We lucked out when it comes to packing for our two-week honeymoon in Hawaii. Normally, when considering what to wear in Hawaii, I would have just emptied my summer drawer and packed a bunch of colorful sundresses and resort wear, as if we were going to Tulum.
But, we had already decided at that point that we wanted to travel for a year. And I had started doing some deep research on what to pack for long-term travel, and had even ordered some things. So I told my husband that we should use Hawaii as a test case, and pack as though we were traveling for a year. So that’s what we did.
We packed some tropical beachy clothing, but also some cold-weather hiking gear, as well as things that come in handy when you’re not necessarily staying in proper hotels and resorts.
We got to Kauai, and I looked up what to do, and that included an amazing hike that is also very dangerous if you don’t have the proper shoes. Luckily, we had both packed hiking shoes, and it was a great hike. And then we went to Maui, and a friend told us that we should try hiking down Mount Haleakala’s crater at sunrise. And we were able to do that seven-hour hike, because we had packed that cold-weather hiking gear. It was a highlight of our trip.
Turns out, Hawaii has way more to offer than just beaches and Mai-tais. So if you are the adventurous type, you should check out this packing list so that you’re ready to go out into nature and see what Hawaii is truly about…but also clean up, dress up, and walk into a nice restaurant.
A note on sunscreen! Hawaii is about to ban sunscreen containing two ingredients that damage coral reefs. Does that mean you have to buy mineral sunscreen? No! Especially since mineral sunscreen isn’t as effective and also is a chore to put on. Here are my three tips for protecting your skin and the reef when traveling to Hawaii.
This is geared toward a scenario where you’re flying out of a cold city, but everything in here will be useful in Hawaii as well, if you’re planning on hiking Mount Haleakala!
- Organic cotton black leggings – Wearing a natural fabric is more comfortable for a long plane ride.
- Ably white t-shirt – This has stain-resistant technology, crucial for traveling!
- Merino wool hoodie – This was helpful for the Mount Haleakala hike. But the dark grey color ensures if you layer it under a scarf or poncho, no one will know it’s an athletic sweater.
- Utra light insulated jacket – This warm jacket is ultra light and packable.
- Comfortable undies in natural fabric
- Wool socks – I love merino wool because it wicks away moisture and odor, and you can wear it in cold or warm weather. Tromp through a stream on your hike, and they will dry out quickly.
- Trail running shoes – They’re not cute city shoes, but they are so great for chilly-to-warm weather hikes, and pack up much smaller than hiking boots. I was so happy I packed these for the Kalalau trail, which can be really dangerous in the wrong shoes. We saw two different women with twisted ankles because they were wearing sandals.
- Baseball cap – Great for protecting your face when you’re hiking in the sun.
- Mini crossbody purse – I’ve started carrying a mini crossbody purse when I travel, because it gives me quick and secure access to my passport, wallet, and tickets, without me having to take off my backpack. O My Bag has a ton to choose from.
- Charging cord
- Mini wallet – There’s lots to choose from at O My Bag, or get a Simple Wallet from Velé.
- Sunglasses – here’s my shopping guide to the best eco sunglasses
This backpack stylistically can go from the city to a hike, and it’s waterproof!
- Portable phone charging battery
- Earbuds – traditional jack for laptop/airplane console, and a dongle if you have the newest iPhone
- Camera and lenses, extra battery, battery charger, extra memory cards – I love my compact but powerful Fuji x-t10, with a wide angle lens for landscape, architecture, and room shots; and a 50 mm lens for portraits and food.
- Lens bag and camera bag
- Chico reusable bag with stuff sack – Hawaii is on the verge of banning plastic bags on Honolulu. So come prepared!
- Wide mouth insulated bottle – This one is also great for porting hot tea or coffee around, or even taking your pina colada to go!
- SPF chapstick
- Portable spork – so you don’t have to use disposable one. Make sure it’s plastic or wood (not metal) so it doesn’t get confiscated by airport security (whoops). Or get a bamboo travel set from Life Without Plastic.
- Reusable straw – Most drinks don’t need straws, but mojitos do!
- Reusable handkerchief – can also be used as a napkin
- Portable pillow – It’s a long plane ride.
- Matador droplet wet bag – for protecting your items from moisture or sand if you head out on a boat or you’re hanging out on the beach.
In My Suitcase
- Black-and-white striped long-sleeved tee – This is great for preventing sunburn while looking summer-appropriate. Try Saint James for a quality one that will last for years.
- Reversible washable tie top – Tie it in the back and it’s a lovely top that goes with any bottom, from jeans to a skirt. Tie it in the front and it’s super sexy. It seems to be sold out at Elizabeth Suzanne, but Whimsy & Row has a linen version.
- Par en Par mustard robe/dress – I can wear this as a beach cover-up, a dress, or a robe. Having a robe on hand is so helpful!
- Par en Par culottes – modest, fashionable, and comfortable, they’re super versatile, from the beach to a restaurant to a temple.
- Linen long-sleeved button-down – Tradland has some great new versions.
- Long wrap dress that doubles as a beach coverup – Pondicherie, founded by a Kauai native, makes a beautiful one.
- High-waisted shorts – find some cute ones at Oh Seven Days.
- Kayu clutch – cute a durable clutch that’s great for taking out to dinner.
- Casual, easy summer dress
- MATTER pants – Comfortable and versatile!
- 2 tanks in black and white – For layering under your day outfit or for a hot hike. I like the scoop necks from Groceries Apparel
- Pons Avarcas walking sandals in camel brown – These last forever and are super comfortable and versatile.
- Metallic sandals – I like my gold Jack Rogers, which aren’t sustainable or ethical, but I’ve had for at least nine years now and they are still going strong. #30wears, y’all, is a sustainable way to go.
- White sandals – I’m wearing Everlane sandals in the above picture.
- Chila Bag – You can flat pack this in your suitcase but it holds a lot! I got the camel brown one, which goes with my Pons Avarcas.
- Rain jacket with hood by Marmot – Folds up tiny, and is so great when it starts raining in the middle of a hike! Has underarm vent zippers if it’s warm out.
- 2 pairs of athletic shorts – for hiking. I found it was good to have two pairs so you could wash and dry one while you wear the other, if you go hiking two days in a row.
- Sarong – Great as a cover up, towel, or beach blanket. I got mine in India from Anokhi, but of course you can get these anywhere!
- Pajamas from People Tree – I chose this set because I could wear the t-shirt separately out in public (and did!), and the shorts to the beach.
- Summer-y jewelry
- Small cotton scarf – I use this for wrapping my hair a lot. It came free with my Par en Par purchase, but you can easily find a similar one!
- 2 bathing suits – Here’s my list of favorite sustainable swimwear brands.
- 3 bras and 8 pairs of underwear. Here’s my underwear capsule travel wardrobe.
- 2 sports bras
- Extra pair wool socks
- Brimmed hat – This one was hard, since I definitely didn’t have room for a stiff brimmed hat. This one from Accompany actually folds up, so I can slip it in my suitcase’s front pocket.
- Teva’s or other water shoes that strap on – Not just for hiking or waterfalls, also helpful with it’s raining buckets!
- PurSteam traveling iron/steamer – this thing is tiny, but crucial, especially if you like wearing cotton, like me!
- Travel yoga mat – So you can get a good long stretch in every morning, regardless of where you are. I fold mine up and pack it inside the suitcase
- Travel dry line – If you like to hike, you’ll want to wash your hiking clothing and dry it. I like this line because it comes with a stuff sack.
- Waterproof reusable laundry bag – Things will get wet and you’ll want to put them in something waterproof…so plastic wins out on this one.
In My Toiletry Bag
- Argan oil – I can’t live without argan oil for making my hair shiny and smooth, plus sealing in moisture on my face after a shower.
- Coola Tinted SPF BB cream – This is my absolute favorite tinted SPF moisturizer. It’s not too thick and makes your face glow!
- Micellar water – I love traveling with Micellar water, because you don’t need to use water for it.
- Reusable cotton rounds
- Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
- Deodorant – here’s my roundup of my favorites.
- Mini hair iron and/or hairdryer – I did not have room to bring both, though I wish I did! I went with the hair iron.
- Mini hair brush
- Hair elastics
- Reusable metal nail file – great for both filing and digging crud out from under your nails. (Be aware that you probably will have this confiscated if you have it in your carry-on.)
- 1 lip tint – Subtle and beach appropriate
- Shower bag – Having all my shower stuff in a separate bag is crucial to ensure I don’t leave things behind in the shower.
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Multipurpose soap – This one by Akamai is amazing for shaving as well as cleansing.
- Soap box by Life Without Plastic – They have a whole travel set if you’re a DIY beauty type of gal!
- Shower cap – I got one from Shhhowercap that wouldn’t be thrown away by the cleaning people the way small plastic ones are, but it came in over-the-top, wasteful packaging, so I don’t recommend it. But once I had it, I stuffed it in a little cotton bag.
- Safety razor and razor blades – I switched to this because it’s easier to find razor blade replacements abroad then the fancy heads that come with whatever fancy razor blade you can get from your drugstore in the U.S. It’s also less wasteful and less expensive, and the replacements take up no room. (Be aware that you need to check the razor blades, they will get confiscated from your carry-on.)
- Sunscreen – Here’s my guide to non-toxic sunscreen
- Dr. Bronner travel sized – Great for if the place you are staying doesn’t provide hand soap, or if you need to wash your clothes in the sink.
- Earplugs – Get them on a string so you don’t lose them when they fall out
- 1 mini bottle LURK perfume
- Bugspray – My absolute favorite