The 10 Key Items to Pack for Hawaii
Ahhh, Hawaii. The Aloha State is known for its relaxed, welcoming vibe. It’s goodbye iPhone notifications, and hello sunbeams and surfers! But before you enter this worry-free zone, you have to pack—and that can be a challenge. After all, you might need gear for hiking and water sports, beach day essentials, and clothing that will work in Hawaii's multiple climates. Luckily, we've done all the research for you. Whether you're trekking along the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, catching rays with a drink in hand on one of Maui's resorts, or checking out Oahu's nightlife, this list of 10 items will have you covered.
Carry-All Beach Bag
For Hawaii, you’ll need a beach bag that can stand up to some serious abuse—saltwater, sand grit, a spilled mai tai or two. L.L. Bean’s multipurpose canvas tote is just that. It’s great for hauling a days’ worth of essentials and durable enough to withstand getting thrown around. The classic style comes in more than a dozen colors, but we adore the detailing on this one. Its adjustable straps, antique-nickel hardware, and blue and red contrast stitching make it a standout.
Coral Reef-Safe Sunscreen
Earlier this year, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to pass legislation banning the sale of sunscreen containing chemicals harmful to coral reefs. The law doesn’t go into effect until 2021, but why not be an early adopter and go toxin-free? Badger makes all-natural skincare products, including this terrific, reef-safe sunscreen. This formula contains SPF 34 and DEET-free bug repellant.
Hawaii-Approved Polarized Sunglasses
Hawaii’s megawatt sunshine can leave you squinting all day long, which is why a high-quality pair of polarized sunglasses is another must. Show aloha-spirit solidarity with this pair by Maui Jim, founded in Lahaina, Hawaii in 1980. All their sunglasses are given Hawaii-related names, such as these “Naiani” frames. The word means “heaven” in Hawaiian, and we get why. Their Hollywood-glam shape, gradient lenses, and wide-set temples are simply divine.
Lightweight Hooded Rain Jacket
Each Hawaiian island has miles of sunny coastline—and microclimates where the weather can turn chilly on a dime. No fun when you’re shivering in your Bermuda shorts! A lightweight jacket to shield wind and rain is an absolute essential, and this one from Patagonia has all the right features. The nylon shell is water-resistant and zips up the front, with an adjustable hood and cuffs that won’t dig into your wrists. Best of all, it packs into its own tiny pouch.
RELATED: The Best Raincoats for Travel
Waterproof iPad Case
No biggie if that cannonball splashes pool water onto your iPad, as long as it’s protected inside this waterproof case, designed by LifeProof NUUD for the 9.7-inch Apple iPad Pro. It’s also shockproof, and it won’t weigh down your device or feel bulky in your bag, thanks to a slim profile and a weight of about 6 ounces.
Classic One-Piece Swimsuit
When picking a bathing suit for Hawaii, do not muck around with one-shouldered nonsense or spaghetti straps that slip. You need something that holds up to outdoor activities, but still looks fabulous. Lands’ End is our go-to for chic suits that stay put. There’s crisscross shirring on the front to flatter the waist, and the V-neck further enhances the slimming silhouette. It’s also made of a forgiving stretch fabric that retains its shape after multiple wears and washes, and it offers UPF 50 sun protection.
Easy-to-Pack Sun Hat
Your search for the perfect packable sun hat ends here. This line from the Wallaroo Hat Company has adjustable brims and inside drawstrings for a comfortable fit. Best of all, they scrunch up into an adorable bundle you can chuck into your bag. Our fave is the black with white polka dots, but if that isn’t your style, there are nine other colors from which to choose. They’re also washable and have UPF 50+ sun protection, so you can avoid the bummer of a sunburn.
This sarong is multitasking at its most relaxed: You can use it as a bathing suit cover-up, a wrap to throw over your shoulders, an impromptu beach blanket, and even a halter dress. Handcrafted by a woman in Indonesia, this lovely rayon batik sarong has a pretty blue and teal floral motif set against a white background and tiny sequins for a hint of shimmer. Even better, it’s from the fair-trade brand NOVICA, which partners with National Geographic to produce and sell artisans-made items around the globe.
Day-to-Night Waterproof Sandals
Hello, sparkles! These waterproof sandals are some of the prettiest we’ve seen. There’s just the right amount of bling on the Swarovski crystal-studded T-strap for a fun but tasteful look, and they’re dressy enough to transition from the beach to dinner at an upscale restaurant. The metallic ankle strap and side buckle will keep them firmly on your feet, and they also have a non-slip tread. The only trouble is choosing a color, with chic black, navy, silver, and rose gold on offer.
RELATED: The Best Walking Sandals for Travel
Frameless Snorkeling Mask
There’s excellent snorkeling in Hawaii, but an ill-fitting rental mask will absolutely ruin an outing. Avoid this fail. Buy a mask in advance that’s snug against your face and won’t leak. For something stylish—yes, stylish!—check out this sleek pair from Italian brand Cressi, which has been around since 1946. Made from high-grade silicone, these masks are available in clear and a variety of appealing colors, including a gorgeous shade of lavender. There’s even a junior model for the kiddos.
All products have been hand-picked by our writers and editors. Items purchased through links may earn us a commission.