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What to Wear in Oahu

What to Wear in Oahu

Are you wondering what to wear in Oahu? In this guide we will look at Oahu specifically rather than just a generic Hawaii packing guide to help you put together the ULTIMATE Oahu Packing List.

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Although Oahu is not the largest of the Hawaiian islands, it is the most visited. One of the reasons for this is because of the great combination of things to do on the island from amazing beaches and surfing, amazing outdoor activities such as beautiful but challenging hikes and waterfalls as well as one of the most authentic luaus in all of Hawaii.

Therefore it is really important to think of the activities you will be doing on Oahu and adjust the numbers depending on how you will be spending your time.

So what should you pack and wear in Oahu?

What to wear in Oahu

Specific Oahu Dress Codes

Polynesian Cultural Center - Luau dress code
Luau dress code

One of the things that we loved about traveling to Oahu is there are no specific dress codes that you need to adhere to. Most Hawaiian dress codes stress comfort and casual is fine for most places.

Even at luaus which are a celebration event stress comfort over formality.

What to Wear in Oahu for Women

Woman in Hawaii / what to wear in Oahu
what to wear in Oahu/ what to wear to a luau in Hawaii

For women looking at what to wear in Oahu I would say that the following are really key pieces


No visit to Oahu is complete without a visit to Waikiki Beach or the North Shore. Whether you plan to surf or snorkel or just hang out on the beach I would recommend taking at least two pieces of swimwear with you.

However if you plan to spend more time on the beach you could increase this.

One of the good things about Hawaii is that you aren’t restricted in the type of swimwear you can wear like countries with dress codes. Therefore we recommend packing the style you feel most comfortable in and the activities you are doing as to whether that is a one piece or a bikini.

Beach Cover

Even at hotel beaches you will be expected to cover your swimwear when you go inside. We recommend packing either a sarong or kaftan style beach cover for on the beach in Oahu.

Rash Vest

What to wear in Hawaii
What to wear in Hawaii

If you plan to snorkel or surf then we would recommend adding a rash vest to your packing list. Rash vests will protect your skin from the sun while doing sports where it is easy to get sunburnt while you are in the water.

Day to Night Transition dresses

One of the things we noticed about Oahu is that it isn’t a very formal place. For instance even when looking at what to wear to a Luau on Oahu such as at the Polynesian Cultural Center you will find that even these don’t have a formal dress code.

Therefore we recommend packing dresses such as maxi and midi dresses that can be used in the day and work well at night for restaurants too.

If you do plan on attending a luau why not try embracing bright color and patterns which are commonly worn here.

Shorts / leggings for hiking

If you are planning on being more active during your Oahu vacation, which we totally recommend as there are some amazing hikes. For instance we enjoyed the relatively easy Waimea Waterfall hike as well as the more challenging Diamond Head Hike near Honolulu.

If you plan on doing activities such as these we recommend wearing practical shorts with pockets or some activewear leggings.

Shorts and Skirts

As well as your activewear shorts you will also want to pack some shorts that are suitable for the beach and round the hotel

T shirts / Tank Tops

A combination of T shirts and tank tops are perfect for Oahu. BE sure to try and pack a Hawaii Capsule wardrobe so that your t shirts and tanks work with the leggings, shorts and skirts.


If you are traveling to Oahu in Winter or you feel the cold we recommend packing a light jacket with you. I took a denim jacket with me when we visited Oahu in Febraury and this was perfect.


I also always travel with a pashmina no matter the destination as it is a useful accessory and extra layer if you find somewhere with strong air conditioning.


Goes without saying

Sports Bra

If you plan to do some more strenuous hikes or activities on your Oahu vacation we recommend adding a sports bra to your Hawaii packing list.

Sun Hat

A sun hat is essential protection in Hawaii. Unlike other places, Hawaii isn’t very formal so the style of hat is really down to personal preference.

A baseball cap or straw sun hat are all perfectly acceptable on Hawaii.


The sun is strong on Oahu so be sure to pack sunglasses for your Hawaii vacation to stay sun safe.

What to Wear in Oahu for Men

Couple on beach - what to wear to a luau in Hawaii
what to wear to a luau in Hawaii

When looking at what to wear in Oahu for men, it is very similar as for women. And item quantities should be adjusted based on length of stay, intended activities and amount of time you plan to spend on the beach.

A man’s packing list for Oahu should include:

  • Swimwear inc rash vest
  • Shorts (smart and casual)
  • Pair of longer length trousers
  • Regular shirt and polo shirts
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses

And on top of that you may want to considering adding an Aloha Shirt or Hawaiian shirt to your packing list.

This is commonly worn on Oahu especially at Luaus so embrace color and pattern and add this to your packing list or buy one on arrival.

Note: if you are traveling throughout Hawaii on your vacation be sure to check out our other Hawaii guides:

What to Wear in Oahu for Kids

When considering what to pack for kids going to Oahu I would stress that the key things are comfort and sun safety.

We usually opt for cotton and natural fabrics that prevent sweating and that have longer sleeves etc for added sun safety.

We also take hats, swim hats and long sleeve rash vests for our little ones on Oahu aswell as regular swimwear.

Best Shoes for Oahu

When looking at the best shoes for Oahu it will largely depend on what activities you plan on doing but we recommend the below:


Perfect for on the beach, walking around Honolulu and for most of the hiking trails on Honolulu.

Our preferred trainers for Oahu or anywhere in Hawaii are AllBirds as these are good for hot weather.


These are perfect for walking around the city, on the beach and for dinner in restaurants.

If you plan on doing on lots of walking on Oahu in summer then you may also want to consider some hiking sandals.

Flip Flops

Flip flops are perfect on the beach and around the pool.

Water shoes

Also depending on what your planned activities are you may also want to consider packing some water shoes to help protect your feet.

What else to Pack for Oahu

On top of these some things you may want to consider adding to your Oahu Packing list include:

  • Backpack
  • Beachpack
  • Reef safe sun screen as this will protect marine life around Hawaii
  • Water bottle – more eco friendly and you will drink lots when out into Hawaii
  • Phone Charger
  • Power Pack
  • Camera and Lens if you are planning to take lots of photos.

FAQS About what to Wear to Oahu

What to wear to a Luau in Oahu

Luaus are a must for any Oahu bucket list. Most luaus advise a comfortable, casual and colorful dress code but for full details on what to wear to a luau check out this post.

What to wear on Waikiki beach?

Waikiki beach is not a place with strict dress codes. Swimsuits, shorts, t shirts, flip flops etc are all perfectly acceptable attire.

However if you plan to surf or do lots of water sports you may also want to consider adding a rash vest to your list.

If you are on a hotel resort on Waikiki then you may want to sport a resort casual attire for the restaurants.

But above all else at Waikiki be sure to wear plenty of sun screen. We recommend wearing reef safe sunscreen to help protect the waters around Oahu.

How do I not look like a tourist in Oahu?

Normally I would say things like avoid cliche clothing items when a tourist. However Hawaiian shirts are not a cliche in Oahu and are commonly worn so feel free to embrace color and patterns when you are out and about in Oahu.