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Essential Hawaii Packing List

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

This packing list is a one fits all! No matter what Island you are visiting in Hawaii you won’t go unprepared if you have these items.

Scroll to the bottom for Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Hawaii

@ Hanalei Bay

Water Shoe:

Hiking in Hawaii is always muddy and wet. Don’t bother bringing a hiking boot. Keens are the way to go! They’re a hiking sandal that are meant to get wet. Giving you the traction you’ll need to navigate stream crossings and slippery terrain.

Mask and Snorkel: If you plan on snorkeling or diving in Hawaii I suggest investing in your own mask and snorkel. As an avid diver I prefer to bring my own because it’s comfortable and fits my face properly so no water will leak inside. Also because it’s the most hygienic option. Being in the era of Covid I feel safest using a snorkel and mask that has not been used by anyone else beforehand.

Active Bathing Suit:

Hawaii is the ultimate adventure so being prepared with a more active bikini or cute one piece that won’t cause you to have wardrobe malfunction is key! No one wants to continually fix a falling bathing suit top while snorkeling with turtles.

Reef Safe Sun Screen:

Sun protection is a given when going anywhere tropical, but buying reef safe sunscreen can sometimes be overlooked. Hawaii is the first place in the world to ban the sale of sunscreen containing chemicals that are harmful to ocean life. The State is known to be very environmentally conscience. Respect the reef by wearing only reef safe sunscreens.


I love hats for two reasons. The first being sun protection and secondly, a cute hat covers up a bad hair day and messy ocean hair.

Travel size leave in conditioner:

You’ll never see me without a wet brush and a bottle of leave in conditioner while on the beach. For someone who has really long or unruly hair that tangles easily in the ocean water, having a bottle of detangle and a hair brush is nothing short of luxury.

Bug Spray:

If you plan on being in Hawaii’s jungle you are definitely going to need bug spray. Mosquitos love wet climates and breed in pools of water.

A Good Day Pack:

Bring a back pack that is big enough for a days needs. In Hawaii the majority of your days will be spent outdoors, sometimes in more remote areas where there won’t be anywhere to buy basic necessities. Fill your back pack with snacks, a towel, sun screen, bug spray, a reusable water bottle, and a change of clothes if you need.

Underwater Camera:

Hawaii has gorgeous reefs and ocean life waiting to be explored! Having an underwater camera to capture memories to look back on is so fun. I personally use a Gopro (Hero 7). It’s lasted years and has been with me on many adventures but, they are on the more expensive side. If you're not feeling the price tag, take a disposable underwater camera! Developing film and going through physical pictures is fun in itself.

Sun Glasses:

Make sure its a cheap pair you don’t care about if you loose or break them.

Dress Code in Hawaii

Hawaii is generally very casual! But it really depends on what kind of vacationer you are. Whether you like dressing up and going to fancier places or if you’re more casual. Personally, for Hawaii I packed 2 fancier going out outfits with 1 pair of heels that would go with either outfit, just to be safe. For more helpful packing items check out Keep Things Organized: The Best Packing Products List.

Oahu is definitely the Island with the most nightlife. If you’re going there bring more going out outfits. Here are some of the Best Things to Do on Oahu to help you plan.

Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Hawaii

If you plan to go to any National or State Parks look into their website well before you plan to visit. I learned the hard way that some parks require reservations for entry.

Plan and book your tours you know you want to do way in advance. There will be few and far between availability for the spontaneous tour.

A rental car is critical when visiting Maui, Big Island, and Kauai. A 4-wheel drive car is not necessary but keep in mind some attractions require a 4-wheel drive vehicle to visit such as Muana Kea Volcano on Big Island. Book well in advance! Here is a list of 9 Essential Websites I personally use for booking travel that offer the best deals on hotels, cheap flights, and rental cars!

On Oahu a rental car is not necessary but I do recommend renting a car for at least one day to explore the North Shore. Uber on Oahu is reliable on your way to a destination. You might have trouble getting one back if you were dropped off at a remote location, so keep that in mind.

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