When my husband and I worked in television news on the mainland, it was suits all the way. But, as soon as we landed jobs in Hawaii, we knew we were in for a wardrobe crisis: Not only did the men wear Aloha shirts on-air, but the ladies were often shrouded in muumuus!
That was the beginning of our transition into island-style Hawaii attire, and I love it. However, it could be a bit confusing for travelers packing for a Hawaii vacation. We’ve decided to help you out a bit, so here’s our Hawaii attire guide for the busy traveler:
To the Beach
This is pretty easy — anything goes (with the exception of nudity) at most Hawaii beaches. If you’re into Speedos and thongs, you may get a “look” or two, but you would hardly be shunned from any beach. So, if you’re headed to one of Hawaii’s many beautiful beaches, just find the cutest bathing suit you have, and pair it with a cover-up if you so desire.
To a casual lunch/dinner
Let’s say you wander over to a burger joint from the beach for lunch, can you wear your bathing suit? Typically, if you have footwear on, no one will turn you away. Yep, even if you’re JUST in your bathing suit. However, most folks use a cover-up or T-shirt to keep out any air-conditioning chill!
If your casual lunch or dinner has waiter service, it’s more likely you’ll need at least a cover-up unless the restaurant is beachside or poolside — if you’ve finished your Waikiki surf and stand-up paddleboard lesson and want to head over to a casual dinner, it’s best to grab a cover-up before you sit-down.
One thing to remember is footwear: It’s almost ALWAYS acceptable to wear “slippers,” aka flip-flops to most restaurants in town, even ones that seem to have a slightly upscale vibe!
To an Upscale dinner
MOST upscale restaurants in Hawaii don’t require jackets, but there are some that do (such as the Vintage Cave Club at Ala Moana Center). So, the first thing you should always do is inquire whether jackets are required. If so, men will need a dinner jacket, and women will typically wear elegant Hawaii attire, such as an island-style dress.
However, the vast majority of upscale restaurants in Hawaii don’t require dinner jackets. In that case, it’s safe for men to wear a nice Aloha shirt and women to wear slacks, a skirt and top, or any kind of dress (island wear is acceptable).
To an outdoor activity:
Different outdoor activities require different Hawaii attire, so you should check with your guide before heading out. For example, if you’re headed out for a Haleakala Hiking Tour, make sure you have warm layers and GOOD shoes for hiking. If you’re booked for a parasailing excursion, all you need is a bathing suit. You get the idea.
To a Show or Religious Gathering
If you’re heading to a show or religious gathering while on vacation in Hawaii, you might notice the dress code is a bit more casual than on the mainland. You’ll find folks in bathing suits and cover-ups (I’m being honest), sitting next to those in their Sunday best. It’s just how we roll in Hawaii.
What is Aloha crisp and Aloha casual?
Believe it or not, I’ve been invited to a party where the attire is called “Aloha crisp.” Naturally, I had no idea what they were talking about, but I’ve since learned it’s the same thing as Aloha casual. That means “nice, casual, perhaps island-style clothing.” Think Aloha shirt and slacks for men, flowing island dress for women.
It can be a bit confusing to consider Hawaii attire when packing for your vacation but use our style guide, and you won’t find yourself without the right thing to wear!
Facebook Friends Weigh in
We asked our Facebook followers: “For the ladies – Bikini or One Piece?? For the gentlemen – Speedo or Board shorts?” We received some interesting responses!
Many women mentioned wearing one-pieces and board shorts due to body image concerns. Here’s the scoop: One-pieces are back in style and can be just as hot as bikinis! They come in various styles and prints, so don’t worry about being outdated. Plus, one-pieces are often more practical for water sports like surfing, kayaking, and snorkeling.
Remember, when thinking about what to wear in Hawaii everyone has their own body insecurities. So, while on vacation in Hawaii, leave your worries behind. You become anonymous, and the people around you are probably more focused on enjoying the paradise than critiquing swimwear choices. So, let loose and embrace the Aloha spirit!