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There is so much to see and do on the Hawaiian Islands that it could take hundreds of pages to list everything. Opportunities for adventure, excitement, and education abound the sandy shores of the islands that receive hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Hawaii NMSF should be your number one resource for all things Hawaii when you’re planning your latest Hawaiian excursion. We can help you to plan your stay, from the moment you step off the plane to your final moments surrounded by the destination’s lush and bountiful beauty. Let’s work together to give you the Hawaiian vacation of your dreams!

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Hawaii: An Essential Packing List

Is there anything better than packing for a Hawaiian vacation? There’s so much fun to be had in shopping for all your trip essentials, organising things in advance, finally getting your suitcase out of storage, making that essential packing list…

And then you arrive, and promptly realise that you’ve managed to leave at least three important items back at home.

We’re only human, and so unfortunately, it’s all too easy to completely overlook a few packing essentials, even if we’ve worked from a list and tried to be as organised as possible. That’s why looking online for experts’ packing lists – like ours below! – and comparing them against yours is such a good idea.

If you’re off to Hawaii soon and want to make the most out of island life, make sure you pack all of these vacation essentials safely in your suitcase:


No matter what time of the year you visit Hawaii, it’s usually always hot. In the summer, it’s more on the boiling end of the scale, and in the winter, it’s breezier and a more manageable heat – but there’s still the potential to get sunburn if you’re unprotected in the sun all day. Sunscreen is a Hawaii essential for everyone, regardless of your natural skin tone or the season you’re visiting.

Selfie stick

There’s so much to see and do in Hawaii, and the more memories you can document on camera, the better. A selfie stick is the easiest way to capture photos of yourself wherever you might be, even if you’re all alone on the top of a mountain, or riding a boat in the middle of an ocean. Selfie sticks are common and more affordable than ever, so consider purchasing one for your trip if you don’t own one already.

Steel water bottle

Trust us when we say, whether you plan to or not, you’ll end up doing a lot of hiking in Hawaii. The island’s natural beauty is just too hard to resist, so expect to do at least one volcano tour or beach trek during your stay. The best way to stay hydrated is to take a steel water bottle with you that you can refill on-the-go. We say steel, because it’ll keep your water ice-cold even if you’re in the sun all day.

Bug spray

It’s not something that’s at the top of anybody’s minds when they’re packing for a Hawaiian vacation, but bug spray is a must if you want to stay clear of the mozzies during your trip. While mosquitos aren’t dangerous, their bites can leave itchy, red lumps on your skin that can really get on your nerves. Spray yourself down with some mosquito repellent early morning and late evening to stay mosquito bite-free.

A good book

Hawaii’s a tranquil island by nature, offering you the peace and serenity to relax in whatever way you see fit. If that means napping the day away on a deckchair, then so be it, but if you want to keep your mind occupied in the least intense way possible, you’re going to want to bring a good book with you to read. There are plenty of vacation favourites to choose from.

Hiking shoes

Need we repeat our earlier point about hiking being a Hawaiian thing? We know it’s tempting to pack your sandals and leave it at that, but you’ll need a good pair of hiking shoes if you want to experience everything the island has to offer. Nobody wants to do a mountain trek in a pair of flip flops, so save yourself the inevitable purchase and pack ahead.

Drivers’ licence

One of the best ways to see every part of Hawaii is to hire out a rental car. Obviously, you’ll need your drivers’ licence to do this, so make sure it makes it onto your packing list even if hiring a car wasn’t part of your original plans. Once you arrive, you’ll most likely be tempted by the fun that can be had from driving your way around Hawaii, and that drivers’ licence will suddenly become an essential.

Sensible swimsuit

Hawaii is most famous for its beaches, so of course, you’ve already planned to pack a selection of your favourite swimwear pieces for the occasion. What you might not be prepared for, however, is Hawaii’s water sports scene. Even if you’re not an expert at adrenaline-inducing water activity, trust us, you’ll find yourself tempted to join in once you arrive. You don’t want to miss out because none of your swimwear is sensible enough.

Stretchy trousers

Everyone wants to look their best in Hawaii, but be prepared… you will be tempted by the food, and you will eat a lot. There’s no shame in waving goodbye to your diet while you’re on vacation, but if you’ve got no comfy clothes with you, you’re going to experience discomfort like no other. Make sure to pack at least four sets of stretchy bits for your bottom half if you want to eat like a queen, and not to the restrictions of your waistline.

9 Delicious Foods You Have To Try In Hawaii

Let’s not kid ourselves – food is one of the best parts about taking a vacation. Any massive foodie will know the excitement of visiting a new destination and learning all about its delicious local delicacies – and, of course, sampling one or two of them! Everyone loves trying out different cuisines, and you’ll often end up returning home with a new firm favourite dish that you’ll immediately want to cook up every night.

If you’re coming to Hawaii and food is your thing, you won’t be let down by the culinary scene. Hawaii has long been known for its mouth-watering locally sourced dishes, and with so much on offer, there’s something to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. A lot of its food reflects the widespread immigration to the Hawaiian Islands, so there’s a mix of everything on offer, from traditional island meats and seafood, to fascinating Asian and European creations.

It’s probably not going to be possible for you to sample every one of Hawaii’s dishes if you’re visiting the island for a limited time period, but you can do your best to fit as many in as possible! To get you started, here are 9 delicious foods to look out for on your trip to the sunny islands:

Mochi ice cream

Because standard ice cream was so last year. Mochi ice cream consists of your usual ice cream as a filling, coated with sweet, sticky rice, which is known as mochi. The combination of the firm, chewy rice with the sweet ice cream filling is enough to satisfy your sugar cravings for an entire month. It comes in every flavour imaginable, from cookies and cream to matcha, and here’s a well-intended warning: it’s very, very addictive.

Poke bowl

Poke bowl? we can hear you say, I’ve had plenty of those at home. Yes, you might have done – but you’ve never had a real poke bowl unless you’ve had it in Hawaii, we promise you that. Real Hawaiian poke is pre-prepared, allowing the delightful flavours of the fish, seasonings, sauces and vegetables to marinate together for the best overall taste. You can find poke all over Hawaii, but don’t miss out on opting for a more traditional bowl if you get the chance.

Shave ice

Shave ice is basic by nature, but it’s a Hawaii staple that will really hit the spot right when you need it. If you’re struggling with the heat, stop for a shave ice and you’ll cool yourself instantly while enjoying a fruity treat. Shave ice is presented in a cone or cup, and is made by combining ice with syrups for flavouring. Sometimes you can even add a topping – condensed milk is a popular option in Hawaii.

Spam musubi

Honestly, don’t knock this until you’ve tried it. Spam might not be the thing you reach for on a daily basis, but Hawaiians have turned this unlikely meat option into a dish so delectable, you’ll find yourself wanting to recreate it for yourself back at home. Spam musubi is essentially a combination of rice, spam and nori, although there are thousands of different ways to serve it with your own kick. Some places will pan fry the spam to give it a crispy texture that’s well worth a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by this one, for sure.


Not many people know that malasadas were actually the invention of Portuguese immigrants, and not Hawaiians themselves, but that doesn’t make them any less of an island staple. These sugary, doughy balls are similar in texture to donuts, and are usually filled with a delicious sweet custard. Like mochi ice cream, these are a dessert that you’ll find yourself craving time and time again once you’ve tried them!

Hawaiian plate

By far one of the most popular dishes in Hawaii that’s definitely worth a try is the Hawaiian plate. It’s what it sounds like – a plate of Hawaiian food. Specifically, you can expect some variation on rice, kalua (Hawaiian pig), pork or chicken, dried beef, salmon, and poi, finished off with kulolo, a coconut cream pudding, if you’ve still got room for dessert after all that. Yes, Hawaiians here like their meat, and they know how to cook it just right. If there’s one staple dish you make time for on the island, make it this one.

Banana bread

It’s unsurprising that banana bread is so popular in Hawaii, considering the fruit is one of the most widely grown on the island. You’ll find banana bread in all the Hawaiian supermarkets, but for guaranteed deliciousness, head to the local markets and get yourself a slice of the homemade stuff. The natural sweetness of the banana gives off the most mouth-watering aroma – and of course, it tastes even better than it smells!


One of the most portable snacking foods in Hawaii is the manapua. If you’re a fan of Chinese bao buns, you’re guaranteed to form a long-lasting obsession with manapua. They’re essentially white buns, soft and pillowy in texture, that are filled with sweet pork. You’ll find them either baked, which gives them a crispy edge, or steamed, for a more traditional texture. The original pork manapua are the ones to try, but you’ll find takeout places that offer a variety of different fillings, including vegetarian options, for something a little different.

Loco moco

Everyone who’s been to Hawaii talks about loco moco, and that’s because it truly is a classic that you’ll find on all the menu boards in the traditional cafes on the island. Normally, a loco moco consists of white rice, hamburger patties, fried eggs, and a thick gravy. It makes the most delicious breakfast, but like all good breakfast foods, there’s no rule to say you can’t enjoy it at any time of the day while in Hawaii. Be warned, though – the portion sizes are generous! You might want to share your loco moco if you’re not the biggest breakfast person.

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Planning a vacation to Hawaii is exciting, but it can also be confusing – even downright exasperating – as you try to schedule your itinerary. You don’t want to miss out on certain things, but you want to fit in plenty of leisure time as well. Contact Hawaii NMSF to help you out!

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