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What to Wear in Hawaii?

Couple wearing aloha attire on the beach

If it is your first time traveling to Hawaii, then you may need a bit of help packing, as you might not know what to expect on your upcoming trip. The weather in Hawaii is tropical and mild, with temperatures ranging from 78 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night. With such consistency throughout the year, as you might expect, there isn’t a lot variety in clothing that becomes necessary; however, there are still some recommendations which can be helpful for new travelers.

First understand that while Hawaii’s climate might be more consistent throughout the year than on the mainland US, its weather is heavily influenced by the trade winds which from a northeasterly direction or the lack thereof. The trade winds bring mild and cooler weather. Fortunately, trade winds blow 70% of the time in Hawaii. However, if the winds are coming from the southwest, they are referred to as Kona weather. In such instances, the weather will be hotter and more humid. Plus, the Kona weather winds are often accompanied by vog, which is smog associated with the volcanic eruption on the Big Island which has been continually ongoing since 1983. The vog makes the hotter more humid Kona weather even more unpleasant, especially for those with respiratory problems. Fortunately, for the most part, Kona weather typically doesn’t last beyond a day or two. Understanding these conditions, you should try to dress as comfortably as possible when traveling to the Aloha State, with a preference to wearing clothes made out of cotton fabric or even those made out of those breathable synthetic materials.

While it rains throughout the year, the wettest season is typically during the winter months. But since the temperatures will not be very cold, your best bet in protecting yourself from Hawaii’s often rainy weather is to use an umbrella. If you feel you need to bring one, you should invest in one of those small collapsible types that you can easily pack in your suitcase. Or you can buy one at a convenience store when you arrive in Hawaii.

Unless you feel chilly in temperatures ranging from the high 60s to low 70s degrees Fahrenheit, there might be no need for you to bring a jacket or sweater. Maybe you might need it on the long plane flight, which at minimum would be 5 hours long; but for the most part you won’t need it on the ground. However, if you feel you need one, a light jacket or sweater should suffice. The only exception to this, would be if you plan to spend a lot of time at higher elevations beyond 10,000 feet such as those that can be found at Haleakala National Park on Maui or if you plan to travel to the summits of Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii where the temperatures can be near or below freezing during winters.

The second factor regarding what to wear during your travel to Hawaii is that most people in the Aloha State dress much more informally than in other parts of the country. If they are not working, many male residents simply wear shorts, t-shirts or polo shirts with rubber slippers. If you’re looking to buy a pair in Hawaii and are inquiring about them, rubber slippers are not referred to as flip-flops, but rather what they actually are (i.e., rubber slippers). Many female residents also wear shorts, cotton wear tops and casual footwear. If you prefer wearing some sort of covered footwear, rather than slippers, you can certainly get by with wearing some sort of sneakers. You generally won’t go wrong dressing casually like this and it would be an acceptable form of dress to most anywhere in the State, except in a business context or if you are planning to go to a somewhat more formal affair. Of course, if you plan to do some hiking, trekking in the mountains, biking, running, etc. it would require attire and footwear appropriate for such activities.

If need to do some business or plan to attend a more formal event or restaurant during your trip to Hawaii, some casual slacks along with a collared shirt such as a polo, dress or even an aloha shirt as well as some sort of casual shoes (but not sneakers) would be more than appropriate. Note those colorfully printed shirts with Hawaii themed designs are properly called aloha shirts in Hawaii and not “Hawaiian shirts” as they are often and erroneously referred to on the mainland US. Women can wear attire in the form of an everyday dress, blouse and skirt ensemble or even a mu’umu’u, although wearing them now, for the most part, are no longer considered as fashionable as they once were in the past. Wearing clothes like these is often referred to in Hawaii as “aloha attire” and would most probably be the most formal type of dress you would have to wear in the Aloha State. To sum it all up, if you’re planning to go to Hawaii, dress casually for nice and warm weather.


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