What to pack for a Hawaii vacation – 15 items you NEED

After booking a trip to Hawaii, it’s time to get organized on what to pack for Hawaii. When I first visited, I figured it’d be pretty simple, and all I needed was beachwear. But then I remembered all the fantastic things you can do outside of the beach, and it made it a bit harder.

When you add in hiking on a volcano, going to a black sand beach, or snorkeling, it is not as easy as it sounded before. But don’t worry about what to pack for a Hawaii vacation.

Below we’ll dive into what to pack for Hawaii, so you are covered for every adventure, activity, and relaxing moment!

Related: Plan your trip to Maui

A Guide For What to Pack for Hawaii

black sand beach hawaii top state parks

Clothes to Pack for Hawaii Vacation

What to bring or wear in Hawaii for the beach

There’s no need to invent the wheel here. You’re going to a tropical destination for some good ol’ fun in the sun. Keep it light with what you pack for Hawaii.

what to bring to hawaii maui haleakala
what to pack for hawaii vacation

What to wear in Hawaii for Adventuring

  • Hiking shoes or trail runners and wool socks
  • Moisture-wicking shirts, though your beach sun shirt could also work
  • If you plan to go to the summit of Haleakala, plan to bring warm clothes (long-sleeved shirt, fleece, and pants) if staying for sunset. It’s about 30-40 degrees cooler on the top than on the beach.
  • Hiking day pack with plenty of water
  • Rain jacket if the forecast says there could be rain

What you don’t need to bring to Hawaii

  • Clothes you think you might wear. If you’re not 100% certain, leave it.
  • Closed-toe sandals for hiking. You’re either going to be on the nice soft sand of the beaches or wearing hiking shoes. No need to bring extra weight.
  • A towel. If your hotel doesn’t have one, there’s an issue. No need to have this take up a spot in your luggage.

Find incredible activities in Hawaii

Technology to Pack for Hawaii

Extra accessories to have on your trip

  • GoPro 10 for underwater photos
  • Reef-safe sunblock (but buy this once you land. No point in adding extra weight to your bag)
  • Camera Gear – I have professional recommendations and beginner setups.
  • Drone (though always remember to follow local and federal guidelines)
  • Don’t forget passports, IDs, and credit cards. I also recommend carrying some cash
maiu what to pack in hawaii
what to pack for hawaii

FAQs about what to pack for Hawaii and first-time visits to Hawaii

How to pack for Hawaii in a carry-on?

You’re going to want to pack light and be okay reusing clothes. If you plan to spend the time on the beach, this is super easy for Hawaii packing standards. Bring a couple of shirts, one pair of pants, your bathing suit, sandals, a hat, and a light jacket for evenings/if it is windy.

What are the flight times from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Seattle?

As you can see below, the flights to Hawaii from the west coast are not bad at all. Its hardly worse than flying to the East Coast, and it’s a lot prettier!

  • From LA: 5.5 hours
  • From SF: 5.5 hours
  • From PHX: 6 hours
  • From Seattle: 6 hours

What is it like to drive on the islands?

Speaking solely about my time in Maui, I anticipate things taking longer than on the mainland. Roads are usually one lane each way which slows down traffic. Also, remember that people there do work and rush hour exists.

Anxious about what to pack for a Hawaii vacation?

Don’t be. If you forget anything, you can buy it there. And most likely, it’s a small item that maybe you can do without. I promise it’ll be okay!

Anything else I need to know about my visit to Hawaii?

Offline your maps on the island, as some parts may not have great cell service. Additionally, some restaurants close early, and you won’t be back from Hana or Haleakala until late. Have a backup plan.

maui westin resort and spa
what to pack for hawaii

Looking for other vacation inspirations?

Five things to know about traveling to Hawaii

Weather and climate:

Hawaii has a tropical climate, with warm temperatures and high humidity year-round. The average temperature in Hawaii ranges from the low 80s to the mid-90s Fahrenheit.

The summer months (April to October) are the hottest and most humid, while the winter months (November to March) tend to be milder. When it comes time for ‘what to pack for Hawaii,’ bring lightweight, breathable clothing and plenty of sunscreens.


The primary airports in Hawaii are Honolulu International Airport on Oahu and Kahului Airport on Maui. Inter-island travel is available via Hawaiian Airlines, Island Air, and Mokulele Airlines.

Visitors can also rent cars to explore the islands, but keep in mind that traffic can be heavy in some areas, especially during rush hour. Public transportation is also available in the form of buses on Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii island and the Hele-On bus on Hawaii island.


Hawaii offers a wide variety of accommodations, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels and vacation rentals. Vacation rental options such as Airbnb and VRBO are also popular in Hawaii.

Visitors can also choose to stay in traditional Hawaiian-style accommodations, such as a hale (a Hawaiian-style cottage) or a bed and breakfast.

Activities and attractions:

Hawaii offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors, including hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, and swimming. Visitors can also experience Hawaiian culture by attending a luau, visiting a traditional Hawaiian village, or taking a hula or ukulele lesson.

Popular attractions in Hawaii include the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu, and the Road to Hana on Maui.

Food and drink:

Hawaiian cuisine blends traditional Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Portuguese influences. Popular Hawaiian dishes include poke (raw fish salad), kalua pig (roasted pig cooked in an underground oven), and poi (a starchy, mashed taro root).

Visitors can also try traditional Hawaiian drinks such as Kona coffee and Mai Tais. Many restaurants offer local and organic options, and seafood is also widely available.

Wrapping Up – What to pack for Hawaii

In the end, what to pack for Hawaii comes down to bringing what you need but not going overboard. You’re here to enjoy the beaches, vistas, and cultures that Hawaii offers. If it’s not something you feel strongly about, leave it. You can either buy it on the island or go without it.

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside