The Ultimate Hawaii Family Trip Packing List: Don’t Leave Home Without These Essentials!

Ready for your family vacation to Hawaii but want to be sure you have everything you need packed? We’ve listed all the necessities for your family trip to Hawaii, and all the things you are probably forgetting.

Hawaii is a wonderful family vacation destination, but because there is SO MUCH to do, it can be hard to pack everything you need without OVERpacking. But after a ton of trips all around Hawaii, we’ve got our Hawaii packing list down.

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Sun-protection

While you are in Hawaii, you’ll likely be spending a LOT of time out in the sun. Sun protection is huge for ensuring you can enjoy the WHOLE trip (and not just the first day before everyone is sunburnt), so make sure you have proper protection on your list!

1. Sun Protective Clothing

This one is huge. The sun is strong in Hawaiian, and you and your family are likely going to be spending a lot of time out in it. Sun-protective clothing is great for a number of reasons:

  • Sun-protective clothing won’t wash off, so you’ll be protected all day
  • Sunscreen is damaging to marine life. No sunscreen is 100% reef safe. Sun-protective clothing will help you minimize your sunscreen usage.
  • Chasing children around to apply sunscreen 4,000 times a day gets old.
  • Hats and sunglasses with UV protection protect what sunscreen can’t, so you can protect eyes from sunburn and avoid the dreaded scalp burn (and the peeling that inevitably comes after – YUCK!).

Kids sun clothing we love

For kids, we love the Primary for their bright, colorful, and reasonably priced swimwear. They are comfortable and good quality, and they are our go to for sun-protective swimwear.

Get 20% off your first order at Primary.com with code AFF20PCT
Child wearing a rainbow swim top and grey shorts is playing on a splash pad
Primary rainbow rashguard

For my kids, finding a sun-protective hat that they will keep on their heads for more than 5 minutes can be tough. But we love this brightly colored, lightweight hat from Sun Day. The drawstrings on the bottom allow you to tighten at the chin so it won’t blow off in the breeze, and the vents prevent kids from getting too hot while wearing it.

Don’t forget sunglasses to protect your kids’ eyes. We LOVE these adorable Knockaround sunglasses with UV protection and mirrored lens (you won’t belief how cute they’ll love on!)

Child wearing orange Knockaround sunglasses and sitting in the sand smiles at the camera
Kids Knockaround sunglasses

Adult Sun Protective clothing

Favorite Women’s

For me, finding sun protective clothing that didn’t feel and look awful was a struggle. But I found this amazing top from Carve, and it’s now my go to. You can undo the sides to make it long enough to cover thighs, or shorten so it works well with shorts (or even pants). It’s quick dry, super comfortable, and has flattering lines.

A pair of shorts that can quickly be pulled over a swimsuit to cover up my thighs is a necessity for me, and I love the Carve Bali shorts. They are quick dry and super comfortable.

For adults or kids, I love the Knockaround sunglasses because they are cute, durable, and not so expensive that you are afraid to use them.

A mother and two children climb sharp rocks near the ocean
Enjoying Maui with the kids in my favorite, sun-protective gear
Favorite for Men

For sun protection, my husband loves his Koredry sun tee. It’s comfortable and high quality and it’s his go-to for sunny days.

We also love many of the Sunday Afternoons adult sun hats, but especially this one. When you put it on, you’ll see that it looks a lot more stylish than your typical bucket sun hat, but it does its job well.

2. Reef Safe Sunscreen

The State of Hawaii takes reef protection seriously and outlawed the sale of non-reef-safe sunscreen back in 2018. And it makes sense. Many of the chemicals commonly found in sunscreen can be very damaging to delicate reefs. Because Hawaii is such a tourist hot spot, there is a LOT of sunscreen washing off of a lot of bodies in the ocean.

To learn more about what is and what is not reef safe, check out this article.

My family avoids the spray-type sunscreen. While it’s SUPER convenient, you’ll end up with some overspray and more sunscreen than necessary washing into the ocean. We love the Sun Bum Mineral and really all of the Sun Bum suncreeen products

3. Aloe

Even if you are careful about sun exposure, sunburns often happen in Hawaii. Make sure you toss some aloe in your bag to help cool the skin and help sunburns heal faster. It’s a great moisturizer so it’ll help with dry skin from being in and out of the water all the time as well.

This Cooling Gel has Aloe and Cocoa butter and works great to help cool and heal a sunburn.

Beach Gear

While visiting Hawaii, you are going to need to make sure good beach gear is on your packing list! These are our tried and true favorites!

4. Beach Bag

Hawaiian beaches are big and beautiful, which means there is always a bit of walking, and carrying gear when you go to the beach. We’ve forgotten beach bags plenty of time and had to make do with grocery bags, or whatever we could find. It is SO much easier when you have a large, comfortable-to-carry beach bag.

Our favorite beach bag packed full of everything we need for a beach day!

We LOVE our Aloha Holo Holo Tote. They are stylish, lightweight, large enough to fit all our beach necessities, and comfortable to carry even when filled to the brim.

Buy the beach bag on Amazon here, or direct from Aloha here.

5. Packable Beach Towels

We love Sand Cloud Beach towels because they are SO much compact and easy to pack than your standard beach towel. They dry super fast, and fold up small in the beach bag. And they really do dry off well.

Plus, they have so many great prints and patterns direct on their website!

Sand cloud towels are big and cozy enough to wrap up, but fold up small enough for bringing on vacation

We find that we always do want a couple of beach towels when we head down to the beach. Hotels often either don’t provide enough clean towels for you to spare a couple for the beach, or they may explicitly prohibit using their towels on the beach.

Switching to Sand Cloud towels was really a game changer for our family- they are huge towels, but pack up tiny. We can get by with just 1 or 2 towels, and they are easy to bring along in the beach bag and in our suitcase.

6. Beach Mat

A small, packable mat can keep the sand out of your snacks and gear, prevent beach bug bites, and just give you a break from constantly being covered in sand. For us, it makes beach days a lot more pleasant. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference.

This is the one we have and love. It packs up small and has stakes to keep it in place.

A child is sitting on a beach mat, surrounded by beach gear, is eating chips. In the background, Maui's Kapalua Beach is visible.
This beach mat works great, BUT sometimes kids still track a bunch of sand on it 🙂

7. Insulated Water bottle

A good, insulated water will help keep your water icy-cold on a hot day at the beach. Lets be honest- drinking steamy water out of a disposable water bottle is NOT the best.

We love Hydroflask because they are so well insulated. I bring one big one for my family to share because we usually only go out for a few hours at a time. But for those who don’t care to share, or for longer trips, we definitely recommend bringing a few!

8. Hair Oil or Detangler

The constant pool- and sea- water can do a number on your hair. A little extra moisturizing and a detangler can make the end-of-the-day comb out a LOT less painful. and can help to ensure that your hair won’t be too damaged when you get home.

I love this hair oil for my hair and for my long-haired son’s hair. A dime sized amount spread in wet hair really helps to keep it healthy and easy to comb.

This detangler works great to help loosen beach tangles with out tears, and it smells great!

9. Life jackets for the kids

Hawaiian currents can be very strong. Having a life jacket can help keep your kiddos safe at the beach. And while it is possible to rent kid-size life jackets in Hawaii, we haven’t found them to be readily available. Plus, the kids aren’t going to want to wait. We prefer to have them with us so we can head to the beach ASAP.

A child is slipping on a red life jacket. In the background, the blue water of Kaanapali Beach in Maui is visible.
Life jackets for kids are critical at the beach

10. Snorkel equipment

Planning to do a LOT of snorkeling in Hawaii? Picky about your snorkel gear? It might make sense to bring your own gear. We like that bringing our own allows us to jump right in on day one instead of having to rush over and pick up gear.

Interested in getting your kids out snorkeling this trip? Read our guide to snorkeling with kids here.

11. Waterproof bag for phone

Want to get some great underwater photos of fish, or kids swimming like fish? These waterproof phone pouches are pretty convenient and allow you to safely take your phone out in the water!

While a GoPro might be the ideal, a waterproof phone case is cheaper and potentially more convenient than adding a new camera to the mix.

12. Goggles

Even if you or your kids aren’t into snorkeling, goggles are great to pack along. My kids sometimes get scared snorkeling, but they are happy to catch a peek at all the fish and sea turtles they can spot with a quick peek in shallow water Also, goggles are great for the pool. We like the big goggles for Hawaii since there is SO much to see under water.

Footwear

Having the right shoes is super important for any trip. We try to pack minimally but still end up always packing two pairs of shoes per person for Hawaii

13. Flip Flops

This one is probably a given. But I have to mention it because it’s so important. The sand on Hawaiian beaches, and the decks around pools get HOT. You’ll want something easy to slip on near you at all times so you’re feet won’t burn. They are perfect for walking around the resort, down the beach, and around town in warm weather. And make sure to pack a pair that fits well.

It’s tough to pick a favorite flip flop but I can narrow it down to two. I LOVE Sanuk Yoga Mat because they are so soft and comfy. However, they will absorb water, so if you get them really wet, they’ll take awhile to dry. Our other favorite are Olukai Beach Sandals because they fit great and your feet don’t slide in them, even when wet.

14. Closed-toe sandals or Crocs

There are some amazing rocky beaches and tide pools, as well as wet, waterfall-filled hikes. For these, closed-toe sandals are a must. In fact, if I was only going to bring one pair of shoes to Hawaiian, I’d go with these great closed toe sandals. They have great grip for climbing on slippery rocks, protect my toes, and can even be worn in the water. They are great for hiking, beach exploring, and walking around town.

If I was only going to pack one pair of shoes for my kids, I might go with Crocs. While Crocs can’t grip as well on slippery rocks, they do slip on easily, and my kids would be much more likely to put them on (rather than go barefoot). Kids can get them on without sitting down and fussing with the straps, and they still provide good protection against smashed toes and cuts from volcanic rock.

Crocs are my kids favorites for beach, tide pooling, and rock climbing

15. Sock and Sneakers?

If your feet are a bit more sensitive or if you plan to do a LOT of hiking, it’ll make sense for you to bring proper hiking shoes and socks. For many, just sandals will be enough. However, it doesn’t hurt to throw a couple of pairs of socks in to wear around the room, or to wear with sandals or crocs if you need a little extra protection.

Sneakers are a good idea if you are planning to do some hiking in Hawaii

15. Backpack

Beach bags work great for the beach, but if you plan on doing any hiking, waterfall exploring, or walks, a beach bag gets pretty uncomfortable. Still, you’ll want something to carry the necessities. We find a small backpack to be the most comfortable.

Looking for a recommendation? My favorite day backpack for adults is the Sirrus 24 because comfortable, cool to wear, and has plenty of great storage pockets for everything we need.

Check out our post here for our favorite kids backpacks!

Clothing

Of course, you will need something to wear in Hawaii! But our clothing packing list for Hawaii might surprise you!

16. Swimsuit options

If you plan to spend a lot of time swimming or at the beach, make sure you plan to bring a few swimsuits. And, if possible, bring a few different types to keep yourself and your kids as comfortable as possible.

Sand in the swimsuit and subsequent chaffing can be a major issue on a beach vacation. We find that swimsuits without anything to trap the sand can help reduce chaffing. But sometimes, your kiddo might just need to try something else out.

Sometimes swimsuits start to rub, or you get a sunburn. Having a swimsuit that feels and fits a bit differently can really help your comfort level. For my family, a trip to Hawaii means spending dawn til dusk in a swimsuit so feeling comfortable is really important

Two children, wearing swimsuits, run down Maui's Kaanapali beach splashing in the surf
When you are at the beach all day, swimsuits can get uncomfortable

17. Something nice to wear to dinner

In general, Hawaii is a pretty casual place and there are plenty of places to eat where even swimwear is appropriate. However, we have come across a few restaurants that do have a dress code, so be sure to check our dress codes for any restaurants you are wanting to visit and make sure you have the proper attire packed.

Usually, bringing something special just to wear out to dinner is totally optional. But it can be nice to get a little dressed up for dinner.

18. A sweater

Traveling in the winter months? Hawaii can get a very rainy and a chilly every once in while. Even during the summer, you may find that it cools off enough that a lightweight sweater comes in handy.

19. Wetbag

Wet bags are great for keeping holding wet swimsuits in the suitcase or in the car without getting EVERYTHING else wet. The Grovia wetbag is our go to!

20. Not too many clothes!

If you are planning to spend a lot of time at the beach and the pool, you might not need as many dry clothes as you expect! My family loves spending the day at the beach, so we really only need a dry outfit for dinner at the end of the day. Since clothes are only being worn for 2-3 hours every day, we could easily rewear.

Other prep for your trip to Hawaii

Make dining reservations. Hawaii tourism is bursting at the seams. Many even casual but tasty restaurants are booking up months in advance. Luaus, in particular, book up really quickly!

If you are visiting Maui, Sign up for the Snorkel report on Maui. We have found it helpful to keep an eye on the snorkel report even when we aren’t there just to become familiar with Maui weather changes. The great thing about Maui is that there are tons of great beaches with slightly different weather patterns, so you can often avoid any bad weather by driving 30 minutes.

Book excursions early. Everything books up early so don’t miss out on something you really wanted to do! But don’t book too many! Hawaii is filled with amazing, free things that don’t require reservations. Go to the beach, take a hike, shop at a farmers market, or stroll through town- you won’t regret spending time just taking in the islands!

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