Do you have an adventure-filled trip to Hawaii planned, but not sure what to pack? Well, you’re in luck, because I’ve spent some time on the Hawaiian Islands and I’ve put together a perfect Hawaii packing list geared toward outdoor adventurers.
Whether your goal is to hike through Hawaii’s lush forests, paddleboard along the coastline, snorkel with sea turtles, or all of the above, this packing list will make sure you’re ready for any adventure.
Browse our ultimate Hawaii packing list geared for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts planning an adventure-packed vacation.
Hawaii Hiking Outfit Recommendations
If you’re looking to hit the trails, here are our Hawaii hiking outfit recommendations:
Versatile & Quick-Drying Hiking Shorts
While I’m a big fan of hiking in fitted spandex/yoga shorts, in Hawaii I chose shorts that were a little more versatile so I could wear them to the beach, to the pool, on the trail, or out to lunch. These North Face Aphrodite Shorts have an elastic waistband (COMFY!) and the shorts are loose-fitting but not baggy or saggy. They’re the perfect length too – not too long or too short.
My favorite feature is the pockets. I’m so used to hiking without pockets in my spandex, I forgot how useful they can be. Pockets made it easy to access my phone for photos or to carry my ID and credit card if we were headed to the store.
Finally, the material dries quickly whether they are wet from a swim or washing them in the sink after a muddy hike.
If you prefer longer shorts, check out the North Face Aphrodite Bermuda shorts.
Check price: REI
Lightweight Synthetic Tank Top
The lightweight, breathable Patagonia Tank Top was built for active outdoor adventures, making it a perfect addition to any Hawaii packing list. It wicks moisture, dries quickly, and resists odor. Even when I got sweaty in the humidity, this tank didn’t stick to my skin or feel clingy.
If you’re not a fan of tank tops or want more sun coverage, the Patagonia Capilene Cool T-Shirt is also a great choice for your Hawaii hiking outfit. It’s lightweight and great as a travel t-shirt that can survive the trail or a casual dinner out.
Lightweight windbreaker or rain jacket
The Patagonia Houdini is hands-down the best lightweight windbreaker I’ve owned. At only 3.3 oz, you can easily stuff it in your pack and not even know it’s there. It’s also water-resistant which is great for Hawaii. It rains a lot but every rainstorm we encountered was a warm one, so a traditional Gortex rain jacket would have left me a hot, sweaty mess.
Instead, this Patagonia Houdini provided a little extra protection when it started to drizzle on the trail. I also wore it during our doors-off helicopter ride where we encountered some pretty strong winds. It was the perfect extra layer and for how little room it takes up, it’s kind of a no-brainer.
To round out your Hawaii hiking outfit, pack a good hat to protect your face from harmful UV rays. You’ll probably get sweaty while hiking in Hawaii, so you want one that is lightweight and will dry quickly. The Sunday Afternoons Eclipse Hat is a perfect choice. Not only is it light and quick-drying, but it also has a hook-and-loop strap to keep it in place during windy weather, which is common in Hawaii. It also has flip-up panels on each side to expose mesh vents for keeping you nice and cool.
Day hiking pack
When choosing a day pack to take with you to Hawaii, I recommend picking one that is waterproof or has a waterproof cover since it can rain a lot. If you plan on doing longer hikes, it’s also a good idea to have a pack with a water reservoir so you can stay well hydrated. The Osprey Mira 22 checks all these boxes and more. It comes with an included 2.5L reservoir and a built-in rain fly. It’s also made of a durable material that can withstand being thrown around on rugged terrain, like lava rock. The Mira is the perfect size for a personal item or carry-on, so no need to pack a different bag for the plane either
Check price: Osprey
Best Shoes & Sandals For Hawaii
Shoes for Hawaii are almost as important as your clothing. Since the weather and terrain can change drastically from day to day, it’s important to have sturdy footwear for exploring the trails and beaches. Here are what I recommend:
Closed-toed hiking water shoes
Before our trip, I was doing a lot of research about the best hiking shoes for Hawaii. I decided to leave my heavy waterproof hiking boots at home and opted for a more breathable closed-toed shoe made for wet, slippery, and muddy trails – which was exactly what we found.
I first heard of Astral shoes from several OARS River guides a few summers ago who were ALL wearing them because of how well they perform on wet rocks and slick surfaces. The model I decided on was the Astral TR1 Junction Water Shoes. They have great traction while still being lightweight and breathable.
Many times I found myself in ankle-deep mud, plodding through rivers, hopping over boulders, or climbing over tree limbs, and these shoes gave me confidence. Astral shoes are made of mesh, so they drain easily but no rocks can get in. They also have a sturdy toe and brim around the bottom of the shoe to give you stability on uneven surfaces.
Every now and then I find a new piece of gear that I’m elated about and these shoes are one!
If you’ve been following Bearfoot Theory for a while, you know I love my Teva Trail Sandals! I rarely wear flip flops because they cause tendonitis in my foot to flare up. Instead, I like sandals that are strapped to my foot so I don’t have to use my toes to grip.
The Teva Trail sandals are lightweight, but they still provide some structure and grip for walking around at camp at night or on a wet trail. They are constantly coming out with fun new colors and designs, and I also like that you can pair them with socks for chilly nights or on the airplane.
Hawaii Packing List Beach Essentials
If you plan on spending some time at the beach, it’s a good idea to pack a rashguard. Rashguards help protect your skin from the sun and they can prevent your skin from getting irritated by surfboards or even the sand.
I love how flattering and comfortable this Carve Designs rashguard is. You can wear it surfing, SUPing, snorkeling, hiking, or even just lounging around. The extra coverage is great for active sports (where you might be worried about your swimsuit staying in place…) but even better, it protects your skin from the sun.
Certain sunscreens contain harmful chemicals that are bad for your health AND the reefs, so wearing this rashguard helps reduce the amount of sunscreen needed to protect yourself from painful sunburns.
Wide-Brimmed Sun hat
I get a lot of questions about my favorite sun hat and it’s the Wallaroo Sedona Hat. It has a wide brim, which helps protect your face and neck from the sun and it has a drawstring at the chin for when the wind picks up. It’s also cute and a great addition to your Hawaii packing list!
Sand-resistant beach towel
Sand-resistant beach towels make lounging at the beach and packing up at the end of the day so much more enjoyable. Woven in a way that prevents sand from getting caught in the fibers, Nomadix towels are also made from post-consumer recycled plastic and they’re lightweight, quick-drying, and all-around a win. Nomadix also makes larger blankets if you want more space to spread out on the beach.
It’s a no-brainer to add sunscreen to your Hawaii packing list, but make sure it’s a reef-safe sunscreen. Many commercial sunscreens have harmful chemicals that can negatively affect reef health (not to mention your own skin!). My favorite reef-safe sunscreen is the mineral-based Sun Bum SPF 50.
Want to get some footage of sea turtles and tropical fish? The GoPro HERO10 is waterproof down to 33 feet, so unless you plan on Scuba diving or doing deep free dives, you can take it on your snorkeling adventures. Pair it with the Handler Floating Grip so you can make the most of being in the water.
Hawaii Camping Gear Recommendations
Hawaii is hot and having a cooler is pretty much a must unless you want to eat and drink all of your meals out. Remember, cocktails at a beachfront bar in Hawaii can be up to $20! We brought our Yeti Hopper 30 Cooler for drinks, sandwich fixings, and other staples we like to keep around. Our model can hold 24 cans and plenty of ice.
In the car, it kept the ice and the food cold for 2 full days before we had to replenish and for a soft cooler, that is pretty amazing. We checked the Yeti Cooler with the rest of our luggage and used it to carry a few things that didn’t fit in our normal bags. The shape makes it fairly compact. If you want something a bit smaller and lighter, the Yeti 18 Flip Cooler is an easier shape to pack and carry around.
A headlamp is a Hawaii packing list essential if you plan on camping or want to do some late-night walks on the beach. The BioLite Headlamp 200 has 4 lighting modes including ultra-bright and red night vision, which comes in handy when you want to have a conversation without blinding your friends or when you’re sharing a van with your significant other.
It also has a locking mechanism to prevent it from accidentally turning on in your bag. What really distinguishes this headlamp from the rest is that it works on rechargeable batteries that you can recharge using a solar panel or USB outlet.
This compact Jetboil stove is one of the most efficient backpacking stoves on the market and it’s perfect for exploring Hawaii. Weighing just under a pound, the Jetboil can bring 2 cups of water to a rolling boil in 2 minutes. With one fuel canister, which you’ll have to pick up once on the island, you can boil up to 42 cups of water, so you’ll probably only need one canister for your entire trip. This lightweight cooking system is awesome for boiling water and making coffee (so you can save money on coffee out), as well as heating up simple meals.
**Don’t forget you can’t fly with fuel canisters but once you’re on the island you can pick up fuel at Walmart or a hardware store.
Who doesn’t want to take a hammock nap on the beach in Hawaii? A hammock may sound like a luxury item to add to your Hawaii packing list, but this lightweight hammock by ENO will hardly take up any room in your bag and it has room for two, so you only need to bring one.
With their Atlas hammock suspension straps, setting up between a couple of shady palms is a cinch.
Have you been to Hawaii? What else is on your Hawaii packing list for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts? We’d love to hear about your travels in Hawaii and how you prepared. Leave us a comment below.
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