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What to Wear in Hawaii: A Fun and Practical Packing Guide

Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, packing the right clothes can make all the difference when your destination is Hawaii.

Now, you might be wondering, “Why does it matter what I wear in Hawaii?” Well, aside from the obvious comfort factor, your attire can greatly enhance your Hawaiian experience.

You want to blend in with the locals, be prepared for the many different outdoor activities there, and still look great for those sunset Mai Tais and Instagram-worthy snapshots.

Throughout this guide, I’ll be sharing my personal perspective on what to wear in Hawaii. After all, what you pack is a reflection of your style and preferences.

While I’ll provide you with all the practical advice you need, remember that personal style is a key ingredient in creating a memorable vacation wardrobe.

Let’s jump right into it!

Beach Days and Water Sports

In Hawaii, the beach isn’t just a destination; it’s a way of life. So, let’s talk about what to wear for those glorious days of sun, surf, and relaxation.

Beach Days

Swimwear and Swimsuit Cover-Up

When it comes to bathing suits, it’s all about personal preference. Whether you’re into two-pieces, one-pieces, or board shorts, go with what makes you feel confident and comfortable. Hawaiian beaches welcome all styles!

Pro Tip: Throw in a swimsuit coverup for those moments when you want to stroll the shoreline or grab a bite to eat without changing. A flowy sundress or a stylish sarong can be a game-changer.

Water Shoes for Rocky Beaches

While some Hawaiian beaches boast soft, powdery sand, others have rocky terrain that can be a bit tricky to navigate.

Enter water shoes, your trusty sidekicks for exploring beautiful but sometimes foot-unfriendly shores. They protect your feet from sharp rocks and coral, ensuring your beach day stays worry-free.

Beach Blankets for Lounging

Claiming your spot on the sand is a vital beach ritual. Pack a lightweight, sand-resistant beach blanket to make your beach day even more enjoyable. It’s essential for sunbathing, picnicking, or just lying down with a good book.

Reusable Water Bottle

Staying hydrated under the Hawaiian sun is non-negotiable. Pack a reusable water bottle and fill it up throughout the day.

Not only will you save money and reduce plastic waste, but you’ll also ensure you’re always refreshed and ready for your next adventure.

Water Sports Adventures

Surf’s up, folks!

Hawaii is renowned for its world-class water sports opportunities, and if you’re an adrenaline junkie or simply want to dip your toes into some aquatic fun, it’s time to talk about attire.

Whether you’re hanging ten on the waves, exploring vibrant coral reefs, or gliding on a paddleboard, we’ve got you covered on what to wear.

Comfortable Water Sports Attire

Surfing in Hawaii is like dancing with the ocean, and for this dance, you’ll want to dress the part. Opt for a snug-fitting rash guard to protect your skin from the sun and potential board rash.

Don’t forget a pair of board shorts or swim trunks – something that allows you to move freely and comfortably.

For snorkeling adventures, a good-fitting snorkel mask is essential. Pair it with a snorkel-friendly swimsuit (usually a one-piece or swim shorts for men) and, of course, fins to help you glide gracefully among the marine life.

Hiking Sandals for Beach-to-Trail Adventures


In Hawaii, it’s not uncommon to go from the beach to a scenic hiking trail in a matter of minutes. That’s why a pair of sturdy hiking sandals is your best bet.

They offer the breathability of sandals while providing the support you need for those impromptu waterfall hikes or exploring lava rock coastlines.

Sports Bras for Active Days

Ladies, if you plan on being active, whether it’s paddling, hiking, or beach volleyball, make sure you pack a comfortable sports bra. It’ll keep you feeling secure and comfortable while you conquer those waves or trails.

Hiking in Paradise

With its stunning vistas, dense rainforests, and dramatic coastlines, the Hawaiian Islands are a hiker’s dream come true. But to fully enjoy these adventures, you’ll need the right attire.

Hiking Boots for Rugged Trails

Hawaii’s trails can be rugged and uneven, so a good pair of hiking boots that are designed for rugged terrain and feature ankle support is your best friend.

They’ll help you tackle everything from steep inclines to muddy paths while keeping your feet comfortable and secure.

Be sure to check out popular waterfall hikes like Manoa Falls on Oahu or Akaka Falls on the Big Island. These hikes combine lush greenery, cool mist, and unforgettable views, making them an absolute must on your Hawaiian adventure.

Light Rain Jacket for Unexpected Showers

Hawaii’s tropical climate often means short, unexpected rain showers that come and go in a flash.

Don’t let a little rain dampen your hiking spirits. Pack a light jacket that you can easily stow away in your daypack. It’ll keep you dry and won’t weigh you down.

Dining Out in Style

After days filled with outdoor adventures, it’s time to shift gears and talk about dressing up for those special, elegant evenings on the Hawaiian islands.

While Hawaii is synonymous with a laid-back vibe, it’s also home to some fantastic restaurants where you can savor exquisite cuisine. Here’s what to wear when you’re dining out in style.

Hawaiian Shirts and Polo Shirts for Nice Dinners

When it comes to upscale dining in Hawaii, you can often leave your formal attire at home. Hawaiian shirts for gents and polo shirts for everyone are perfectly acceptable.

These shirts often feature vibrant colors and tropical patterns, giving you a stylish yet relaxed look that screams “I’m on vacation!”

If you want to level up your island-style game, consider clothing from Tommy Bahama. This iconic brand specializes in upscale casual wear that’s perfect for Hawaii’s dining scene.

Discuss Formal Wear Options

While many upscale restaurants in Hawaii embrace the casual island lifestyle, some might have a dress code that leans a bit more toward formal. In such cases, a nice sundress or a button-up shirt with slacks will suffice.

A sundress paired with comfortable wedges or sandals can be a perfect choice for ladies, while gents can opt for dress shoes and a lightweight blazer.

Personal Preferences

As you plan your wardrobe for your Hawaiian getaway, it’s essential to consider personal preferences and factors related to your vacation rental.

Hawaii offers a wide range of experiences, and tailoring your attire to your unique taste and plans is part of the fun.

The Importance of Personal Preference

In Hawaii, individual style reigns supreme. While there are general guidelines, remember that personal comfort and confidence are paramount.

If Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops aren’t your jam, don’t fret. Embrace your own style, whether it’s bohemian chic, beachy casual, or even a touch of urban flair.

The islands welcome diversity and individuality.

Choosing Vacation Outfits Based on Your Plans

Vacation Outfits

Consider your itinerary and activities when packing your outfits. Are you planning a romantic dinner, a day of snorkeling, or a beachside picnic?

Tailor your wardrobe accordingly. Plan versatile outfits that can transition seamlessly from one activity to another, allowing you to make the most of your time in paradise.

Consider Extra Costs for Rentals and Specific Activities

If you’re planning unique adventures like scuba diving, helicopter tours, or formal luaus, keep in mind that some activities may provide specific attire or require additional fees.

Check in advance to avoid any unexpected costs and to ensure you have the right clothing for these experiences.

Your Hawaii vacation is a reflection of your personal taste and interests. Feel free to mix and match, experiment, and express yourself through your attire.

The key is to be comfortable and confident so you can fully immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of the Hawaiian Islands.

General Packing Tips

Here are a few simple yet practical tips to ensure you’re dressed for success (and relaxation) during your stay in Hawaii:

Comfort is Everything

Hawaii is all about that laid-back, “hang loose” vibe, so leave those stiff, restrictive clothes behind. Think breezy, easy, and oh-so-comfy.

It’s a place where flip-flops are practically the state shoe, and it’s not unusual to see folks strolling around in casual attire.

Breathable Fabrics for Hawaii’s Climate

Hawaii’s climate can be summed up in one word: paradise. With warm temperatures and high humidity year-round, breathable fabrics are your best friend.

Consider packing lightweight cotton, linen, or moisture-wicking materials that will keep you cool as a cucumber, even on the sunniest of days.

Packing Checklists and Essentials

I know it sounds boring, but having a packing list can save you from those “Oops, I forgot my sunscreen!” moments.

Make a list of essentials like sunscreen (a must!), sunglasses, a hat, and insect repellent. These are your best friends for Hawaii’s outdoor adventures.

As for toiletries, keep in mind that many vacation rentals provide the basics, so you can save space in your suitcase. Just remember to check in advance.

Oh, and did I mention that you should toss in an extra reusable water bottle for good measure? Hydration is key in the Hawaiian sun.

Wrapping Up

From the sandy shores to the lush rainforests, we’ve covered the attire you’ll need for various activities across the islands.

Remember, comfort is king in this laid-back paradise, and breathable fabrics are your best friend. But personal style and preference are equally important, so feel free to express yourself through your clothing choices.

Don’t forget those checklists and essentials to ensure you’re ready for every adventure. And when it comes to packing, less is often more. Hawaii has a way of making you embrace the simple pleasures in life, including a minimalist wardrobe.


  • Elizabeth L

    Aloha! I’m Elizabeth L. At LiveYourAloha, I am responsible for writing about sightseeing tours and Hawaiian culture. For the last 12 years, I’ve been working as a tour guide in Hawaii. It’s been a great way to see the world and learn about new cultures. I love nature and the outdoors, and have even climbed two of the world’s highest peaks! Making connections and showing my visitors the incredible beauty of these beautiful islands is a passion of mine. When I’m not out giving tours, you’ll likely find me on an invigorating hike or enjoying local cuisine on the beach.