Stuck on what to bring to Maui? Guest contributor Kyle Kroeger can help you get unstuck. He loves Maui – here’s his guide on how to pack for Hawaii.
So you looked at Oahu, the Big Island, Maui and Kauai – and ultimately settled on Maui for your holiday.
The combination of the Hawaiian sun, picture-perfect beaches and honeymoon-worthy hotels in Maui makes the “Valley Isle” a popular tropical destination for a vacay (and easy to visit for Americans and Canadians).
You’ve even prepared your Maui itinerary and figured out where you want to stay on Maui.
However, have you drawn up your Maui packing list yet?
If you think you can cram all the things to take to Maui into your suitcase last-minute, you might come to regret that decision later.
Say you forget to take a snorkeling skin or the right footwear. You’ll either be very uncomfortable during your trip (oh, that sunburn smarts!) or waste valuable vacation time shopping for things you need.
Or worse, imagine that you forget you put your phone in your swimsuit pocket – and you dash into the sea. (That almost happened to me once.)
Have I got your attention?
If you’re wondering what to pack for Maui, check out this ultimate list to ensure a hassle-free trip.
In fact, if you travel to Hawaii during between November and January, you should be prepared for somewhat chilly nights (even though days will mostly be warm). These are Hawaii’s “coolest” months. Pack a thin sweater or jacket for the coolish evenings.
November to March (winter) is also Hawaii’s rainy season, and occasional rainy days can be expected. So you should be prepared with a light rain jacket, suitable footwear and waterproof protection gear for your valuables.
However, during the summer season (May to October), it can get quite hot during the daytime – pack as many light and comfortable clothes as possible.
No matter what time of year you go, though, you’ll need a high-SPF sunscreen and sun protection gear to avoid sunburn.
Things to pack for different activities in Maui
What adventures are you going to get up to in Maui?
Are you traveling as a couple and looking for romantic things to do in Maui? Or are you planning adventurous excursions with your family? (Hello waterfall hikes!)
Your planned activities will dictate your Hawaii vacation packing list.
For example, if you’re going snorkeling or scuba diving, essential gear will naturally include a snorkel mask, fins, bathing suits and extensive sun protection.
Similarly, there are numerous awesome places to hike in Maui. (Check out this top-rated guided hiking tour of Haleakala Crater.) You’ll want proper hiking sandals or shoes so you don’t get blisters or twist an ankle.
Now, if you’re planning a laid-back relaxing vacation with fine dining, ladies will probably want to take some casually chic clothes, jewelry and perhaps some dressy sandals – because it always feels good to dress up a bit, right?
Don’t stress too much about all this, though.
Most of the time, the basic clothing items you’ll need are beachwear and casual clothes. And as for gear, you can always rent snorkel, scuba and fishing equipment.
Pro tip: I suggest you pre-book your outdoor activities for your Hawaiian vacation. Make restaurant reservations well in advance too. The island of Maui is very popular – and you risk missing out if you aren’t proactive.
How much luggage to carry? Organize your Hawaii essentials
Remember, you won’t necessarily need everything mentioned here.
But you might find it helpful if you organize items for your Maui packing list according to the following categories:
Clothes – Casual wear and some dressier resort clothes
Footwear – For the beach, hiking trails and casual wear
Beach stuff – Beachwear, beach essentials and sun protection
Gear for water activities – Waterproof phone case, etc.
Other essential stuff – Portable charger, day pack, etc.
I’ve organized the 35 items below according to these categories.
For the plane, be sure to set aside carry-on essentials (like medications, ear plugs, etc.) and pack those in your carry-on luggage.
The ultimate Maui packing list
Okay, ready now to dive into packing for Maui? Let’s get started!
To make things easy for you, everything here can be bought on Amazon.
Prices shown are in US dollars. As an Amazon associate, Sand In My Suitcase earns from qualifying purchases.
Clothes: What to wear in Hawaii
From T-shirts and shorts to a light rain jacket, the following are the essential Hawaii vacation clothes to pack for your trip:
Ladies, if you’re wondering what to wear in Maui, think tank tops!
They’re easily the most convenient and versatile clothing items. Wear them on their own or style it like a cami under a loose unbuttoned shirt.
Try to skip nylon and polyester if you’re out and about in the sun. These materials can make you sweat. Instead, go for breathable and quick-drying materials such as cotton to keep yourself fresh all day.
These cotton Land’s End tank tops look great on most body types. And you can choose from tons of colors.
As mentioned, the weather can be unpredictable in Maui.
In the winter months, you never know if you’ll face a cool spell, with some cloudy (possibly even drizzly) days.
Include a couple of lightweight and warm sweatshirts for casual and adventure wear in your Hawaii packing list.
They’ll come in handy for chilly evenings.
Also, the weather at the top of the crater in Haleakala National Park is often just above freezing temperature. So if you’re planning to watch the sunrise there – or doing any snorkeling tours that leave early in the morning – you’ll be glad to be wearing a warm and snuggly sweatshirt.
If you’re traveling to Maui in winter, you know by now that you could encounter wet weather. In fact, it’s best to prepare yourself for it, so you’re not disappointed if it does rain.
One way to let rain ruin your holiday is to stay indoors because you don’t want to get wet outside and you don’t have anything to keep you dry.
Solution? Make sure your Hawaii vacation clothes include a light rain shell or jacket. Ideally it should be one you can squish into your day pack (and one that doesn’t take up too make space in your luggage).
Footwear: Best shoes for Maui
Water shoes for Hawaii? Sandals? Check out what you need here:
Maybe you’re strolling the streets of Lahaina? Or heading out for sunset cocktails? Or checking out the grocery store for poke, snacks and Hawaiian fruit for your condo? Whatever – you’ll want a pair of comfy and good-looking sandals.
The best sandals for travel should have a comfortable footbed, combined with a sturdy sole and stylish design. You should be able to walk in them without getting blisters.
These Viakix sandals for women (Siena style) have stretchy adjustable straps and an ergonomically designed insole. They come in several color combinations too.
If your planned activities include hiking to Maui waterfalls, then put water sandals or water shoes on your Maui packing list.
The best water sandals for women and men are specially designed to be comfortable and provide traction while walking through watery terrain. You don’t want to be worried about slipping or twisting an ankle!
If you don’t own a pair already, make sure to invest in one before leaving for your trip. They’re sure to come in handy for other trips (and maybe back home too).
And pssst! The Teva brand (shown here) is an excellent choice!
You probably think mostly beach items when planning what to pack for a trip to Hawaii, right?
However, as mentioned, there are many adventurous off-beach activities you can enjoy in Maui too.
When looking for the ideal hiking sandals for Hawaii, check for durable materials, superior traction and interior cushioning. These features will help you tackle challenging hiking trails effortlessly.
If you’re only doing some light hiking, you can get these KEENs in a waterproof version – meaning they’ll also work well as water shoes (so you don't have to pack water shoes and hiking sandals).
Maui packing list: Beach stuff
What to pack for Hawaii for the beach? Here are the must-haves:
Gals, how many times have you looked enviously at Maui holiday pics on Instagram? Well, now it’s your time to shine! And nothing makes a better statement than a great sun hat.
Apart from lending the perfect “beach and sun” vibes to your photos, a sun hat is also essential for protecting your face from harmful long-term sun exposure.
So make sure you pack a good hat, preferably one that’s light. This wide-brimmed hat has the advantage of being foldable too – you won’t have to worry about it losing its shape when packed in your suitcase.
What goes with your cute bikini or one-piece bathing suit? Why, a beach cover-up, of course!
This shirt-style cover-up is flattering and protects your back and back and shoulders from harmful sun rays. It also provides enough cover that you can feel comfortable going for drinks or lunch wearing this over your swimsuit (without fretting about showing too much skin).
The last thing you want is to get an itchy rash that keeps you from enjoying the water and other activities on your trip.
Even if you make it a point to take along breathable clothing when packing for Hawaii, you’ll still need a rash guard to protect your skin.
I know what you’re thinking – these clothing items are tight and body-hugging, making them a nuisance when it’s hot outside. But the guard will work wonders in the water to protect your skin from both scratches (when body surfing or snorkeling above coral reefs) and sunburn.
With a UPF of 50+, this AXESEA women’s rash guard is soft and won’t chafe. It also has a zipper front, so it’s easy to put on and get off.
We all know we have to protect our skin from the sun – and sunburn isn’t much fun either!
Plus, do you really want to return home from your trip looking like you just stepped out of a malfunctioning tanning machine?
Reef-friendly sunscreen is one of the kindest things to take with you on your Maui vacation – for the environment and for you.
I like this Sun Bum sunscreen. It’s reef-friendly and made without two of the nasty ingredients that often go into regular sunscreens: Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. (In 2018, Hawaii actually banned sunscreens with those two chemicals.) It smells really good too.
Whatever reef-safe sunscreen you use in Maui, be sure to apply it aplenty, and repeat the application every two hours or whenever you step out of the water.
If you’re just going to be lazing about at the Four Seasons Resort, of course you don’t need one – the beach and pool concierges will lay out hotel towels on your chaise lounge for you.
But if you head out for an excursion, maybe to Ka’anapali Beach (one of the world's best beaches!) or on a snorkeling trip, you don’t want to stuff a big fluffy hotel bath towel in your bag.
Instead, go for a soft and absorbent towel that’s thin and quick-drying at the same time. These easy-care cotton fiber towels are convenient for beach outings – and they’re lightweight to pack for travel too.
You simply can’t visit Maui without exploring underwater. Go snorkeling at Molokini, for example, and you’ll enjoy awesome water visibility (and see huge sea turtles at Turtle Town too).
Having your own snorkeling gear means you can snorkel anytime you want without having to chase down a rental shack to rent gear. And you have the comfort of knowing the snorkel and mask haven’t been used by someone else.
It’s a good idea to check the fit before you go, so once in Maui, you’ll know the mask doesn’t leak and everything works as it should.
Snorkeling gear is definitely one of those Maui packing essentials for water babies!
Another essential article for beach and especially boat use is a dry bag.
For this, you need a compact dry bag.
When purchasing a dry bag, check that it has a water-tight seal and is made from reliable puncture-proof material. These features will make it ideal when sea kayaking, paddling an outrigger canoe (or stand-up paddleboard) or engaging in other water sports.
When thinking about what to pack for Hawaii, a first-aid kit may not be top of mind.
But an accident can put a serious crimp in your Hawaii holiday.
Of course, you can always run to a pharmacy and buy band-aids, Tylenol or Benadryl itch-stopping cream. But that’s not so convenient, particularly if you don’t have a rental car. (Then you might, literally, be running to the pharmacy.)
Wouldn’t it be better to have your own first-aid essentials on hand, especially when traveling with kids?
Identity theft is unfortunately quite common in popular holiday destinations. Anyone can use an RFID scanner to collect crucial debit and credit card information from your wallet in your pocket or purse.
Carry an RFID cardholder to keep your essential details, such as debit and credit card numbers, safe during your trip. The compact cardholder easily fits your front pocket or wallet and protects your valuables against scammers.
There’s nothing like enjoying your favorite music while watching the tranquil blue waves. So indulge in some good quality noise canceling earbuds. Did someone say Bose?
Not only can you use them on the beach to listen to “Over the Rainbow” by famous Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo Ole, you’ll find them invaluable for blocking out the screams of noisy toddlers on flights.
So you’ve gathered together the items you’re going to take on your trip to Maui.
Why not pack like a pro now, and organize your clothes, accessories and beach gear using packing cubes? Trust me, once you start using packing cubes, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them!
No more rifling through a messy suitcase to find that itty bitty bikini once you get to your hotel or condo. Because it’s packed in the beachwear cube – easy to find!
Packing cubes also do a great job keeping wrinkles out of your clothes because they keep everything nicely folded (or rolled).
These Bagail soft-sided packing cubes have a perfect 5-star rating from more than 16,000 Amazon shoppers.
Made from high-quality nylon, they have mesh paneling so you can see what’s inside the particular cube. The zippers are good and strong too, and you can buy them in several different colors, from neutral black to coral and turquoise.
Has this packing list for Hawaii helped you?
Now that you know what to bring to Maui, hopefully you feel more prepared for your beach vacation.
By the way, you’ve probably already figured out that this Maui packing list applies for packing for any Hawaiian island vacation.
Anyway, enjoy your trip. And mahalo for reading this post!
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About the author:
Kyle Kroeger is a travel blogger for his site ViaTravelers. Offering travel tips, hacks and itineraries, this modern travel blog aims to get you out of your comfort zone – and help you have an amazing adventure.