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My Ultimate Hawaii Packing List

Need a little Aloha in your life? I feel you! Hawaii is one of my favorite go-to’s for more reasons that I can count and as soon as we can be travelling again, I’ll be booking a flight.

This ultimate Hawaiian packing list will make sure you leave nothing behind – as well as help you find where to pick up the things you don’t have.

I love the Hawaiian Islands, and especially Oahu with its famous Waikiki Beach. It really has something for everyone from swimming, snorkelling and outrigger canoe riding to museums, gardens, shopping and so much more! You might like to read my 20 brilliant things to do in Waikiki post next!

Cocktail on the beach
Pick a flower for your hair!

In the mean time we can dream of planing our trip to Hawaii to swim in gin clear water and picture-perfect beaches. But I’m also in love with the culture – the Hawaiian people take great pride in their state and are the embodiment of what true hospitality should look and function like. 

So whether you’re craving luaus or waterfalls, shopping in Waikiki, heading out to Hawaii’s Big Island or visiting the best beaches on Oahu, this packing list for Hawaii will prep you for your much needed vacation!

Download my FREE Hawaii Packing List which is filled with check boxes for all you day clothes, beach clothes, evening wear, essentials and more, which you can cross out or check off as you add them.

*Note, this post contains affiliate links to products and places I like and think you might like too. If you make a purchase I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Let’s start with luggage!

I prefer hard-shell rolling luggage when I travel. I’m not a backpacker, so these suitcases need to be able to easily roll through airport terminals and be light-weight so as not to encroach on my packing!

While they’re harder to find, I like the top opening styles. I’m a bit over the butterfly style where the whole suitcase opens fully into two wings and if there’s two of you in a hotel room you can barely move – not to mention they don’t fit on the suitcase rack.

It’s much easier to find this style in soft-shell luggage, which is also fine and you can tend to cram more shopping into the soft luggage, but I’ve sourced two hard-shell top opening suitcases here, plus a soft-shell carry-on size – which would be perfect for Hawaii!

LEGEND WALKER Front Open Ma...Shop on AmazonHanke 24 Inch Checked Lugga...Shop on AmazonTravelpro Maxlite 5 Softsid...Shop on Amazon

1. Light, comfortable clothing

You don’t need your entire closet for an adventure in Hawaii. Let’s face it: you’ll be spending most of your time in the water or on the beach, so think resort wear. Pack a couple of nice dresses for dinner, but for the most part, you’ll be wearing tops, shorts, skirts, and swimsuits.

My personal easy-to-pack beachy look is 3/4 leggings/pants and a breezy top (that hides a multitude of sins!) with a sunhat that I can easily fold into my luggage.

Pro tip: if your sunhat doesn’t fold up, pack it in your suitcase first and fill it with clothes taking care to retain its shape.

I also love a wrap/pashmina or poncho. They’re great to wear on the plane and easy to throw on of an evening.

I’m pretty ruthless when it comes to taking shoes on vacation and Hawaii is even easier. Take no more than three pairs of shoes. I usually only take two pairs on a beach vacation. Truly, you won’t need more than that! I take a pair of sandals/flip flops for the beach and mine are so cute I can also wear them to the mall. And a pair of shoes to wear to dinner. Done. Unless you plan on outdoor activities like a hike, then pack hiking boots.

A light rain jacket is always a good idea. Hawaii is tropical, so rain is fairly common.

2. Waterproof phone case

If you’re like me, most of your Hawaii memories will be photos on your phone. A waterproof phone case is a must, especially if you want to capture those epic shots while kayaking, paddle boarding or jet skiing. Add a flotation strap to your case, just in case your phone ends up in the water. This prevents it from sinking and makes it easier to grab.

ProCase Waterproof Phone Po...Shop on AmazonYMCCOOL Galaxy S8 Waterproo...Shop on AmazonCambond Waterproof Phone Po...Shop on Amazon

3. Daytime essentials

No one goes to Hawaii to sit indoors! Whether you stay in the water, on the golf course, or do extreme adventures, you’ll need the following outdoor gear:

Ray-Ban RB2186 State Street...Shop on AmazonSun Bum Original SPF 50 Sun...Shop on AmazonLanzom Womens Wide Brim Str...Shop on AmazonBlunt Metro Travel Umbrella...Shop on Amazon

4. Mesh water shoes

If you know you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the water, I highly recommend mesh water shoes. These shoes are made for getting wet. They offer more grip than sandals and are more breathable than sneakers. 

I have a pair of Tropicfeel shoes and they are quick drying and look good to wearing on land and sea. You can read my review of them here.

ALEADER Women's Lightweight...Shop on AmazonBody Glove Men's 3T Barefoo...Shop on AmazonPAGE ONE Water Shoes Unisex...Shop on Amazon

5. Dry bag

If you’re planning on any water sports, a dry bag can protect your belongings from waves or accidental drops in the water as well as being super handy for a day at the beach as a general hold all for all the essentials above.

OMGear Waterproof Dry Bag B...Shop on AmazonEarth Pak Waterproof Dry Ba...Shop on Amazon

6. Sand-resistant beach towel

The magic is real, there really are sand-resistant beach towels. The fibers are woven in a way that doesn’t trap sand. Just shake it out and fold it up. PS these make great gift ideas too!

SummerSand Microfiber Beach...Shop on AmazonECCOSOPHY Microfiber Beach ...Shop on Amazon

7. Underwater camera

If you have some extra money to put toward your trip, I highly recommend an underwater camera or Go Pro that you can take snorkelling or diving. Hawaii is just as beautiful below the water as it is above, and the entire island chain is brimming with unique sea life.

Best of all, you don’t have to dive deep to get great shots. I’ve also added a kids underwater camera to this list of Amazon links, so they can have fun splashing around too and taking photos.

DEKER Waterproof Camera for...Shop on AmazonGoPro HERO7 Black + Extra B...Shop on AmazonAKASO EK7000 Pro 4K Action ...Shop on AmazonAgoigo Kids Waterproof Came...Shop on Amazon

8. Rash shirt

Long-sleeve rash guards can be lifesavers under the brutal Hawaii sun, especially for the kids, and even in the winter. These are ideal for anyone with fair skin and it reduces your chance of sunburn and doesn’t require you to lather up with sunscreen every 30 minutes. Wear it as a swimsuit top or over your swimsuit.

O'Neill UV Sun Protection W...Shop on AmazonWomens UPF 50+ Long Sleeve ...Shop on AmazonCharmLeaks Rash Guard Women...Shop on AmazonAXESEA Women Long Sleeve Ra...Shop on Amazon

9. Wrist/Waist wallet

If you’re like me and spend most of your day outside, the last thing you want to do is carry a heavy purse or bag on your sun kissed shoulders. Wear a wrist wallet or a waist belt if you only need your phone, key card and some cash. 

3 Pieces Wrist Wallet Wrist...Shop on AmazonFitletic Active Lifestyle F...Shop on Amazon
Swimming in Waikiki
Waikiki is all sun, sand and sea!

10. Beach bag

Stash your book, suntan lotion, sunglasses, towel, water bottle, snacks and any other little necessities into a stylish beach bag. It makes time at the pool or beach a breeze.

SHYLERO Beach Bag and Pool ...Shop on AmazonHibala Canvas Beach bag Tra...Shop on AmazonCIEOVO Large Beach Bag For ...Shop on AmazonESVAN Original Water Resist...Shop on Amazon

11. Packing Cubes

Packing cubes have been game changers for my travels around the world. They’ve not only freed up space in my suitcase, but also make me more mindful (or should I say picky?) about what I pack. I assign a cube to each “category” of items (e.g. one for daytime clothes, one for bathroom stuff, etc.). If it doesn’t fit in the cube, it doesn’t go. It also keeps my suitcase super organized. When I need something, I just grab that cube and crack it open. Easy peasy.

Shacke 5 Set Packing Cubes ...Shop on AmazonBAGAIL 6 Set Packing Cubes,...Shop on Amazon

Keep track with an Air Tag

Apple’s AirTag is a great idea to hide in your luggage, especially if you’re transitting through airports which runs the risk of bags being left behind. You can track your items through the Find My app on your phone.

Get one to try, or buy a set of four and tuck them into all your bags when you travel – and watch them travel with you!

Apple AirTag 4 packShop on Amazon

Inflatable boogie board!

These inflatable boogie boards are perfect for traveling as they fold into your luggage so you can just inflate and go!

Inflatable Boards for Beach...Shop on Amazon

Grab a guide book!

I’ve selected these guide books if you want to have a book in your hands, not just to help you make your vacation plans, but also as a great memento of your trip.

Oahu Revealed: The Ultimate...Shop on AmazonHawaii the Big Island Revea...Shop on AmazonMaui Revealed: The Ultimate...Shop on AmazonAloha Kitchen: Recipes from...Shop on Amazon

12. Empty Space

This one is so easy to overlook, but leave room in your suitcase! Hawaii is a bevy of souvenirs, and I’m not talking about your typical little trinkets and magnets. Not to mention the fabulous Ala Moana shopping centre which is worth a visit (or two). You will thank yourself for leaving enough to bring home a few “show and tells”.

Other Essentials

There are some things you’ll need to put on your Hawaii packing list that are so obvious you might forget them. Consider this your Public Service Announcement to include basic yet super important things in your suitcase:

  • Toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, toothbrush, makeup, and soap. 
  • Travel documents, including travel insurance papers (if applicable), passport, ID, emergency contact information, itineraries, flight information, and hotel booking confirmation.
  • Electronics chargers for cell phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices. 
  • Emergency cash.
  • Prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter medications for allergies, motion sickness, or headaches.
  • Something to read while you relax and unwind

I hope this packing list for Hawaii is helpful. What have I missed?

Read more like this one! 18 fabulous things to do in Honolulu

You might also like my post of Clever Travel Hacks which covers all aspects of travel from saving money to just helpful tips to know for a stress-free holiday!

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!