Many folks are really confused about how to pack for a one- or two-week trip to Hawaii, often thousands of miles from home. We hope that these few ideas will help you out.
- Remember that Hawaii has a tropical climate. The temperatures vary only about 10 degrees. If you are visiting the windward (eastern) side of the islands you will see some rain so plan accordingly. If you’re visiting the leeward (western) side of the islands the temperatures will be much warmer and the weather much drier. Check out our feature on the Weather in Hawaii.
- Evenings can be cool especially if there is a breeze. Be sure to bring a sweater or light jacket.
- If you plan to explore the higher elevations such as Haleakala on Maui or Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island, you may wish to bring a warm sweater and windbreaker also. Temperatures at the summits can drop to the low 30's.
- Swimsuits are a must, as are shorts, short-sleeved shirts, light dresses, sandals, thongs and some good walking shoes. If you plan on riding horseback, be sure to bring some jeans, heavy shoes and a hat.
- There is no real need for a suit in Hawaii. Even at most fancy restaurants and night spots a nice shirt (including a nice Hawaiian print shirt) and a pair of khaki's or Dockers will do just fine. A sports jacket is only needed at the most upscale restaurants.
- Sunblock, insect repellent, sunglasses and a hat are a must. The sun is very intense in Hawaii and you don't want to ruin your vacation by getting sunburn. Be very careful on your first day in the sun, it’s when you’ll burn most easily. Check out our feature on How to Avoid Getting a Sunburn.
- If you plan to explore Hawaii's waters bring your snorkel and mask or better yet wait until you arrive. These can be rented very cheaply and often are available for free at many hotels. If you wear glasses basic prescription masks are available at most locations.
- Leave ample room to bring things back. Most tourists buy some aloha-wear and other souvenirs that you won’t find on the mainland. Remember that you can ship items home also, which is often much easier. The postal service now has flat-rate boxes which make shipping of most items very easy and affordable.
- Hawaii is the most beautiful place on earth. Remember your camera, memory cards, and charger. You will find a lot of use for a video camera also.
- Put important papers (tickets, reservation confirmations, traveler's cheques), all medications, spare glasses, a change of clothing and any other valuables in your carry-on bag.
- Don't forget your favorite tour book. You've probably purchased one or two to help you plan your trip. The Moon Publications Hawaii Handbook is an excellent all-around guidebook. Most tour books are now available in digital versions also which can be accessed on your smartphone or tablet.
- Remember to bring a pair of binoculars. If you’re planning and nature adventure such as whale watching, these are a must.
- Don't over-pack. Travel as lightly as possible.
- Leave plenty of room in your suitcase for all of the things you will bring home.
- Make a list of things to bring and check the list before you leave home.
For more in-depth help, check out our feature Packing For Your Hawaii Vacation.