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21 Top Hawaii Packing List Essential Items for 2022

21 Top Hawaii Packing List Essential Items for 2022
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Aloha! Whether you’re traveling to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island, we’ve got you covered. Our family has called Hawaii home for over five years now. We compiled this complete Hawaii packing checklist to help you feel like a part of the local Ohana on your next Hawaiian getaway.

Hawaii has a whopping 11 climate zones and endless things to see and do, so it’s important to come well-prepared. Below you’ll find our top 25 “must-have” items for an epic trip. We also have some tips on what to wear in Hawaii, a list of items NOT to bring, and some common FAQs about traveling in Hawaii. Mahalo Nui!

Lyric and me at home in Hawaii.
Lyric and me at home in Hawaii.

What to pack for Hawaii – 21 Essentials

  • 1. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

    This case is a MUST if you want to bring your phone to the beach, on boats, hiking near waterfalls or anywhere where it can get wet, fall into the water or where it can get damaged by sand. It even makes it possible to take underwater photos and videos (with sound)!!

  • 2. Flotation Strap

    If you’re going to bring your waterproof phone case or underwater camera out on a boat, while snorkeling or while paddle boarding etc then you have to have this flotation strap so that it’ll float if you drop it!!

  • 3. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    Have you ever felt like a pack mule trying to get all your gear from the hotel to the beach? Trying to fit multiple fluffy towels into a beach bag is nearly impossible; and lugging heavy, sandy, wet towels around after a day at your favorite Hawaiian beach can be a mess. Travel towels are compact, lightweight and quick-drying, while still being large enough to sunbathe on. They are a great way to streamline your beach (or hiking) bag and keep you feeling as light and airy as possible.

  • 4. Affordable Underwater Camera

    If you want to take better quality pictures than with a smartphone (and don’t want a more expensive GoPro) then this is a great little camera that won’t break the bank. With the beaches, the turtles, the rain forests and the waterfalls, there are plenty of things you’ll be dying to take pictures of in Hawaii. But all of these activities require a camera that is waterproof and that’s why we recommend this little beauty!

  • 5. Swimsuit Cover-up

    Swimsuit cover-ups are a must have for Hawaii. You can go for a swim, throw it over your suit, and then head to lunch without much thought. This one pictured is the one that my wife owns and loves. It’s attractive on all body types, the lightweight fabric dries quickly and is breathable — plus it’ll take up very little room in your suitcase and comes in several colors.

  • 6. Neck Wallet

    If you’re traveling to Hawaii from mainland USA then I highly recommend you use a quality neck wallet while going through airports etc. This clever little pouch holds my iPhone, credit cards, passport, cash and travel docs and allows me to wear it conveniently across my body or under my shirt. Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and many people still feel jet-lagged when they arrive so it’s handy to have all your valuables in one secure place so that you don’t lose them when you’re tired. Also, this one has RFID blocking to prevent e-thieves from stealing your credit card details and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee.

  • 7. Mesh Slip-On Water Shoes: Women’s & Men’s

    Hiking in Hawaii is beautiful, but it can be intense and often covers muddy terrain. Instead of bringing heavy hiking shoes to Hawaii we highly recommend these lightweight, mesh, water shoes. They are breathable (meaning your feet won’t get too hot) and the “water grain” sole provides exceptional traction in wet and slippery conditions. They are also super easy to clean.

  • 8. HERO Packing Cubes

    Whether you’re traveling with a suitcase or a backpack, a few packing cubes will make it so much easier to stay organized. Instead of having to dig around for your swim trunks or bikini top, just grab the cube your swimsuits are packed in and you’ll be ready to hit the beach. This set also comes with two laundry bags so you’ll never have to mix dirty and clean clothes again!

    Available on with an exclusive 15% discount using the coupon code “HERO”.

  • 9. Leave-in Hair Conditioner

    Lots of time in the sun and salt water may be the staple of a Hawaii vacation, but it can wreak havoc on your hair. To protect your hair from the elements and keep it from drying out too much, bring a leave-in conditioner to apply at the end of your beach days.

  • 10. Cooling Towel

    Whether sunbathing, hiking through the rainforests, or just enjoying one of Hawaii’s many outdoor shopping experiences, these puppies remain 20-30 degrees cooler than the air temperature and keep chilly for up to 60 min. This brand has no chemicals but is crazy effective: wrap the cooling towel around your shoulders, head, etc. and you will feel instant relief. If the cooling vibes start to run out, dip the towel in some water, wring it out, and BOOM! Ready to go for round two. For anyone who gets crabby when overheated, or just plain uncomfortable, this is for you.

  • 11. Travel Insurance for Hawaii

    We believe you should absolutely get covered if you’re going to Hawaii. With the uncertainty of travel these days, it brings great peace of mind to know that you’ll be covered for medical emergencies, trip interruptions, unexpected Covid quarantines, baggage delays, theft, and more.

    Another unfortunate truth is, in some parts of Hawaii, thieves regularly target tourist rental cars parked at popular attractions such as waterfalls and beaches. For this reason, we highly recommend you get travel insurance which costs a tiny fraction of your trip. We use to compare the best policies at the most affordable rates.

  • 12. Waterproof Dry Bag

    This one from Earth Pak is our top pick. It’s inexpensive, cleans easily and most importantly it works! It can be dropped in water (and even submerged) without your belongings getting wet. I recommend it whether you are heading to the beach, going on a day trip on a boat, or planning to do a more extensive water based excursion. Before I knew about dry bags, I got my backpack soaked on a day trip to Molakai because the boat got splashed by the waves and drenched the deck.

  • 13. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    All the major Hawaiian islands have an extremely wet and windy side where the rainforests are. These are some of the most beautiful parts of each island such as “The Road to Hana” on Maui and they are not to be missed! Since you will most likely be rained on, we highly recommend you bring a windproof travel umbrella (like the one pictured) so that you can still enjoy the beauty without getting completely drenched.

  • 14. Deet-Free Mosquito Wristbands

    Though last year saw an outbreak of Dengue fever, there’s generally very little risk of mosquito-borne diseases in Hawaii. That said, there are still mosquitoes, and you’ll want to protect yourself against bites. These natural insect repelling wristbands last for up to 300 hours. Note: I also recommend you use insect repellent in addition to the bracelets if you want to minimize the chances of getting bitten.

  • 15. Sand-resistant Beach Blanket

    Beach blankets are always necessary in Hawaii, but the wrong blanket will get blown around, filled with sand, and will be hard to dry at the end of the day. This Wellax beach mat is made of parachute material so it’s quick-drying and lightweight. It also folds up very compactly for packing purposes. There are sand weights on the edges, too, so it won’t blow around in the beach breeze! It even has pockets for your belongings and comes with a bonus cellphone case.

  • 16. Long-sleeved Swim Rash Guard: Women’s & Men’s

    The sun in Hawaii is surprisingly strong even in the winter, and “rashies” are popular amongst locals. If you are fair-skinned (like me!) or this is your first time in the sun for a while you will be glad to know this one has an UPF sun protection of 50+. I wear mine religiously, especially when paddle boarding. My wife, who is very olive skinned, also swears by it because when you are in the Hawaiian sun for many hours it’s just really easy to get burned.

  • 17. Beach Bag

    A good beach bag is key because (more often than not) where you park your car is a bit of a walk to the beach; and in many cases beaches can be far from food and drinks etc. This Aruba Mesh beach bag is great because it comes with an insulated cooler at the bottom which is key for keeping your snacks and drinks cold in the sun. It also easily fits towels and changes of clothes, yet isn’t bulky.

  • 18. Gorgeous Dress

    I recommend bringing one nice outfit on your trip. Inevitably you will want to grab a cocktail or a nice dinner somewhere and a sundress won’t quite cut it. My wife loves this dress, and personally owns it. It doesn’t wrinkle, it’s easy to throw on after a long day at the beach, its super sexy on all body types, and comes in a variety of colors. It’s also very inexpensive but doesn’t look it when you put it on.

  • 19. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    This item may be a surprise to you to find on a Hawaii packing list but I’ve found having a good VPN is essential for any travel. I learned this the hard way when I recently had my credit card number stolen after using what I thought was a secure Wifi network at an Airbnb rental.

    I’ve learned that whenever you go on someone else’s WiFi whether it’s at a cafe, airport, Airbnb, or hotel, you’re potentially putting your passwords, credit card, and identity at risk of being hacked.

    The good news is that with a VPN like NordVPN you protect yourself on any device with 1-click. The other benefit of having a VPN is that if you ever travel somewhere that censors the Internet such as Thailand or parts of Europe then you’ll still be able to access all your favorite websites. I highly recommend you check it out before your next travels in order to guarantee the safety of your sensitive data.

  • 20. Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

    Enjoy your favorite songs while you’re relaxing by the pool, on the beach, or on a boat with a quality Bluetooth speaker. JBL is known for making speakers with crisp and clear audio. This speaker in particular is perfect for a trip to Hawaii because it’s waterproof so you can practically take it everywhere without worrying about it getting water damage. Enjoy 12 hours of playtime between charges so you can go all day on the island with your music

  • 21. Aloe Gel

    Your time in Hawaii will be filled with sunshine and saltwater. While good for the soul, it can often take a toll on your skin and hair. Keep sun-kissed skin and salty hair happy by applying aloe vera gel each day. This organic and vegan aloe vera gel absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave any sticky residue. Maintain that healthy island glow long after leaving Hawaii!

What to Wear in Hawaii

What you should wear in Hawaii varies a bit depending on what you’ll be doing and what areas of the state you’ll be in.

In general, though, Hawaii is warm and fairly casual. You’ll be most comfortable if you stick to clothes made of breathable, lightweight fabrics, and shorts, sundresses, and sandals are acceptable for most occasions.

If you’re planning on going out for nice dinners or attending shows, you might want a couple of dressier outfits for evenings. Also, note that if you don’t want to look like a tourist then don’t wear a Hawaiian shirt! :)

Many parts of Hawaii can get chilly at night too, so a lightweight fleece is a good idea, and it’s a must if you’re planning on visiting any higher elevations such as Mt. Haleakala or Mauna Kea.

If you’re going to do any substantial hiking, you’ll probably want to wear long pants and hiking shoes.

What should WOMEN wear in Hawaii? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

When visiting Hawai, women should favor lightweight, breathable fabrics. The weather is consistently very warm to hot, so beach attire is ideal. Sundresses, shorts, and t-shirts, or maxi dresses are the name of the game. Sweat-wicking athletic attire is great for active days, but generally, you’ll feel cooler in loose-fitting, airy clothing. Linen, lightweight cotton, and silk are all great options.

The vibe on all Hawaiian islands is mostly casual. Be sure to have a swimsuit coverup or sundress to throw on overtop for sun protection and modesty. You may also wish to bring one or two more elegant outfit choices for dining out in nice restaurants.

If you intend on watching the sunrise from Mt. Haleakala or other high elevations then you’ll definitely need to bring at least one very warm outfit. We once went up there unprepared and almost froze to death! :)

What should MEN wear in Hawaii? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

Beach attire is ideal for most parts of Hawaii. Men will feel most comfortable in light, airy clothing, like shorts and t-shirts. Though you may want a few nice shirts for going out at night for a dinner. You’re bound to sweat a lot during the day, especially if your vacation is action-packed, so ensure you have a couple of extra, clean outfits to change into in the evenings after the day’s activities are done. If you plan on visiting one of Hawaii’s volcano summits then you definitely need to bring a warm fleece and scarf because it can get freezing up there!

Packing for the Seasons in Hawaii

SUMMER – May, June, July, August, September, October:

Summer can be very warm in the dry areas near tourist resorts and beaches. These sides of the islands tend to be where mountains block or break up rainfall-carrying clouds. Dress for hot and dry, but don’t forget that many parts of the islands are downright tropical and will still have substantial rainfall – and mosquitoes! Good hiking shoes are a must, and a rain jacket is still wise.

Bring a sun hat and good sunglasses, plus don’t neglect your skin – apply reef-safe sunscreen frequently! Temperatures out of the water average between 80°F to 90°F (27°C to 32°C). Summer water temps are often near 80°F (27°C) in most areas.

WINTER – November, December, January, February, March, April:

This is a slightly cooler time in most parts of most islands. If you’re staying or adventuring on windward sides of an island, plan for higher wind and a little chill. A light sweater and a rain jacket are a good idea.

If you’re planning to climb to some higher elevations (like Mt. Haleakalā – the dormant volcano on Maui or any of the other taller mountains in Hawaii), you WILL need a fleece jacket or something similar. A hat and light gloves aren’t a bad idea for such adventures, either.

Waterproof hiking shoes are ideal for this time of year in Hawaii! Tropical areas will enjoy more rain and fairly steady temps. Sunny, dry areas (like those near most tourist resorts) will typically have cooler but dependably calm weather. Temperatures out of the water average between 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C). Winter water temps on Maui and Oahu are usually around 77°F (25°C).

Dressing appropriately for the activity in Hawaii – (Click to expand)

Snorkeling/Diving – For snorkeling or diving excursions, a daypack will help you transport everything you need for the outing. Be sure to pack a water bottle, sunscreen, a change of clothes and a towel or sarong. Flip flops are the perfect footwear because you can slip them on and off quickly as you’re in and out of the water.

Beach/Pool – There’s no question that much of your trip to Hawaii will be spent by the water. Be sure you protect yourself from the sun. Polarized sunglasses, a sunhat, and high SPF sunscreen will prevent overexposure. A swimsuit coverup or long sleeved linen shirt will offer additional sun protection if you need it.

Hiking – If you plan on doing hiking then you will want sturdy shoes, possibly long pants and bug spray. There can be a LOT of mosquitoes in certain parts of the islands. And as mentioned elsewhere, you will want to bring very warm clothes if you go to the summit of one of the volcanoes.

Dining out – Having a gorgeous dress for ladies and a stylish shirt and pants for guys is ideal. If you don’t want to look like a true tourist then I would avoid Hawaiian shirts. Think smart casual.

What NOT to Take to Hawaii

  • 1.DON’T PACK too many clothes.

    Bringing lots of clothes will weigh down your luggage, and you really don’t need a ton of different outfits for a vacation. If you run out of things to wear while you’re in Hawaii, you can always do laundry at your hotel or a Laundromat.

  • 2.DON’T BRING unnecessary valuables.

    There’s always some risk of things getting lost or stolen on the road, even in safe destinations like Hawaii. Unless they’re things you’ll really need during your trip, bringing lots of valuables just isn’t worth the risk.

  • 3.DON’T TAKE heavy books.

    Books are heavy and bulky, making it hard to pack them when you need to keep your luggage under a weight limit or want to fit everything into a carry-on. Bring a Kindle instead, and leave the physical books at home.

  • 4.DON’T PACK a regular towel.

    You’ll definitely need towels in Hawaii, but nearly any hotel there will provide them. It’s not a bad idea to bring your own too, but take a quick-dry travel towel, not a bulky regular one.

  • 5.DON’T BRING high-heeled shoes.

    Hawaii is a casual enough place that most women who pack high heels never wear them. Leave your heels at home, and bring a pair of nice flats or strappy sandals for dressier occasions.

  • 6.DON’T TAKE diving equipment.

    Unless you’re a super serious diver who can’t stand the thought of rental equipment, there’s no need to bring your own. It’s bulky and heavy, and you can rent everything you need at any dive shop.

  • 7.DON’T BRING heavy sweaters or jackets.

    While there are cooler spots at higher elevations and it can get chilly in the evenings, Hawaii is still a tropical location. Bringing one light jacket or sweater is definitely recommended, but you’ll have no need for a ton of heavy clothes.

  • 8.DON’T PACK lots of electronics.

    Bring any electronics you know you’ll want to use during your trip, but there’s no reason to take extra gadgets and risk having them get lost or stolen. We highly recommend your bring this universal waterproof phone case for your phone!

Travel FAQs and Hawaii Vacation Tips

  • 1. What is the best month to visit Hawaii?

    The weather in Hawaii is fairly consistent year-round, so you don’t need to plan too much around the climate. The spring and fall months tend to see the fewest tourists, making them the best times to escape the crowds and get good discounts.

  • 2. Which Hawaiian Islands are the best to visit?

    Hawaii is made up of eight main islands (and over a hundred smaller ones), but the four most popular islands to visit are Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island of Hawaii.

  • 3. What is there to do in Hawaii other than the beach and water sports?

    Hiking is a very popular activity in Hawaii, and all four of the main islands have plenty of options. Hawaii is also home to two national parks, Haleakala National Park on Maui (pictured at sunset) and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, and there are five active volcanoes in the state. Viewing the lava flow at Halema’uma’u crater on the Big Island is one of the most popular tourist activities, and it’s especially breathtaking before sunrise or after sunset. Other common attractions include luaus, museums, and cultural centers, Pearl Harbor tours, nightlife, spas, and lessons in hula dancing, ukulele, and lei-making.

    What is there to do in Hawaii other than the beach and water sports?
  • 4. What is the weather like in Hawaii?

    Hawaii’s weather varies by the island and by elevation, but the average monthly temperatures are generally in the 70s. The weather is fairly consistent year-round, though it’s slightly cooler and rainier in the winter months. Also, it depends on where you are on an island. Generally, the northern and eastern coasts are wetter, while the southern shores (where most hotels are) is very dry year round.

  • 5. What is the best way to get between the islands of Hawaii?

    There are some boat options for inter-island travel, particularly to and from Maui, but flights are much more common. Six airlines operate within Hawaii, and most flights last under one hour.

  • 6. Are there any health concerns for visitors to Hawaii?

    Visiting Hawaii poses no more health risks than visiting the continental U.S., and common sense will protect you against most potential issues, like dehydration.

  • 7. How much does it cost to travel in Hawaii?

    Options for both budget travel and luxury travel are plentiful in Hawaii. On the expensive end, there are hotels that run several hundred dollars a night and rental cars can cost around $75 per day. It’s easy to spend $50 or more on dinner at nice restaurants, and adventure tours can cost $100 per person for a half-day. On the other hand, Hawaii has B&Bs costing $50-$100 and hostels for less than that, and public transportation is widely available on Oahu. You can dine cheaply at local diners or pick up groceries at a farmer’s market or grocery store, and visiting the beach is free. If you’re really pinching pennies, you can probably travel in some parts of Hawaii on a budget of $75 a day. Of course, flights to Hawaii are non-negotiable; they can start around $400 from major West Coast cities (depending on the time of year) and go up from there.

    How much does it cost to travel in Hawaii?
  • 8. Are there cruises from California to Hawaii?

    Yes! There are many different cruise lines that typically do 15 night itineraries from Los Angeles to the Hawaiian Islands and back. Some longer cruises even go down to Tahiti as well. If you enjoy many cruising days at sea then it can be a great way to see all the islands without having to pack up your hotel each night. Be sure to check out our packing list for a cruise to get all our tips on what to bring.

  • 9. Where is a good place to travel off the beaten path in Hawaii?

    To find less touristy destinations in Hawaii, skip the four most popular islands (Kauai, Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island). The island of Molokai is the least visited and the least developed– there are no resorts, no fancy restaurants, not even a stoplight.

    There aren’t many attractions, but that’s part of what makes it so peaceful. My wife and I went camping on Molokai for a week and it was such a wonderful experience. We particularly liked the Pala’au State Park on Molokai.

    Where is a good place to travel off the beaten path in Hawaii?
  • 10. What are the best hikes in Hawaii?

    There are far too many great hikes in Hawaii to list, but some of the best are: Kalalau Trail and Hanakapiai Beach Hike (Kauai); Pipiwai Trail (Maui); Manoa Falls Trail and Diamond Head Crater Summit Trail (Oahu); and Muliwai Trail and Kilauea Iki Trail (the Big Island).

  • 11. Where should beginners learn to surf in Hawaii?

    There are great surfing spots on many of Hawaii’s islands, but the most popular for learning are on Oahu (Waikiki Beach and the North Shore) and Maui (Lahaina and Kihei).

  • 12. What are the best souvenirs from Hawaii?

    Everyone you know is sure to want a gift from your Hawaiian travels. These are a few of the best things to bring home: 

    1. Hawaiian fashions like shirts, skirts, and muumuus
    2. Artwork
    3. Coffee
    4. Coconut oil products
    5. Hawaiian music
    6. Sea salt products
    7. Hawaiian quilts
    8. Koa wood
    9. Jewelry
    10. Lauhala hats
    11. Ukuleles
    What are the best souvenirs from Hawaii?
  • 13. What is there to do on each Hawaiian island?

    Planning a Hawaiian trip can be tough because there are multiple islands to choose to visit with amazing locations and opportunities on each one. I’ve narrowed it down to one must-do adventure for each island. 

    1. The Big Island: Volcanoes National Park
    2. Kauai: The Na Pali Coast
    3. Oahu: Pearl Harbor
    4. Maui: The Road to Hana
    5. Lanai: Horseback riding
    6. Molokai: Kalaupapa National Historic Park
    What is there to do on each Hawaiian island?