Packing is probably my least favorite part of travel, and even pulling together a suitcase for something as blissful as ten days in Hawaii usually leaves me writing in agony on the floor of my closet.

Still, I admit that this being my second time to the Aloha State, I had a much better idea of what to bring and what to leave behind. High heels? Hell no! Copious sunscreen and an automobile iPhone charger for road trips? Check and check.

I knew I’d have a very active itinerary of hiking, biking, and enjoying the beautiful Pacific ocean but also be enjoying some higher end dining in the evening (which only goes so far in laid back Maui, of course) so needed to plan for both. I checked a suitcase I borrowed from a friend — I probably need to buy one of those things — with plenty of room left for souvenirs, and carried on my Eagle Creek Afar Backpack with all my electronics, and my purse with my plane essentials.

Packing for Hawaii

Clothes and Shoes

• 4 tropical and breezy dresses

• 2 skirts

• 2 pairs of shorts

• 1 pair of black capris

• 6 tops

• 3 layering tops (one Lululemon jacket, one light sweater for evenings, and one shrug-like thing I take everywhere as seen in this post)

• 2 sets of workout gear (I’m always super active when I’m Hawaii!)

Packing for Hawaii

• 1 pair of trainers

• 1 pair of wedges (I would never pack heels for Hawaii, but wedges seem like the perfect laid back but dressy compromise for some of the nicer restaurants I knew I’d be dining in)

• 2 pairs of dress sandals (really I should have packed one, I never wore the red ones)

• 1 pair flip flops (not pictured)

• 1 clutch

• 1 bag of jewelry

• 2 pairs of sunglasses (not pictured)

• 1 Flight001 Go Clean Laundry Bag

• 1 packing cube of socks and underwear

• 1 packing cube of bras

Packing for Maui
Beach Stuff

I decided not to bring my full set of dive gear this time as I knew I’d only be diving once, but I came fully prepared for a full itinerary of aquatic activities.

• 1 set of snorkel gear (I know you can always rent but I would never dive without my own mask, and love to have my own small-foot fins)

• 1 rash guard (a must for surfing and sunburn-free snorkeling)

• 1 packing cube of bikinis

• 1 beach sarong

Sun Bum Continuous Spray Sunscreens

Sun Bum Face Stick

Sun Bum SPF Lip Balm

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Lightening Spray (I haven’t colored my hair in years — this stuff plus the sun keeps it bright and blonde!)

• Leave in conditioner (keeps my hair from drying out after too much sun and sea)

Packing for Maui

Other Toiletries

For more details on what toiletries I’m toting, check out my in depth post on the subject, plus my solid shampoo obsession update.

• 1 makeup bag

• 1 toiletry bag

• 1 shower bag

• 1 medicine bag

Packing for Hawaii

Gear and Electronics

Basically everything that went in my carry on — plus my wallet and hand lotion, of course. (Did you know I’m obsessed with dry skin and would rather hear nails on a chalk board than have unmoisturized skin?) Two things I discovered I desperately needed on this trip and obtained quickly upon return were a waterproof iPhone case (my last one broke) and an extendable arm for my GoPro.

MacBook Pro + charger (not pictured) + headphones (not pictured) + portable mouse

Canon PowerShot S100 + Charger + Spare Battery + Leather case + 16 GB Memory Card + Underwater Housing

Dive Computer

Canon Rebel T2i + charger + 32 GB Memory + 15-85mm lens (left the 75-300mm lens at home for this trip)

• iPhone + charging cord + car charger (I knew I’d have a rental car and be using map apps heavily, so this was a must)

Mini Memory Card Reader

• Time machine backup hard drive

GoPro + charger and accessories (in white bag)

The Moon Maui Guidebook + travel magazines for the plane

Travel pillow + eyeshade + earplugs (it is a very, very long flight from New York!)

What do you pack for Hawaii? Find more packing posts here, and find all my Hawaii posts here!

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Please note: I’m an affiliate of many of the products in this post and will earn a small percentage of your purchase if you buy them through these links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Alex in Wanderland!

  • Katie
    July 24 2014

    Awesome list – I always love seeing what’s in other people’s bags. I’ve recently discovered packing cubes myself and wonder how I ever lived without them! Two more things on my must-have list now (thanks to you) – a red filter and extendable arm for my new GoPro! Have you used it diving?? That’s the main reason I got it – my last one tanked when I took it to 30m (it was only rated to 10m, but I had to try!).

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      Let me know how it goes with the GoPro! I have never taken mine diving. I just recently bought an extendable arm and was so excited to use it… and then realized I needed a special adapter. ARGH!

  • These packing photos made me realise I’m in dire need of…Vitamin Sea!! 🙂 Haven’t been to Hawaii but my packing list looks similar when I got to a beach destination. The packing cubes really have changed my life – so revolutionary as I’m not too fond of packing.

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      HA! I love Vitamin Sea 🙂 Might have to steal that some time! Glad to hear I have a comment section full of packing cube addicts!

  • I love packing lists!!! I don’t know.. it’s kind of like I get to snoop into someone’s bag and I guess I’m creepier than I thought :p haha

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      I LOVE packing lists. But I am generally nosy and love to know how other people’s brains and thought processes work when it comes to anything travel related 🙂

  • Erika
    July 24 2014

    I love seeing your packing lists! I just wish I loved actually packing as much!!

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      Tell me about it! Writing the posts has definitely helped me be a better packer, so I’ll keep doing them!

  • becky hutner
    July 24 2014

    i’m actually facing a packing night this eve so this comes at a good time. alex, thank you for making me feel like it’s ok to bring more than one of the same item. i thought i had to choose between the cream tank top and the blue tank top!

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      Um, you never have to choose! Overpackers unite!

  • Justine
    July 24 2014

    I love your packing posts! I’m sort of in the middle of a packing crisis myself, so it’s nice to see how other people go about organizing all of their belongings. I still say packing is a true art that I have yet to master!

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      I definitely don’t think I’m anywhere near the master level, but I am finding tools and products along the way that have revolutionized my packing process and made my life so much easier! And I’m going to keep looking for more 🙂

  • Laryssa
    July 24 2014

    Great list!
    And I love the color of your sneakers. What brand are those?

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      Hey Laryssa! They are Mizuno “Wave Inspire 8″ and I bought them at one of those running stores where they analyze you running and then they bring out of a pair of shoes that is suited to you and you buy it and don’t have much choice in the matter. I think they were around $100, and they have made all the difference for me in terms of comfort when running/hiking. I would recommend checking out a store like that!

  • TammyOnTheMove
    July 24 2014

    Oh I love a good packing list. May I ask what type of leave in conditioner you use? I have never used one before, but as my hair is soooo dry I could do with a good one.

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      I actually am not loyal to one brand — I just grab whatever is on sale! I haven’t found one that stood out enough for me to keep seeking it out, but they all work fabulously!

  • Rick
    July 24 2014

    Nice to see an efficient professional travel get organized.
    Us guys just take some shorts and pair of jeans and three tee shirts.
    Do you still pack it all in your backpack? No rolling luggage?

    Happy trails –

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      For this trip I borrowed a rolling suitcase as I mentioned in the intro, but typically I still go for the backpack! It’s just easier in most parts of the world, thought definitely rougher on my back.

  • Chris
    July 24 2014

    So in agreement on bringing your own mask/snorkel (I don’t have the same foot issue thing when it comes to fins, so left them at home)

    Nothing is worse than an ill fitting, poor visibility mask when under the sea!

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      Or being forced to overpay for a rental! I love the freedom of being able to jump in anywhere!

      • Janice Bryan
        October 25 2018

        What type of snorkel gear would you recommend!

        • Alex
          October 25 2018

          Honestly, all my snorkels have been pillaged from various lost and found drawers 🙂 For masks, there are a million great brands but all that matters is that it fits your face! Head to your closest dive shop and they will help you find the perfect fit. It’s not something I’d buy without trying on.

  • Silvia
    July 24 2014

    I don’t know if it was actually a typo for writhing, but I LOVE the image of you writing in agony on the floor of your closet. Journal out those feelings, girl!

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      HA! It was indeed a typo but you made me laugh out loud with this comment!

  • Nicole
    July 25 2014

    What do you usually pack in your medical/firstaid bag? I always pack way too much, especially when traveling with kids! Have you written about it in the past?

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      Hey Nicole! Actually I haven’t, but that’s a really good idea for a post! I try to keep it pared down to a small 5″x7″ bag with the basics — band aids, Neosporin, ibuprofen. I do bring one specialty thing which is an emergency repair kit for lost tooth fillings. I’ve had too many tooth problems in the past to be stuck in a remote location with no dentist and a serious issue!

  • Maria from Nerd Nomads
    July 25 2014

    Nice packing list! It looks similar to what I have with me at the moment traveling in Asia. Nice to see that you also have several pieces of each item :). I am a terrible packer, so your packing lists are really helpful! You always look so fashionable in your photos! I guess the trick is to bring clothes that can easily be combined into several outfits.

    • Alex
      July 28 2014

      Thank you for thinking I’m fashionable, ha! I think on days I know I will be in front of the camera I make a bit of an effort, the rest of the time I basically look like a slob 🙂

  • Katherinelou
    August 17 2014

    Ughhh. I feel you on that whole packing part! I’m probably the worst packer in the world to the point where I’m packing 3 hours before my flight. I love this post! It definitely gives me an idea of how to pack for when I travel.

    Oh and the whole heels part; soooo funny! I just moved to Hawai’i and lived in California for my entire life before the move. I ALWAYS wore heels in California. Hawai’i, not so much. It’s just so hard, even as a person who now lives here, to find a reason to wear heels. The only time I would wear heels is when I’m dining at a fancy restaurant which you already stated and I can’t even put on heels for brunch. I should invest in some wedges though!

    • Alex
      August 19 2014

      Wedges are key 🙂 I love them as well for pool parties — I packed a pair for Vegas and they were perfect! You might catch some end of summer sales soon…

  • Carole Anne Elliott
    April 5 2015

    Hi Alex! I came across your site on Pinterest! Absolutely love that site! I am heading to Hawaii for two weeks (Maui and Kuai) as a 50th Birthday present from my boyfriend!
    AND your post has assisted me tremendously! I am probably one of the few gals that find packing just a little challenging and full of anxiety! LOL I tend to overpack and then unpack and then pack again! I travel on business all the time so you would think I would be a pro. Thanks again for all your tips! CA =)

    • Alex
      April 6 2015

      Oh believe me, I am the exact same way about packing! It still vexes me after three years on and off the road. What an amazing birthday trip you have coming up — Hawaii is one of my favorite places on Earth. Glad you’ve found some inspiration here! Enjoy!

    April 19 2015

    Hi I was wondering what camera lens you took with you? I just order a couple cubes from Eagle Creek and I can wait to use them for my trip to Maui- I am curious do you like your thin tarmack bags or the cubes better? I ordered the cubes but really considered the thinner ones. I figure I am putting way to much thought in which ones will work better.

    • Alex
      April 20 2015

      Hey Shawnna! Just realized there is a typo in this post (so thank you!) I left the 75-300mm lens at home and did take the 15-85mm with me 🙂 I like having a mix of the bags and cubes — the cubes are great for underwear and bikinis and I like to keep the clothes in the larger and more flexible bags. I think it’s just personal preference. Either way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy!

  • Sonja Erickson
    November 4 2015

    I have never traveled without my travel pillow. It is more important than my notebook! I love it. Thank you for sharing this post! Greetings!

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      I always waffle back and forth if it’s worth it to take mine and then in the end I’m always thrilled when I do and bummed when I don’t!

  • Angie
    November 4 2015

    Hi I am going to Hawaii for my 20 years Wedding Anniversary with Family, my husband and I are renewing out Val on the beach with family! How much should I pack when I am going for 16 days?

    Thanks Angie

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      Hey Angie, hard to say! I was in Hawaii for six weeks with what I packed here, but I’ve also packed similar amounts for a ten day trip to the same islands. Best of luck!

  • Emily
    December 1 2015

    Question for you — do you own a hardcore waterproof iphone case for underwater phone pics? Looking for a rec of a good one! I’m guessing you may not bc your smaller camera with the waterproof case is just as easy to carry around as the iphone, but figured id check.. thanks!

    (ps. so sorry if this question has been answered before – I know that must get so annoying, but I swear did some searching!)

    • Alex
      December 1 2015

      No problem, Emily! I do have a Lifeproof case for my iPhone, but I still get paranoid about actually submerging it. I usually just use it when I’m at the beach or out on a boat or something like that, and leave the actual underwater pictures to my diving setup 🙂

  • Adrianne
    December 9 2015

    Hi Alex-
    Great blog! I just stumbled across it the other day while looking for ideas on how to pack for Maui and you came up! Your travels are amazing, and thank you in advance for the tips. Also, I’d love to see what you wear to travel from cold weather to warm. I’m sure you know that all too well.
    Take care!

    • Alex
      December 10 2015

      Hey Adrianne, thanks for the kind words! Glad you found me 🙂 I usually wear leggings and a hoodie on the plane regardless of my destination and since I generally travel with trainers to work out in, I wear those to the airport when I’m leaving a cold climate. And I freeze my butt off, other than that. Ha.

  • Adrianne
    December 13 2015

    Thanks, Alex!!! Two more weeks and I’m off to Maui! …and I’m looking forward to seeing more from your travels. 🙂 Amazing photos!

    • Alex
      December 14 2015

      Thanks Adrianne! Have you checked out my full Hawaii archives? There’s some great stuff in there 🙂 Enjoy your trip!

      • Adrianne
        December 14 2015

        Yes! I’ve looked at all of your Maui posts (I think). Definitely going to find some cultural stuff, pineapple farms, trilogy sailing, the surfing goat cheese farm, snorkeling with the sea turtles! Probably not doing the 12mile hike to the crater, but we’ll see. :p

        • Alex
          December 15 2015

          Sounds like you have an amazing trip ahead! Enjoy every second 🙂

  • Tom
    January 5 2016

    Because of the recent outbreak of Dengue fever on the Big Island, an important item to remember to pack is bug spray / repellant. Stores on the Big Island have been reported having low quantities on the shelf, so it’s better to be safe and bring it yourself. Here’s an article on the Dengue fever outbreak in Hawaii.

    Travel Safe.

    • Alex
      January 7 2016

      Thanks for the tip, Tom — I didn’t know dengue was an issue on the Big Island!

    • Exploring Curiously
      June 14 2016

      This is a helpful article – thank you for posting. I had read there is dengue fever in Hawaii and this article was good.

  • natashalh
    January 26 2016

    Have to second the last commenter – dengue on Big Island right now! We live on Oahu but traveled to Big Island last week and I wore lightweight pants most of the time to help keep mosquitos off my legs. If anyone is ever having trouble reducing their luggage for a trip to Hawaii, I’d recommend totally skipping heels (as you mentioned), but also wedges and maybe even nicer sandals. My ‘good’ pair of flip flops has gotten me in everywhere I’ve ever tried to go here! I’ve reduced my shoe collection considerably and still haven’t worn my only pair of wedges in about a year and my only remaining pair of heels in over two.

    • Alex
      January 30 2016

      Eek, thanks for the update and tip, Natasha. Dengue would not be a fun souvenir to take home!

  • Exploring Curiously
    June 14 2016

    This is very helpful – thank you! I am so excited to be heading to Hawaii in less than two weeks. Tell me more about the packing cubes. Are they a way to keep your stuff organized?

    • Alex
      June 18 2016

      I’m obsessed with them! They absolutely help keep organized while looking for that one specific pair of socks in your suitcase 🙂 I’ll never travel without them again!

    July 24 2016

    Your list is perfect for me to work from. I’m a photographer and headed to Hawaii for THREE WHOLE WEEKS! I like snorkeling, but can’t dive – but I agree about the mask (I need one with diopter settings or it just isn’t worth it). Love your use of the Canon T2i. Had two til just recently and they are great. Only moved to a 70D because I needed more fps. Havent tried a GoPro yet, but thinking about it. or the Packing Cubes. This will be my first run with those.

    • Alex
      July 25 2016

      Oh man, three weeks! You’re going to have an amazing time! 😀 Have so much fun — I’m jealous.

  • Rachel
    August 17 2016

    Hi Alex, I enjoy your travel blogs, but want to point out that Sun Bum isn’t a coral reef-friendly brand due to the oxybenzone in its sunscreens. As an avid diver, it’s environmentally responsible to recommend other non-oxybenzone SPFs like Coral Safe All-Natural Biodegradable sunscreen with zinc oxide as the UV blocker. I wish you all the best on your future dives and travels!

    • Alex
      August 18 2016

      True Rachel! Finding a reef safe sunscreen I love and can recommend is totally on my to-do list. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Christine Schramm
    December 25 2016

    Hi there! Ran across your blog while hunting Hawaii ideas on Pinterest. I’m always in search of great sunscreen products, will look up the sunbum items. As a frequent traveler to the islands, I usually bought sunscreen when I got there, but prices are inflated! I like the idea of solid shampoo bars, and found Lush carries an incredible assortment.
    As for my travelling tips for Hawaii, I say: don’t plan too much! You can always buy some article of clothing or toiletry there. If I go for 10 days, I pack for 5. It may seem frightening, but take a deep breath and think. 95% of the people there will only see you once. your travel partners will see you daily, yes, but will they really care if you wear an outfit twice on a trip like this, in such a laid-back atmosphere?
    I tend to pack more athletic wear that crosses over into fashion, like Athleta or LuluLemon, with a maxi skirt or dress for cocktail drama and comfort. There are also several sandals and flipflops that cross over into athletic territory and look pretty enough to wear with shorts or capris. I pretty much live in OluKai Ohana flipflops while in Hawaii. Merrell’s Freesia sandal is stylish and I could do a lot of walking and light hiking with them. A convertible dress for a wedding trip gave me styling options for every day if I wished; coupled with a few accessories, I kept my look fresh for the wedding, and 2 nights of cocktails/pupus later in the week.

    • Alex
      December 27 2016

      Great tips! Athletic wear definitely fits in well in Hawaii where everyone always seems about to go off on an adventure. I spend much of my time there hiking, yoga-ing and swimming so why not pack for it too? And maxis are perfect for an evening ocean breeze!

  • Natalie
    January 8 2017

    Always cool to see a travelers ‘go to’ stuff for packing! I’m happy to see that sunscreen is a part of your bag!! Too many people leave out that important item!! We prefer to use sunscreen fabrics. I never go anywhere without my sunscreen shirts – for regular use and swimming. That leaves a lot less skin that needs to be lathered over and over during the day. Saves time and sliminess!! LOL!!

    I have to pack for the whole family so a good plan is really important! Thanks for the tips!!

    • Alex
      January 14 2017

      Indeed, I never leave home without sunscreen. Sometimes I forget to apply, ha ha, but I never forget to pack 😉

  • Hazel
    April 19 2017

    I really find this post helpful! Thank you for sharing what’s inside your bag 😉 now I have an idea on what to bring next time when I go to Hawaii or any place like Hawaii! Thanks!

    • Alex
      April 20 2017

      You’re so welcome! I’m itching for another Hawaii trip already!

  • Anne
    May 15 2018

    Might be a small detail, but the suggestion to bring a car charger never even crossed my mind even though I know I’ll be driving a lot in Hawaii, grateful for the reminder!

    • Alex
      May 23 2018

      It is a MUST for road trips for me now! Can’t imagine being on a long drive without one!

  • Rita
    January 20 2019

    Hey its the sunscreen that you use reef safe sunscreen

    • Alex
      January 22 2019

      Hey Rita! In recent years I have switched to exclusively reef safe brands. Sunbum is oxybenzone and octinoxate free.

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