What to Wear in Hawaii: How to Dress for Paradise

What to Wear in Hawaii: How to Dress for Paradise

What to Wear in Hawaii: How to Dress for Paradise

As an artist living on Kauai... I'm here to dish out the know-how when it comes to clothing. I've lived on Maui, Big Island, and now Kauai.. and have seen tourists making... very interesting fashion choices.
Locals love their simple "slippahs" (sandals) but tourists love making "fashion" statements. I don't blame them, per say. I might be interested in a fashion statement or two if I was rolling out a few thousand dollars for a vacation, hehe!
We all know that Hawaii is a great place to go to relax and have fun because of its beautiful beaches and tropical landscapes. When planning a trip to the beautiful islands, it's important to think about what to wear to be comfortable, stylish, and useful. But remember: more often than not, simplicity is key! Humidity and heat are very real factors.
In this piece, we'll tell you what to wear in Hawaii. This will help you pack the right clothes for your trip to the islands.

Wear casual vacation clothes.

Hawaii's easygoing vibe calls for casual resort clothes. Choose materials that are light and airy, like cotton, linen, and chambray. Both men and women should wear sundresses, skirts, shorts, and shirts or tops that are easy to move in. You'll thank me when you have sweat pouring down your body as you're getting acclimated to the weather.


Bring a range of swimsuits and cover-ups that fit your style and tastes. A few swimsuits is a must, as the last thing you want is to be putting on a half-damp swimsuit for your next pool sess. Don't forget to bring a beach towel, a sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun's rays. Many locals are BIG on natural reef-safe sunscreens... PLEASE BE SURE to only use reef-safe. This is not only best for you and your skin's health, but it also protects our reefs.

Footwear for Island Adventures:

There are many things to do in Hawaii, from relaxing on the beach to hiking and traveling. Make sure to bring the right shoes for your travels. Sandals and water shoes are great for the beach, while sneakers or hiking sandals are good for enjoying nature and hiking trails. Some Hawaiian islands, like Big Island, have a lot of rocky lava trails. Be sure to bring the approprate footwear for walking on rough lava if you're planning on exploring.

Lightweight Layers (or a coat!) for Changing Weather:

Hawaii is known for its warm weather, but it's a good idea to bring lightweight layers. Rain showers can be frequent, depending on the time of year and which side of the islands you are on. You may see a lot of locals wearing long-sleeves.
Depending on your elevation and the current season, some nights can even dip down to 50 degrees (I'm looking at you Volcano, Hawaii!).
Bringing a light sweater won't hurt... if you're adventuring you may be surprised as how chilly it can get. If you're planning on visiting any peaks then you must absolutely bring a coat. Mount Mauna Kea, for example, gets straight up frigid and you will NOT have a good time if you're frozen.

Evening Dress:

Evenings in Hawaii are just as relaxed as the days. For meals, luaus, and other special events, you can wear resort casual or resort chic.
Men wear lightweight slacks or khakis with a collared shirt, while women wear sundresses, maxi dresses, or stylish jumpsuits.

Essential Accessories:

Aside from the usual necessities, a few extras can make your trip to Hawaii even better. Don't forget to bring a reusable water bottle so you can stay hydrated. A beach bag or backpack is also neccessary... and a waterproof phone case is never a bad idea.


When deciding what to wear in Hawaii, it's important to be comfortable and practical. Take your schedule into account. If you're going to be doing a lot of hiking, prepare for rough lava terrain. If you're a beach goer, use reef-safe sunscreen and consider lightweight fabrics to protect your skin.
I think the most surprising thing about dressing in Hawaii is the fact that it DOES get extremely cold... especially on mountain peaks! A sunset on the volcano's is unforgettable... be sure to bring a coat though.
Aloha, and have a good trip!
p.s. If you find my content useful then I would LOVE your support! As a local Kauai artist... you checking out my art print store would mean the world to me! Find my work at www.soulofhawaii.com
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