How to pack your bags for Hawaii, literally

One of the most shockingly pleasant things about coming to Hawaii is how quickly and drastically the climate changes over the course of the plane ride.

For example, visitors bundled up in Anchorage, Alaska in a subzero January snow blizzard can find themselves — just six hours later — lying half-naked in a beach hammock at sunset.

With this in mind, it’s important to consider what and how you pack on your next Hawaiian vacation. Here are some tips for optimal packing:

The bare necessities

Hawaii requires minimal clothing.

Technically, all you really need for Hawaii are shorts and a T-shirt (or a dress), a pair of slippers (“flip flops”), your camera phone and sunblock. You can accessorize with a hat, sunglasses and a Hydroflask to keep your water cold (and avoid using plastic water bottles).

Pack light, but adjust for the season

Certain places need a little extra insulation.

Hawaii is mainly a subtropical climate, so we do have a winter season here. From November thru March, temperatures can cool off in the early morning and evenings — even at sea level. You’ll definitely want to bring a pair of jeans and light to medium cover up such as a light fleece, hoodie or sweater (tip: wear these on the plane to save luggage space).

If you’re planning on visiting any places of higher elevation, like the towns in upcountry Maui or the Big Island, you’ll definitely need that coat and pants in the winter months as well as a light windstopper in spring, summer and fall.

Going to the summits of Haleakala and Mauna Kea? Bring or borrow arctic gear!

June through September can get very warm. Leave the sweater and jeans at home if you’re staying near the beach. You’ll crave to wear as little as possible, even at night.

You technically could bring just a carry on

Leave space for goodies to bring home.

Baggage fees are never fun, and neither is lugging around a 50lb. suitcase. Many savvy travelers have figured out how to get by on a long trip with just the contents of their carry on and backpack.

Hawaii makes it easy since you don’t really need a lot to wear here. And if you do bring a suitcase, leave it half-empty so you have space for Maui gifts and souvenirs.

Of course, when you stay in a Sunny Maui Condos’ vacation rental, you get a washer and dryer in your room, which alleviates the burden of having to pack a new outfit for every day of your trip.

If you’re athletic…

Don’t bring this in your luggage, just rent instead!

Hawaii is a spectacular place to be active. If you’re a runner or biker, ditch the warm weather gear regardless of the season — once getting warmed up is all you need to stay comfortable.

Going surfing? You might want to use a spring suit in the winter, as the water tends to get a little bit colder. Bring one if you have one or buy/rent one here to save space.

You should strongly consider renting a surfboard/bodyboard and snorkel gear instead of bringing your own. Airline surfboard fees cost way more than the price of a good rental!

Buy these items when you’re here

Don’t bring your own poke! lol

There are several items you should buy here instead of bringing in your luggage:

  • sunblock (always on sale)
  • slippers (get a pair of rubber “Locals” for $2.99 — they’ll last you at least a year)
  • T-shirts (always on sale)
  • good swim/surf fins — go for “Da Fin,” they are robust and will last you a lifetime
  • poke – we have the freshest around!

We would be delighted to be part of your next Maui vacation. If we can assist you with planning your perfect Maui vacation, please contact our Sunny Maui Vacations’ team at or at 808-240-1311 Extension 21. Let us help you reserve your vacation rental condo in South Maui and assist you with island recommendations and activity planning through our in-house Concierge at 808-240-1311 Extension 71.

Photo credits: aznaphrodite, ricemaruprayitnophotography, ctuna, funkyhulagirl, moustacheman, megz

Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo or rental home in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui.