging my nice camera on hikes, so having a waterproof camera, even a disposable one, is handy.

  • Cords, chargers

    For your phone and camera.

  • Car charger for your phone

    Between using the GPS and taking pictures, you will want a phone charger in the car, especially for those trips to the North Shore.

  • Reusable water bottle

    I love to bring an empty water bottle with me whenever I travel. I fill it up in the airport and have lots of water for the long plane ride. Hawaii is very eco-conscious and many places will have free, filtered water stations for you to use. Plus, a water bottle will keep your water colder way longer than a plastic bottle. That’s way better than buying bottled water.

  • Books for the beach

    A must for any beach day!

  • Binoculars

    If you plan to go whale watching during the winter months, you will be glad you brought these.

Toiletries

You can get any toiletries you need in Hawaii. But note that prices are significantly higher than on the mainland. One time, I forgot my sunscreen when I was going to hike Diamond Head. There was no way I was going to go up without it, so I ended up spending $20 for a small tub of sunscreen at the Diamond Head Visitor’s Center. I didn’t get a sunburn, so it was worth it, but I was kicking myself for having to pay so much!

Plus, it’s so much easier to just have this stuff with you so that you can hit the ground running as soon as you get here without having to look for a store. So, I always pack all of the toiletries I need with me in my suitcase.

Other

  • Travel documents

    I always print out my travel documents, like my hotel confirmation, flight confirmation, and restaurant and excursion reservations. I put them all in a binder. It helps me remember what days I have things scheduled,  and it’s always good to have confirmation numbers on hand.

  • Medications

    I always put these in my carry on.

If you are planning to do any hikes

  • Hiking boots

    Don’t attempt Diamond Head in sandals! If you are doing waterfall hikes or the Pillbox Trail, these shoes will get muddy. So, wear shoes with good traction that you don’t mind getting messy.

  • Bug spray

    Once you get out on the trails, especially the trails in the woods, there are a lot of bugs that want to bite you.

  • Backpack

    A water bottle with a with water bladder a great investment. Backpacks are perfect for hiking because you can throw in your water bottle, camera, wallet, snacks, and whatever else you need.

  • Small first aid kit

    I think you are better safe than sorry, so I always keep one in my backpack.

  • Snacks for the trails

    I always like to have a little snack to eat while I am hiking.

  • Hat

    I highly recommend bringing a hat even if you don’t plan to hike. The sun here is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been.

If you are going to snorkel, paddle board, surf, kayak or do other water activities

  • Waterproof bag

    A waterproof bag is perfect for water activities. You can throw you keys and money in and put the whole bag in your kayak. Never leave valuables in your car or somewhere where you can’t see them.

  • Waterproof shoes

    I finally invested in a pair of waterproof shoes after years of letting my feet get cut up on the rocks. I say it is money well spent.

  • Rash guard

    I would never go out kayaking or paddle boarding or snorkeling without a rash guard. Waterproof sunscreen only works so well. Rash guards will save you from a serious sunburn and they usually have SPF built in.

Things you don’t need

If you are a United States citizen, you do not need a passport. Hawaii is a US State.

Most hotels provide towels. Check to see if yours does.

Final tips!

Check out our list of things that people most frequently wish they had packed to Hawaii for more ideas about what to pack.

Don’t forget to leave extra space in your suitcase for souvenirs! There are so many local products that you might want to take home with you.

If you forget something, don’t sweat it. You can buy anything you need here.


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