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What you wear during your Hawaii vacation is going to vary dramatically depending on the type of trip you’re going on. If you plan to spend your days relaxing on Waikiki beach then what you pack will be very different compared to someone else who may plan to spend their vacation on waterfall hikes.
As such we’ve broken down each of the items you’ll want to consider packing below, with notes to ensure that you pack light but also pack everything you’re likely going to need for the ultimate trip to Oahu.
Shorts & Skirts
Oahu generally experiences warm and tropical weather year-round, as such we recommend packing a pair of shorts or a skirt regardless of when you plan to visit.
We like to look for a pair of shorts that’s got good pockets (ideally with zips) so we can store a bank card and our mobile phone in them safely and access them quickly as and when required.
While a pair of denim shorts are an option, they aren’t ideal if you get caught in the rain (which can happen) since they take a long time to dry. Instead, we look for a pair of shorts made of cotton, ideally with some stretch at the waist.
Alongside a pair of shorts or two, we also recommend packing a pair of long pants. This could come in the form of;
- Denim Jeans
- Linen Pants
- Formal Wear
The exact style or styles of long pants you choose to pack is likely going to depend again on the type of trip to Hawaii you’re looking for and subsequently the activities you plan to take part in.
Leggings for example are a great choice for hiking since they are still breathable while providing extra coverage. While linen or formal pants might be a better choice for those looking for a luxury resort vacation.
You’re going to want to pack a variety of different tops when visiting the Hawaiian Islands, the most notable of which is the basic t-shirt.
T-shirts are great for everyday wear and perfect for protecting your shoulders from burning in the extreme heat that can often be experienced in the summertime.
The Aloha shirt is a classic Hawaiian garment perfect for those looking to embrace the local culture and stay cool in warm weather.
These shirts come in a variety of bright colours and patterns and can be both dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion.
🧍♂️Best Choice For Men: This Hawaiian shirt (buy it on Amazon) is super stylish and available in a wide range of toned-down colours.
🧍♀️Best Choice For Women: This aloha shirt (buy it on Amazon) is the most popular choice for women and is available in multiple different designs.
Tank tops are a great option for keeping cool and comfortable as you explore some of the best beaches in Oahu as they allow for maximum airflow and freedom of movement. In addition to their functional benefits, tank tops come in a variety of styles and materials, making them a versatile choice for any type of outdoor activity.
When it comes to choosing the right tank top for your Hawaii vacation we recommend looking for breathable fabrics like cotton or linen, or moisture-wicking synthetic materials that can help keep you dry and comfortable even in high humidity.
Alternatively, a strappy camisole or a crop top is perfect for a more feminine alternative to tank tops. When it comes to styling a strappy camisole, the possibilities are endless. Pair it with a flowing maxi skirt for a bohemian vibe, or with dressy pants and high heels for a more sophisticated look.
If you’re a woman and looking to take on slightly more intense outdoor activities during your trip to Oahu (think hiking Diamond Head or horseback riding) for example then you may want to also consider packing a sports bra.
When choosing a sports bra to pack, consider the level of impact of the activities you have planned. High-impact sports such as running or rock climbing require more support and compression, while lower-impact activities such as yoga or walking may require less.
🧍♀️Best Choice For Women: We personally own and love this Puma seamless sports bra (buy it on Amazon).
For a more polished and put-together look during your Oahu trip, polo shirts are a great option to consider. They offer a more refined appearance compared to t-shirts or other casual tops, while still being comfortable and breathable in warm weather.
Polo shirts are versatile and can be easily dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Pair them with a nice pair of khaki shorts for a smart casual look, or dress them down with a pair of jeans for a more laid-back vibe.
🧍♂️Best Choice For Men: This Amazon Essentials polo (buy it on Amazon) is available in a range of different colours and fits.
Maxi Dresses, Jumpsuits & Playsuits
Maxi dresses, jumpsuits, and playsuits are all fantastic choices for your Hawaii packing list. These types of garments are versatile, comfortable, and stylish, and they can be easily dressed up or down to suit the occasion making them perfect for those travelling with hand luggage only.
During the daytime jumpsuits or playsuits are often practical and stylish choices for sightseeing, shopping, or heading to the beach.
However, we wouldn’t recommend them if you’re going to be taking part in any outdoor activities such as hiking. These casual one-pieces are comfortable to wear in warm weather and can be easily paired with sandals or sneakers for a relaxed yet stylish look.
If you’re looking to wear these items in the daytime then we recommend looking for a lightweight and breathable fabric, such as linen or cotton, to help keep you cool and comfortable.
🧍♀️Best Choice For Women: This casual crewneck one-piece provides shoulder coverage, comes in a range of colours and has pockets!
Jacket & PullOver
While Oahu is predominantly sunny year-round it’s still a good idea to pack a light rain jacket or a pullover for any cloudy or rainy days that you might experience during your trip.
A light jacket is also a good choice for having in the airport or on the plane to / from Hawaii as the temperature can change quickly and often be out of your control.
It’s incredibly hard to visit Oahu without having a couple of beach days, and for those occasions, we highly recommend packing a pair of flip-flops.
Flip-flops are a lightweight and practical choice for the beach, as they are easy to slip on and off and allow your feet to breathe in the warm weather. They can be worn with any type of beachwear, from swimsuits to cover-ups, and can easily be packed in a beach bag or backpack for easy access.
Closed-Toe Shoes & Sneakers
Alongside a pair of flip-flops, you’re also going to want a pair of formal closed-toe shoes and / or sneakers. Sneakers or hiking boots are a great choice if you plan to do a lot of walking or hiking when visiting Oahu.
For the most part, sneakers are permitted to be worn in restaurants and bars across Oahu, however, depending on the occasion (and whether or not you’ve packed a pair of sneakers) you may want a more formal pair of closed-toe shoes.
🧍♂️Best Choice For Men: These Sketchers classic fit sneakers are both incredibly comfortable and stylish.
🧍♀️Best Choice For Women: These low-rise Converse are super comfortable and come in a range of colours.
To protect your head from the harmful UV rays while in Oahu, it’s highly recommended that you pack a hat. This could be a baseball hat, ideal for hiking and a more casual look or a straw hat, for more bohemian beach vibes.
Alongside being a stylish accessory, a hat can also help to keep you cool and comfortable during the peak sunshine hours, by providing shade for your head and face.
The sun in Hawaii can be quite intense, and wearing sunglasses can help protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and also reduce glare.
Of course, in addition to this, sunglasses can be a stylish accessory to complement your outfit and add a touch of personality to your look.
If you want to take part in any water activities during your trip to Hawaii, even something as simple as swimming in the hotel pool, then you’re going to need to pack a bathing suit.
Bathing suits and beach shorts come in a variety of different designs and styles to help you stay cool and comfortable while swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing and more.
🧍♂️Best Choice For Men: These swim shorts are simple, stylish and come in a range of colours.
🧍♀️Best Choice For Women: This stylish women’s one-piece (buy it on Amazon) is available in several colours and has adjustable straps for a comfortable fit.
I speak from experience when I say that if you’re planning on taking part in any water activities during your trip to Oahu, please pack, buy or rent a rash guard.
While rash guards aren’t the coolest thing to wear they will provide protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays, reducing the risk of sunburn and skin damage while also preventing chafing and rashes that can occur due to friction from water and sand.
It’s no secret that a trip to Hawaii can be expensive. However, planning ahead and remembering to pack everything you’re going to need will save you money. However, when it comes to packing sunscreen it’s important that you wear sunscreen that has been specifically marked as reef-safe.
Not only will reef-safe sunscreen protect your skin from harmful UV rays, but it’ll also help to protect the fragile coral reefs that are a vital part of the ocean ecosystem.
Non-reef-safe sunscreen is banned in Hawaii and not sold in any stores. That’s because it often contains chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can be harmful to marine life, including corals, fish, and other organisms. These chemicals can cause coral bleaching, disrupt the growth and reproduction of corals, and can even lead to the death of coral reefs.
🧴 Best Choice: We personally love the Banana Boat brand (buy it on Amazon) and use it for all our suncare while on vacation.
Alongside your traditional suitcase (unless flying cabin baggage only) you’re also likely going to want a travel bag. This could be either a small daypack, a backpack, a tote bag or even a fanny pack – which bag(s) is right for you will likely depend on what you’re doing during your trip.
What your travel bag contains will likely vary dramatically depending on what you’re doing during your trip to Oahu, some of our go-to travel essentials include;
- Credit cards
- Travel insurance details
- First aid kit
- Mobile phone charger / power bank
- Waterproof phone case
- Underwater Camera
- Memory card
- Guide book
- Water bottle
- Dry bag
Of course, if you are flying carry-on only, then you’re going to want to be conscious of the airline’s requirements.
As such you’ll likely want to unpack once you’ve arrived at your hotel room or vacation rental and then use that bag as your day bag to save you from wasting any space or weight on bringing another one. On the other hand, if you’re bringing a suitcase then you’ll be able to bring one or more bags to suit your needs.