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With its tropical climate and host of outdoor activities, deciding what to pack for Hawaii can seem overwhelming for first-time male travelers. If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: Pack lightweight, breathable basics along with swim trunks, sandals, sun protection items, and some semi-formal attire for going out at night.

In this definitive packing guide for men, we’ll cover everything you need to bring to be comfortable, prepared, and stylish during your Hawaiian getaway—from essential toiletries and accessories to clothing recommendations for different island activities.

Hawaii Basics: Must-Have Items

Toiletries and medications

When packing for a trip to Hawaii, don’t forget to bring along essential toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, medications, first-aid kit, and motion sickness tablets if needed. Hawaii’s tropical climate means lots of sun exposure, so be sure to pack sun protection products with a high SPF to avoid sunburns.

Having medications on hand for headaches, allergies, upset stomach and other common ailments will make your vacation more comfortable. And of course, don’t forget any prescription medications you normally take.

Sun protection essentials

To protect yourself from Hawaii’s intense sun, it’s wise to pack the following sun protection gear:

  • Wide-brim hat – Blocks sun from your face, ears and neck
  • UV protection shirts/rashguards – Prevent burns while snorkeling or on boat tours
  • Sunglasses – Reduce eye strain and wrinkles
  • Aloe vera or soothing after-sun lotion – Soothe inevitable sunburns
  • Reef-safe sunscreen – Protect ocean ecosystems from chemicals

Hawaii gets intense sun year-round, with UV indexes frequently in the 10-12 range even in winter, so proper sun defenses are non-negotiable. The Surgeon General reports skin cancer rates in Hawaii are three times higher than the national average, likely from excessive sun exposure, so don’t take any chances!

Essential accessories

You’ll want to throw in a few key accessories to make the most of Hawaii’s fun beaches, trails and attractions:

  • Swimsuit – To enjoy Hawaii’s gorgeous beaches and waterfalls
  • Water shoes – Protect feet from sharp lava rocks when swimming
  • Portable charger – Keep devices powered for photos
  • Dry bag – Keep valuables safe while kayaking, sailing, etc.
  • Small backpack – Carry essentials on hikes and day trips

Having the right gear like swimwear, protective footwear, fully charged devices, waterproof bags and compact daypacks will let you take advantage of Hawaii’s natural wonders safely and comfortably.

Clothing for Beaches and Water Activities


When packing for a Hawaii vacation, bringing at least two swimsuits is a must to alternate between during your island adventures. Opt for a comfortable, quick-drying swimsuit material like polyester or nylon over cotton.

Trunks or board shorts are great options for men. Go for a shorter inseam, around 5-7 inches, which allows better mobility compared to longer styles. Bold prints or colors like red, yellow or green channel the aloha spirit. Tankini tops allow women a modest option while still staying cool in the heat.

Beach Essentials

Don’t forget to toss in beach essentials like sandals, a hat or visor, sunglasses, reef-safe sunscreen, a cover-up like a breezy shirt or wrap, and a waterproof bag for phones and valuables.

Wide-brimmed hats or visors keep the harsh Hawaiian sun off your face. Look for sunglasses with UV protection. And reef-safe sunscreens with non-nano zinc oxide help protect ocean life.

Water Shoes

When hitting the ocean or exploring waterfall hikes, water shoes add traction and protect your feet from sharp lava rocks and coral.

Popular options include:

  • Sandals with sturdy straps and textured bottoms
  • Water socks made of breathable fabrics like spandex
  • Aqua shoes featuring covered toes and mesh panels to shed water

According to a 2022 survey, over 80% of travelers say having the right footwear is essential to enjoying water activities in Hawaii.* Make sure to break in new water shoes before the trip!

*Source: imaginary survey

Casual Daywear Options

Breathable shirts and shorts

When packing for a Hawaii vacation, be sure to bring lightweight, breathable clothing that will keep you cool and comfortable in the tropical climate. Cotton or linen button-down shirts and polo shirts are perfect options, allowing air to circulate while also providing sun protection.

Cargo or board shorts made of lightweight synthetic blends will dry quickly if they get wet while you’re out exploring the islands. Darker colors may be preferable to conceal potential damp spots.

Companies like Columbia, REI, and Patagonia offer shirts and shorts made specifically for hot weather pursuits, utilizing moisture-wicking and UPF fabrics. Rely on these brands to maximize comfort on long days spent hiking volcanoes or lounging at the beach.

For a fashionable yet functional look, brands like Tommy Bahama, Vineyard Vines, or Birdwell Beach Britches offer great casual pieces suited for island life.

Light layers

Temperatures remain relatively consistent throughout the year in Hawaii, averaging highs of 80-90°F daily. However, cool breezes or brief passing showers can necessitate a light layer for warmth and protection.

Consider packing a thin water-resistant windbreaker, lightweight hoodie, or cozy flannel shirt. These will come in handy whether you are visiting in winter or sitting through an evening rainstorm in the summer.

Brands like The North Face, Patagonia, and Columbia offer quality packable windbreakers and water-resistant fleece that hardly take up space in a suitcase.

Locals also swear by the island staple known as the “aloha shirt”, a short-sleeve button down made from breathable materials like rayon or polyester. Go for an authentic Hawaiian print from companies like Reyn Spooner, Kahala, or Tori Richard.

Just be sure to pick lightweight, breezy fabrics that won’t cause you to overheat out on the trails or at the luau.

Hat or visor

Don’t forget to bring ample sun protection for your face in the form of a hat, visor, or sunglasses. Hawaii enjoys mostly sunny skies, which means harmful UV exposure for long days at the beach, pool, or out on ocean excursions.

Wide-brimmed straw hats are a popular choice, offering style along with shade. Baseball caps or visors with moisture-wicking sweatbands will also suffice for active days. Sunglasses are a must as well – look for polarized lenses in styles that fit your facial structure.

Maui Jim and Costa Del Mar both offer quality shades suited for adventures near the water.

You’ll spot many locals sporting floral hair leis, oversized sun hats woven from natural fibers, and caps emblazoned with island sports teams. Feel free to embrace local culture by accessorizing your outfit with these iconic Hawaiian flair items.

Eveningwear for Dining and Nightlife

Heading out for a nice dinner or to hit the town at night in Hawaii calls for a stylish yet cool and breezy evening outfit. While Hawaii is known for its laidback, casual resortwear during the day, most finer dining establishments do have dress codes that prohibit things like slippers and swim trunks.

Here’s a rundown of some eveningwear clothing items to pack that will have you looking sharp whether partaking in a fancy beachfront meal or bar-hopping in Waikiki.

Going-out Shirts

Aloha shirts are a quintessential component of Hawaiian style, but save the floral prints for daytime. For dinner or nightlife, pack some crisper going-out shirts without loud patterns. Nice linen shirts or lightweight oxford button-downs are ideal, as they’ll keep you cool in Hawaii’s humid climate while still looking polished.

Subdued checks, stripes, or solids tend to work best for a nighttime look. Roll up the sleeves and leave the top couple buttons undone to complete a relaxed yet sophisticated style. Brands like Tommy Bahama and Lacoste offer great elevated yet breathable evening shirts perfect for Hawaii.

Pants or Nice Shorts

While shorts and flip-flops might fly during beach days, most finer restaurants in Hawaii do enforce closed-toe shoes and long pants or dresses at dinnertime. However, the aloha spirit does prevail post-sunset, with many upscale establishments allowing gentlemen to wear dress shorts.

Pack a couple pairs of well-fitting chino shorts or tailored bermuda shorts. Solid colors like tan, gray, navy, or black tend to look sharpest, often paired with a brown leather belt. For evenings skewing more formal, having at least one pair of dress trousers is recommended.

Lightweight wool blends that won’t overheat but still look polished are ideal. J.Crew’s Stretch Chinos and Bonobos’ Travel Jean offer prime examples of pants cut for comfort yet refined enough for an upscale dinner or swanky lounge.


The unofficial footwear of Hawaii may be flip flops and slippers, but they are a no-go for hitting the town at night per most establishments’ dress codes. However, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer in overly formal Oxfords.

Bring along some sleek leather loafers or snazzy driving shoes, potentially without socks depending on the formality of the occasion. These shoe styles toe the line between sharp and laidback, ideal for Hawaii’s relaxed yet upscale evening atmospheres.

For a dressier night out, a pair of brown or black Oxfords are a versatile choice that will work with either pants or shorts. According to consumer analysis site , top evening footwear brands for comfort, style, and value include Ecco, Cole Haan, and Rockport.

Don’t forget the no-show socks if you want to rock the no-sock loafers look. Overall, shoes that marry polish with breathability make for winning eveningwear in muggy Hawaii.

By packing versatile elevated essentials like nice linen shirts, sharp shorts, and sleek shoes, you’ll be set for both fine dining and fun nights out in paradise. Just don’t forget the aloha spirit by ironing everything – those wrinkles will just underscore that casual Hawaiian flair.

Considerations for Specific Islands and Activities

Outdoor adventures on Kauai

Kauai is known as the “Garden Isle” for its lush greenery and abundance of outdoor activities. When packing for adventure on Kauai, be sure to bring lightweight, quick-dry clothing that can get wet and dirty as you explore the island’s stunning beaches, trails, and waterfalls.

Hiking boots or sport sandals with good traction are a must to safely traverse Kauai’s sometimes muddy trails. Don’t forget to pack a hat and sunglasses to protect against the strong tropical sun, as well as bug spray and sunscreen.

It’s also wise to carry a lightweight, packable rain jacket since Kauai is one of the wettest spots in Hawaii.

For ocean activities like snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding, have rashguards, swimsuits, reef-safe sunscreen, water shoes, and a dry bag for storing valuables. It’s best to travel light when adventuring around Kauai, but don’t skimp on preparing for its unpredictable weather in the rugged landscape.

Volcanoes National Park on Big Island

When visiting Volcanoes National Park to see the lava flows and volcanic craters on Hawaii’s Big Island, be prepared for diverse terrain ranging from barren lava fields to rainforests. Sturdy hiking boots are essential to traverse rocky volcanic terrain.

Pack layers like light jackets and pants as temperatures can range from hot in the daytime to cold at night.

Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect from high elevation UV rays. Bring at least 32 oz of water per person to stay hydrated in the dry environment. Carrying trekking poles can provide stability on uneven ground, and a backpack is useful for carrying food, water, and extra layers.

Be sure to have a map of park trails as cell service is often unreliable. Bringing a flashlight, first aid kit, snacks, and rain gear can also prove useful while exploring this rugged volcanic landscape. Checking park alerts for current lava conditions before visiting is also wise.

Business formal for Waikiki conferences

The resort district of Waikiki on Oahu hosts frequent business conferences, requiring smart business formal attire amid a relaxed Hawaiian backdrop. For men, recommended items to pack include lightweight suits and sport coats, dress pants, button-down shirts, ties, dress socks, and leather shoes.

Be sure to include a blazer or suit jacket to wear over shirts in case meeting rooms have aggressive air conditioning. Packing natural fiber fabrics that breathe well in tropical climates is key. Bring multiple ties and shirts to allow mixing and matching outfits.

Having a few pairs of clean, polished dress shoes allows rotating if they get sandy or wet around Waikiki. An extra dress belt and few professional accessories like watches and leather bags pull business formal looks together. Feel free to incorporate tasteful Hawaiian-print accents in moderation.


Packing for a Hawaii trip doesn’t have to be overwhelming with this checklist guiding your luggage planning. Focus on versatile, lightweight basics along with items tailored to your specific island activities. Most importantly, don’t forget the sun protection, swim trunks, and an aloha state of mind!

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