Packing for a Hawaiian vacation is as simple as tossing a few bikinis into your luggage, right? Well, not quite. To truly enjoy everything the Aloha State has to offer, you need to get out into the great outdoors and this requires a bit of preparation. Here are 20 essentials for your Hawaii packing list.
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1. Travel Documents
Of the things you should do before you take off, getting your travel documents in order is the most important. Check with your nearest US embassy or consulate to see what the latest travel requirements for Canadian visitors are and remember to pack all the necessary paperwork. This is especially important if you're travelling with kids.
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2. Sporty Swimsuits
That string bikini is great for lazing on the beach but when you’re trying your hand at riding Hawaii’s famous waves, it’s a recipe for a wardrobe malfunction. Take at least two sporty swimsuits – so you can wear one while the other dries – that will stay on in the surf.
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3. Hiking Sandals with Closed Toes
You're probably wondering what kind of shoes to wear hiking in Hawaii. Hiking boots are among the things travellers pack but never use. So, unless you’re planning some serious trekking, a pair of hiking sandals will be sufficient for walking around the islands, but make sure they have thick soles for walking on volcanic rock and lava. Closed toes will make them suitable for activities like horse-riding too.
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4. Waterproof Phone/Camera Case
Hawaii has many attractions that you’ll want to photograph but a lot of these are also very wet: surf, waterfalls, rock pools and the like. Pop your phone or camera into a waterproof case and you can even take pictures under water.
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5. Flotation Strap
A flotation strap is a great gadget if you’re going to take your phone or camera onto a boat or into the water. If you drop it while taking pictures, the flotation strap will keep it from sinking and getting lost.
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When it comes to things you should always travel with the number one clothing item in your luggage should be a sarong. Especially if you're wondering what clothes to wear in Hawaii, a sarong can function as a swimsuit cover-up, a towel, a scarf, a shawl and many other things. In casual Hawaii you can even wear your sarong as a skirt when going out.
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7. Waterproof Sunscreen
Even if you’re not in the water, a waterproof sunscreen will be more effective in the sweat-inducing humidity of Hawaii. Choose one with a high SPF for the strong sun and check that it's one of the best natural products that are reef safe to protect the marine life.
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8. Rash Guard Top
While you’re snorkelling or surfing, it’s easy to lose track of time and forget to reapply sunscreen. A rash guard top will not only protect your skin against sunburn but also against chafing from your surfboard.
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9. Leave-in Conditioner
All that beach and surf action can wreak havoc on your hair. One of the best travel beauty hacks for a holiday filled with sun and sea is a leave-in conditioner that will help protect your locks and keep them from becoming dry and brittle.
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10. Warm Jacket
This next one is for those of you who always ask, what did I forget to pack? Some of Hawaii’s most scenic spots are high up in the mountains, where it can get quite cold. A warm jacket, preferably one with a hood so you won’t have to take a hat too, will keep away the chill. It’s a bonus if your jacket is waterproof.
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11. Polarized Sunglasses
Cheap sunglasses are a good travel item that you can pick up at the dollar store but for Hawaii, polarized shades are a necessity. They'll protect your eyes from the glare if you spend too much time on or near the water.
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12. Reef Shoes
Water activities will be much less fun if you cut your feet on sharp volcanic rocks. A pair of reef shoes will protect your feet in and near the water and they’re easy to clean after you’ve walked through mud.
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13. Light, Breathable Shorts and Tops
Hawaii is hot and humid most of the year and heavy fabrics will quickly become uncomfortable. Pack light, breathable shorts and tops in a quick-dry fabric. If you choose the right colours, you can show off your tan at the same time.
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14. Long-sleeved Shirt
A long-sleeved shirt in a light fabric like cotton is a great option for the evening or when you just need to give your skin a break from the sun. It’s a versatile piece of clothing that can be dressed up or down with the right accessories.
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15. Long Pants
Some activities, like mountain hikes and horseback riding, are best done in long pants. Jeans are versatile but are bulky and take forever to dry, so pack cargo pants in a quick-dry fabric instead. Bonus: pair these with a blouse and you've got an appropriate outfit to wear to a luau.
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16. Light Backpack
Even though Hawaii is home to one of the world’s scariest hikes, you’ll find other less death defying options that include amazing waterfalls and stunning valleys. When hiking, a light backpack is a more comfortable option for carrying your snacks, gadgets and sunscreen.
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Binoculars aren’t just for ornithologists. In Hawaii, they’ll come in handy for getting a closer view of whales, dolphins, lava and surfers.
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18. Reusable Water Bottle
Of course you can buy water just about anywhere in Hawaii but it’s cheaper and better for the environment to bring a reusable bottle that you can just fill with water or other drinks. A good water bottle is one of those items that will save you hundreds over time.
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19. Rain Poncho
Rain gear is essential in Hawaii, where showers are common throughout the year. If you invest in a rain poncho rather than a rain jacket, you can use it to keep not only yourself dry but your backpack too.
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20. Bug Repellent
So far, Hawaii has been one of the world’s Zika-free beach destinations but there have been cases of dengue fever, carried by the same mosquito that spreads Zika. A good bug repellent will reduce your risk of getting sick.
Want more? Don't miss the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii.
Want more? Don't miss the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii.