First, the list of what to wear hiking in Hawaii, including the best shoes for hiking in Hawaii! (Which will work out well for most of the popular short hikes in Hawaii.)
Then, the Hawaii packing list of what to pack in your daypack for hikes in Hawaii.
And then, some hikes in Hawaii in which you might want extra things.
And now, more about…
What to pack for Hawaii!
Here are some things to consider packing for Hawaii when hiking is a part of your itinerary… some can be considered to be more essentials, but a lot of it is really about how much comfort you want on the trail!
See the list of some of the best hikes in Hawaii:
- Best Oahu hikes (Honolulu)
- Best Maui hikes
- Best Big Island hikes (Kona)
- Best Lanai hikes
- Best Hawaii national park hikes (Haleakala + Hawaii Volcanoes)
What to wear hiking in Hawaii
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Hiking sandals or trail running shoes
What are the best shoes to wear for hiking in Hawaii?!
In short, the best footwear for hiking during a Hawaii vacation would be hiking sandals or trail running shoes, I think.
Hiking sandals can be perfect for a Hawaii vacation because they can be versatile.
These types of sandals are better than regular sandals or flip flops because they give you a little bit of extra traction.
And, it’s good to have a little bit of extra traction on hiking trails in Hawaii!
There are a lot of trails that are loose gravel or dried up dirt which can make for conditions that can cause you to slip a little.
This isn’t to say that any type of shoes you choose will prevent you from slipping, but the traction will be able to help a bit.
And since Hawaii is hot, you may prefer sandals over shoes!
Teva, Chaco, and Keen are popular outdoor brands and are known for good quality hiking sandals.
See popular hiking sandals that can be good for hiking in Hawaii:
But, if you do prefer shoes, then trail running shoes can be perfect.
Because again, they provide a little bit of extra traction and support compared to regular shoes.
And there may also be some trails where closed-toe shoes will be preferable, like if you’ll be on the Big Island where small specks of lava rock can be sharp! (There’s a good chance you’ll end up walking over some lava rocks on the Big Island!)
So for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, trail running shoes will be better in case you’re tempted to walk across the lava fields.
Aside from this on the Big Island, it will be better to wear trail running shoes compared to sandals for any places where you might be walking over old lava. See the list of top spots to see old lava flows on the Kona coast and around the Big Island to see if you might want to go to any of these places.
For Haleakala National Park on Maui, trail running shoes will also be better compared to sandals for the Haleakala summit area because it’s at higher elevation with cooler temperatures. This would include if you’re doing the Haleakala volcano crater hike, Sliding Sands Trail. If you’re doing the coastal side bamboo forest hike, Pipiwai Trail, hiking sandals can work there since you’ll get warmer temperatures and it’s a mostly dirt trail.
Aside from this on Maui, the other notable trails may be Hoapili Trail and the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail. These are trails that also go across old lava flows so again shoes will be better. For the Waianapanapa Coastal Trail, the further you go (like hiking to Hana Airport!), the more lava rocks and rugged terrain you’ll encounter.
Salomon is an outdoor brand known for putting out good quality trail running shoes.
See popular trail running shoes that can be good for hiking in Hawaii:
What about regular running shoes?
If that’s what you have, then yes regular running shoes will also be just fine. I have worn regular running shoes many times when hiking in Hawaii.
One of the main differences between regular running shoes and trail running shoes is in terms of durability on a more rugged terrain.
You generally won’t be dealing with too rugged of a terrain for popular hiking trails in Hawaii, so you can be quite fine with regular running shoes as well.
Trail running shoes also tend to have a stiffer sole, which means that regular running shoes have a more flexible sole compared to trail running shoes.
Regular running shoes also tend to be a little lighter than trail running shoes.
If you’re looking for an excuse to get into running and possibly do 5K or 10K running races in the future (or a half marathon or marathon…), then you may prefer to buy regular running shoes.
Mizuno is a brand that’s known for putting out good quality running shoes.
See popular running shoes that can be good for hiking in Hawaii:
What about “hiking shoes” for Hawaii?
There are also more specific shoes for hiking, like hiking shoes or hiking boots.
I like running shoes because they are a bit more versatile, in this case meaning I think they work better as “everyday” shoes to wear out and about in Hawaii.
Hiking-specific shoes are a bit more “heavy duty.”
That said, I have also taken hiking boots to Hawaii with me, and I very much liked having them in certain situations.
What type of situations?
Hiking boots tend to be more water resistant. So I like to have them on trails in which there are water crossings so I didn’t have to worry so much about my shoes getting wet (like this great Maui waterfall hike), or if it’s known to be a muddy trail (which keeps your socks and feet from getting muddy!), or if it’s raining (once again keeps your feet more dry/cleaner).
You’ll want to check that the shoes are labeled as waterproof which is more like water resistant. If you see gore-tex in the description, this is often the material that’s used for the “waterproof” nature of shoes.
👆 Here’s a bit of an extreme example of when it was GREAT to be wearing hiking boots in Hawaii! But, this was on a hiking trail on the island of Lanai (Fishermans Trail), and I have never experienced any trails like this elsewhere in Hawaii. It was a bit of a rainy day, and the mud was sticking to my shoes with every step I took. I was VERY happy to be wearing my hiking boots! If I was wearing regular shoes, they would have ended up being dirty, muddy, and wet, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to wear them for a least a couple of days. But the hiking boots were fine!
If you plan on getting more into hiking, then your Hawaii trip can be a good excuse to buy hiking shoes.
But overall, since trail running shoes can also be good shoes as regular walking shoes, my vote is for trail running shoes for hiking in Hawaii. But again, this can depend on the extent of which you’ll be hiking in Hawaii.
If you’ll be hiking across lava rocks, it may also be nice to have the extra stiffness on the bottom of your feet that hiking shoes will give you.
Merrell is an outdoor brand known for putting out good quality hiking shoes.
See popular hiking shoes that can be good for hiking in Hawaii:
No matter which type of shoes you choose, it’s important to break them in before the “big hike”! This can be simple things like walk around the neighborhood in them or go to the grocery store in them. This can also serve as a test that you have shoes that are a good fit for your feet. Fit is very important!
These are moisture-wicking, which means it “wicks” away the “moisture” from your sweat.
So they make for much better shirts than cotton shirts that will soak up your sweat.
And, they can make for perfect travel shirts too, since they do dry relatively quickly.
If you pack along some laundry powder, you can do a quick wash of your shirt in the bathroom sink or bathtub, and then it’ll be dry within a couple of hours.
Maybe even quicker if you’re able to expose it to Hawaii’s sun!
This can mean less shirts to pack!
You can find these types of shirts in the athletic clothes section in Wal-mart, Target, Kohl’s, and really probably a lot of other big brand stores that sell clothes.
Outdoor shorts or outdoor capris
Make sure to wear comfortable shorts or comfortable capris when hiking!
Shop shorts for hiking in Hawaii
Breathable hat or visor
Wearing a breathable hat means you can keep the sun out of your face but also not trapping the heat in your head as much.
Running hats and running visors can work well.
Your feet will be sweating a lot more when you’re hiking in Hawaii’s hot weather.
Compared to regular socks, athletic socks can be more breathable and could help a little bit with your comfort level.
Underwear specific for hiking and other sports means that it can be more moisture-wicking and quick-drying than regular underwear.
This again can ultimately lead to more comfort on the trail!
See hiking underwear that can be good for Hawaii:
Well, you won’t be going into the ocean when you’re hiking, but it could still be good to have reef-safe sunscreen as your go-to sunscreen when you are in Hawaii.
Hike + snorkel day in Hawaii
It can make for a perfect day in Hawaii to make it a hike and snorkel day! See how to make it a hike and snorkel day in Kona on your own!
And see the best Maui tours, which includes getting out on the water to sail to where the fish and turtles are, and more amazing Hawaii experiences!
To sail the ocean and go snorkeling off the shores of Hawaiian islands, see these amazing Hawaii tours:
- Oahu: Sail on a Hawaiian canoe to go snorkeling to a small island off the coast of Oahu
- Maui: Sail and snorkel along the coastline of another island near Maui
- Kona: Sail and snorkel to Kealakekua Bay
- Kauai: Napali coast sail and snorkel
My favorite hiking backpack for Hawaii
I find my Osprey backpack to be great for hiking in Hawaii, and it’s lasted for several years.
There’s a clip on the front which can work to hang things.
Like a visor!
If you’re making it a hike and snorkel day or a hiking and swimming day, then you can also hang swimming goggles!
There’s also a hydration sleeve which is intended for a water pack, but it can work to keep a waterproof phone case flat! (This is so you can take pictures of tropical fish underwater.)
And if you want to make it a hike and bike day, then there’s also a spot to clip on a bike helmet!
An outdoor brand that’s known for good quality hiking backpacks is Osprey.
These are pretty small, but it can be just enough room for what you need for a day in Hawaii!
What to pack in your Hawaii daypack
You’ll be sweating a lot more because of the hot weather so stay safe!
If you’re the type that doesn’t like to carry much, then you may consider looking at something like a hydration pack for runners so you can hike without a backpack and hands-free. This would be a more minimalist approach. Waistpacks for running also tend to have small pockets for keys and snacks too.
It’s amazing how much energy a few hundred calories can give you when you feel like you have no energy!
When you’re on the trail and dying of heat, you’ll thank yourself for having a cooling towel. 😉
Portable fan chargeable with USB cord
When you’re on the trail and dying of heat, you’ll again thank yourself for having a portable fan.
Lightweight rain jacket or poncho
You’ll thank yourself if it unexpectedly starts raining on the trail.
This might be more important if you’re headed to a trail that’s more so in the mountains.
A poncho can makes a good back-up for just in case it starts to rain if you won’t be packing a rain jacket.
Portable phone charger
You want a portable phone charger especially if you’re out all day.
The hot weather could cause your battery to drain more quickly.
Using google maps frequently can cause your battery to drain more quickly. (Because you’re using your phone more.)
Taking tons of pictures can cause your battery to drain more quickly!
And you definitely don’t want your phone to die right when you’re about to capture that picture-perfect instagram pic when you’re out hiking!!
Ultralight first aid kit
You never know!
You can get a prepackaged ultralight first aid kit, or you can make your own.
At the very least, throw some bandages you have at home into a ziplock bag.
A small tube of ointment or anti-septic wipes could be good too!
You know, in case you do end up slipping on the trail and give yourself some scrapes!
If you’ll be going on a hiking trail that goes through a forest or is known for humid rainforest type conditions, you may want to bring along some bug spray.
Some travel-sized insect repellent wipes could be a good alternative compared to a spray when packing for travel too.
Waterfall hikes in Hawaii often go through areas that are a bit buggy!
Again, a lot of waterfall hikes in Hawaii can consist of slightly muddy trails.
You might not even notice it on the trail – maybe after you’re finished with your hike you’ll look down and notice how dirty your socks (and shoes!) are!
And it might not be just waterfall hikes that will get your feet a little dirty.
After all, Hawaii’s hiking trails are on dirt trails!
So it could be good to just throw in an extra pair of socks into your daypack too!
Okay, so now that you know what to pack for Hawaii if you want to be a prepared hiker…
Do you REALLY need all this for hiking in Hawaii?!
What about some minimalist hiking in Hawaii?!
Well, if we’re being real, hiking is actually a pretty minimalist activity!
Really, all you need is to put on a good pair of footwear and off you go on the trail in search of those stunning views!
That said, it still IS a good idea to be somewhat prepared!
But still, if you’re feeling like you can’t be bothered with all this because you’re supposed to be going on a somewhat relaxing vacation…
What are the top 2 things that could be considered the most important?!
At least for short hikes of maybe 1-2 hours.
I would still also include snacks as an essential since a trail could end up taking longer than you expect, and again, a few hundred calories can make you go from feeling like you can’t go any further to feeling amazing!
So, with that said…
If you just want to get out on the trail without thinking much about it…
Get yourself a good pair of hiking sandals or travel sandals or trail running shoes, a bottle of water, and get out on the trail!! (And a pack of goldfish or gummy bears.)
And, if you’re doing a hike near a beach, you can just continue your walk by heading to the beach and then get in the water, maybe for some snorkeling in Hawaii!!
No matter what though, it could be a good idea to leave the flip flops off the trail in Hawaii though, and save those for the beach!
And that’s a bit about what to wear hiking in Hawaii!
For more tips on packing for Hawaii, also see:
- Snorkeling essentials for Hawaii: What to wear snorkeling in Hawaii
- Everyday essentials for Hawaii: What to pack in your daypack no matter where you go!
- Hawaii packing list: The top things to pack for Hawaii
Don’t miss out on some of these hiking trails in Hawaii with amazing views!
HAPPY HIKING IN HAWAII!
Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!
The ultimate beach towel for travel?!Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phoneYou can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.
For a Hawaii experience you are sure to remember, get out on the open water to sail the ocean!Look for the reviews!
- OAHU: Take a look at a morning sailing trip like this one that includes snorkeling and sailing with the iconic Waikiki skyline as your backdrop. (It comes with a good chance that you'll be swimming with turtles!)
- MAUI: Take a look at a catamaran cruise like this one from West Maui to the coast of Lanai that can include snorkeling, seeing the West Maui Mountains and Lanai cliffs from the boat, and maybe even seeing some turtles and dolphins!
- BIG ISLAND: Take a look at a catamaran cruise like this one off the Kona coast for the chance to swim with manta rays at night. (One of THE most popular types of tours in Kona!) Or for a daytime boat ride, take a look at a sailing trip like this one off the Kona coast to go snorkeling at one of the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island.
- KAUAI: Take a look at a catamaran sunset sailing trip like this one along the famous Na Pali coast.