Whether you’re planning a fun family vacation, a romantic getaway, an adventure with friends, or a peaceful solocation, a trip to Hawaii creates an opportunity to make lifelong memories. As you count down the days to your travels, you’re probably wondering what you should (and shouldn’t!) pack. Here are a few tips to help you have a comfortable, worry-free time in paradise.
First, What’s the Weather Like?
Using Honolulu as an example (since it’s the most popular tourist destination in the state), the average daily temperature generally ranges from a low in the upper 60s and a high in the upper 70s in the winter, to a low in the mid-70s and a high in the mid-80s during the summer. We don’t really have fall or spring here!
- Each of the Hawaiian Islands experiences warmer/drier weather from approximately April through the end of October, and cooler/wetter weather from approximately November through March.
- In general, the south and west sides of each island tend to be warmer and drier than their north and east sides.
- Inland regions, which are usually at higher elevations and sometimes referred to as “upcountry,” can be noticeably cooler than coastal areas.
Another fun fact: Hawaii is one of only two states that do not recognize daylight savings time. Since the island chain is so close to the equator, sunrise varies only from about 5:50 a.m. (in early June) to 7:10 a.m. (in mid-January), and sunset varies only from about 5:50 p.m. (in late November) to 7:15 p.m. (in early July).
Now, What Are the Obvious Items to Pack?
- You may be surprised at how much time you spend in a bathing suit during your visit to Hawaii! For the great majority of places you’ll go, it’s perfectly appropriate for a woman to wear a swimsuit and a coverup (or a swimsuit, shorts, and a casual top) and a man to wear swim trunks and a T-shirt.
- Flip flops (or as we call them here, slippers) are definitely the footwear of choice in the Aloha State. Just remember that if you’re invited to someone’s home, local custom calls for taking your slippers off before entering.
- Even if you plan to attend a luau or have a fine dining experience, there’s no need for anything more formal than a collared shirt and shorts for a man, and a sun dress for a woman. Feel free to leave your high heels at home!
But What Are the Not-So-Obvious Items?
- Believe it or not, it sometimes snows in the Hawaiian Islands. If you have plans to explore high elevations like Mauna Kea (on the Big Island) or the Haleakala volcano (on Maui), you’ll definitely want to bring clothing pieces like a long-sleeved shirt and/or a hoodie, and pants or jeans.
- Jeans may also be a necessity if you’re considering a horseback riding excursion.
- In the winter, long sleeves or pants may also be comfortable for open-air dinners – or women planning to wear a dress may also want a light outer layer like a thin cardigan.
- If you’re thinking about exploring the islands’ rainforests, bamboo forests, waterfalls, etc., a light waterproof jacket might also come in handy.
- For a stay on any island at any time of year, you’ll thank yourself for packing hiking shoes or other closed-toe walking shoes. Although not necessarily strenuous, many hikes in Hawaii involve walking on uneven surfaces like lava rock; shoes with treads make these adventures much more manageable than they’d be in slippers. Also keep in mind that rainforest mud can be quite slippery, and our iron-rich soil can create stubborn stains – so you may not want to bring your favorite pair of closed-toe shoes.
And Finally, Let’s Talk About the Extras…
Leave at home: snorkel gear. Instead, bring: water shoes.
Hawaii’s reefs and abundant tropical fish are part of what makes it such an attractive vacation location. Especially given the fact that our water temperatures remain in the mid- to upper-70s year-round, most visitors seek out underwater adventures while they’re here. Many vacation rentals have snorkel gear available for guest use, and companies such as Boss Frog’s have rental gear for surprisingly reasonable prices.
Because some of our snorkel spots are accessed by walking a few steps on lava rocks first, though, you might pat yourself on the back for packing your water shoes. Just remember that once you’re in the water, you should do your best to avoid stepping on reefs so you don’t harm any sea life.
Leave at home: a high-quality camera. Instead, bring: a waterproof case for your phone.
Many travelers to Hawaii opt for snorkel excursions, whale-watching cruises, sunset sails, etc. If you’re planning to spend time on a boat, or even just watch sea turtles or Hawaiian monk seals near the water’s edge, you’ll be glad you have an easy and safe way to capture all the incredible sights around you.
Possibly also leave at home: toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion. Many vacation rentals (like our luxury homes and condos on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island) supply high-quality products like these. Many also provide sunscreen and beach bags, so you may want to check before you make your luggage any heavier than it needs to be. If you do decide to bring your own sunscreen, remember that reef-safe products will help preserve our ocean ecosystems for your next visit!
Don’t forget: chargers for phones and other electronics. Sunglasses and hats are the other accessories many travelers forget during their preparations – but these items are easily replaced throughout the Hawaiian Islands at stores such as Whalers General Store, ABC Stores, and Longs Drugs.