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What to Wear in Hawaii for Midsize Women (Swimwear, Outfit Ideas & More)

Heading to Hawaii and wondering what to wear if you’re a midsize woman? Well, I got you. After visiting Hawaii many times, I’m finally putting together my must-have list of what to wear and pack for Hawaii.

woman in dress walking on beach what to wear in Hawaii for mid size women
Walking the beach in Hanalei, Kauai in a fun dress

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, see my disclosures.

I’ve been coming to Hawaii since I was 17, and I’ve mastered the packing list. While my size has changed over the years as well as my style of travel, I know what it’s like to wonder what to wear in Hawaii.

What to wear in Hawaii – what’s your itinerary?

My first piece of advice as you’re planning what to wear on your vacation is to have an idea of the activities you’ll do. From exploring gorgeous beaches to epic hikes, wandering charming beach towns to adventure tours, there’s so much to see and do in Hawaii.

woman walking on beach with pink dress sun hat with coast and ocean in distance what to wear in Hawaii
Walking on beach on Kauai

So take a look at your plans so you can pack accordingly.

Don’t have your trip planned out yet? I got you! Use these guides for inspiration…

After you’ve factored in your activities, check out the sections below within this guide for packing ideas.

Beach Packing List

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    Best beachwear in Hawaii for midsize women

    We’re diving right in to maybe one of the toughest things to shop for in history for women – beach wear! But take a deep breath – it’s not as bad as it might seem.

    I’ve traveled to Hawaii many times, as well as some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and islands. These are my go-to items…

    Bathing suits for average sized women 

    mid-size woman walking in water in blue bathing suit and sun hat with blue sky and ocean
    Wearing a CUPSHE suit in Hawaii

    Although I hate calling us ‘average’ because we’re anything but….I do think we fall in the category between smaller and larger sizes so thus we’re right in the middle!

    One of my favorite swim brands for cute, affordable swimming suits is CUPSHE. I’ve had a variety of suits over the years as my size and body composition has changed and they’re universally flattering and so cute

    Shop the blue suit above here

    Anyway, shop for what makes you feel most comfortable. I love a one-piece with tummy control. Some of my like-sized friends feel better in a high-waisted two-piece, and there’s plenty of styles there, too!

    My last trip to Hawaii I wore this dusty blue CUPSHE suit and was in love with it. So many compliments along the way, which makes a gal feel great!

    Swimming suits with rash guards

    I’m not gonna lie; I hate applying sunblock. Especially because the sun is so strong in Hawaii and it seems like a never-ending process to protect my skin.

    A few years ago I found these swimming suits with built-in rash guards when I was preparing for a trip to Santorini and Mykonos, and they’re seriously the answer to so many beach days!

    They come in cute prints and can save you the trouble of sunblocking so much skin. I will say they’re not a lot of fun to get on and off when they’re wet to use the bathroom, so just plan accordingly.

    Shop the one piece rash guard suit above here

    Rash guards

    woman with helmet and pink shirt
    Old photo but you get the idea!

    While we’re on the topic, another go-to on my Hawaii packing list for midsized women is my rash guard. I love being able to throw it on when I’m sitting by the beach or swimming in the water. It keeps me cool and protected from the heat.

    Rash guards are perfect for snorkeling, too. They’ll protect your back from getting so sunburnt. 

    Anyway, there’s a variety of rash guards, including short or long sleeves, zip-ups and more. I like a lightweight long sleeve best, and have them in both white and pink.

    What to wear in Hawaii for mid-size women: swim covers

    This miiiight just be one of my favorite sections in this guide! I love different types of swimming suit covers and have had many over the years as my size has changed.

    Dress swim covers

    woman wearing swim suit cover on beach in Maui Hawaii with ocean in background
    Love this lace swim cover (on Kaanapali Beach, Maui)

    The classic dress-style swim cover is a sure winner here. Easy to throw on and it covers most bathing suit styles, they come in so many colors, patterns and fabrics.

    I love my sheer white one. It’s soft, a bit frilly and just fun to wear. I bought mine in Kihei Maui but here’s a similar one online. I do need to wear lots of sunblock on my shoulders though to keep from burning.


    One of my favorite styles is a Kimono. It’s light weight but can provide shoulder coverage to protect your back and shoulders from the sun. 

    Kimonos can be a bit awkward when you go into a restaurant because there’s not easy coverage for your upper thighs, so I’ve actually sometimes tied mine around my waist as an alternative way to wear it, like this photo above from the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand.

    Shop Kimono styles here


    woman wearing blue suit and sarong with beach hat and blue water behind
    Sarong and suit – a fun combination!

    Gah! These are some of my favorites for beach wear! I love just tying a sarong around my waste with a cute suit. 

    But I’ll tell ya, when I bought my first one the tag actually showed how to wrap it as a dress. Um, not for us midsized women! At the time, my 10-year old could use it as a full dress…but for me it works well if I fold it under a bit and then tie it around my waist with the knot on the side.

    Anyway, sarongs are a great lightweight option for Hawaii swim wear. I have a few different patterns and I love mixing and matching them.

    Beach hat

    woman on beach with beach hat
    Finding shade with a beach hat

    We can’t talk about beach wear without addressing a hat. I’ve had several styles over the years in different colors. I like having options so I usually travel with a couple. 

    Pro tip: if you stack them inside each other, stuff them to they keep shape then put them at the bottom of your suitcase they stay good for years and years!

    Anyway, here’s a great hat option for the beach. They’re relatively easy to find on the islands as well.

    What to wear in Hawaii: shoes!

    woman biking in Hawaii with palm trees in distance what to wear in Hawaii for women
    Another reason to wear these awesome water shoes

    Okay this is a subject I love talking about! I usually pack 3-4 shoes for each trip to Hawaii.

    It sounds like a lot but if you wear your biggest one on the flight it’s not too bad. And this is coming from someone who is #teamcarryon when at all possible!

    • Water-friendly sandals. Think supportive flip flops. Keep those feet comfy while also providing a way to clean up easily.
    • Water shoes! If you follow me on Instagram you may see me talk about these water shoes. They’re so so so good! I love that I can wear them while walking on rocky beaches in the water in Hawaii. But I’ve also biked in them in Kauai, hiked in them in Maui and literally taken them all over the world. They’re the best!
    • Dressy sandals. These are for wandering around town to farmers markets, getting shave ice, going to a luau or shopping. Pair them with shorts or a dress.
    • Athletic or hiking shoes. Depending on what your plans are, you may want a hiking shoe or athletic shoe. The hiking trails in Hawaii are no joke, and you should NOT plan to wear sandals on them. From the Kalalau Trail in Kauai to the Waihee Ridge Trail in Maui, the Kilauea Iki Trail in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island or even the hike up Diamond Head, you’ll want appropriate footwear.

    Do I need a jacket for Hawaii?

    woman wearing hat and jacket on hiking trail
    Hiking on a soggy day in Hawaii

    The short answer is yes! It can get really chilly at night, especially if you’re higher up in elevation like while watching the sunset on Haleakala or even at a luau along the beach.

    And newsflash: it actually rains a lot in Hawaii! It all depends on which island you’re going to and even which part of the island. But packing a rain jacket is really helpful. I’ve used one every time I’ve gone to Hawaii!

    Shop my favorite rain jacket for Hawaii

    Casual wear for Hawaii

    standing in black dress with hat looking at NaPali Coast
    Witnessing the beauty of the NaPali Coast in a dress and hat

    So depending on what’s on your itinerary, you’ll want some comfortable clothes that you can do a variety of things in. For you that may be shorts and a tee – for me, it’s a dress. I’m most comfortable throwing on a dress for things like a food tour in Honolulu, shopping in Kona or checking out farmers markets in Kihei, Maui.

    Don’t forget to coordinate sandals or comfortable footwear for these days, too!

    woman walking in green dress with palm trees behind what to wear in Hawaii female
    Pair a dress with a Haku Lei during a Flytographer photo shoot

    Pro tip: consider a professional photo shoot during your trip to Hawaii. Using companies like Flytographer allows you to find local photographers that know just where to go! Whether you’re traveling with your partner, family or friends, it’s a great way to capture memories.

    What to wear to a Luau

    luau attire couple standing in front of palm trees dressed nicely
    Wearing a dress and bringing a jean jacket – perfect luau attire

    Okay this is a fun one! Most luaus call for ‘casual Hawaiian wear’ which basically means floral dresses, Hawaiian shirts, etc. I’ve been to 4 luaus over the years, and as long as you’re comfortable with the temperature, you’ll be fine!

    I love a good dress for a luau. My last luau I wore the cute floral dress above.

    Shop my favorite luau dress here

    Best athletic wear for tours

    man and woman in zipline attire with fake dinosaur on screen in Hawaii
    (almost) getting eaten by a plastic dinosaur on tour😆

    Okay so this is generally a safe area to bring what you have. However, you’ll really want to factor in your activities. And check out the tour websites to see if there are specific recommendations.

    For example, my husband and I have done zipline tours on Kauai and Maui, and for this type of activity you’ll want hiking shoes or athletic shoes. I also wore longer shorts because the gear can cause chaffing if you have shorter shorts on. 

    Book a zipline tour now

    Note: most parts of Hawaii have red dirt, and it can stain shoes. So you may want to take an older pair or a pair that you’re not too concerned about. I tend to book rental properties where I can throw items in the washer. Sometimes the red dirt stains come out and sometimes they don’t so please keep that in mind.

    Hiking gear for Hawaii

    woman in pink shirt and black shorts standing on edge of cliff with ocean in distance
    Hiking the Kalalau Trail (my 2nd time!)

    If you’re planning any hikes, consider the right gear for that, too. You may even want hiking poles, like I’ve used on the Kalalau Trail on the NaPali Coast in Kauai.

    Quick-drying shirts and comfortable shorts or capris are great here. Bring a ball cap or plan to grab one on the island.

    If you’re hiking the Sliding Sands Trail inside Haleakala or the Mauna Kea Summit Trail on the Big Island, pants and outwear are recommended too. It’s really cold in the higher elevation, and that wind can have a huge impact!

    Pro tip: don’t get in over your head. I often see that tourists just want to do all the things but don’t consider their attire or skill level. Some of the hikes on these islands are hard. Come prepared!

    Make sure to take a backpack or shoulder bag to carry water, snacks, sunblock and bug spray, too.

    More accessories for your trip

    woman's face with gray aloha Hawaii hat
    Aloha hat!

    Here’s another fun part of packing for Hawaii! From cute dress hats to dangly earrings, it’s time to figure out what else you might want for your trip.

    If you pack jewelry, make sure to take it in your carry-on, especially sentimental or expensive items. I love to pack a few things to match my dresses, but there’s often a lot of shopping available for island-inspired jewelry, too.

    Let’s talk hats for a second! I love a good sun hat to go with a dress. Beach hats are a must too, as mentioned earlier. I usually pack a ball cap for hikes, kayaking or other outdoor adventures, too.

    Shop aloha hats (this one is similar to mine)

    Beach packing list download

    If you’re looking for a list you can check off, download this beach packing list for Hawaii! Grab the items you need from the links within this guide and use the list to pack quickly and efficiently!

    Get the perfect packing list for your next beach vacay!

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      More Hawaii essentials

      Okay, so I think I’ve covered almost everything you’ll need to wear in Hawaii! You’re on your own for undergarments!

      Here are a few other essentials that ALWAYS come with me to Hawaii – and most other beach destinations for that matter!

      • Mineral sunscreen. It’s quite literally the law in Hawaii to use mineral sunscreen. Chemicals in traditional sunscreens have killed the reefs and mineral sunscreens are much gentler on marine life. I love this brand – a little goes a long way! And just a side note to make the switch for other destinations as our earth needs protecting!
      • Beach bag. Of course you’ll want a cute beach bag for your sunblock, swim covers, towels and more. This is the perfect way to show some personality, too!
      • Dry bag. Perfect for snorkeling tours, boat trips, or just a rainy day, I seem to use my dry bag almost daily while in Hawaii. It keeps electronics or towels dry, too.
      • GoPro. If you’re doing a snorkel trip of any kind, I highly recommend an underwater camera. My GoPro has gone snorkeling and swimming with me to Hawaii and everywhere else, for that matter. Don’t forget the float strap!
      • Snorkel gear. Speaking of snorkeling, if I’m checking a bag for hiking poles or other larger items, I typically throw in my own snorkeling gear. My kids even have snorkeling gear for when they come to Hawaii and want to snorkel! I just like the flexibility to snorkel when I want instead of relying on rentals.
      • Drone. Okay, this is next level photography, but I have to mention it! It’s certainly an investment and it takes time to learn to fly a drone, but if you want epic beach photos this is a really fun way to do it! Just make sure to follow FAA and local drone laws when you fly in Hawaii.

      Packing tips

      suitcase packed with packing cubes hats and a few other items
      Love these packing cubes!

      There’s so much to consider when wondering what to wear in Hawaii. Truly, it’s different for everyone! 

      I HIGHLY recommend using packing cubes to reduce the amount of space your clothing takes up in your suitcase. 

      I have several sets of packing cubes and this set by Well Traveled is my favorite. I love that they are expandable, too! I’m always amazed at how tightly I can pack and how much I can fit in my suitcase and carryon when using them.

      Also, if you are in need of a new suitcase, my latest obsession is with Level8 suitcases. The way the wheels roll is unbelievably smooth, and the quality of the lining, zippers and shell is so amazing. 

      What to wear in Hawaii for midsize women

      woman walking on beach in dress with ocean in distance
      Another fun Flytographer photo in Hanalei, Hawaii

      Well, that’s a wrap! Hopefully by now you have a good handle on what to wear in Hawaii. I know it’s taken me many trips to get it down, and honestly sometimes I still forget things.

      But I hope you enjoy the process of getting what you need ahead of time and you look – and feel – fabulous in Hawaii!


      Related content you might like:
      AMAZING Restaurants in Kauai
      Top Things to Do in Maui on a Budget
      Easy Oahu Hikes that Promise Awe-inspiring Views

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