10 Essential Packing List Items for Hawaii

Packing List For Hawaii
Chia Han Keong
Chia Han Keong
Updated

Many dreamy-eyed travelers have gushed about Hawaii, the little slice of tropical paradise on Earth in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, where you can enjoy an abundance of the sun, the sand and the sea. And while Hawaii can be a wonderfully seductive vacation spot, its exotic location and relatively untamed environment mean that you must pack a different set of necessities from, say, a trip to Europe. So here are 10 essential packing list items for a trip to the 50th state of the United States, pack them up if you want your dream holiday to be as stress-free as possible.

1. Reef-safe sunscreen

Sunscreen
Source: Pixabay

Ah, sunny Hawaii. You will definitely not see snowfall anywhere in this tropical island state, but that does not mean you should whip out your skimpiest swimwear without ample protection from the strong sun rays. Therefore, top of your packing list should be a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more. A couple of additional considerations: If you are those who get sunburned easily, pack some aloe gel to soothe the burns. And if possible, bring along a reef-safe sunscreen that is chemically safe for the reefs and the turtles amid the fragile ecosystem in the region.

2. Appropriate clothing for beaches

Beach clothes
Source: Pxhere

Any trip to Hawaii would be nothing without hitting its bevy of gorgeous beaches like Waikiki or Lanikai. With their pristine sands and turquoise waters, they are practically beckoning you to sashay along the shores, be it alone or with your romantic partner. So what should you wear outside of your swimwear? For guys, T-shirts/Polo shirts and shorts would do nicely. For gals, you can also consider a stylish swimsuit cover-up and a straw hat. Basically, clothes which are quick-drying are ideal as they dissipate perspiration quickly. If you have a choice of colors, choose lighter shades that are cooler to wear on warm, sunny days.

3. Universal waterproof phone case

Waterproof iPhone case.
Source: Photo by Flickr user MIKI Yoshihito used under CC BY 2.0

You plan to go snorkeling or visit a beautiful waterfall in Hawaii. How are you going to take photos with your mobile phone without the phone getting soaked? The answer is this, universal waterproof phone case, good for any model of mobile phones. Not only would it be possible to take photos underwater (videos with audio are possible too), but the case is also essential if you are bringing your phone to the beach, on boats, during hikes, or anywhere where it can get wet or damaged by sand.

4. Flip flops

Flip flops
Source: Pxhere

In Hawaii, everybody wears flip-flops, even around downtown in its biggest city, Honolulu. This island staple is not only great for a relaxing stroll around the urbanized areas, but it is also a must for the beaches. The sand in Hawaii can get extremely hot with the sun beating down on it all day long. This is especially true of darker-sanded beaches like green, pink and black sand beaches. So don’t think for a moment that going barefoot is the best way to experience the land, even though it is casual enough to not pack in your socks and sneakers.

5. Hiking shoes

2018-01-01 (212) McKinley Hiking boots
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user GT1976 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Hawaii beaches are definitely unmissable, but you should not ignore the sizeable natural scenery all over the interior of the islands. Besides the famous Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, there are plenty of hiking opportunities to spectacular waterfalls and hills offering jaw-dropping scenery all over the region. So bring along your sturdy hiking shoes to trek and experience Hawaii’s wild natural beauty. A useful tip to combine both flip-flops and hiking shoes is to get hiking sandals with closed toe. These are lightweight, easy to pack and multi-functional, perfect for your outdoor adventures around the islands.

6. Affordable underwater camera

Underwater camera
Source: Pxhere

Some of the most unforgettable moments of your Hawaiian holidays are underwater when you go snorkeling or scuba diving among its colorful coral reefs. While you are able to take photos with your mobile phone if you bring along a waterproof case, the quality of the photos may not be great. So why not invest in an affordable underwater camera, some of which are waterproof up to 30 meters deep and still produce high-resolution photos. These cameras are also great for taking photos in wet attractions such as waterfalls, beaches, and rainforests, all of which you will encounter during your exploration of Hawaii.

7. Flotation strap

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

This is a life-saver for your mobile phone or underwater camera when you bring either of them out into the waters. If you should accidentally drop them or let go of them, then this flotation strap (which you attach onto your phone or camera) will float up along with its companion. So you do not have to worry about losing your precious electronic gadgets when you are out boating, paddle boarding, surfing, or snorkeling. Get those straps which are brightly colored, so you can retrieve it even in low light.

8. Rain poncho

Rain poncho
Source: Pixabay

Hawaii is known for its great weather, but a short burst of rain is a pretty common daily occurrence, especially in the wet season. So include a lightweight rain poncho in your packing list, you will regret not having one as you are dripping from head to toe during a downpour. The poncho is also great if you don’t want to get your shirt wet as you walk close to the foot of some of the roaring waterfalls around the region.

9. Waterproof beach bag

Anonymous and Headless
Source: Photo by Flickr user Michael Coghlan used under CC BY-SA 2.0

When you head out to stroll on the beaches, you will still need something to hold your belongings, along with extra clothes, beach wraps, snacks, cold drinks, or even cash for the souvenir stores on the sand. A waterproof beach bag would be ideal for such occasions, and some of them are pretty enough to be included in your best Instagram photos. If you are also thinking of other water-based excursions like boating or kayaking, a waterproof dry bag will then be essential to keep your gadgets air-tight even if the bag is immersed in water.

10. Polarized sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses
Source: Pixabay

Essential both as a fashion accessory and as a protection against the strong sunlight, you will need polarized sunglasses to reduce the glare off the white sand beaches or sparkling waves. Some travelers recommend two sunglasses; a high-quality one, and a cheap one for jumping on the waves and running the risk of losing the item forever. You can, of course, purchase cheap sunglasses almost everywhere in Hawaii, so pack your polarized sunglasses from home, and your eyes will be thankful for such protection.

A perfect vacation

Hawaii can be your perfect vacation spot only if you are savvy in packing the right items for your trip. Its unique geographical location means that its climate is also unique, so be sure to pack according to what kind of weather you might encounter. And since you will be outdoors most of the time, plan to bring items that can offer you comfort and provide security as you explore the islands. If you are smart in your packing (especially with the above essential packing list), then you can enjoy a truly unforgettable experience in Hawaii.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Han Keong is a former sports journalist in Singapore whose lifelong passions are travel and music.

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