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Wondering what to pack to look stylish and feel comfortable as a plus size woman in Hawaii? With diverse climates and activities, choosing the right outfits that are both fashionable and functional can be tricky.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Opt for loose, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen that provide both sun coverage and airflow. Bring layers like kimonos and wraps that can be worn over tees, tanks, shorts, and swimwear.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dressing for the Hawaiian climate and culture while showcasing your unique sense of style.

Hawaii’s Climate and What it Means For Your Clothes

Temperatures and Rainfall

Hawaii is known for its consistently warm and sunny weather all year round. However, temperatures can vary across the islands and seasons. The average year-round highs range from 75°F in Hilo on the Big Island to 89°F in Lihue on Kauai.

The coolest months are January and February, while August and September are the warmest. Even in winter, temperatures rarely dip below 65°F except at higher elevations.

Rainfall patterns also differ on each island. The windward sides of the islands, which face northeast, receive much more rain with an average of 200+ inches per year. Meanwhile, the leeward sides are considerably drier with less than 30 inches annually.

The rainiest spots are on the Big Island’s eastern coast and Maui’s northeastern slope of Haleakala. But even on windward coasts, rain usually comes in short bursts rather than all-day downpours.

What does this mean for packing? With Hawaii’s warm weather, you can get away with lightweight, breathable fabrics year-round. Focus on items made of cotton, rayon, linen, and viscose. Flowy maxi dresses, skirts, tanks, and shorts will be comfortable in the heat.

And don’t forget your bathing suit, cover up, hat, and sunscreen! Just be prepared with layers and an umbrella during Hawaii’s occasional rains.

Humidity, Trade Winds and UV Index

In addition to warm weather, Hawaii has higher humidity levels than most mainland climates. This can make temperatures feel hotter, especially in calm conditions. Humidity averages around 70% at sea level and drops closer to 50% at higher elevations.

June through October are typically the most humid months.

Luckily, Hawaii benefits from nearly constant trade winds flowing from the northeast. These breezes help moderate the humidity and heat. Wind speeds average 10 to 15 mph but can reach 30+ mph before storms. If planning outdoor activities, mornings are calmest before winds pick up later in the day.

With abundant sunshine and low latitudes, Hawaii also sees very high UV intensity. UV index values range from 10+ year-round to a whopping 14+ during summer months. For comparison, that’s double or triple the UV levels in most of the continental US!

Be sure to wear sunglasses, sun protective clothing, and apply broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen.

The takeaway? Hawaii’s humidity and intense sun require lightweight, breathable fabrics that provide coverage and sun protection. Look for items made with dri-fit performance fabrics, cotton/rayon blends, or even UPF 50+ material. And don’t skimp on the sunscreen!

What to Wear and Avoid For Different Hawaiian Activities

Casual Island Sightseeing Outfits

When sightseeing around the islands, lightweight and breathable clothing is key. Opt for flowy maxi dresses, peasant blouses, linen pants and shorts to stay cool and comfortable. Make sure to pack a hat and UV protective sunglasses as well.

Some great shoe options include sandals, espadrilles or comfortable walking shoes. Avoid restrictive clothing like skinny jeans or form fitting tops, which can cause chafing and overheating in Hawaii’s tropical climate.

Hiking Clothing and Gear

For hitting Hawaii’s gorgeous hiking trails, wear athletic clothing designed to wick moisture like hiking pants, moisture wicking tees, tank tops and lightweight shorts. Hiking shoes or sandals with good traction are a must.

Don’t forget essentials like a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray and plenty of water. Avoid clothing like jeans or casual dresses, as well as slippery shoes like flip flops, which can be dangerous on steep and uneven terrain.

Swimsuits For the Beach and Water Sports

Fortunately there are endless stylish plus-size swimwear options available today in fun prints and colors. Brands like Swimsuits For All and Torrid offer trendy one and two pieces with tummy control in sizes 10-34.

Tankinis, swim skirts and swim shorts provide more coverage while still being fashionable. For active water sports like paddle boarding and surfing, opt for a sporty one piece silhouette which stays put better. And don’t forget the rash guard for added sun protection!

Evening Dining Attire

For a romantic dinner date or an upscale resort restaurant, lovely plus size cocktail dresses, wrap dresses and caftans in lightweight fabrics look beautiful in Hawaii’s warm evenings. Slip on a stylish kimono or duster over your dress for entering air conditioned restaurants.

Gentlemen look sharp in an aloha shirt paired with nice shorts or casual slacks. While Hawaii is casual, avoid overly revealing clothing, swimsuits, or ripped/dirty items in high end restaurants. But no need to wear anything too hot – suits are extremely rare in Hawaii!

Packing Tips and Essentials For Your Suitcase

Choose the Right Fabrics and Materials

When packing for Hawaii, it’s important to choose lightweight, breathable fabrics that will keep you cool and comfortable. Natural fibers like cotton and linen are great options, as are moisture-wicking synthetic blends. Avoid items like denim or wool that will get heavy and hot.

Swimwear is essential in Hawaii. Choose supportive swimsuits with UPF protection built-in if possible. Sarongs, coverups, and maxi dresses in lightweight materials are fabulous options to throw on over your suit.

Don’t forget the sun protection! Pack lightweight, long-sleeve coverups and wide-brim hats made of breathable cotton or straw to shield your skin from the strong Hawaiian sun.

Don’t Forget the Essential Extras!

Beyond your clothing and swimwear, there are a few key accessories you’ll want to bring:

  • Reef-safe sunscreen – Protect ocean ecosystems by choosing sunscreens without oxybenzone or octinoxate
  • Foldable bag or backpack – For carrying purchases and daily essentials
  • Power bank – For charging devices on the go when outlets might be scarce
  • Small first aid kit – With bandaids, antibiotic cream, pain relievers, etc.

You may also wish to bring hiking shoes if you plan on exploring island trails and volcanoes, along with a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes.

Maximize Space With Capsule Packing

The key to fitting all your plus size Hawaiian vacation wear into one suitcase is capsule packing. This involves building complete outfits from versatile mix-and-match items.

Sticking to 2-3 neutral color palette makes it easy to pair pieces together. For Hawaii, black, gray, white and tropical prints tend to work nicely. As far as wardrobe quantities, plan for:

  • 4-5 main outfits
  • 2 swimsuits
  • 1 coverup/beach dress
  • 1 hat
  • 3 pairs shoes max (flip flops, sandals, tennis shoes)

By carefully curating items that can be re-worn and remixed, you’ll have ample room for souvenirs on the trip home!

Average High Temperatures in Hawaii
Month Oahu Maui Kauai Big Island
January 79°F 79°F 76°F 79°F
July 87°F 86°F 84°F 83°F

As you can see from the table above, temperatures in Hawaii are very consistent year-round, ranging from the mid 70s to upper 80s on average (source). This pleasant climate means lightweight, breathable clothing is perfect for any Hawaiian getaway!


Finding stylish plus size clothing for a Hawaii vacation doesn’t have to be challenging. Focusing on breathable, lightweight fabrics that provide sun coverage along with versatile layers and accessories will ensure comfort no matter what activities you partake in.

With the packing tips and outfit ideas provided in this guide, you’ll touch down on the islands feeling confident you have everything you need to fully immerse yourself in the Hawaiian culture while celebrating your own unique style.

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