What to Pack: Hawaii Edition

Oh hey guys! I just got back from Hawaii last night, so I don’t have a ton of energy to pull together an outfit post for you today, but I promise I will be back at it tomorrow. Instead, I thought you might like to see what I packed for the trip!


Full disclosure: this is a great knock off of a lot of other style bloggers “What to Pack” guides. Only they’re normally packing for Europe and/or checking a bag…

I needed some help on what to pack for Hawaii, and I ended up creating this after not finding a lot! I can personally guarantee that all these items can fit into a regulation sized carry-on suitcase, your personal item (use the tote and put your purse inside it along with your in-flight entertainment items), and what you end up wearing on the plane. Super great right? Feel free to send me the $20-50 you save on checked bag fees. ;)

  • Black Tee: Casual and cool and works with everything. Enough said! Pair it with your black skirt for an “almost” dress.
  • Stripe Tee: You know I love me some stripes and probably can’t last 10 days without. Wear it with the shorts and your light jacket. Or wear it with your graphic shorts. Or with everything (too much?)!
  • Graphic Tees (1, 2): Perfect for site-seeing. They work with shorts, skirts, and jeans. Easy peasy, right?
  • Light Jacket: This could be denim or a rain jacket or a anorak jacket. Take one.  Trust me. Beaches get chilly at night, plus it can double as a blanket on the plane.
  • Maxi Dress: For a fancy dinner or luau (I wore this exact dress to our booked luau), it’s fun to dress it up in themed island wear that is still a touch dressy. Plus, you can always throw a t-shirt over it, knot the tee, and then you have another outfit!
  • Plain Shorts: I chose black and white options, because they’re so neutral and classic, but khaki, navy, gray, or denim shorts would have been a great option. These can be used for casual day looks, paired with a black tee and statement necklace for night, or as a swimsuit coverup. Oh, and it’s HOT in the tropics. Shorts are a need.
  • Jeans: I would wear these onto the plane (takes up less room that way!). I always get cold, not matter what, on planes and at night. Plus, you never know when you’ll need a pair of jeans. Always a travel must for me.
  • Black Skirt: Skirts are great, because they’re instantly classier than jeans or shorts. Plus, you can tuck dresses into them to create brand new looks (how cute would the ruffle dress be tucked into this skirt?).
  • Graphic Shorts: Great as a coverup or a change up from the standard color shorts.
  • One or Two Additional Dresses: Sundresses, more maxis, another skirt, or whatever pleases you. Dresses are easy and usually classier and cooler than shorts. Plus, they roll up really well.
  • Two Swimsuits (top 1, bottom 1, top 2, bottom 2): One to wear Day 1, one to wear Day 2. Continue to alternate, because there is nothing worse than a wet, cold swimsuit (am I right?)!
  • Beach Tote: To carry your beach necessities to and from the beach! Also great for a carry-on bag or if your crossbody purse just can’t cut it that day.
  • Crossbody Purse: Hands-free traveling is the best kind. This purse is pricey, but you can find more affordable ones. It easily holds a wallet, tickets, sunglasses, camera, and a small bottle of water, which is exactly what I need it to hold and no more!
  • Boat Shoes: Perfect for walking all day…which is what you do when you’re site-seeing. Not the most fashionable pair of shoes around, but I love mine.
  • One or Two Pairs of Sunglasses: One for you, and one in case your husband drops his in the ocean. Make the other pair an aviator style for gender-neutral purposes (not like this has EVER happened before).
  • Birkenstocks: Love them or hate them, you can walk a lot in these bad boys AND they can easily go from sidewalks to sand.
  • Sandals: This glitter pair from Target is perfect because it’s classier than the Birks, small and easily packed, and adds some interest.
  • Tennis Shoes: These are the shoes you wear when you’re walking along the volcano or hiking in the jungle-like woods. Lightweight and in a neutral color. This pair doesn’t scream tourist. Don’t pack these and wear them on the plane to save room!

So that’s it for my Hawaii packing guide. Obviously, you’ll need accessories, undergarments, toiletries, books/magazines/Kindles/iPads, etc., but that’s more person to person needs anyway.

Is there anything you would add or subtract from my list?

  • Sooo jealous! I wish I’d just come back from Hawaii! I’ve always wanted to go! I definitely would’ve packed the same things: lots of casual and mixable pieces!

    Sincerely, Sara

  • This is perfect! I always try to pack minimally but never am quite this good at it (thankfully I have the biggest sized suitcase that’s still possible to carry on, ha!). Also I always remember after tropical vacations, when I realize all the things in my suitcase that I didn’t get around to wearing, that you really don’t need THAT many clothes or much of anything fancy when you’re mainly going to the beach/hiking around. And needing not a whole lot more than a bathing suit is a recipe for an awesome vacation.

  • Sarah

    Perfect list! LOL about the hubby/sunglasses though. Hoping we see some outfit pictures soon!