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The Ultimate Hawaii Packing List: A Complete Packing Checklist

So, you’ve booked your dream vacation to Hawaii, but now it’s time to get your suitcase together. Knowing what to bring on your trip can be overwhelming—especially considering the number of activities available all around the Hawaiian Islands! 

Drawing from my own experiences in Hawaii, I’m here to offer insights to make your packing stress-free. With this in mind, I’ve crafted a comprehensive checklist of what to bring to Hawaii–everything from beach towels and sunscreen to tech gear and hiking supplies.

Together, we’ll start with the essentials for your trip and then delve into what to bring for the beach and the ideal wardrobe for your island getaway. Finally, I’ll unveil my tried-and-true pro packing tips—insider knowledge that’s invaluable for both first-timers and repeat visitors. 

So, get out your notepad–or even just print out our handy checklist at the end of this article! With this ultimate Hawaii packing list in hand, you can enjoy your trip knowing you brought along all that you need.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when you book an activity or reservation through these links at no extra cost to you.

Important things to bring to Hawaii 

View of Waikiki Beach from the Sheraton Waikiki

We’ll start this complete packing list off with some of the most important items to bring in your suitcase. 

Pro tip: if you do forget something at home–or maybe don’t have time to grab it before you leave–just head to the nearest ABC Store in Hawaii. These shops sell everything from reef safe sunscreen and snacks to souvenirs and apparel, so you’re sure to find what you need.

U.S. driver’s license

As a U.S. citizen visiting Hawaii, bring your driver’s license as a valid federal or state-issued photo ID for your domestic flight and rental car pickup. No passport is required for Americans.

Plug-in chargers

Don’t forget to bring chargers for your phone, camera, laptop, kindle, and whatever other electronics you pack. Lots of people forget their electric toothbrush charger!

Portable charger

The Anker PowerCore 10000, our recommended portable power bank for Hawaii

Avoid the frustration of a dead phone on vacation by packing a portable charger. Essential for outdoor activities, our top pick is the Anker PowerCore 10000, available on Amazon.

Reusable water bottle

Include a reusable water bottle on your Hawaii packing list, capitalizing on the quality of tap water and embracing sustainable travel.

Opt for an insulated option, such as Hydro Flask, known for its lifetime warranty on its double-wall vacuum-insulated stainless steel water bottles.

Packing cubes

Blue packing cubes

Maximize suitcase space for your Hawaii trip with packing cubes. Organize clothes by type, like daytime wear, pajamas, underwear, and swimwear, in separate cubes.

Remember to roll, not fold, your clothing when using packing cubes.

Camera and SD card

Wondering what to bring to Hawaii? Don’t forget a camera for capturing beautiful landscapes!

Although many people will opt to take pictures on their phones, we think nothing beats the quality of a DSLR photo. Remember to bring a 64 GB memory card to ensure ample storage for your trip.

Debit and/or credit cards

Pack your debit and credit cards—they’re essential for convenience in Hawaii, where cards are widely accepted.

Keep a small amount of emergency cash for things like parking, tips, and farmers’ markets.


Beige packable backpackGrab a backpack that accommodates your wallet, phone, sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottle, and camera.

Or, to save room, opt for a packable backpack to save suitcase space–just make sure it has comfortable straps for extended wear.

Cooling towel

Combat the heat with a cooling towel for various activities like hiking, beach time, or shopping.

Activate it by soaking, wringing, and wearing around your neck; it stays cool for 1-3 hours. Conveniently, these machine-washable towels can be reused.

Leave-in hair conditioner & detangler brush

Heading to Hawaii means water activities, which can leave your hair messy. Pack a leave-in conditioner and a detangler brush to manage knots after beach days.

Mosquito repellent bracelets and/or bug spray

Especially if you’re planning to spend time in Hawaii’s rainforest areas or visit a botanical garden, mosquito repellent is an absolute must.

Alternatively, choose waterproof repellent bands for a scent-free option. Note: if you pack spray, it goes in your checked luggage. 

Aloe vera

Pack aloe vera for Hawaii to soothe sunburn–although we hope you won’t need it. Buying on the islands can be expensive in tourist-heavy areas like Waikiki.


Apple AirTagEnsure a worry-free trip to Hawaii by using an Apple AirTag. Utilizing Bluetooth in the Apple Find My app, simply place the AirTag in your suitcase for easy tracking under “items.”

If your luggage is missing at baggage claim, you can locate it and inform the airline.

Prescription medications

Prescription medications are crucial on your Hawaiian packing list. Bring extra in your carry-on to avoid issues if your checked bag is lost.

Follow Hawaii Tourism Authority’s advice: carry copies of prescriptions, your PCP’s contact, and medical plan details.

What to pack for the beach in Hawaii

Woman walking down Waikiki Beach with hand making a peace sign

Coral reef-safe sunscreen

For a Hawaii vacation, prioritize sun protection with reef-safe sunscreen. Avoid oxybenzone or octinoxate; consider brands like Sun BumAveeno Positively MineralThinksport, or TropicSport.

Locally, Kokua Sun CareMama KULEANALittle Hands Hawaii, or Raw Love Mineral Sunscreen are excellent options.

Chapstick with SPF

Pack SPF 30+ reef-safe chapstick for lip protection in Hawaii’s sunny and windy conditions. It’s a crucial item to have in your beach bag or backpack!

Sand-free beach towel

Purple and white striped sand resistant beach towelWhile resorts typically offer regular beach and pool towels, consider adding a sand-resistant beach towel to your packing list. These towels make beach cleanup easy and prevent sand from spreading, keeping your rental car clean.

Waterproof phone case

For budget-friendly water photos, consider a waterproof phone case. These cases are IPX8 waterproof and are certified to keep your belongings safe for up to 100 feet/ 30 meters. Plus, they’ll also keep your phone free of sand!

Beach bag

Ensure everything reaches the beach by opting for a spacious beach bag with ample pockets, and consider features like detachable coolers or waterproof compartments.

In Hawaii, go for a larger beach tote, especially when traveling with kids, to accommodate snacks, toys, towels, water, and more.

Waterproof dry bag

Blue dry bagBring a waterproof dry bag for water activities like kayaking, boating, fishing, or hiking in wet areas in Hawaii. These lightweight bags range from 10L to 55L, ensuring your belongings stay dry and protected during your adventures.

Packable cooler

Save money on your trip with a collapsible cooler bag. Pack snacks, sandwiches, and drinks for the beach, and grab ice at your hotel or cold packs from a Hawaii grocery store.

Underwater camera

Capture your snorkeling and water sport adventures with an underwater camera–your iPhone camera just isn’t going to cut it! Consider the affordable AKASO EK7000, waterproof up to 98ft/30m, with excellent video stabilization. For a durable option, explore the GoPro Hero10 Black.


If you like to read on the beach, why not save room in your suitcase by bringing a Kindle? The Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof in up to two meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes and 0.25 meters for three minutes in seawater.

Plus, the built-in adjustable light is perfect for reading under bright sunlight!

Flotation strap

Green and blue flotation strapsAfter you’ve taken the time to secure your phone in a waterproof case, it would be awful to drop it and have it sink into the ocean! To avoid this scenario, pack a flotation strap.

These floats are essential for keeping valuables like your phone, underwater camera, or other gear secure, especially during snorkeling in Hawaii.

What to wear in Hawaii 

When packing clothes for Hawaii, keep in mind that the atmosphere on the islands is pretty casual. Unless you’re planning a fancy dinner or attending an event, you probably won’t need formalwear, heels, or loafers.

Instead, focus on activewear, beach clothing, and whatever feels comfortable to you! You may also want to pack clothes that are wrinkle-proof so you don’t have to worry about ironing.

Light, breathable clothing 

In Hawaii, comfort is key in the year-round warm weather. Pack linen clothing like tank tops, shorts, sundresses, and at least one maxi dress. Opt for versatile dresses that can double as cover-ups.

For men, go for aloha shirts (also called Hawaiian shirts), t-shirts, and chino shorts. Consider buying aloha attire locally in Hawaii, but choose patterns that are respectful! For example, avoid overly bright or loud designs.

For hiking, pack separate athletic clothes. Women should include a sports bra, workout top, athletic shorts, and possibly leggings for chilly mornings. Men need a quick-dry shirt, outdoor shorts, and athletic socks.

Pro tip: keep in mind that you’ll need a pair of pants if you’re going horseback riding or zip-lining during your trip.

Bathing suits

Pack at least three bathing suits to ensure you have one to wear while others dry. Women can mix one-piece suits and bikinis, while men can alternate between board shorts and swimming trunks.

Consider buying new swimsuits locally in Hawaii from brands like Issa De’ Mar, Sundaze Bikinis, and Honolua Surf Co.

UV rash guards

Blue Roxy brand women's rash guardConsider a rash guard for your Hawaii packing list, especially if you’re active. Rash guards protect against rashes, sunburn, and keep you warm in cooler water, making them ideal for surfing, snorkeling, and other water activities.


Opt for quick-drying cover-ups for beach or pool outings. Save suitcase space by packing dresses that can double as cover-ups, or consider a sarong or wrap/pashmina.


Don’t forget sunglasses for the bright Hawaiian sun. Invest in polarized and UV-protected frames for optimal eye protection!

Sun hat

Pink sunhat with ponytail holeYou’ll be spending a lot of time outside on your vacation to Hawaii. Therefore, you’ll need a sun hat that you can combine with your polarized sunglasses for ultimate protection.

Waist bag

A convertible fanny pack/cross-body bag is a super convenient item to bring to Hawaii. It’s compact yet spacious enough for essentials like money and phones, offering easy access without digging through your luggage. 

Person's legs sticking out with hiking boots on overlooking Lanikai Pillbox HikeHiking shoes

Invest in sturdy hiking boots with good traction for your Hawaii trip, like the KEEN Newport H2 or the Merrell Moab 2 Vent. Trails on the islands can often be muddy and slippery, so close-toed shoes are typically the best option.

Please keep in mind that if ziplining or horseback riding is on your itinerary, both close-toed shoes and a pair of pants are a must. Or, if you prefer open-toed hiking sandals, we suggest Chacos.

Flip flops 

Flip flops are the ideal shoes to have with you to slip on and wear to the beach or the pool. Plus, it’s easy to wash them off if they get sandy. However, remember to pack something sturdier if you plan to go hiking in Hawaii.

Mesh water shoes

Grey water shoesIf you’re not a serious hiker, one of my best travel tips is to skip hiking shoes and opt for water shoes instead. In fact, there are a few key scenarios where you’ll definitely need water shoes on a Hawaii vacation.

For example, if you’re going snorkeling, we highly suggest them since snorkelers often cut their feet on sharp rocks or coral! Especially if you’re planning to visit any of the black sand beaches–where the sand is particularly hot under your feet–water shoes can be a lifesaver.

Lightweight rain jacket

Bring a packable rain jacket for the windward side of Hawaiian islands, where it’s greener and tends to receive more rain. This light rain jacket can also serve as a layer for cool evenings.


Hawaii half-zip sweatshirtAlthough Hawaii is generally warm, you may want a sweatshirt to wear on the airplane or in your hotel room. Furthermore, a sweatshirt or jacket may be necessary based on the activities you plan to do on your trip. 

For example, if you’re visiting Haleakala National Park, you should include a heavier jacket on your Maui packing list. You’ll want to pack a jacket or sweater for Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island as well.

Toiletries and other items to bring to Hawaii

Woman packing toiletries bag, showing suitcase laid out on bed

  • Aleve, Tylenol, or other pain relief
  • Hand wipes or hand sanitizer
  • Deodorant
  • Band-aids and other first-aid supplies
  • Cortisone cream
  • Brush or comb 
  • Hair ties
  • Sleep mask
  • Underwear
  • Socks 
  • Pajamas
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
  • Travel-sized shampoo and conditioner
  • Moisturizer
  • Face wash
  • Make-up and remover
  • Razor

Other tips on packing for Hawaii 

Woman standing on rock next to water in front of green mountain in HawaiiLeave room for souvenirs.

If you plan to buy souvenirs, leave extra room in your suitcase or pack an additional bag. For example, if you stick a duffel bag in your suitcase on the way to Hawaii, you can then fill it up and carry it onto the airplane.

If you’re worried about dirty clothes, keep in mind tha the majority of resorts and hotels provide laundry services.

You don’t need much cash.

Don’t feel like you have to walk around with much cash! There are plenty of ATMs in the Hawaiian Islands, so you can always take out more money if needed. We suggest having about $50 in your wallet for possible small expenses like parking, food, or farmers’ markets.

Don’t forget your chargers.

Double-check that you have all the cords and plug-in chargers for your devices before you leave. This list includes a phone charger, camera charger (if you have one), laptop charger, Kindle charger, and maybe even an electric toothbrush charger!

The Hana Highway veers to pass over a single-lane bridge next to a waterfall on Maui's north coast.Review your trip itinerary when packing.

When making your ultimate packing list for Hawaii, choose items based on the activities you plan to do on your trip. For instance, you’ll need radically different things for visiting Haleakala National Park vs. driving the road to Hana.

If you’re going surfing, pack a rash guard. For those who want to go hiking, pack hiking shoes or at least water shoes with good traction. If you’ve booked a horse riding excursion, you’ll need to bring pants and a pair of closed-toe shoes.

Review Hawaii’s microclimates before packing.

The temperature variation between coastal areas and higher elevations on the Hawaiian islands can be significant–up to 15 degrees. Furthermore, the windward sides of the islands in general tend to be rainier and cooler, whereas the leeward side is drier and warmer.

You can rent beach supplies in Hawaii.

Regarding beach supplies and snorkeling gear, renting these items is much easier than trying to fit them into your suitcase. For example, you can rent boogie boards, beach chairs, snorkeling and scuba diving equipment for affordable prices in Hawaii.

Hanauma Bay on Oahu, a clear snorkeling area, on a sunny dayBring your Costco card.

If you’re a Costco member, don’t forget to pack your Costco card! Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island all have Costco locations, so shopping or filling up gas here is an easy way to save money.

Pack a reusable bag for the grocery store.

Hawaii was the first state in the U.S. to ban single-use plastic bags. Therefore, you may want to throw a packable grocery bag in your suitcase. Nonetheless, you can always buy grocery bags there if you don’t have room!

Crater of Haleakala Volcano in Haleakala National Park on Maui, HawaiiAre you going to Haleakala or Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park?

If you plan on visiting Haleakala National Park on Maui or Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, a heavier coat is essential to stay warm. Temperatures at both parks are often much cooler than along the coast due to the higher elevation.

For instance, the summit of Haleakala can reach temperatures around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to the typical 75-85 degree average near sea level. With this in mind, you may also want a hat and a pair of gloves.

In the case of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park,  temperatures at the Kīlauea summit are 12 to 15 degrees cooler than at sea level. Meanwhile Mauna Loa, with an even higher elevation, often experiences winter temperatures no matter the time of year. You may even see snow!

Hawaii packing checklist

Utilize our comprehensive checklist to ensure you don’t leave anything behind! You can access and download it in PDF format here.

Packing checklist for Hawaii, including items in the categories of clothes, basics, shoes, beach items, electronics, toiletries, and other important items

Looking for more Hawaii travel guides? Check these out!

The Ultimate Guide to the North Shore

The Best North Shore Beaches

The Best Quotes About Hawaii

Where to Watch the Sunset on Oahu

The Prettiest Places in Hawaii

Where to Eat on Oahu

Free Activities on Oahu

The Best Instagram Spots on Oahu

Things to Know Before Visiting Oahu

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Are you dreaming of tropical beaches, vibrant culture, and plenty of outdoor activities? If so, then planning a vacation to Hawaii should be top on your list! To ensure that your visit is as stress-free and enjoyable as possible, there are some essential items you'll need to bring Don't worry if this sounds daunting—we've crafted the perfect packing list for you so all those must-haves won’t get forgotten at home. Keep reading for our ultimate guide on what to pack for a Hawaiian vacation!

This article was first published in July 2021 and has since been updated.

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