WHAT TO PACK FOR HAWAII (FOR FEMALES)
Sunkissed skin and Aloha vibes await. But before you can bask in the beauty of the US’s tropical paradise, you need to get that suitcase packed!
Whether you plan to spend all of your time at the beach, wake up early for sunrise hikes, snorkel like crazy, dine at a few upscale restaurants, or all of the above, trying to figure out exactly what to pack for Hawaii can be challenging.
I’ve visited Hawaii five times now and done everything from swimming with sharks and surfing to lounging on the beach for hours on end and exploring Buddhist temples.
I designed this Hawaii packing list with all of my past Hawaii adventures in mind. I’m including everything I wish I brought on my first trip to Hawaii—and every trip afterward!
No matter which island you’re visiting or how long you’ll be there, this Hawaii packing list will help you make the most of your vacation.
In addition to all of my recommended Hawaii essentials, I include a full guide to what to wear in Hawaii (for females) and an overview of what travel documents you’ll need whether you’re a US citizen or international visitor.
Note: This article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases through these links, at no cost to you. But don’t worry, I only share products I’d truly recommend to a friend.
Packing List for Hawaii Vacation
I’m starting off my Hawaii packing list with the absolute essentials you can’t miss on any trip to Hawaii. Some of these are obvious (hello, sunscreen!), but I know how easy it can be to forget an essential item when you’re packing list minute!
A reusable water bottle is a must for any Hawaii trip. Any bottle will work, and if you’re in the market for a new one, check out this cute sunset water bottle!
If you plan to spend any time on the beach, you’ll definitely need a beach towel! I’m obsesses with this travel towel. It is sand resistant (gamechanger!), quick drying, and packs down nice and small.
There are so many incredible snorkel spots on every Hawaiian island. If you’re like me, you’ll want to snorkel every chance you get. Bring your own snorkel set so you never miss out!
I recommended packing two pairs of sunglasses for any tropical vacation. I love SOJOS sunglasses on Amazon, they have so many cute styles and are great quality for the price.
A practical and cute bag is a must on any Hawaii packing list! Honestly, I bought my current beach bag at a grocery store in Tulum, Mexico, but there are tons of great beach bags online.
A portable charger is something I bring on any trip. You never want to run out of power and miss the chance to take photos (or get lost without GPS). This affordable Anker portable charger is my favorite!
Maybe this isn’t an essential, but definitely deserves a spot on this Hawaii packing list! This collapsible cooler bag is perfect for families and groups that want to bring food and cold drinks to the beach! Best of all, it folds up to fit in your suitcase!
View of the turquoise blue ocean and green foliage on Kauai’s Nāpali Coast
Electronics to Pack for Hawaii
Phone and chargers
I know you won’t forget your phone at home, but you might forget a charger (we’ve all been there!) Bringing two charging cords can be helpful so you can store one in your rental car and one in your hotel.
Aux cord and car charger
GoPro or underwater phone housing
If you can afford it, I highly recommend buying the new GoPro Hero 12 (or 11) for your trip to Hawaii. Both take incredible photos and videos underwater so you can capture all those special memories of snorkeling with sea turtles and tropical fish.
For a few hundred dollars less, this underwater phone housing for iPhones is a great alternative. I was actually recommended it by my tour guide on my Oahu shark dive tour! They use it every single day and it works wonders!
Corded headphones for the flight
I’ll be honest, I almost ALWAYS forget these! I use AirPods, which are obviously not compatible with the screens on the back of most airplane seats. Some airlines offer headphones for free but in my experience, they are terribly uncomfortable and have horrid sound quality. To watch a movie or two (or three…) on that 6+ hour across the Pacific, make sure you have some old-school headphones!
Don’t forget your favorite electronics! If I’m traveling with friends or family, I sometimes bring a Nintendo Switch (with this travel case) to play games after the sun goes down. You might bring a smart watch, bluetooth headphones, Kindle, or even an Amazon Fire stick for easy streaming in your hotel room. Whatever you do, make sure you have all the chargers!
Oahu’s Byodo-In Temple
Toiletries to Pack for Hawaii
Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash
Unless you don’t mind using the free shampoo at your hotel, be sure to pack your favorite shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. I travel with a shampoo bar and conditioner bar because its easier and more sustainable!
In addition to reef safe sunscreen for your body, bring some face sunscreen that you can wear daily in Hawaii! This super light facial sunscreen from Supergoop! is my new favorite!
Sun bum leave-in conditioner
The sun and saltwater can be really tough on your hair (depending on your hair type). Sun Bum’s brilliant 3-in-1 leave in conditioner spray works wonders as it reduces frizz, detangles, moisturizes, and protects your hair from UV rays all at the same time.
Razor and shave cream
Pure aloe vera
Even if you don’t get burned, it can be nice to have aloe vera to moisturize your skin. Just be sure to get the pure stuff ahead of time! It can be difficult to find aloe without tons of additives and weird dyes.
Lip balm with SPF
Another Sun Bum recommendation… their SPF lip balm is a lifesaver (or lip saver). Be sure to add it to your Hawaii packing list!
What to Wear in Hawaii (for Females)
Trying to figure out what clothes to pack for Hawaii? If it feels difficult to narrow down your Hawaii wardrobe, you’re not alone! Given the diversity of climates on each island, figuring out what to pack for Hawaii can be challenging. With that in mind, let’s break down the clothes you’ll need by activity!
While there are plenty of other incredible things to do in Hawaii, your time at the beach will likely make up the most of your Hawaii vacation. With that in mind, let’s make sure that you have plenty of swim suits and other beachwear.
For a one week trip, I recommend bringing about three bathing suits, but you can certainly bring more. Bring as many fun, cute suits as you want, but be sure you have at least one sturdy one-piece and/or an athletic two-piece swimsuit. Why? Because the surf can be powerful and you’ll want a swimsuit you can trust will keep you covered if you’re swimming in rough waves or surfing.
Bathing suit cover ups
Your bathing suit cover up could be a cute mesh cover up, or it could be an oversized tee shirt and denim shorts. Either way, be sure to have something to throw on after a day at the beach.
Make sure to pack at least one pair of waterproof sandals (or flip flops) for your trip to Hawaii. I recently traded out my flip flops for these water-friendly Birkenstocks. They are comfortable and supportive enough for a full day of walking and exploring, and also the perfect beach shoes.
Snapping photos at sunrise on the Lanikai Pillbox Hike on Oahu
Clothing for Hiking in Hawaii
Some folks go on a hike everyday during their Hawaii vacation, while others don’t venture on a single hike for the whole trip. If you do plan to go on any hikes (or even long walks), you’ll want to pack accordingly!
Hiking shoes + socks
Most Hawaii hikes are more challenging than you’d expect. The terrain can be rough and extremely dangerous if you don’t have the right gear. On my recent Oahu trip, I did the Lanikai Pillbox hike with beat up old tennis shoes and I really wished I’d brought different shoes. Because I failed to bring the right shoes, I ended up opting out of doing some other more challenging hikes (specifically, the Olomana Ridge Hike) because I knew it wouldn’t be safe without better shoes.
With this in mind, I’ve added trail runners to my Hawaii packing list. They are typically more compact than hiking boots, but just as effective for gripping on loose and slippery terrain. In addition, you’ll want some quality hiking socks to pair with your shoes.
Sun protectant shirt
Many Hawaii hikes will have very little shade. For these types of hikes, I highly recommend wearing a shirt with UPF (sun protection). I have REI’s Sahara Shade Hoodie and I love it! Despite being long sleeves, it is very breathable and airy, so I an protect my skin without getting too hot. You can also find sun shirts on Amazon, though I haven’t tried any of them.
Sports bra and athletic shirts
A sports bra and athletic shirt are obviously essential for hiking in Hawaii! However, I tend to opt for a form-fitting crop top like this one (which has a UPF of 50!)
Sun hat or baseball cap
Mini first aid kit
Sometimes I feel like I take hiking less seriously when I’m on vacation. Am I the only one? Point being, it is important to have the ten essentials, and packing a small first aid kit is highly recommended. As I mentioned before, many hikes in Hawaii are more challenging than you’d expect, and some are very dangerous. Even if you don’t end up needing something from the first aid kit, you might run into someone who does!
Sweater/jacket (for certain hikes)
This only applies to a few high elevation hikes, such as hikes on the Haleakalā volcano in Maui. If you do plan on going on one of these hikes, or even just visiting the top of Haleakalā, be sure to bring something warm!
Resort Wear + Dressing Up in Hawaii
Whether you’re staying at a hotel, resort, Airbnb, or somewhere else in Hawaii, you’ll want some cute outfits to wear in the evenings after you wash all the saltwater off.
These can be outfits you wear around the hotel, at dinner, to a luau, or on a tour to somewhere like a rum distillery or temple. The number of nice outfits you bring is up to you, but I recommend 3+ dresses or other ‘dressier’ outfits.
A few Hawaii outfit ideas from ethical brands on Amazon:
Essential Shoes to Pack for Hawaii
I usually travel with only a carry-on and try to limit myself to three pairs of shoes: my waterproof Birkenstocks for the beach and exploring, my Glenda sandals for whenever I want to dress up a little bit, and some trail runners for hiking.
Travel Documents for Hawaii
If you’ve found yourself wondering what travel documents are required for Hawaii, you’re not alone. While visiting Hawaii is no different than visiting any other state, there are a few legal documents you will need to bring whether you’re a US citizen or international visitor.
Nope, you don’t need a passport to visit Hawaii! However, you will need an ID to board your flight to Hawaii, which could be a driver’s license, state ID, or passport. Here is a quick summary of what legal documents US citizens should pack for Hawaii:
★ Government issued ID: Passport, driver’s license, state ID, etc
★ Student ID (if applicable) for discounts
★ Proof of car insurance, if you’re renting a car in Hawaii
★ Travel insurance
Non-US Citizens do need a passport to travel to Hawaii. Here is a summary of all the documents that international visitors should pack:
★ Valid Passport
★ Valid US visa or ESTA
★ Proof of car insurance, if you’re renting a car in Hawaii
★ Travel insurance (buy yours here)
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Oahu
Hawaii Packing List FAQs
Is this packing list for Oahu, Maui, or other islands?
If you’re looking for an Oahu packing list, Maui packing list, Big Island packing list, Kauai packing list, or a packing list of any other Hawaiian island, you’ve come to the right place.
While your experience on each island may be a little different, this packing list is for any and all Hawaiian islands. There may be a few items that are only relevant for certain islands or acititvies. For instance, you will want to bring something warm if you plan to hike at the top of Haleakalā volcano in Maui (it’s so cold up there!) but you won’t ever get cold in most other parts of Hawaii.
Can you travel to Hawaii with just a carry-on?
Absolutely! I’ve traveled with just a carry-on on all my Hawaii trips and I’ve always been able to bring plenty of outfits and a small selection of shoes. If you’re having trouble fitting all of your stuff into a carry-on suitecase, try using packing cubes.
What do people wear in Hawaii?
Fashion is Hawaii is quite casual. Flip flops and sandals are the norm, along with shorts and casual shirts. While locals rarely dress up, it is common for tourists to be seen in resort wear, including dresses for women and button-up shirts and pants for men.
What is the typical dress code for upscale restaurants in Hawaii?
It is appropriate to wear cocktail attire at upscale restaurants in Hawaii. Women can wear long dresses, and men can wear button-down shirts and nice jeans.
What should you wear in Waikiki, Honolulu?
You can get by wearing almost anything in Waikiki. Half of the people on the streets in Waikiki are heading back to their hotel from the beach with shorts and tee shirts, bathing suits, and other casual outfits. The other half are dressed up in resort wear as they explore Waikiki’s shops and restaurants. Whether you want to wear denim shorts and an oversized shirt or a floor-length dress, you’ll feel comfortable in Waikiki.
Do you need any special clothing for visiting temples in Hawaii?
Not necessarily. But you want to visit one of Hawaii’s temples, such as Byodo In Temple on Oahu, be sure to dress respectfully and modestly. Read more about Byodo In Temple and what to wear there on my full guide to Byodo In.
Should I pack a rain jacket for Hawaii?
It depends. Check the weather forecast for the island you’re visiting right before you leave. If rain is expected on several days, it might be worth bringing a rain jacket. However, even after visiting Hawaii in every single season, I’ve never ended up needing to wear a rain jacket.
Should I pack a beach towel for Hawaii?
Many hotels provide beach towels free of charge, but be sure to check with your hotel ahead of time. I personally prefer bringing my own travel beach towel (I have this one) because mine is anti-sand resistant and way more compact than a typical beach towel, which makes it easier to transport.
What should you wear to a luau in Hawaii?
If you are going to a luau hosted by a tourism company, the company should give you a dress code. Most of the time, you’ll want to dress in colorful clothing, such as a Hawaiian shirt or dress. Hawaiian attire is casual but bright and colorful, so you may want to replicate this in what you wear.
After swimming beneath a waterfall on Kauai
Final Thoughts: What to Pack for Hawaii
Every Hawaiian island is different, and every Hawaii vacation is different. I feel so privileged to have visited O’ahu, Kauai, and Maui on several occasions, and I hope to see the Big Island, Lana’i, and even Moloka‘i soon too.
No matter where you go in Hawaii, you will undoubtedly have an incredible time. Enjoy the United State’s most treasured state and travel with aloha!
Essential Hawaii Resources
Traveleing to Hawaii soon? There are a lot of travel companies out there, but some are better than others. After five unforgettable trips to Hawaii, here are some of my favorite websites and resources for planning once-in-a-lifetime vacations.
🛬 Airport Lounge Pass: One membership with Priority Pass grants you access to over 1300 lounges in nearly every country (trust me, it’s a game changer!) And the lounges in Hawaii airports are pretty sweet!
📱 Easy phone plans abroad: If you’re not American, you’ll want to get phone coverage in Hawaii. I use this company to get an eSIM for phone coverage while traveling—without getting a SIM card or canceling your existing plan (unless you want to!)