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Oahu Packing List:
The Basics

Need to have


Beach Towel

Preferably one that dries super fast and is compact enough to not take up much room in your suitcase. There are so many options — thin but super soft, quick drying, or sand resistant.

Reef Safe Sunscreen

Hawaii banned all other sunscreens. The sun is intense in Hawaii, even when it doesn’t feel that hot.. Make sure you’re protected, especially on your first couple days. A few favorite brands are….  1) Supergoop, which along with sunscreen, also have Defense Refresh (Re)setting Mist that you can reapply over makeup, Glow Oil which is ultra-hydrating sunscreen body oil (that’s not greasy), and other great sunscreen products.  2) Banana Boat SPF 50 Mineral Spray Sunscreen, and 3) Raw Elements Eco Form Sunscreen SPF 30.

Aloe Vera

Soothe your skin if you get sunburned. Hopefully you won’t need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you brought it (especially since it’s more expensive in Hawaii).

Sandals and Flip Flops

You can pretty much wear flip flops everywhere. Reef flip flops are really comfortable and are great for walking around the city or the beach. Birkenstocks are also super comfortable, but make sure 1) you break them in before your trip and 2) you don’t submerge them in water or it’ll ruin them.

Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized glasses help cut down the sun's glare on the ocean and sand. 

A hat

Baseball caps are great for hikes and kayaking and when you’re on the go. For women, a wide brim straw hat is perfect for the beach or walking around Waikiki (and it’ll keep more sun off of you.) Madewell and Amazon make cute foldable ones that can be crammed into your suitcase without getting wrecked.

Refillable Water Bottle

Opt for a vacuum sealed one to keep your water cold all day. Something you can throw in a backpack and take to the beach or on a hike. We like Hydro Flask because it keeps things super cold and it’s more compact than other insulated water bottles. Wide mouth bottles are great because they’re the easiest to throw ice cubes into.


One that can hold your essentials, which will vary depending on what you’re getting up to. If you’re sticking to the city, surf towns or farmers’ markets, a commuter backpack is big enough to hold the basics (water bottle, sunscreen, wallet, snacks) but for long hikes or more rugged activities, you’ll want something a little bigger that can hold extra gear (change of clothes, bug spray, power bank, etc.


Fanny Packs or Belt Bag

Super handy if you’re exploring Honolulu and don’t want to lug a backpack or purse around. (And it’s more comfortable and convenient than a money belt.)

Lightweight, Breathable Clothing

Oahu is warm year round and can get humid (especially in the mornings). Almost everywhere you go is pretty casual. Even at the nicest restaurants, you can get away with a sundress or something along the line of khakis. (Of course, you can get more dressed up if you want, but no pressure.)


Light sweatshirt or jacket

For early mornings and some hikes.

Nice to have

Downloaded Google Maps 

Wi-fi isn't great everywhere so it's good to have those maps handy...even when an internet connection is not. 


Waterproof Phone Pouch

Comes in handy at the beach, on kayak trips, or if you’re worried about rain on a hike. They also keep sand out of your phone. Look for ones with a lanyard so you have the option to wear it around your neck. This one lets you still use the touchscreen on your phone, even while it’s in the case.

Snorkel Gear

If you plan to go to Hanauma Bay or think you’ll snorkel more than once or twice, it might be worth bringing your own rather than renting.

Power Bank

Charge your phone or laptop when you're on the go. If you’re away from your hotel for the day or spending a day using Google Maps, you’ll be glad you can recharge anywhere.


For underwater videos scenic hikes and all around waterproof, rugged friendly photo situations. Don’t forget a Memory Card. There are also GoPro mounts for surfboards, SUPs, kayaks, etc. 

Sony A7ii Camera

It's as good as an SLR, but it’s way more compact and lightweight. It’s great for everyone from beginners to pros. They have an app that can connect to your smartphone so you can immediately send pics you take to your phone if you want to share them right away on social. Don’t forget to get a good size Memory Card so you don’t have to worry about running out of space. (I like to keep a backup in my bag, just in case.) You can swap out lenses for different types of photography.


Polarized Camera Lens Filter 

It reduces  the reflections from the sun on the water. It’s great for taking pics of the ocean or waterfalls and is really great in Oahu.

Beach Tote

Something to carry towels, water bottles, sunscreen, and snacks. A mesh tote dries super fast and is compact in your suitcase. It’s great if you’re carrying sand toys and wet towels, but not if you want to keep sand completely out of your bag. A water resistant totes with a zipper do a good job of keeping the sand out and keep things inside dry. There are even ones that have an attached beach cooler.


Baby Powder

This sounds crazy but if you dust yourself with baby powder when you’re getting ready to leave the beach, it’ll dry up the sand and you can wipe it right off.

Wet Wipes

These come in handy, especially if you plan to hit up some garlic shrimp food trucks (where a few napkins just won’t do the trick).


Phoozy Phone Case

Keep your phone from overheating in the sun at the beach. It also floats if you drop it in water. (FYI: It’s water resistant, not waterproof.)


Universal Power Adapter

 If you’re bringing a bunch of things that you’ll need to charge every night (phones, tablets, cameras, etc) and don’t want to rotate things through the limited number of hotel outlets. This one charges up to 6 devices at once (and it’s a universal adapter so you can use it over 150 countries).


Garbage Bags

Store wet clothes or muddy shoes after hikes or a trip to the beach. Wet / Dry bags (typically used for diaper bags) are great for storing wet stuff until you get back to your hotel (without getting the rest of your stuff wet).

Reusable Bags

Oahu has a ban on plastic bags and charges at least 15¢ for plastic or paper bags. Mesh ones are great for food and swim gear (but not great if you don’t want people to see what’s in your bag). There are endless canvas bag options — "Beach Please"crossbody, you name it.

Packing Cubes

They make it so easy to keep things organized in your suitcase (electronics, shoes, clothes, etc) and they stay organized in your hotel room or Airbnb. You can also turn one into a laundry bag to bring things home.

Mini Personal Fan

A good idea if you’re worried about not being able to cool off during the summer or planning some intense activities. There are some cute rechargeable handheld ones that look a bit like bears, ones that sit around your neck, and everything in between.

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