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Ultimate Female Travel Packing List for Hawaii (in summer)

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The following packing list is a guest post from Caroline Eubanks.

hawaii friendsHawaii is the tropical paradise I’d always dreamed of, so when I visited this summer, I knew I had to pack according to how many islands I would be visiting and what types of activities I would be doing. On my trip, I visited Oahu, Big Island and Kaua’i. While some visitors are content to spend their entire trip lying on the beach, there is lots of exploring to do for the more adventurous travelers. Spend some time in the famed national parks, climbing to waterfalls, surfing and visiting active volcanoes. This packing list should be suitable for two weeks of inter-island travel in Hawaiian summer.

Clothing:

3 dressesFor nice dinners and using as swimsuit cover ups. Try the Infinity Skirt on for size.
2 pairs of shortsBetter suited for hiking and more adventurous activities.
2 tank tops or T-shirtsIf you don’t pack enough, there’s plenty of shopping in Waikiki to fill up your suitcase.
1 pair of jeansThis one is a judgment call. It got rather cold and windy on my day at Volcanoes National Park and I was glad I had them.
2 brasI usually pack one nude bra and one black bra and it seems to fit my wardrobe well.
5 pairs of underwearMaybe less if you have access to laundry facilities or are packing ExOfficio underwear.
1 light jacketYou may not expect to get cold in Hawaii in summer, but it gets very breezy, especially near the coast.
1 windbreaker/rain jacketHawaii has the craziest weather. One minute it can be sunny and one minute it will be raining.
2 swimsuitsFollowing the wear one, wash one pattern, two should last you the entire trip.
TowelI didn’t bring one with me, but instead bought one for $5 at one of the many tourist shops.
Sarong – Good to use as a beach cover up or towel.

>> Perhaps some wicking clothing would be a good idea for the active types.

Shoes:

Closed toed walking shoesMany activities, like helicopter tours, require sturdy shoes, and they’re also good for hiking in the national parks.
Flip flopsFor a day at the beach or for hostel dorms.
Nice flats or sandalsFor a nice dinner in town.

>> Read more about different types of shoes for travel.

hawaiian waterfall

Toiletries:

Shampoo/ConditionerTravel sized and TSA friendly.

Soap or Body WashI brought body wash instead, but soap is usually easier to pack if you’re flying carry-on only.

Toothbrush/PasteAlso get a snap-on case so you don’t get anything on your toothbrush.
DeodorantKeep yourself smelling nice!
RazorYou only need one.
BrushTravel sized worked for me.
Hair tiesNecessary to keep the hair off your neck on those hot days.

Motion Sickness MedicineDepending on what you are doing, this can be very handy for helicopter rides, boat tours and flights between islands.
SunscreenI cannot reiterate this enough! I got seriously burned on my first day there because I was mostly in the shade and didn’t put any on.
 Find out more sun protection ideas in this beach travel pack list.
Birth ControlYou can never be too safe.
Diva CupThe last thing you want on your trip is to be tied down by lady products. The Diva Cup is ideal for this trip since you will be active and won’t always have time to change.

PrescriptionsIf you forget anything, there’s Walgreens on nearly every corner, just be sure to bring all your paperwork.

Protection from the Elements:

SunscreenIt’s probably better to buy when you get there because of TSA liquid regulations.
HatKeep yourself from getting sunburned and spending the day inside!
Sunglasses­I brought two pairs, just in case I lose or break one.

Tech Gear:

1 Flashlight/headlampFor navigating your way through lava tubes.
LaptopI found that many hotels had free wireless internet, as did the Starbucks on every corner of Honolulu.
CameraCapture every rainbow, waterfall and sunset.
Underwater caseAs I mentioned with my Croatia packing list, my underwater camera case served me well in Hawaii. It’s ideal for scuba divers.
ChargersNo converters necessary if you’re coming from the US.
LockIf you’re staying in a hostel, it’s always a good idea to have a lock for your backpack.
iPodNecessary for inter-island flights and lounging by the pool.

Other:

Water bottleIf you’re hiking Honolulu’s Diamond Head crater, a bottle of water is a must, since there is nowhere to get one once you leave the parking lot. I recommend using a refillable plastic one.
BooksI went through many books on my trip and bought even more.

Another thing to remember for your trip to Hawaii is that if you are traveling between islands, you will be constantly unpacking and repacking. Traveling with a carry-on was the only option for me since you have to pay to check bags on each leg. Any liquids we had, like sunscreen and shampoo, went in one bag that got checked, with the rest going carry-on.

If you are coming from the mainland United States, you may be subject to quarantine, which protects Hawaii’s fragile ecosystem. You cannot bring plants or fruits without prior consent and if you’re traveling with pets, they will be subject to inspection, which takes additional time at the airport.

American dollars are the currency of choice and most national bank branches are found throughout the islands. While using a credit or debit card may be easier in the cities, some restaurants and the famous North Shore food trucks only accept cash.

Anything else a must-pack for a trip to Hawaii?

Big thanks to Caroline for sharing her Hawaii packing tips! If you’d like to follow more of Caroline’s work, check out her travel blog, Facebook or Twitter @Cairinthecity.

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21 Responses to Ultimate Female Travel Packing List for Hawaii (in summer)

  1. Heather October 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Unless you are going to the big island, you will never have need of pants in Hawaii. The only time I ever wore shorts when I lived there was to go hiking. Do yourself a favor and pack sundresses. Or, hit a local Ross (there’s one in every town) when you get there and buy a few lightweight dresses. Cheaper than the tourist shops and a bigger selection. Make sure you pile on the sunscreen and don’t forget to reapply. The sun is much stronger than the mainland and you can pick out the tourists because they are lobster red.

    • Brooke October 14, 2012 at 1:28 am #

      Thanks for the feedback! I’m heading to Hawaii in November and thinking about what I need to pack right now.

    • Sawyer August 5, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

      I have been to Hawaii many times and i found it useful to bring along some ziplock bags to carry shells, or a wet swimsuit.

  2. Candice November 3, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    Cash is a good idea ANYWHERE in hawaii as a lot of local places ONLY accept cash (but there’s atm’s and banks around everywhere in Oahu)

    • Brooke November 3, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

      Good to know, Candice! I’m going to Oahu next week :)

  3. Tara November 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Thank you for all the suggestions above. This site is amazing. I will be heading to Oahu and Maui for an 11 day trip in 2 weeks.

  4. Allyson January 16, 2013 at 2:36 am #

    God bless you, I’m packing right now and your list is exactly what I needed!

  5. Sharlene February 14, 2013 at 6:22 am #

    Great advice I am heading to Waikiki in 2 weeks and will definitley be packing light.

  6. Evee April 3, 2013 at 4:56 am #

    We’re headed to Kaua’i for our honeymoon. Being both pasty white, we’re bringing loads of sunscreen for sure. But we also got UV blocking rash guards for our snorkel trip. I’ve found that when I swim, I can’t reapply the sunscreen enough to not get burned. The rash guard protects my arms, back, and chest, so I only have to worry about my face and legs. If those get burned, it’s way better than all of me. I’d recommend a long-sleeved rash guard if you’re going to be doing a lot of swimming/snorkeling/surfing. There’s a reason surfers wear them!

    • pat ti May 5, 2013 at 2:37 am #

      Just a note: Regarding the statement that “American dollars are the currency of choice”, Hawaii is the 50th state in the United States so the currency system is not any different from the mainland USA. Also the statement “No converters necessary if you’re coming from the US”-Hawaii is not a foreign country so you wouldn’t need converters for your chargers since they are a part of the United States and have the same voltage system. Also the quarantine system in Hawaii is rather strict and your pet needs to meet very strict requirements to be allowed into Hawaii. Please check the State of Hawaii Animal Quarantine information to see the requirements if you are thinking of bringing a pet with you. You probably don’t want to spend your vacation with your pet in quarantine for the duration of your stay.

      • Deb July 27, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

        I am sure the converters and currency suggestion was for Europeans, Australians, Asians, etc…coming from other countries in which case those things would absolutely be necessary.

    • Cindy September 8, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

      They make rash guard pants as well if you are concerned about the back of your legs getting burned. It also helpful to have the the shirt and pants when you know you are going to be snorkeling in a shallow reef. Helps protects from cuts!

      • Brooke September 10, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

        Very true! A burn on the back of the legs can be quite painful – at least I know it is for me. Irritating every time you sit, or if you wear shorts and they rub.

  7. Delaney June 17, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    I like this packing list, but I would never be content bringing only two shirts. This is paradise, so that means pictures, pictures, pictures! I always bring a shirt and shorts for each day that I will be gone…and I didn’t think I was the only one!

  8. Rachael January 15, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    Thank you so much! I am going to Hawaii in February for my honeymoon, and I’m trying to think ahead so I don’t have to stress over packing!

  9. Judy March 24, 2014 at 2:42 am #

    Thank you so much for all the helpful hints. My list for packing is almost complete but thought I would check yours to see if there was anything different. I am so HAPPY I did. I forgot about the sunscreen. I would have turned lobster red for sure.

  10. Jennifer May 27, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    Thank you! My list is quite similar, though to save a bit of money I am bringing reef shoes (water shoes) and goggles. I pack almost all toiletries in gallon sized ziplock bags- in the case that anything bursts open in flight. (In my checked luggage) My first trip I packed much too light- needing to buy clothes for myself was not fun! (Need- not want) Mahalo and Aloha!!!

  11. Sarah September 9, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    I would definately bring pants (jeans) if you plan on horseback riding, going to Halealala to watch the sunrise (oftentimes it drops to 40 degrees) or flying in small aircraft.

    I bring more hiking clothes/shorts as the rest of them get pretty sweaty and covered with red mud. (I do a ton of hiking on Kauai). For hikes that cross rivers or streams, hiking shoes or boots will not work. I found that keens with closed toe, or chacos or tevas usually work well and dry fast, but I bring two pair to rotate them.

    One thing, headbands! Great for keeping the hair blowing off the face. I usually buy a colorful one there.

    • Brooke September 10, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

      Thanks for the great tips, Sarah! How often do you travel to Hawaii? Sounds like you really know you’re stuff :)

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