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If you’re anything like me, you’re always trying to improve your packing game. And by improve I mean avoiding situations where you’re throwing random things in your suitcase at midnight before your 6AM flight and then thinking of everything you forgot during the drive to the airport. Oh wait…that’s only me? Well then. If you’re wondering what to pack for the beach, I’ve rounded up what I consider to be essentials for a beach vacation to Hawaii. Now obviously, since you’ll be flying to Hawaii, you won’t be packing some of these things, but if you’re road tripping to the beach on the mainland, these are good ideas, and you also may want to rent some of these (chairs, umbrellas, coolers, snorkel gear, etc), if it won’t be provided by where you’re staying in Hawaii.
So here’s what you should always pack for a trip to the beach:
Cover Up. My motto is always pack more of these than you think you’ll need. It’s probably what you’ll be wearing most of the time. I’ve been particularly into kimonos lately. Some of my favorites are from Jaxsea.
Water Shoes. If you’ll be doing any hiking or water related activities that are going to require sturdy footwear, pack a pair of Keens. A lot of beaches or snorkeling spots in Hawaii have a rocky entry so these can be helpful.
Hat. Yeah, the first day you’re there you’ll be all about soaking up the sun, but trust me, after a little too much sun you’ll be all about the shade. I like a big sun hat but you can’t beat a good ol’ ball cap either.
Sunglasses. I live in Ray Bans, but sometimes you just want to pack a cheap pair for the beach.
Sun Shirt. Sometimes throwing on a shirt is a lot more convenient than putting on more sunscreen (and more reef friendly as well). These are my favorite.
Beach Bag. You’ve got to have something to haul your gear around in. I like a big bag with plenty of room but you’ll also want something that packs up small.
Towels/Beach Mat. Most likely your hotel or condo will provide beach towels, but I like mine extra large and fluffy. Costco has Hawaiian print ones that I LOVE.
Yeti. I’m in LOVE with my Yeti tumbler. I fill it with ice and water in the morning and 12 hours later there’s still ice in it. This is the #1 thing I recommend taking on a beach vacation.
Lifeproof Case. I never go to the beach without one of these on my phone. You can use your phone as an underwater camera at depths of up to 30 feet and even if you don’t plan on submerging your phone, it adds a little extra insurance against sand and drops.
GoPro. If you’re looking for a waterproof camera that shoots solid video and takes good photos, a GoPro is a must. And if you plan on taking it snorkeling, I would also make sure it has a float strap in case you lose hold of it.
Kindle/Book. If you’re like me, a beach vacation usually means hours of reading a day. Either pack an e-reader or plenty of paperbacks.
Headphones. You’ll want headphones for listening to music or podcasts while you doze in the sun.
Portable Speaker. Obviously, you don’t want to be obnoxiously playing loud music when there are a lot of people around, but if you end up on an uncrowded beach, some tunes are fun!
Binoculars. When it’s whale season in Hawaii (December through April), it’s not uncommon to spot them from the beach (especially in Maui). They’re also fun to have if you’re heading out to the north shore of Oahu to watch the big wave surfers.
Toys & Inflatables. Different resorts may have rules about what’s allowed and what’s not but they’re fair game at the beach. Just a word of caution though, if you can’t swim, an inflatable or noodle does not replace a life jacket.
Sunscreen. This is the one thing you shouldn’t leave home without. Depending on where you’re going, sunscreen can be very expensive and your choices limited. Stock up at home. This is my favorite lately for laying around the pool, but if I’m going to be in the ocean, I’ve been wearing this because it’s reef friendly. Read more about my favorite reef friendly sunscreens here.
Lip Balm: Pick something that’s hydrating with a little SPF.
Browning Lotion: My absolute favorite browning lotion is made on Maui and I always get an amazing tan when I use it. You can pick it up in a lot of stores in Hawaii or order it here. Put your sunscreen on first!
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Hair Ties: These hair ties are perfect for keeping windblown tresses out of your face.
Hairbrush: You’ll want to run a brush through your hair in between the beach and happy hour.
Aloe Vera. Whew, trust me. You’ll end up needing this and when you do, you won’t want to have to make a trip to the store to get it. This lotion is soooo much better than any gel brand I’ve ever used.
Wipes. These deodorant wipes from Pacifica are amazing and I never go to the beach without them. They’ll make you feel a little less gross sitting in a restaurant after a long day at the beach. Their face wipes are also amazingly refreshing, but if you have super sensitive skin (like me), you can’t go wrong with Huggies.
Plastic Bags. Either pack some ziplock bags or reuse a plastic bag. You’ll be glad to have something to put your wet swim suit in if you have to pack it back in your bag.
Change of Clothes. If you’re going straight from the beach to dinner, having a change of clothes is a must.
Beach Chairs. These fold up Tommy Bahama chairs with a built in cooler are LIFE. Most condos/vacation rentals have them available for your use, and if not, make renting them one of your first stops.
Umbrella. The Hawaiian sun is INTENSE. And most beaches don’t have a lot of shade, so if you’ll be out in the sun a lot, consider renting an umbrella or buying one at Costco. This one is my favorite.
Cooler. Obviously, YETI Coolers are king, but Whaler’s General Stores sell a collapsible cooler with island specific prints that’s one of my favorite souvenirs.
Snorkel Set. If you’re an avid snorkeler, you may want to bring your own set from home.
Boogie Board. Most resorts have these you can use for free, or you can pick up your own pretty cheap at any ABC Store around the island.
Feeling a little overwhelmed with trying to plan the perfect Hawaii itinerary? I’ve got just the thing for you!
Hawaii Bound! I’ve put together the BEST Hawaii itineraries you’ll find anywhere! These are the itineraries I use on my trips to Hawaii (plus a few tweaks because hindsight is 20/20 right?) and they’re perfect for first time and repeat visitors who want to see the very best of each of the Hawaiian Islands.
Check it out here.
I’ve included everything from the best snorkeling spots, beaches, and excursions and it’s all broken down by each part of the island so you won’t waste any time backtracking.
So what exactly do you get? With Hawaii Bound, you’ll get 10-15 different DAILY itineraries for each of the four main islands (Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island).
These aren’t week long itineraries, but daily itineraries so you can pick and choose what works best for your trip. If you’re the go-go-go type, then pick 6 different daily itineraries and string them together into one adventure packed trip. If you’re staying at a nice beach resort and wanting to take advantage of the amenities, then pick 2-3 daily itineraries and spend the rest of the week chilling at the resort/beach. If you’re going on an island hopping extravaganza trip, use the daily itineraries to figure out how many days to spend on each island and what to do!
This is basically vacation in a box, friend! Just add a bit of salt water and you’re in for the trip of a lifetime.
Click here to grab the Hawaii Bound itinerary bundle.
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