Hawaii Trip Planning Guide

Travel Info

What should I pack for my trip to Hawaii?

Here's a list of what to bring and what not to bring on your Hawaiian vacation.

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Above: Think casual, comfortable and versatile when it comes to packing clothes for your trip to Hawaii.

Here’s a list of what to bring and what not to bring on your Hawaii vacation.


What to bring

Other Things to Consider:

  1. Sun protection
    It’s summer year-round in Hawaii, so a hat or visor; sunglasses that provide protection from UVA, UVB and UVC rays; and broad-spectrum sunscreen are musts. Avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate, though; they have been found to contribute to coral bleaching. Effective January 1, 2021, state law will prohibit the sale and distribution of sunscreens containing those two chemicals.
  2. Casual clothing
    You’ll be in the tropics, so as far as clothes go, think casual and comfortable: T-shirts, tank tops, polo shirts, shorts, capris and a swimsuit. Slacks, a skirt or dress and a few nice blouses and shirts will be fine for evenings. Mix and match to create different looks.
  3. Comfy shoes
    Casual and comfortable goes for footwear too. That means flats, sandals, slippers, sneakers and walking shoes that have been broken in beforehand. Nix the high heels; you won’t need them—promise. Don’t forget hiking boots if you’re going to hike and golf shoes if you’re planning to golf. You’ll need sturdy, closed-toe shoes if you’ll be horseback riding, ziplining and going on ATV tours.
  4. Hawaii guidebook
    Having a good guidebook is helpful. Recommended titles include Hawaii (published by Lonely Planet); Frommer’s Hawaii; and the “Fodor’s,” “Lonely Planet” and “Hawaii Revealed” series.
  5. Backpack or bag
    For daylong adventures, replace your “regular” purse with a tote, fanny pack or a backpack, and downsize the contents to just your wallet, cell phone, munchies and, if needed, medications. A foldable nylon or cloth bag that easily fits in your luggage is ideal for this purpose.
  6. Kids’ gear
    If you’re traveling with young children, don’t forget their diaper bag and favorite toys, books, games and treats. You’ll also want to bring their stroller and car seat or booster seat. Even though car rental companies rent these seats, you might want to bring your own to save money and have peace of mind (it’s great to know you have familiar equipment that’s the proper size). For more information, take a look at Hawaiian Airlines policies for carseats. Many hotels provide cribs, playpens and rollaway beds, albeit for an extra fee. Heading to Oahu and wanting to travel as light as possible? Check out Paradise Baby Co., a full-service baby equipment rental company that stocks everything you’d need for your child, right down to the potty chair, bottle sterilizer and safety gate.
  7. Other Stuff
    These miscellaneous items won’t take up much space in your suitcase and might come in handy: small LED flashlight, refillable water bottle, poncho or foldable umbrella and healthy snacks (e.g., nuts, crackers, jerky, dried fruit and trail mix).

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What NOT to bring

  1. Too many clothes
    Most hotels provide laundry service, and vacation homes and condos provide either an in-room washer and dryer or an on-site laundromat. If necessary, you can hand-wash underwear and other garments that dry quickly.
  2. Coat
    Island temperatures average in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit year-round. Take a light jacket or sweater, but chances are you won’t even wear that. Of course, if you’re planning to stargaze atop Maunakea volcano or see sunrise or sunset at the summit of Haleakala, you’ll need heavier attire because the mercury there can dip below the 30s Fahrenheit.
  3. Valuables
    Leave your expensive watches and jewelry and other cherished items at home. Why run the risk of having them lost or stolen when you’re out and about?
  4. Books
    They’re great beach and flight companions, but they’re bulky and heavy. Load tomes on a Kindle instead.
  5. Kayak, surfboard, snorkel gear, golf clubs
    Save yourself the hassle of lugging these cumbersome items around. Tour prices usually include use of equipment, and all the major golf courses offer club rentals.

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Additional Notes

  • Traveling to Hawaii with animals, fruits and vegetables
    Before landing in Hawaii, you’ll be required to fill out a State of Hawaii Agricultural Declaration Form (one per family). If you’re traveling with items such as animals, fresh produce, plant cuttings, seeds or bulbs, live fish or seafood or cut flowers and foliage, you must declare them so they can undergo inspection and possible quarantine. This is to prevent foreign pests from entering and potentially harming Hawaii’s unique and fragile environment. Failure to comply carries a maximum $25,000 fine and/or up to one year in prison. Call (808) 832-0566 or go here for more details.

    When you leave Hawaii for the Mainland, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will inspect your baggage for fresh fruits, vegetables, plants, flowers and other items that might spread invasive diseases and insects such as fruit flies. To avoid having them confiscated, they should be inspected by the USDA beforehand. For example, fresh lei, papaya and pineapple—which visitors frequently take home with them as gifts—are allowed to be transported but only after passing USDA inspection. Get more information by calling (808) 834-3220 or go to the United States Department of Agriculture website.
  • Going home with a lot of souvenirs and don’t want to buy another suitcase for them?
    Consider mailing them home via UPS, FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service. They sell supplies such as boxes and tape, and, for a fee, UPS and FedEx will pack for you. The concierge at your hotel can direct you to the nearest locations.
  • Finally, don’t fret!
    If you’ve forgotten or find you need something during your trip, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to buy it in Hawaii. It’s part of the United States, after all.