what to pack for Hawaii

What To Pack For Hawaii And What Not To Pack!

What to pack for Hawaii

So you’re planning a trip to Hawaii? An excellent choice. It has many beautiful beaches, volcanoes, and surfing making it one of the top US travel destinations time and time again. You must know what to add to your packing list for your trip to Hawaii. Seeing that Hawaii is full of islands, everything is imported, which means that everything is much more expensive. The islands of Hawaii, mostly famous for their volcanoes and surfing culture, are what most people think when they hear the word “Hawaii”. Like everything else in the islands, what to pack for a trip to Hawaii is different than what you would pack anywhere else. Luckily I’ve provided the ultimate packing list so you’ll be fully prepared for your Hawaiian adventure!

The list for what to pack for Hawaii

1. Action camera

Hawaii is full of adventure, and the best way to capture the thrills is with an action camera. The fish, the snorkeling, the surfing, and pretty much everything else you will do requires equipment that can get down and dirty. The most popular camera of this type is a GoPro, but there are other alternatives listed below as well. The best thing about modern action cameras is that they’re durable and small meaning that you can put them in your pocket or backpack. To add to the flexibility make sure to get some GoPro mounts so you can film every activity.

2. Waterproof Case for your phone

You’ve got to remember that Hawaii is full of islands, so there is a lot of water, so unless you have a waterproof phone case, you’re going to need one. When you’re hiking volcanoes or chilling on the beach, a waterproof case will protect your phone from falls and sand. Depending on the case and your budget, You could also use this case to take pictures and videos underwater instead of using your GoPro.

3. Packing Cubes

I’ve been backpacking the world for more than 5 years, and still one of my favorite items on the checklist is packing cubes. Packing cubes provide an easy way for you to organize clothes. I usually use one for socks and underwear, one for casual clothes, and one for formal attire. I’m using the same set that I bought 5 years ago when I began traveling. They help you stay organized and you can also easily sort clean and dirty clothes.

4. Easy dry compact towel

This is also an item I recommend for every destination. These towels are compact and can easily fit into a day bag. They also dry quickly and you can easily shake them free of sand and dirt. Normal towels take up too much room and become heavy when wet. Just yesterday I put a regular towel into my day bag and I couldn’t fit anything else inside! These lightweight towels are ideal for hiking and taking to the beach. Just make sure you get one big enough to sit on!

5. Dry bag

Pick up a lightweight dry bag to keep your valuables dry during your island adventures. A dry back is highly recommended if you’re going to be on a boat doing excursions such as snorkeling, spearfishing, or scuba. These bags can be entirely submerged without the contents getting wet. It’s a foolproof way to keep your trip free of regrets. Wet electronics are no fun. This bag is great because it can double as a beach bag as well!

6. Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Having a waterproof and beach proof Bluetooth speaker is essential for Hawaiian island life. I’ve tested many Bluetooth speakers over the years, and my absolute favorite is this compact JBL speaker. This speaker produces a sound that is liquid gold, and the battery seems to last forever. You can easily strap it to your backpack during a hike. Or take it out in the waves while you boogie board. I bought my first JBL in 2015, and I still use the same one to this day.

7. Reef-safe Sunscreen

The Hawaiian sun is unforgiving. One time I didn’t apply sunscreen, and I was sitting under an umbrella for 5 hours. I was moderately sunburnt afterward. yes, you heard me. I got sunburned while sitting in the shade. The reason is still a mystery to me, but my theory is that the sun reflected off the sand and onto my pasty white skin. You’ve got to get out and play, but you also have to protect yourself from the sun and other harmful UV rays. It’s especially important to buy reef-safe sunscreen. Reefs are deteriorating at an accelerated rate, and it’s important to protect them more now than ever. Many of the beaches in Hawaii are made up of coral and coral reefs. Coral is an animal that is sensitive to what goes into the water around it.

8. Sunglasses

Without a cloud in the sky, Hawaiian days are some of the sunniest. I travel a lot, and sometimes I don’t think I could live without sunglasses. I started wearing these generic Raybans about 5 years ago. you can pick up a pair for about $15 and they are polarized, which is a major plus. I usually travel for a year without returning home, so I always bring two pairs. I inevitably end up losing a pair or sitting on them every 6 months or so…

9. Travel Umbrella

Seeing as Hawaii has tropical island weather, you never know when the rain is going to roll in. It’s a best practice of mine to always travel with a collapsable travel umbrella. I try to find one that doesn’t take up much room and is well built. The problem with buying an umbrella at a local store upon arrival is that it may be low quality and break after a couple of uses. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience. This has happened to me several times. You’ll have much better luck if you bring your umbrella. It’s a good way to protect yourself from the sun when walking around town as well.

10. External Battery pack

Having an external battery is a lifesaver, and the technology just keeps getting better and better as time goes on. This charger can charge the average phone 7-10 times and has multiple USB outputs along with a USB-C output as well, which means you can charge a laptop as well. It’s a bit clunky, but if you bring it to the beach you can charge your Bluetooth speaker and the phones for the entire family.

11. Neck Wallet

A neck wallet is a great travel accessory. If you always keep your passport around your neck, then you’ll never lose it. ALWAYS be conscious of where you put your passport, whether it’s a special pocket in your bag, or on your nightstand. If you lose your passport it is a pain in the neck. Believe me, I lost mine in Cuba and the replacement process is not fun. I recommend putting your passport, extra cash, and unneeded credit cards. in the neck wallet. And only carry your debit card, id, and daily cash supply in your wallet or purse.

12. Mosquito Repellent

It depends on the season, but you will most likely encounter mosquitos while on your trip to Hawaii. It’s important to protect yourself and your loved ones, especially since mosquitos carry diseases.

13. After-sun lotion

It’s important to take care of your skin in the Hawaiian sun. This lotion has aloe and will help you soothe any burns as well as extend your tan.

14. Flip Flops

What Hawaiian vacation is complete without a pair of flip flops. They’re the best beach shoes and all-around very versatile. You will want something you can easily slip on at the beach to avoid burning your feet on the volcanic sand.

15. Water Shoes

Hawaii is full of excursions. Hikes, waterfall climbing, and snorkeling activities are plentiful. For these activities, you want to make sure that your feet are protected. A pair of flexible water shoes can double as decent hiking shoes as well.

10. Osprey Farpoint 55

This is by far my favorite travel bag. It’s just small enough to be claimed as a carry-on (depending on the airline) and comes with a removable daypack. I have solely traveled with this pack for over two years in Asia and can firmly tell you that if all your items don’t fit in this back, then you’re packing too much. Use your packing cubes and toiletries bag to organize your items, and you’ll be ready for your trip.

10. Bathing suit

You can’t go to Hawaii without a bathing suit… this is a no-brainer. If it is going to be a long stay vacation, you may want to pack more than one bathing suit.

hawaiian island
Crystal clear water on the islands of Hawaii

What to pack for each season in Hawaii

When it comes to what to pack for a trip to Hawaii, one of the most important things is what type of clothing you should bring. Hawaii has different rainy and dry seasons that can change what your wardrobe should be like. Tropical weather needs little explanation. You should pack what you wear on an everyday basis and what you would wear for typical Hawaiian activities on the beach and in the jungle. These are also the clothes you need when visiting tropical climates because it will be hot, so bring light clothing. The most important thing to remember about what to pack for Hawaii is the three primary considerations: warm, cool, and comfortable. If you plan well, there is no need to even worry about bringing luxury items.

Summer: May-October

Summer is typically hot in Hawaii. Temperatures can be from 80-90F or 27-32C Dress for hot tropical weather but don’t forget that there is also potential for rainfall. I recommend dry-fit shirts for both men and women. I bought a pack of these shirts a few years ago and still wear them daily. They don’t show stains and keep you cool in the heat. Easy to wash. What’s not to love?

Winter: November-April

Winter weather is what you would expect for an island located in the middle of the Pacific ocean. You will experience rain, sun, and wind! Pack clothing that is layered so you can take pieces off or put on depending on what Mother Nature throws at you. When winter hits, it is too late to add clothes to your luggage so make sure what you bring feels like home before leaving.

Other considerations:

– Shoes are important. Take a pair of water/rainproof shoes that you won’t care if they get dirty. Your feet will thank you when torrential downpours force you to walk through puddles with these sturdy waterproof shoes. I recommend trail running sneakers since they’re light and allow your feet to breathe which decreases sweating

what not to pack

What not to bring to Hawaii

  1. Don’t overpack (Don’t bring too many clothes). It’s tempting to bring a large checked bag, a carry-on, and a backpack. But you don’t need to do this for a week-long vacation. No matter where I’m traveling, I only bring my Osprey Farpoint 55. As I said previously, if all your items don’t fit in this bag, then you’re packing too much. Downsize, and buy any other essentials at your destination.
  2. Don’t take physical books(especially novels). If you’re going to be island hopping, and especially if you’re carrying a backpack, don’t take any physical books. I made this mistake once by packing East of Eden which added about 2 pounds and took up space it could have used for an extra pair of shoes. Buy a Kindle instead.
  3. Don’t pack valuable items such as jewelry. Unless you’re doing a photo shoot, it is not necessary to bring any valuables along on your Hawaiian vacation. Every piece of jewelry you bring is a potential piece of jewelry lost. Hawaii is a place for adventure which means that you should leave your valuables at home.
hawaii FAQ

Hawaii FAQs

How much should I pack for Hawaii?

There is no hard rule for how much you should bring when traveling to Hawaii. However, it’s a good idea to pack what you would normally take when going on vacation in another state such as California or New York since many things will be more expensive, especially at hotels and resorts.

What kind of shoes should you bring to Hawaii?

You should bring flip-flops, water shoes, and hiking boots depending on the activities that you plan. Flip-flops are what everyone wears most of the time. Hiking boots are what you should wear for hikes up Maunakea and in other mountains. Water shoes are what you should bring if you plan to go snorkeling or scuba diving.

What items are not are prohibited to bring to Hawaii?

What can you not bring to Hawaii? There are several things they do not allow you to bring to the islands. Don’t pack any fresh fruits or vegetables, along with raw meat and fish. Also, leave behind your pets (or at least don’t bring them with you), camp stoves, and tents too.

Are there a lot of mosquitos in Hawaii?

Hawaii has many types of bugs and insects, but what you are most likely to see in the islands is a mosquito. The number of mosquitos you see will vary from what season it is, what part of the island you are on and what time of day it is. Mosquitos are usually not a major problem unless it’s been raining for a few days or after dusk. The best way to avoid getting bit while in Hawaii is to wear long sleeves and pants when outside at dawn and dusk and make sure to use bug spray. Mosquito bites usually won’t ruin your trip, but they can still get annoying and cause minor itching for some people.

Solution:  Wear long sleeves and pants when outside at dawn or dusk and make sure to use good bug spray.

poisonous hawaiian plant

Are there any poisonous plants in Hawaii?

There are a few different types of plants in the Hawaiian islands that can cause complications if touched by anyone. The most common is what we call the needle and thread plant, which has an extremely sharp tip on the end of its leaves. While this isn’t typically a problem for locals who grew up with these plants, it can be harmful to people who aren’t from the islands. you can identify these plants by seeing if they have what appear to be spines on the end of the leaves. You can also ask any locals you see and in some cases, some signs warn you about what not to touch.

What should I avoid in Hawaii?

There are a few things that you should try to avoid at all costs when visiting Hawaii. For example, what many tourists do is rent a car and drive around the island which can be very dangerous (and illegal) especially if they are unfamiliar with local roads. Since there are no lane markings and most street signs are in Hawaiian, it’s best to stick to public transportation such as buses and taxis.

Can I drink the tap water in Hawaii?  

The short answer is yes. Tap water on the major islands is filtered and safe, but make sure you double-check with the hotel staff before drinking from the tap.

surf board aloha

Enjoy your Hawaiian Vacation

With its mild temperatures and beautiful beaches, it’s no wonder that so many people are interested in what to pack for a trip to the Hawaiian islands. You should bring all of your essentials with you when packing for this tropical paradise but if you want some more direction about how much clothing or accessories to take, we’ve got you covered! Check out our list of things not to forget before heading off on vacation. If any items seem unclear, feel free to reach out and ask us questions-we’re happy to help! Now you know what to pack for a trip to Hawaii. You’re ready! Pack your bags and get on the plane. We hope this guide has been helpful in preparing you for an amazing Hawaiian vacation–enjoy yourself, relax, and enjoy all of the beautiful places that await you here at home away from home.

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