Hawaii is often referred to as the Paradise of the Pacific. With 750 miles of dramatic coastline to explore, mountains to hike, waves to surf, and luxurious hotels in which to stay, our 50th state has something to please every type of traveler.
Whether visiting for relaxation, high-adrenaline activities, or a little of each, a packing list for Hawaii should be based on your travel goals and style. Read on to discover our Hawaii travel essentials. These comprehensive lists and helpful tips will ensure you’re well-prepared for any Hawaiian adventure. They will also allow you to focus instead on other important lists; the best beaches, the best restaurants, and the best snorkeling sites, for example.
Hawaii has something for everyone
Hawaii is known for its picture postcard beauty. It’s home to beaches with sand that might be pink, red, green, or even black. It’s home to volcanos, waterfalls, lava deserts, ocean cliffs, and bamboo forests. Beyond this stunning archipelago’s natural attributes, it’s also the most isolated island chain on the planet—over 2,000 miles from mainland USA.
Hawaii’s Polynesian culture attracts artists and art lovers. Hawaii hiking, surfing, and sailing attract the adventure-minded. Being the first US state to ban single-use plastic along with other initiatives, Hawaii appeals to eco-conscious travelers, as well. Drawing almost 10 million visitors each year, it’s easy to see why Hawaii is so popular. It has something for everyone.
When is the best time to go to Hawaii?
Hawaii lies just below the Tropic of Cancer. Its mild and tropical year-round climate is often considered the world’s most ideal. Temperature and humidity levels in Hawaii tend to be less extreme due to ever-flowing trade winds. March through September offer tourists the warmest temperatures and the least amount of rain and are therefore considered the best months to go.
However, an alternate option is to visit Hawaii during the shoulder season. Not only will you avoid crowds, but the hotel and food costs will be more reasonable. As for the surfing conditions, ask any pro—they’ll tell you that Hawaii surfing is at its best between January and March. Who knows, maybe you’ll catch Kelly Slater popping out of a barrel.
What do I pack for a week in Hawaii?
Your Hawaii packing list is personal. But some items are indispensable no matter what you plan to do in the Aloha state. Every packing list for Hawaii should include:
- Sunscreen for Hawaii is a no-brainer (be sure it complies with Hawaii’s sunscreen law)
- Bathing suits
- Lip protection
- First Aid Kit (bringing one is the surest way not to need it)
- Camera (whether an SLR or smartphone) and all chargers
- Flip-flops or sandals
- Reusable water bottle
- Waterproof phone carrier
- Hat (preferably wide-brimmed)
It’s important to note Hawaii’s sunscreen law. Hawaii banned sunscreens that contain chemicals with harmful impacts on the marine environment. Kudos to Hawaii for taking the necessary measures to save coral reefs and protect ecosystems. Mahalo, Hawaii!
Hawaii packing checklists—check
Naturally, how you pack is as important as what you pack. The Eagle Creek Pack-It System takes packing organization to levels far above 30,000 feet. One cube for bathing suits. Another for cover-ups. A third for dress shirts or sundresses. The Pack-It System offers endless ways to organize your Hawaii packing list. Nestle them inside Eagle Creek’s latest carry-on, the refreshed Gear Warrior XE, and take on the Paradise of the Pacific stress-free.
Other must-have items to pack for Hawaii are determined by your vacation goals. Since Hawaii has adventures for every type of traveler, it’s important to plan accordingly. No doubt, most family members will span a range of vacation activities in Hawaii—a daughter who surfs, a son who’s an avid birder, a mom who wants a massage. These Hawaii packing lists and travel essentials will help ensure nothing is left behind.
Hawaii packing list for sun lovers:
Whether heading to Maui or Martinique, island sun is inevitably strong. Always having a complete beach packing list on hand (or on your phone) is crucial.
- Sunscreen (including ones designed for children and babies, if needed)
- Swim diapers (for babies and toddlers, if needed)
- Rash guards
- Beach bag
- Snuba or snorkeling gear (if not available at your hotel or resort)
- Book or Kindle
Hawaii packing list for adventure seekers:
Hawaii is a paradise for all types of activities, from high-adrenaline zip-lining to low-impact yoga. Knowing the sports you plan to participate in will guide your packing list for Hawaii.
- Hiking boots and hiking socks
- Raincoat and layers (anticipate cooler temperatures, wind, or rain)
- Reusable water bottle or backpack with a water bladder
- Waterproof phone carrier
- Trail guide app or guidebook
- Day pack
- Bug Spray
- Rash guard
- Sport sunglasses
- Yoga and/or running gear
Hawaii packing list for families:
Traveling with kids adds another layer of essentials, not to mention a lot more gear. Aside from many of the items listed above, a family packing list for Hawaii should include:
- Children’s medicine (in case a cold or cough develops while traveling)
- Rash guards or sun-protective clothing
- A hat (preferably with built-in SPF)
- Aloe or cooling gels (in case of overly sun-kissed skin)
- Kid’s games or electronics (for much-needed downtime)
- Binoculars (for the birders in the family)
- Swimming diapers (pack more than you think you’ll need)
- Kid sunglasses, goggles, and/or earplugs
- Activity-appropriate footwear
- A sweater or fleece for unexpected cool nights
Packing Tips for Hawaii Travel
Travelers these days are often opting for a carry-on to keep their belongings in hand and insanity at bay. Whether or not you need to check bags, the following tips will help ease the stresses of travel.
- Keep all prescription drugs, jewelry, and travel documents in your carry-on. Should you end up needing to gate-check, remember to remove them and place them in your hand luggage.
- Stay up to date with TSA Pre-Check and Clear programs to speed up the check-in process at the airport.
- Bring a guidebook that suits your travel style. Read it on the plane!
- Although Hawaii may seem far, no passport is required to visit the state. But, don’t forget your driver’s license.
- Less is more. Aside from a few fancy nights out, the dress code for Hawaii is relatively casual.
What not to forget to bring to Hawaii
Travel is more overwhelming than ever. No doubt you’ll forget something in the frenzy. But fear not, while over 2,000 miles away from the Pacific Coast, the Hawaiian Islands have amenities and shops to fill any packing gaps. From swimmy diapers and sunscreen to cold medicine and cover-ups, tourists will easily find what they need.
Above all else, don’t forget to bring your sense of wonder and adventure—Hawaii packing list essentials indeed.
By Jamie Edwards
Jamie Edwards is an award-winning travel writer based in Washington DC. She also created I am Lost and Found, a website devoted to inspiring travel. Jamie has traveled to 68 countries and all 7 continents—always seeking stories to tell about her far-flung adventures.