Just thinking about the Hawaiian islands makes me want to grab my suitcase and dash to the airport. But before any trip to Hawaii (whether spontaneous or planned), knowing what to pack is of the utmost importance. With that in mind, use this Hawaii packing list to get started!
What to Bring to Hawaii
When traveling to Hawaii, fight the urge to fit everything possible into one suitcase. You don’t need to bring your entire closet on vacation. In fact, I recommend packing light for your Hawaiian adventure. Let’s break down what you absolutely need to bring to Hawaii.
The type of clothing you pack can make or break your vacation. In Hawaii, it’s all about being comfortable and having fun. When I visit the islands, I pack plenty of active wear including shorts, tank tops, and T-shirts. No matter if you’re planning on hiking, lounging by the beach, or taking a tour, make sure these clothing items are packed in your suitcase:
- T-Shirts/Tank Tops
- Tennis Shoes
- Hiking Shoes/Boots, if desired for extreme hikes
- A light jacket
- A hat
Do note that at night and by the shore, it can be a bit chilly. I’d recommend packing a single pair of jeans and a light jacket/sweatshirt for those moments. Also, remember to check the weather before you visit. You may be able to skip packing a sweatshirt or two.
When you arrive in Hawaii, you’ll instantly notice the relaxed nature of the island. There’s no need to pack over-the-top clothing when you’ll spend the majority of your vacation exploring the beaches, outdoors, and more!
Before jetting off to Hawaii, make sure you have these toiletries packed:
- Personal Medicines
- Hand Sanitizer
- Hair Products
If by chance you do forget something on our Hawaii packing list, don’t worry! You can purchase toiletries on the island. For instance, if you’re staying in Waikiki there’s an ABC Store on just about every corner. They have a bevy of souvenirs, food items, and, yes, deodorant, toothpaste, soap, and more.
Likewise, you can always ask the helpful front desk agent at your Hawaiian resort for the nearest store.
Unless you’re planning on camping in Hawaii, you won’t need a whole lot of outdoor gear. However, I highly suggest you bring the following:
- Reef Safe Sunscreen
- UV-Protective Sunglasses
- A Small Towel
- Comfortable, Supportive Backpack
If you remember to bring one thing from our Hawaii packing list, it should be a supportive backpack. From tours to hiking, my backpack carried everything I needed for the day without straining my back or neck.
In addition to your clothing and outdoor gear, be sure to pack these miscellaneous, yet necessary, items as well:
- An Extra Bag for Souvenirs
- Emergency Cash
- A Refillable Water Bottle
Bringing an extra bag for souvenirs helps dictate how much you can bring back to the mainland. If you bring an entire suitcase to be checked, shop away. If you bring a small duffel bag as an additional carry-on, you can stay within your shopping budget.
Also, a refillable water bottle comes in handy when trying to stick to a budget while visiting Hawaii. You can skip buying bottled water and refill your water bottle when needed.
What Not to Bring to Hawaii
Just like you wouldn’t bring shorts to a vacation in the North Pole, there are several items you should leave at home when traveling to Hawaii. Let’s review:
I recommend leaving the following clothing items off your Hawaii packing list.
- Expensive Dresses/Clothing
- High Heels
- Winter Jackets
- Bulky Sweaters/Sweatshirts
- Knit Hats
Unless you are visiting Hawaii for a wedding or an upscale event, you can leave the ball gowns and tuxedos at home. Even if you have a dinner cruise planned, a nice sundress and shirt with a tie will suffice.
Yes, there are toiletries you can leave at home! Don’t bring these items to Hawaii:
- A Hair Dryer
You might think I’m crazy for telling you to skip bringing bath products, but hear me out! If you’re staying at a resort or hotel, your guestroom and/or suite already contains soap, shampoo, conditioner, a hair dryer, and more. Why pack these items when they’re waiting for you in Hawaii? You can skip dealing with liquids in the airport security line, too!
Although it may be tempting given Hawaii’s diverse landscapes, it’s best if you leave these outdoor items at home:
- Snorkeling and Scuba Diving Equipment
- Beach Toys and Chairs
- Boogie Boards, Surf Boards, etc.
Unless you’re a professional surfer traveling to Hawaii for a competition, there is no need to pack beach gear. Whether you want to go snorkeling or lounge on the beach in a chair, everything you need is available to rent. On my last Hawaii excursion, I found an inexpensive rental place on Oahu’s North Shore and got snorkeling equipment for under $10!
While you may want to bring beach toys for your children, think about how much of a hassle this will be to pack. Not to mention getting through security at the airport! I guarantee you can find inexpensive beach toys for sale on whichever island you visit.
No matter if you visit Hawaii for leisure or adventure, you should eliminate these items from your Hawaii packing list:
- Items in Violation of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture Restrictions
- Expensive Technology
While on the flight from the mainland to Hawaii, you will be asked to fill out a survey. On this survey, you are required to declare if you are bringing any plants and/or animals to the islands. If you’re visiting for vacation, you shouldn’t have to worry about this. But just in case, do not pack or plan to bring anything on this official list.
As for expensive gadgets, think about if you really need to bring these on your vacation. During a recent Hawaii vacation, I decided to forgo bringing a laptop. Throughout the entire trip, I didn’t have to worry about it being stolen, forgotten, or taking my attention away from the island. I’d suggest skipping the technology other than your phone, camera, and respective charging cables, unless you’re traveling for work.
Follow Our Hawaii Packing List for the Best Vacation Ever
Now that you know what to bring to Hawaii, it’s time to start planning your itinerary. Head over to Reserve Hawaii and take note of the activities, package deals, and more waiting for you.