Take the uncertainty out of packing for Hawaii with our comprehensive packing list and printable checklist. We outline what you need to take as well as what you should leave at home. Eliminate the stress of packing by packing only Island-style essentials.

Write out your itinerary

Depending on which Island(s) you are visiting and the activities you plan to do, your packing list will be very different. For this reason, we recommend writing out what activities you plan to do.

Define your vacation goals

Taking time off from work and traveling across the Pacific Ocean to get to Hawaii is a lot of effort. Depending on the activities you hope to do will impact where the best places to stay are. Use the space at the top to separate out your goals. One example would be to have one column as “Athletic Goals” and the other as “Relaxation Goals”.

Download the Hawaii itinerary framework here and fill in the activities you plan to do. For white glove travel planning, email us at Admin [at] TheKlubb [dot] com.

Make reservations in advance

Booking activities and restaurants in advance will save you money and help you organize your schedule. Locals love to eat at the same restaurants you will want to try so be sure to book in advance. Find the best activities to do in Hawaii by using the links below:

Anticipate shopping

Shopping on Oahu is a big deal. Kalakaua Avenue is the main street that runs along Waikiki Beach. It is ranked as one of the Top 5 Retail Streets in the World. In good company with famous streets like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and 5th Avenue in New York City.

You will find the most famous brands along Kalakaua Ave and enjoy a world-class shopping experience. We recommend packing light so you have room to bring some items back.

20 Essentials to Pack for your Hawaii Vacation

  1. Valid Identification: It would really put a damper on your vacation if you get to the airport and realize that you have forgotten your ID. While this is number one on the list, it is the last thing to grab before you head out the door. Keep this box uncheck until you have your ID in your hand and are heading out.
  2. Swimwear: The ocean water in Hawaii is magical. Packing swimwear is a must when visiting Hawaii. I usually pack one pair of board shorts in my carry-on just in case my bag goes missing. Because ocean sports are such a main part of Hawaiian culture, you won’t have a problem finding a swimwear store if you forget to pack one. Note that Hawaiian women’s bikinis are much smaller than mainland swimwear. While you can find swimwear with more coverage, Hawaii bikinis typically have a less modest design.
  3. Comfortable Flip Flops: Wearing shoes in Hawaii is brutal and only done when running, hiking, or working. I will typically wear flip-flops from the moment I get on the plane. If you need help finding the perfect flip-flop, check out this guide. Order ahead and start your Hawaiian vacation early with a comfortably pair of slippahs.
  4. Personal Items: Be sure and pack any medications, unique supplements, and personal items that you use daily. While Hawaii does have major grocery stores and pharmacies, it is good to have these items with you so as not to interrupt your vacation.
  5. Backpack: There are dozens of great day trips on every island and having a comfortable backpack makes exploring much easier. If you plan to explore the amazing beaches in Hawaii, a good backpack makes it easy to pack when exploring some of the more secluded spots.
  6. Waterproof Cases & Packs: Dry bags and waterproof cellphone cases are a must-have if you plan to go on adventures while in Hawaii. The weather can change in a minute and rain storms come in fast and heavy.
  7. Electrolytes: Staying hydrated in Hawaii requires taking electrolytes along with your water. If you plan to do water sports like surfing, it is even more important to be hydrated. Check out this article on preparing for surfing in Hawaii. It has a hydration schedule that should help you stay hydrated.
  8. Therabody: This one may sound excessive but I take my Theragun with me on every vacation. Putting in five-plus hours a day in the ocean or hiking steep rainforest trails will do a number on your body. Being proactive in recovery will ensure that you feel great the next day.
  9. Comfy PJs: After a big day in the sun you will want to kick your feet up and blast the AC in your hotel room. Having comfy pajamas takes the vacation game to a whole new level.
  10. Polarized Sunglasses: Leave the cheap sunglasses at home and bring a good pair of Maui Jims or Keanon polarized sunglasses with you. The more sporty Peahi Maui Jims are perfect for daily wear and activewear.
  11. Floating Sunglass Strap: If you are going to be wearing your sunglasses while doing water sports or fishing trips, a Chums floating sunglass strap is a good idea.
  12. Reef Safe Sunscreen: In an effort to protect the coral reefs, Hawaii only allows Reef Safe Sunscreens. This means the Banana Boat, Coppertone, or CVS brands you may use at home are not allowed. Use this guide to purchase Reef Safe sunscreen.
  13. Aftersun Lotion: A good aftersun lotion will make your trip so much more enjoyable. Slathering your body and face with cooling aftersun lotion and getting comfy in pajamas is the best evening activity after a big day in the sun.
  14. Cooling face mask: Another gem to have after a big day under the Hawaii sun. Puffy eyes and sunburned cheeks are common when playing in the water all day. Staying hydrated and taking time for recovery will ensure you are in top shape for the next day.
  15. Vitamin C Serum: Your face will love you for brining a Vitamin C Serum with you. While you can hydrate with water and electrolytes, your face will be craving some extra nourishment as well.
  16. Waterproof Watch: Most sunscreens are good for about 90 minutes in the water. Keeping track of your time in the sun and in the water is key to having a pleasant next day. Bring a waterproof watch and keep track of your time in the sun. While reapplying sunscreen you can chug another water+electrolyte as well to stay on top of your hydration.
  17. Hiking Sandals: If you are planning to do any tropical rainforest hikes, pack a pair of TEVA or Keen sandals. Having the closed toe, rugged traction, waterproofing, and breathability will make your hiking experience much more pleasant.
  18. Cash: Many of the best casual local restaurants are cash only. Also, if you do the Road to Hana or visit any of the North Shore Oahu shrimp food trucks, you will likely need to pay in cash. Around $50 per day, per person, is a good minimum.
  19. SPF Clothing: Bringing long sleeve clothing with SPF rating is very important if you are spending long days in the sun. This is especially important for those doing day cruises, snorkel trips, fishing charters, or hiking.
  20. Journal: Hawaii is a magical place and it is worth documenting your experience on paper (not just on IG). Spend time alone with your thoughts and write down what you are experiencing. Here is my favorite journal for travel.

What Not to Bring to Hawaii

The natural ecosystem in Hawaii is very fragile. In the early years, foreigners would bring various plants and animals to the Islands by boat. This resulted in the extinction of many native plants and animals. Today, Hawaii has strict rules about what you can bring to the Islands to ensure no more native species are lost.

In general, leave anything edible at home. The food in Hawaii is so good that you don’t need to bring anything additional.