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Hawaii 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.
2 pairs of shorts – Better suited for hiking and more adventurous activities.
2 tank tops or T-shirts – If you don’t pack enough, there’s plenty of shopping in Waikiki to fill up your suitcase.
1 pair of jeans – This 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 bras – I usually pack one nude bra and one black bra and it seems to fit my wardrobe well.
5 pairs of underwear – Maybe less if you have access to laundry facilities or are packing ExOfficio underwear.
1 light jacket – You may not expect to get cold in Hawaii in summer, but it gets very breezy, especially near the coast.
1 windbreaker/rain jacket – Hawaii has the craziest weather. One minute it can be sunny and one minute it will be raining.
2 swimsuits – Following the wear one, wash one pattern, two should last you the entire trip.
Towel – I 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.
One Turkish towel can do the job of a beach towel and a sarong. Plus they are packable and quick-drying!
Closed toed walking shoes – Many activities, like helicopter tours, require sturdy shoes, and they’re also good for hiking in the national parks.
Flip flops – For a day at the beach or for hostel dorms.
Nice flats or sandals – For a nice dinner in town.
>> Read more about different types of shoes for travel.
Soap or Body Wash – I brought body wash instead, but soap is usually easier to pack if you’re flying carry-on only.
Toothbrush/Paste – Also get a snap-on case so you don’t get anything on your toothbrush.
Deodorant – Keep yourself smelling nice!
Razor – You only need one.
Brush – Travel sized worked for me.
Hair ties – Necessary to keep the hair off your neck on those hot days.
Motion Sickness Medicine – Depending on what you are doing, this can be very handy for helicopter rides, boat tours and flights between islands.
Sunscreen – I 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 Control – You can never be too safe.
Diva Cup – The 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.
Prescriptions – If you forget anything, there’s Walgreens on nearly every corner, just be sure to bring all your paperwork.
Book a Viator Tour Before You Go
Big Island Hawaii Volcano Adventure – $86.41*
See the lava fields on a comprehensive, full-day Big Island Hawaii Volcano tour. You’ll explore Hawaii Volcano National Park, Kilauea Volcano and Big Island of Hawaii’s lava flows and craters, and learn about the natural history of this amazing part of the world along the way.
Dolphin Swim and Snorkel Adventure Kona Hawaii – $129.00*
Dolphin swim & snorkel adventure Kona, Big Island-Hawaii. Snorkel with wild dolphins in the beautiful blue water of Kona, Hawaii. Your tour operator specializes in epic ocean adventures with wild Dolphin swim & snorkel tours, Manta Ray night snorkel tours & Whale watching. Small groups ensure that you will have plenty of in water time and not overwhelm the wildlife and disturb there natural behavior.
Protection from the Elements:
Sunscreen – It’s probably better to buy when you get there because of TSA liquid regulations.
Hat – Keep yourself from getting sunburned and spending the day inside!
Sunglasses – I brought two pairs, just in case I lose or break one.
Laptop – I found that many hotels had free wireless internet, as did the Starbucks on every corner of Honolulu.
Camera – Capture every rainbow, waterfall and sunset.
Underwater case – As I mentioned with my Croatia packing list, my underwater camera case served me well in Hawaii. It’s ideal for scuba divers.
Chargers – No converters or adapters necessary if you’re coming from the US.
Lock – If you’re staying in a hostel, it’s always a good idea to have a lock for your backpack.
iPod – Necessary for inter-island flights and lounging by the pool.
Water bottle – If 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.
Books – I went through many books on my trip and bought even more.
More Hawaii Travel Tips
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.
Book ahead! Hawaii is a major tourist destination and accommodation can book out early in the high season. Don’t get stuck overpaying for hotels or sleeping in grungier hostels. Click here to search for accommodation deals in Hawaii now.
Anything else a must-pack for a trip to Hawaii?
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