Packing for Hawaii

Packing for HawaiiWhen you’re traveling to a tropical destination, you’re obviously going to pack much lighter than you would for a cooler getaway.  The question is, how light?  What can you get away without, and what will you need?  What are the items you may wear once and then leave in your suitcase the rest of your trip?  These were all questions I pondered before my most recent trip to the Big Island.  I am what I like to call a recovering over packer.  I have always packed way more than I need.  Now, I prefer to pack less and make it on my vacations carrying only airline standards – a single carry-on bag and one small personal item.  So while I prepared I sought help, looking for what to pack on Pinterest and travel blogs.  I found some very useful recommendations, but still ended up with far more than I needed.  This is why, following this trip, I am writing my own recommendations – How to Pack Only What you Need for a Trip to Hawaii.  I’ve broken these things down into toiletries, recreation, and entertainment.  So without further ado: my Hawaii must-have pack list.

Hawaii Pack List

Hawaii Pack List

Clothes

  • One rash guard and cover-up skirt or shorts
  • One Dress
  • Two Swimsuits
  • Two pairs of sandals – sandals that can slip on and off and sandals that stay on your feet in the water.
  • Tennis shoes – wear on the plane
  • A sunhat or baseball cap
  • Sunglasses and Case
  • Jeans or travel pants – wear on the plane
  • Two long-sleeve shirts or jackets
  • A cozy sweatshirt, jacket, or fleece – wear on the plane

Toiletries

  • Reusable bottles filled with lotion, shampoo and conditioner and sunscreen.
  • Cortizone and other medications like excedrine, etc.

Recreation

  • Snorkel Gear
  • Reusable water bottle and coffee mug
  • A small packable cooler or beach bag
  • Beach towel

Entertainment

  • Kindle w/movies checked out and downloaded
  • A book to read – not on a kindle
  • Food for the plan

Hawaii Pack List

Pack List Details

Clothes

  • One rash guard and cover-up skirt or shorts

You really only need one outfit to wear to and from the beach or pool.  If you lie out in the sun, you’ll be mostly dry by the time you put these on, and if you do get them wet it’s no big deal.  Just make sure to hang your clothes up each night, and they’ll be good to go the next day.

  • One dress

I brought two dresses on my trip and ended up only really needing one.  Make sure it’s versatile so you can wear it out walking in the afternoon but can also wear it to a nice restaurant.

  • One pair of hiking/running shorts and two matching tank tops

Same reason as the dresses, you really only need one.

  • Two swimsuits

I spend as much time in the water as possible which is why I like to have two swimsuits, so if I take a morning dip in the pool, I can wear my other swimsuit all day.  When I get back to the hotel, the morning suit is dry for the next day.

  • Two pairs of sandals – sandals that can slip on and off and sandals that stay on your feet in the water.

It’s nice to have a bear of slip on sandals for walking around the beach or the pools.  Choose a pair that fit this description while also looking somewhat dressy if you go out.  My favorite choice is Teva Olowahu.  As for the other sandals, some of Hawaii’s beaches are very rocky and you’ll be glad to have your Chacos or Keens along with you.  Also if you go snorkeling in the reefs you’re better off in chacos than flippers.

  • Tennis Shoes

If you have a comfortable pair of hiking sandals this may not be necessary.  However, hiking in lava can be a bit hard on the toes if you stumble, so I recommend bringing a pair of tennis shoes.  Wear them on the plane to save space in your luggage.

  • A sunhat or baseball cap
  • Sunglasses and Case
  • Jeans or travel pants

It can be chilly at night and in the higher elevations.  Having a pair of jeans or travel pants can be a lifesaver.  Wear them on the plane and save space in your bag.  My favorite pair is Patagonia’s Happy Hiker

  • Two long-sleeve shirts or jackets

Choose a shirt that will look cute with your skirt or dress and one that will be good to wear hiking or with pants.

  • A cozy sweatshirt, jacket, or fleece

You’ll want this if you go to Volcano National Park or the other higher elevations.  It can get very chilly at night.  It also makes a great pillow on the flight over.

 

Toiletries

  • Reusable bottles filled with lotion, shampoo and conditioner and sunscreen.

Here are my favorite go-to bottles.

  • Don’t worry about a blow-drier.

There’s usually a blow dryer in your hotel room, and most days you won’t bother because of the water.  Instead choose a great up-do and rely on that for your trip.

  • Cortizone and other medications like excedrine, etc.

Medicine can be expensive on parts of the island, so pack what you need.  Cortizone can be nice to have if you run into any mosquitoes during your trip.

 

Recreation

  • Snorkel Gear

This takes up the most room in your luggage, but if you plan on snorkeling more than once, bring your own gear.  It’ll save you a lot of money and the inconvenience of hunting out a snorkeling space.  Another option if you don’t want to pack your own gear is to rent it or to check if the place you’re staying provides water toys.

  • Reusable water bottle and coffee mug

Don’t waste money or garbage by getting disposable water bottles and coffee cups.  Instead bring your own and carry it with you.  Hydroflask water bottles with keep your beverages cold and contigo mugs can be locked and thrown in your bag to avoid leaks.

  • A small packable cooler or beach bag

Use this as your personal carry-on, then you won’t have to have an extra bag and it won’t take up space in your luggage.

  • Beach towel

Check and see if the place where you’re staying provides beach towels.  If not, you might be happy to have them!

 

Entertainment

  • Kindle w/movies checked out and downloaded

Rather than rent a movie player on the plane, my husband and I always pre-rent and download movies from Amazon on our kindle.  We don’t get a lot of time to watch movies during the week, so we can keep a running list.  When we travel, we pick a few films and watch these on the plane.  If you have Prime, be sure to browse these films for free downloads!

  • A book to read – not on a kindle

Kindles can be very useful, but occasionally they don’t cut it, like on the beach.  You don’t want to worry about glare and sand when you’re relaxing by the ocean.  So choose one regular book to bring along.  You won’t have to stress about the safety or readability of your kindle.

  • Food for the plane

Plane food can be very expensive and not very good.  Flights to Hawaii from the mainland can be anywhere from 5 to 7 hours, so bring your own snacks on the plane.  Try to choose high-calorie, healthy options such as trail mix, peanut butter sandwiches, granola, vegetables, fruit, etc.  You can also reuse the baggies from your snacks throughout your trip to minimize waste.

 

Have Fun!!

I hope this list helps you have a very fun, safe, and care free vacation!  If you’re looking for ideas on what to do on the Big Island – check back.  That post will be coming soon!

Hawaii Packing