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what to wear in hawaii
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What to Wear in Hawaii

Wondering what to wear in Hawaii? Walk around Waikiki and you’ll see girls dressed in shorts and a bikini top, guys wearing board shorts carrying surfboards, Japanese tourists sporting hats with wide brims, and guys of all ages wearing Hawaiian shirts. It’s not uncommon to see people with wet hair strolling around Waikiki, and makeup is practically non-existent.

The dress code isn’t formal at all, so you’ll you fit right in wearing something casual, loose, and comfortable. Linens, cottons, and non-wrinkle fabrics that dry easily are ideal fabrics. When it comes to dinner wear, the best way to describe island fashion is dressy-casual.

What to Wear in Hawaii

If planning what to wear in Hawaii is still giving you trouble, here’s a handy list of items for that natural island look.

T-Shirts & Tank Tops

You can never go wrong wearing a T-shirt. When in doubt about what to wear in Hawaii, pick a sporty T-shirt for men and women. In Hawaii, it’s perfectly okay to forgo sleeves, too, both for women and men.


If you’re going to a business meeting, you might want to don pants or capris, but for daily island life, shorts are more in keeping with Hawaii style. A pair of board shorts, made of easy-to-dry fabric, can also transition easily from surf to street. This goes equally for women and men.

A Floral Dress

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For those afternoons spent shopping or wandering around Honolulu or Waikiki, a pretty floral dress is always in fashion.

A Cover-Up

If you end up on the beach or doing a water activity like snorkeling or swimming with the dolphins, chances are you’re going to be in a swimsuit. Once you get out of the water, though, it’s acceptable to keep your swimsuit on and don a cover-up. Just make sure it’s cute and covers all the important bits, and you’ll fit right in.

A Maxi Dress


For evenings at the luau or dinner in a nice restaurant, a maxi dress hits just the right note in terms of beach chic and is a great choice for what to wear in Hawaii.


In Hawaii, a pair of cute, flat sandals can make the outfit.


Because everyone in Hawaii has at least a few pairs, you should definitely plan on wearing flip-flops. This applies to women and men.

Hawaiian Shirt

hawaiian shirt
Ko Backpacko/Shutterstock

It’s a little cliche, but when considering what to wear in Hawaii, the guys will never go wrong with a Hawaiian shirt. Just make sure it’s more of a modern, fitted style.  The boxy versions should stay in the back of your closet.

Hiking Gear

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Planning on hiking up Diamond Head to catch the awesome views? You’ll want to wear a pair of sturdy hiking boots. No open toed shoes allowed for guys or gals.

– Original reporting by Mai Pham

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