17 Top Maui Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2018 Update)

You’ve gotten your vacation request approved and booked your tickets to Maui, and now it’s time to start packing. But if it’s your first trip there, you’re probably asking yourself, “What do I need to take to Maui?” Fortunately, this Maui packing list has everything you’ll need to stay comfortable, safe, and healthy during your tropical getaway.

At the bottom of this post, there’s a list of things NOT to bring to Maui, so you don’t end up with luggage that’s needlessly heavy (or so full there’s no room for souvenirs). There are also some tips on what to wear in Maui, as well as some top frequently asked questions about travel there.

As always, no matter where you’re headed, it’s important to travel with an open mind and a sense of humor. Even though those things aren’t literally part of the checklist for traveling to Maui, they’re essential for making the most of your trip.

What should I bring on my Maui trip?

1) Sunglasses: Women’s and Men’s – A pair of sunglasses should definitely be near the top of your packing list for Maui. You’ll almost certainly be spending a lot of your time outside, and sunglasses will make that time much more comfortable (and provide protection for your eyes, of course).
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2) Swimsuit: Women’s and Men’s – You’re not planning to visit Maui and not go swimming, right? A swimsuit is one thing you really don’t want to leave behind – in fact, you might even want to bring a couple.
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3) Swimsuit cover-up – For the times you’ll want to be wearing a little more than just your swimsuit, this cover-up is perfect. It’ll easily take you from your hotel room to the beach, or you can throw it on to pop in a store or grab lunch at a beachfront café.
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4) Fleece Jacket: Women’s and Men’s – Even though Maui is known for its tropical climate, it can get downright chilly in certain areas. That’s especially true up on the volcano in Haleakala National Park, which is home to some of Hawaii’s best hiking and most stunning vistas. Temperatures can drop below freezing at the summit, so you’ll be miserable if you head up there without a good jacket. These North Face styles will keep your warm, but won’t take up too much space in your bag.
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5) Flip-flops: Women’s and Men’s – Flip-flops are the go-to footwear for most visitors to Maui. After all, what else do you need for walking around your hotel or strolling along the beach? A pair of flip-flops is one of the top things to bring to Maui.
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6) Hiking shoes: Women’s and Men’s – It’d be easy to assume that, in a place known mainly for its beaches, the hiking couldn’t be too intense – but that’d be a mistake. While Haleakala National Park does have some short leisurely trails, others are long and extremely strenuous. If you’re planning to do much hiking, you’ll definitely want a sturdy pair of waterproof hiking shoes like these.
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7) Sarong – Sarongs are the perfect travel item because they’re small and lightweight and have so many different uses. Cold on the plane? It’s a sheet. Need something to put over your swimsuit? It’s a makeshift cover-up. Don’t want to carry a heavy towel to the beach? Use a sarong instead. Something this versatile belongs on any packing list for Maui.
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8) Daypack – For any hiking you have planned in Maui, you’ll want a daypack to carry things like water, snacks, a jacket, and sunscreen. This pack can hold whatever you’ll need for a day hike, but it’s also super lightweight and will hardly take up any space in your main luggage.
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9) Beach bag – Given the island’s famed beaches, you can’t leave a nice beach bag off your checklist for traveling to Maui. This one is plenty large enough to hold your beach necessities, and the waterproof fabric is great for using near the water. It’s super easy to clean, too.
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10) Sunscreen – Assuming you want to come back from your vacation lightly bronzed and not lobster red, sunscreen is one of the essential things to take to Maui. Since you’ll certainly be spending some of your time in the water, a sweat- and water-resistant formula like this one is key.
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11) Insect repellent – While insect-borne illnesses are extremely uncommon in Maui, itchy mosquito bites, unfortunately, are not. You’ll want to bring some insect repellent to protect yourself against mosquitos, and be especially vigilant about it if you’re going hiking. Don’t forget to reapply after swimming, too.
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12) Leave-in hair conditioner – In Maui, you’ll probably spend lots of time in the water and even more in the sun. While some some-kissed streaks are a welcome byproduct of a Hawaii vacation, damaged strands are not. To protect your hair from the tropical elements, add a leave-in conditioner to your list of things to take to Maui.
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13) Kindle – Between the long flights to Maui and the relaxing days on the beach, most travelers find themselves with plenty of time to get some reading done. Just do yourself a favor and skip the physical books. A Kindle barely takes up as much space as one single book, and can hold more titles than you’ll ever read in one trip. Whether you’re an avid book lover or just want to catch up on some beach reads, a Kindle is one of the essential things to take to Maui.
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14) Camera – If you’re planning a trip to Maui, you’ll certainly want to be able to preserve your memories of it (and maybe Instagram a few snaps to make your co-workers jealous). While many people just use their phone for pictures these days, it’s worth investing in an actual camera to get higher-quality photos of your trip. The Canon Powershot is perfect for travelers, because it takes great pictures but is affordable and not too bulky.
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15) Memory card – Have you ever taken your camera out to get the perfect shot, only to realize there was no memory card in it? Don’t let that happen in Maui! This 64GB card can hold thousands of photos, so you’ll never have to worry about deleting pictures to make room for new ones either.
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16) Stainless steel water bottle – Staying hydrated is equally important for a leisurely day at the beach or pool as it is for a tough hike in Haleakala National Park. Of course, bottled water is available nearly anywhere in Maui, but bringing your own bottle to refill will save money and avoid creating plastic waste. A small item that saves you money and helps the environment should be a no-brainer on your Maui packing list.
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17) Maui Revealed guidebook – When you’re packing for Maui, make sure you get the best guidebook available. Many companies have published guides to Maui, but I think Andrew Doughty’sMaui Revealed is the most useful for planning a trip and finding parts of the island that many visitors miss. This book is part of his excellent Hawaii Revealed series, which also includes guides to several other Hawaiian islands.
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Other packing list items to consider bringing to Maui:

What should I wear in Maui?

In general, the most comfortable clothes in Maui will be breathable and fairly casual. The tropical climate makes lightweight fabrics like linen, rayon, merino wool, and cotton blends ideal. Most people dress casually in Maui, and many visitors live in shorts, tank tops, and sandals, which are usually acceptable. For going out in the evening, packing a couple nicer outfits is a good idea, but you don’t need to bring anything overly formal. Of course, for any hiking, you’ll want long pants and sturdy shoes, as well as a jacket if you’re going to higher elevations. And whether or not you’re hiking there, you’ll definitely need warmer clothes for visits to the summit of Haleakala.

What NOT to take to Maui:

1) 🚫 DON’T PACK a bath towel – While you’ll obviously need towels for the beach and pool in Maui, your hotel will almost certainly provide one. If you do want to bring your own, make it a quick-dry towel that’s designed for travel or camping, instead of a bulky regular one.

2) 🚫 DON’T BRING heavy books – You’ll probably want to take the chance to catch up on some reading during the flight or while you’re lying on the beach in Maui. But you’ll save a ton of space (and weight) in your luggage by leaving the physical books at home and packing a Kindle instead.

3) 🚫 DON’T TAKE unnecessary valuables – While there’s no particular risk of crime in Maui, there’s always some chance that things could get stolen or just lost on the road. Unless you know you’re going to be using certain valuables, like a camera, there’s no reason to bring things you’d be upset to lose.

4) 🚫 DON’T BRING high-heeled shoes – Maui is a pretty casual place, and few female visitors find themselves wearing heels there. For most any occasion, a pair of nice flats or sandals will be sufficient footwear.

5) 🚫 DON’T PACK dressy eveningwear – Similarly, most visitors to Maui have no need for formal eveningwear. Depending on your travel style and exact plans on the island, maxi dresses for ladies and polo shirts or button-downs for guys is usually dressy enough.

6) 🚫 DON’T TAKE lots of cold-weather clothes – Unless you plan to spend all of your time at the summit of Haleakala and none of it at the beach, you won’t have much use for tons of warm clothes. Make sure you do bring one jacket, but you probably won’t need any more than that.

10 frequently asked questions about travel in Maui:

1) What’s the best way to get around on Maui?

The easiest and most common way to get around on Maui is by renting a car. Not only will that give you the most flexibility, butMaui boasts some legendary drives you won’t want to miss. If renting a car isn’t an option, Uber and Lyft are both available on the island and make getting around convenient. Maui has a small public bus system and most hotels also have shuttles, though relying on them as your sole source of transportation isn’t recommended, sincethe routes and timetables of both tend to be limited. If cycling appeals to you, rental bikes are widely available for quite cheap.

2) How can I get to Maui?

Maui has three airports, located in Kahului, Kapalua, and Hana. The airport in Kahului is by far the largest, and is the only one of the three with flights beyond Hawaii. If a direct flight is your priority, over a half dozen airlines operate flights from the western U.S. and Canada to Kahului. Just know the airport is a 45-minute drive from the western side of the island where most of the resorts are located.

Another option is to fly into Kapalua, which means a layover on Oahu or the Big Island and then a 30-minute inter-island flight to Maui. If you’re coming from outside North America, that will be your only choice, as only Oahu and the Big Island serve flights from other countries. Arriving at Kapalua will put you much closer to the island’s main resort area. Flying into the even tinier Hana airport would only make sense if you’re visiting the eastern edge of the island, which very few do.

3) How can I get from Maui to other islands in Hawaii?

Inter-island flights are the main way to get from Maui to other parts of Hawaii, with multiple airlines operating flights between Maui and the other islands, sometimes with a stop in Honolulu. All of these flights are under an hour, and many are much shorter. If you’re interested in seeing Hawaii’s lesser-explored islands, there’s also the option of taking the ferriesthat connects Maui with Molokai and Lanai.

4) What are the best beaches in Maui?

Maui is fringed with stunning beaches, especially on the western coast, and it would be hard to pick the best one. But one near the top of any list is Makena Beach, which also holds the title of most photographed beach in Hawaii. Kapalua Beach is not only one of the most popular beaches in Hawaii, it’s regularly listed as one of the best in the U.S. Baldwin Beach on the north shore is one of Maui’s most-visited beaches, and it even has a protected salt-water pool for kids. Ka’anapali Beach is another popular one, known for the abundance of ocean activities available, including top-notch snorkeling. For something completely different, Wai’anapanapa Beach near Hana is a black-sand beach, and much less crowded than the beaches on the western side of the island.

5) What is there to do in Maui away from the beach?

While the mention of the word Maui might conjure up images on lazy days spent on the beach, this island has a ton more to offer. Hiking is easily one of the top dry-land things to in Maui. The most popular hiking destination for visitors is Haleakala National Park, with over 30 miles of trails in the summit area and options ranging from leisurely 10-minute strolls to strenuous multi-treks. ‘Iao Valley State Park also has numerous hiking options, including a short walk to its most famous viewpoint. Even if hiking isn’t your thing, bothparks have plenty of other attractions, and seeing the sunrise at Haleakala belongs on any visitor’s itinerary.

Maui is also known for its scenic drives, especially the 52-mile Road to Hana, which passes numerous beaches and waterfalls and offers stunning views. Kahekili Highway is another top route, passing by the Nakalele blowhole and other attractions before giving you a peek into “old Hawaii” in Kahakuloa.Or if it’s in your budget, there’s no better way to see Maui than from the air. A helicopter tour will not only showcase jaw-dropping scenery, it’ll also show you parts of the island you’d never be able to see otherwise.Lastly, of course, you can’t visit Maui and not attend a luau.

6) What is the weather like in Maui?

Maui’s climate is tropical, with warm and fairly stable temperatures throughout the year. While highs are typically in the 80s year-round, the temperatures do rise a bit from June to October, which are also the driest months.

7) When is the best time of year to visit Maui?

The winter and early-spring months bring slightly cooler weather and are high season for tourism on Maui. During these months, as well as during the second-busiest season from June to August, the island is more crowded and prices are higher. Late-spring still offers relatively cooler temperatures, but far fewer crowds, which is especially important if you’re planning to visit the more popular destinations. It’s also worth keeping in mind that surfing conditions are best during the winter, but the waters are calmest and best for swimming, especially for children, in the summer.

8) What are the accommodation options on Maui?

Accommodations available on Maui truly run the gamut from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious resorts and from quirky guesthouses to corporate chains. The majority of hotels are located on the island’s more developed western side, and most are on or near one of the beaches.

9) How can I travel on a budget in Maui?

Traveling in Maui can get very expensive, but it doesn’t have to. Visiting in low or shoulder season will cut down substantially on both airfares and costs on the island. There are a number of budget-friendly hostels on Maui, as well as plenty of Airbnb rentals for less than $80 (although don’t expect these cheaper options to be located on the best beaches). You can also save money on food by forgoing the fine dining options and instead eating at local diners or just picking up some groceries at the store. While there are plenty of activities to spend money on in Maui, don’t forget that hanging out at the beach or pool is free.

10) What are the top things to do in Maui?

While the interior of Maui has lots to see and do (see #5), it’s no secret that most people plan their trips around the water. Like other parts of Hawaii, Maui is famous for its surfing. Head to Honolua Bay, Hookipa Beach, or Peahi to enjoy watching the pros catch a wave. If you want to try it yourself for the first time, choose a lessintimidating spot like Kaanapali, Lahaina, or Kihei for a lesson. Maui also offers plenty of options for scubadiving, paddleboarding, jet skiing, kayaking, and more.