Hey there, fellow traveler!
Are you planning a trip to Maui but feeling overwhelmed with what to pack? Don’t worry; I’ve got your back. As someone who has been visiting the island for years with my boyfriend, we’ve made our fair share of packing mistakes and learned from them.
Packing for Hawaii is different than any other destination, especially when it comes to tropical islands like Maui. That’s why I’m here to help you avoid those same mistakes and make sure you have everything you need for an unforgettable vacation.
In this article, I’ll be sharing our ultimate list of packing essentials that covers all weather conditions, outdoor activities, water and land excursions – plus some tips on how to pack light and efficiently. So sit back, relax (with a Mai Tai in hand), and let me guide you through the must-haves for your Maui adventure!
Warning: With these essential items packed in your suitcase, you might never want to leave the island!
I’ve divided the things you’ll need into easy categories, with clothes being the most important ones. Below you’ll find every item of clothing needed for your Maui trip and nothing more, so don’t overpack. Simple tees, dresses, tank tops, and shorts are all you need on the hot island days, and sweatshirts have you covered for the chilly nights.
- Tank tops
This one’s for all the women (we’ll get to you next, boys) since tank tops are no-fail clothing in Maui, owing to the burning sun. They’ll keep you light and allow mobility during hikes or water activities that a dressy shirt would hinder.
However, don’t get tank tops in thicker materials like polyester or nylon, which will have you sweating all day. Instead, a few cotton tanks in different colors will be perfect for all occasions on the island since everyone dresses pretty casually in Maui.
- T-shirts and Aloha shirts
When in the tropics, leave any clingy collared shirts behind (I’m looking at you, polo shirt enthusiasts), as the heat can quickly give you a sweaty neck. Instead, pack a few cotton t-shirts, especially if you’re prone to sunburns, and they’ll last you for the whole trip.
Aloha shirts are another great option, as everyone in Maui will be sporting one. You can find some classy ones in the shopping stores in Lahaina and Whalers Village in West Maui or even your nearest ABC stores. These mainly come in handy when you’re going out for a fancy meal since all dress-coded places in Maui approve of them.
Your best bet is a cute sundress for evenings out on Maui’s streets, fine dining at a nice restaurant, or a romantic beach picnic. Although you will spend most of your trip on the beach or hiking on Maui’s muddy trails, the island also has plenty of indoor and town activities where you can flaunt a gorgeous dress.
I find that a loose dress, ideally made from lawn or cotton material, works well, as you don’t have difficulty moving about like in a fitted dress. Some great places you can get chic and trendy island wear are the boutiques in Paia, East Maui, or the shops in Whalers Village, West Maui.
Since all your clothing items are in the light and airy category, we can’t miss out on shorts. They’re perfect for a beach day, a cover-up over your swimsuit, hiking easy trails, or just lounging.
In addition, if you’re looking to get a tan, start by going in the sun wearing shorts. Then, switch to your beachwear when there aren’t any visible signs of a sunburn. However, remember to lather on sunscreen when you go out in shorts, as bare legs get sunburnt pretty quickly.
- Long pants
You also want to pack a few pairs of long pants with shorts. They’re classy outerwear for a sit-down dinner or when the weather gets chilly at night. We also recommend wearing jogger pants when hiking on a trail with thick foliage, as you can get cuts and bruises on exposed legs.
Try not to pack something too baggy, as the excess cloth gets stuck in overgrown bushes or rips from thorns. So when packing pants – fitted is the way to go.
As we’ve mentioned, the nights in Maui get chilly, particularly from November to January, which is the official winter time on the island. A casual sweatshirt or even a sweat suit works well to keep away the cold at night, but try to pack lighter ones to avoid bulking up your suitcase.
In addition, sweatshirts are a must in any season if you go to the Haleakala Crater for a sunrise or sunset viewing. Since the Crater is at an elevation of 10,000 ft., you’ll be faced with icy-cold winds at the top, so pack your warm sweats and pants for the journey.
- Light Raincoats
Maui gets 275 sunny days in the year, so you’re bound to get a few rainy ones on your trip. Packing a light raincoat will work wonders on such days, as you won’t have to stop your outdoor activities for a quick rain shower.
Different parts of Maui have different weather patterns, with East Maui getting the highest annual rainfall. So if taking the Road to Hana is part of your itinerary, definitely pack a light raincoat for the trip. Get one with a hoodie, and you won’t need an umbrella for the rain!
Packing a range of shoes is more important than you think in Maui. As you move from sandy beaches to rocky shores and muddy hiking trails, the right shoes will (quite literally) save your life. We’ve mentioned all the essential footwear you’ll need below, so make sure to pack some variations of them for your trip.
- Flip Flops
Planning on going to the beach without flip-flops? Impossible! And in Maui, you’ll need the best flip flops for beaching and roaming outdoors. The ideal flip flops you take should be quick-drying and made from a breathable material. We like to get the kind with some traction on the bottom because the last thing you want is to slip on underwater rocks on the beach.
You’ll find some great ones in local stores in Maui, either plain or the trendy variety with neon colors and beach flowers.
These are optional, as I find moving between flip-flops and hiking shoes is enough for Maui. However, if you need stylish shoes for going out or pairing with your beach dresses, a pair of sandals is the way to go.
Always go for flat ones with a sturdy base for all the walking you’ll be doing and something comfortable to easily slip on and off. You can find great ones in Maui’s stores if you forget to bring your own, and locals are always kind in giving a discount.
- Quick-Dry Water Shoes
Water shoes of the quick-drying variety are essential for Maui, whether you’re in the water or on a muddy trail. Flip flops are fine if you’re just stepping into the water, but swimming and snorkeling require good water shoes because sharp rocks and coral can cut your feet.
Another added benefit to water shoes in Maui is for hiking, as most of the trails have muddy slopes. You’ll be wearing hiking shoes for the dry part but as soon as a muddy path or stream crossing comes up, switch to water shoes. They make the wetter hikes much easier, and you don’t risk getting other footwear dirty.
- Hiking Shoes or Sandals
The hikes in Maui are a combination of easy and challenging, so a pair of sturdy hiking shoes will easily get you through the valley terrain. You want to combine comfort with functionality as you’ll be on your feet for hours at times, so look for a pair with soft interiors, good traction, and durable material.
We love getting KEENs for all kinds of hikes and nature walks in Maui, especially the waterproof kind, which saves you the trouble of getting your shoes wet on a muddy slope. In addition, they serve as great makeshift water shoes, so you won’t have to buy both before your trip.
Going to the beach isn’t just about putting on a swimsuit and hitting the waves, as you’ll have to consider the sun, the water temperature, and places to put your valuables safely while swimming. I’ve combined all the important things you’ll be needing below, so packing for your day at the beach will be a breeze.
First things first, invest in good beachwear, whether a bikini, a full-body swimsuit, or a pair of sturdy swimming trunks. You’ll be swimming in many different water bodies in Maui, some calm and some rough, so having a sturdy swimsuit is essential.
We always pack two; a light one for a quick swim and a sturdy one with more coverage for swimming or snorkeling alongside marine life and underwater plants. Skin-tight suits are helpful as some strong waves can knock your bathing suit off.
In addition, if you plan on swimming in your hotel’s pool, get a chlorine-safe swimsuit as well.
- Cover-up dress
A cover-up dress is perfect for when you step out of the water and need something light to wear as your swimsuit dries. Throwing on a t-shirt works as well, but that’ll cling to your body which gives an unpleasant feeling.
I like to pack a lightweight and flattering dress, which can also double as a cute outfit if you go out for lunch or take a walk after the beach.
- Polarized Sunglasses
If you haven’t faced the sun in Maui yet, let me tell you that it isn’t kind. The rays get in your eyes and are troublesome if you have vision problems. So sunglasses are a must when stepping outside, but don’t just get the black kind that takes away all the gorgeous island colors.
Polarized sunglasses are perfect for the beach; they block out harmful UV rays, illuminate the colors of surrounding nature, and block reflections from the ocean so you can see the changing hues. You can get these in Maui as well if you forget yours, but be ready to pay tourist prices (aka, double.)
- Straw Hat
Hats of any kind are great for keeping your head safe from exposure to direct sunlight. However, straw or beach hats are lighter and let air cross through your hair. You’ll find that having a cool head is important in the tropics, as excessive heat from sweating can cause headaches and even fevers.
Fortunately, a straw hat prevents all of that easily, plus it looks trendy with your beach outfit. In addition, if you go hiking through caves, a hat is important as it prevents water drippings from falling on your head.
- Full-sleeve Rash Guard
As mentioned above, a body-hugging fabric is essential for beach wear, as it serves multiple purposes. For this purpose, full-sleeve rash guards are perfect for avoiding a rude sunburn on your shoulders and back while swimming or hiking, and they also protect you from getting cuts and bruises while doing water sports like surfing and snorkeling.
Although the material can be difficult to remove when wet, the simplest solution is to get a zip-up rash guard instead. Not to mention, you don’t want to enter the water with a bruise, sunburn, or rash, so the material helps protect you from getting your skin wet.
- Reef-safe Sunscreen
You’ll be using a lot of sunscreen in Maui, so it’s important to use one that’s safe for the environment, especially the reefs. Unfortunately, some sunscreens contain toxic chemicals that wash off your body when you enter the water and coat the reefs causing them to bleach.
The state of Hawaii has banned the use of such sunscreens, but they’re still sold outside the US. So be mindful of the natural ecosystems in Maui, and only use approved sunscreens throughout your trip. You can get them from any online store and buy refills from stores all over Maui.
- Quick-drying Towels
Every beach visit calls for a big towel to dry off after swimming and even sit on afterward. However, hotels and resorts don’t like it when guests take towels from them, so it’s best to pack your own and reuse them after washing them throughout the trip.
Quick-drying towels are the ones you want to get, as a few minutes in the sun is enough for them to be completely dry and ready to pack in your beach bag. They’re also made from softer materials than regular towels, making them perfect for those with sunburnt or sensitive skin.
- Snorkeling Gear
You don’t want to miss out on snorkeling in Maui, especially at Ka’anapali beach and the Molokini Crater, where you swim alongside sea turtles and tropical fish. Although you can get snorkeling gear from rental shacks or your hotel, the often-used gear is usually ill-fitting and can have leaks. So bring your own gear along and avoid running to find a rental when you get a good snorkeling opportunity.
However, if you don’t want to spend an extra buck on a one-time vacation, rentals cost only $100 for a week. Either way, you get to snorkel in gorgeous waters, so who’s complaining?
- Waterproof/Splash Proof Beach Bag
Have you ever packed everything in a beach bag only to get it soaked with the first wave? Well, I have, and the result is not nice. Fortunately, waterproof beach bags exist and protect essentials like phones, cameras, cash, and wallets from coming in contact with water when you’re at the beach.
These bags are also great for cruises, whale-watching tours, and snorkeling trips, where you might not go in the water, but there’s a high chance of splashes. In addition, they’re great for storing wet bathing suits after a swim when you don’t have a place to dry them.
Hiking in Maui is an enjoyable experience for everyone, and having the right hiking gear makes it even better. Most things on this list are basics like poles and bug spray, but they’re also easily forgotten, so having a checklist prevents that. I’ve also mentioned good quality equipment to shoot the best videos, like a GoPro, that will capture the memories beautifully for you.
- First-aid Kit
You should always pack a first-aid kit for any physical activity or sport, as dealing with cuts and bruises on the spot can prevent infections and control bleeding. And when hiking in Maui’s valleys and rainforests, you’re bound to get a few bruises while trekking through the thick foliage. Also, dealing with a sprained ankle while in the middle of a trail is much better than limping to the nearest hospital and risking making it worse.
In addition, having a first-aid kit is especially helpful when traveling with children.
- Reusable Bottle
Having a water bottle while hiking under the blazing sun in Maui is a real lifesaver. You should get the ones with a cooling mechanism, like a thermos or flask, that keeps the liquid cold for long. We also use them to store cold coffee or drinks for a picnic after hiking, and the liquids stay cold the whole way.
Although water bottles are available everywhere easily in Maui, you shouldn’t use plastic ones at all, considering the single landfill on the island. Recycling isn’t that common in Maui either, so being conscious of your waste can greatly impact keeping the island clean.
- Collapsible Cooler
One of Maui’s hotspots for the best hiking trails is the Road to Hana, with gorgeous waterfalls and forest trails in every corner. If you want to enjoy a picnic after your hike, bringing a collapsible cooler is a must. The cooler keeps beverages cold and fresh food like sandwiches and even snacks fresh the whole way.
Most hiking trails have picnic tables set up in their parking lots, like the Waikamoi Ridge Trail in East Maui. So you can store the cooler in your car while you hike and enjoy a scenic meal in the forest afterward. It also comes in handy on long beach days or other adventures around the island.
- Day Pack
Day packs are great for long hikes or other adventures around the island. They have plenty of space for storing your water bottles, cameras, first-aid kits, and whatever else you bring along. Plus, you should always avoid leaving valuable items in your car unattended.
A day pack is also convenient for carrying wallets, and phones, so you won’t have to strap on a fanny pack or satchel bag on your hike. You can find great ones on Amazon with storage compartments and mesh pockets inside to protect sensitive equipment.
- Hiking Poles
Before all you young people with healthy knees scoff at hiking poles, let me tell you that the hikes in Maui can get so steep it feels like you’ve gone rock climbing instead. Especially hikes in East Maui, like in the Haleakala National Park, and even ones leading to waterfall trails.
So a sturdy pair of hiking poles make the hikes much easier and help you
trek further than your feet allow. We get foldable poles that are light and sturdy, and easily fit into our day packs after the hike ends.
- Action Cameras
An iPhone camera is good enough to get snaps of the scenery while you hike, action cameras like a GoPro are essential to capture the trail’s beauty, make 360-degree videos, and get immersive colors in all your videos. The best part is that these devices are waterproof, so you can take them underwater in waterfall pools and the ocean while snorkeling.
The cameras are small, so you can easily fit them in a day pack on your hike. We highly recommend them to anyone wanting to shoot HD-quality videos of Maui on their trip.
- Bug Spray
The mosquitos in Maui are two things; numerous and hungry for tourist blood. And if you’re hiking after a rainy spell, expect a lot more. So mosquito repellent lotions and sprays are indispensable while hiking on the trails.
In addition, if you’re going hiking in areas with standing water or lots of vegetation, like on the Road to Hana, save yourself from mosquito bites, and invest in a good bug spray. Try to get the variety without toxic chemicals, which can cause a rash, and do a patch test before spritzing them all over.
Despite everything I’ve mentioned, there’s still much left to pack in your suitcase. However, the following things can make packing for Maui quick and easy, as you’ll only be checking things off the list as you throw them in your bags.
- Packing Cubes
Packing cubes make packing super easy, as you can assign clothes, toiletries, shoes, and underwear to different cubes and avoid an unorganized mess on unpacking. In addition, they’re super light and have plenty of room to store a few days worth of clothes, as long as you roll them up instead of folding them.
My boyfriend and I get them in different colors to avoid mixing up our items and easily fit them into just two suitcases. In addition, you can use the smallest cube to store your toiletries and save the trouble of packing a separate bag for them.
- Dry-shampoo / Leave-in Conditioner
A trip to Maui ensures your hair never stays dry for too long, with all the underwater activities and unexpected rain showers. Unfortunately, swimming in salt water from the ocean leaves your hair rough and dry. That’s why you should pack leave-in conditioners and dry shampoos to keep your hair health in check throughout the stay.
Dry shampoo saves you time in washing and drying your hair, a necessity when you’re in a hurry to get places. And leave-in conditioner keeps hair moist for a long, preventing them from getting rough and tangled. If you get a sulfate and paraben-free formula, not only is it good for your hair health, but it also serves as a makeshift shampoo.
- Waterproof Phone Case and Camera Holder
Although waterproof bags protect your valuables from water exposure, you’ll also want to take them underwater to film marine life. In this case, waterproof cases come in handy to protect devices from unnecessary water entering them without compromising on the quality of their lens.
We recommend getting the ones with a neck or wrist strap attached, so you won’t have to hold on to them while swimming. You can also clip them onto your belt loops, so they don’t get in the way.
- Travel Purse or Fanny Pack
Aside from beaching and hiking, you’ll also be spending time in Maui’s beautiful towns. Whether you’re going out for dinner, shopping or just taking a walk on the streets, a travel purse will be perfect to store your phones, wallets, chapstick and sunscreen.
When hiking, I substitute the travel purse for a fanny pack (which always screams tourist) as it’s efficient and keeps your valuables safe.
- RFID Credit Card-holder
In packed tourist hubs like Maui, identity theft and credit card fraud aren’t completely out of the question. Random people come to you pretending to be locals and scan your credit card details from an RFID reader right through your purses and wallets!
So simple wallets just won’t do while traveling, which is why you should get an RFID credit card holder, which prevents such identity thefts. The card-holder is thin and small, can hold many cards at once, and fits nicely into your wallet. So you’re better safe than sorry in getting one before your trip.
- Portable Charger
Bringing along long-wired chargers to the beach or on the road can be difficult, considering the lack of charging ports out in nature. Fortunately, portable chargers or power banks come in handy in such situations, as you can charge them from your hotel room the night before and carry them easily inside your bags.
We find that portable chargers are especially helpful when driving on the Road to Hana, as the road trip requires using navigation apps a lot which drains your phone’s battery.
What should I wear on a plane to Maui?
Try to wear light clothes on your flight as the weather will be hot in Maui whenever you come. However, if you’re flying out from someplace chilly, wear a sweater or shawl on top of your clothes, and remove it on landing.
What do you wear at night in Maui?
At night, dressing in Maui remains casual, as most people throw a dress or t-shirt on their beach clothes. However, we find that wearing loose clothing during the day helps with a camisole or sweatshirt for the night if a cold breeze blows. Since winter nights in Maui are chilly, pack a few pants to stay warm.
How much cash should I bring to Maui?
Plan to spend around $200+ per day in Maui, which is the average daily price based on the island prices. However, the amount can increase or decrease depending on how many people you’re traveling with. On average, single travelers spend $75 on meals and $50 on local transportation for one day.
Concluding Your Checklist on What to Pack For Maui
Maui is a traveler’s heaven, and you can find every essential item for your trip in shops and malls near your accommodations. Just remember to pack essentials like clothing and footwear of your size, and whatever you miss, the island’s got you covered.
You’ll find great retailers in Maui, like on the West shore, and even in small towns on the East shore, selling every item you’ll need on your trip. You can even get great snacks from Costco or Mana Foods in Maui, so don’t worry about stocking your favorite snacks for the trip, either.
We’ve learned that packing light makes the trip enjoyable, especially when you’re driving between shores, as it saves the trouble of dragging luggage everywhere.
So stick to the items mentioned in the list above, and you’ll have everything for your Maui trip covered!
Last Updated on March 12, 2023 by Brigitte