Wondering What the Dress Code is Like in Hawaii?
Hawaii’s unique blend of culture, climate, and lifestyle calls for the right balance when it comes to wardrobe style. Hawaii’s dress code is laid-back but also diverse and ultimately centers around functionality because of the all-year-round tropical climate.
Since we grew up in Hawaii, we have insider knowledge to make the perfect Hawaii dress code guide for any occasion. We also know what brands locals like to wear! So let’s unravel the threads of this ultimate Hawaii dress code to help you figure out what you should wear when visiting.
Hawaii Dress Code Guide By Occasion
Hawaii Dress Code for a Luau
Luaus are the perfect place to wear the classic Hawaiian-style outfit. These events typically encompass a mix of casual comfort and tropical flair through bright colors. Luaus calls for flowy outfits that are breathable to bring a festive spirit to your experience.
Women can opt for tropical printed dresses. There are also many tropical printed bottoms like skirts and pants that make great options to wear to a luau. While the atmosphere is more relaxed, women can add some elegance through their accessories.
For Men, a crisp Hawaiian print button-down shirt paired with shorts is the normal attire at Luaus. You want to avoid those obvious tourist-looking aloha prints that are often bad-quality and opt for some cleaner looks. A lot of locals gravitate towards surfer brands that do Hawaiian print very tastefully.
Pro Tip: Avoid wearing high-heels or dress shoes so you can easily dance and explore the luau’s beautiful venue!
Hawaii Dress Code for a Night Out
Nightlife in Hawaii can range from a casual setting to luxurious fine dining, depending on your Hawaii itinerary.
Night Out: Fine Dining
For fine dining restaurants such as La Mer at the Halekulani or 53 by the Sea, you should wear formal clothing. Though if you’re visiting for the first time, the definition of formal in Hawaii still runs on the casual side.
Men have the option to wear an aloha or button-down shirt with long pants. Closed-toed shoes are often required, so avoid wearing slippers or sandals to fine-dining restaurants in Hawaii.
Night Out: Casual Dining and Bars
For casual dining and bars such as Duke’s or the Deck at Queen Kapiolani, people are typically dressed casually, but it doesn’t hurt to dress slightly nicer. The level of attire is based on the occasion, but all are welcome.
Sandals, slippers, and shoes are all acceptable for casual dining in Hawaii.
Night Out: Lounges and Nightclubs
For upscale lounges and nightclubs, you’ll want to dress one step above casual as there is typically a dress code.
Men on the other hand have stricter guidelines to follow. Collared shirts with long pants and covered shoes are the safest route to ensure you meet the dress code. Some lounges and clubs are more casual and will let you wear a plain T-shirt, but be aware to avoid wearing T-shirts with logos on them.
Hawaii Dress Code for a Wedding
You always want to make sure to check and follow the wedding invitation for a specific dress code as weddings can range from formal to casual. However, if no dress code is suggested, then dress effortlessly with a hint of elegance. Reflecting the island’s relaxed atmosphere, wedding guests are encouraged to wear lightweight fabrics.
Note: Since Hawaii has such breathtaking landscapes, most weddings will take place in outdoor settings. Be sure to choose the proper footwear suitable for sandy beaches and outdoors.
For men, a tasteful aloha shirt with long khaki pants and covered shoes is a safe route to take. You want to choose softer colors that go well with Hawaii’s beautiful landscape backdrop. Earthy tones are a great option for a wedding!
Hawaii Dress Code for a Business Meeting
As a couple who currently works in the corporate world of Downtown Honolulu, we can say with certainty that business casual is the way to go. Again, business casual in Hawaii probably looks much more casual than you’d expect.
Hawaii’s tropical weather makes the temperatures unbearable at times. Since you will most likely be doing some walking in Downtown Honolulu, you should wear very breathable clothing.
Hawaii Dress Code for a Beach/Pool Day
Dressing for a beach or pool day in Hawaii is all about embracing the sun, sand, and water while staying comfortable and stylish. Start with your choice of swimwear, whether it’s classic board shorts for men or a trendy two-piece bikini for women. As for footwear, opt for a simple pair of waterproof slippers that can easily handle the sand and water!
Pair your swimwear with a light breathable tank top or a beach cover-up. In Hawaii, women will often be seen out with a pareo which is a wrap-around cloth to wear as a skirt or dress to cover up. They are convenient and very wearable!
If you are planning on doing water activities such as surfing or snorkeling, you may want to consider a rash guard. This will protect you from the sun for long hours.
We’ve seen many times when travelers have underestimated the Hawaii sun and ended up looking like red lobsters. It’s important to always have a wide-brimmed bucket hat, polarized sunglasses, and reef-safe sunscreen when you’re stepping out into the sunshine.
Hawaii Dress Code for Hiking
When preparing for a hike in Hawaii, dressing appropriately for both comfort and safety is crucial. The main dress code for hiking is activewear that’s breathable and protective from the sun, insects, vegetation, and potential scrapes.
A simple drawstring bag will suffice for short hikes to hold your belongings, sunscreen, and water bottle. However, if you are attempting a hike that’s longer than two hours, then you might want to consider a hydration pack. Most people, ourselves included, tend to underestimate how hot it can get during a hike and will end up short on water.
Hawaii’s tropical climate can be unpredictable. Be prepared for changing weather so you can fully enjoy the breathtaking views from Hawaii’s hiking trails.
Hawaii Dress Code for Walking Around (Sightseeing)
Even if you’re just walking around, you’ll want to dress comfortably and assume you will be getting sweaty from Hawaii’s hot and humid climate.
Any breathable clothing will suffice to ensure that you are comfortable while exploring the islands.
Activewear or simple t-shirts and drawstring shorts are good options for walking around and sightseeing in Hawaii.
Although Hawaii is made up of considerably small islands, your adventures ahead can involve A LOT of walking. Make sure your footwear is appropriate for the journey. Running shoes or orthopedic slippers are a necessity for sightseeing.
Hawaii Dress Code By Season
Hawaii is infamous for its hot and humid climate, which lasts year-round. You will typically be wearing the same types of clothing at any point in time during the year.
Winters in Hawaii definitely don’t require anything excessive. All you will need is a light jacket to wear for early mornings or late nights.
Below is a list of temperatures in Honolulu by Season to plan your vacation:
Note: Hawaii’s natural elements, like humidity and direct sun exposure, can make the weather feel even hotter. Be aware that temperatures can feel up to 15 degrees hotter!
What to Wear for Unique Places in Hawaii
Although Hawaii has a warm and tropical climate, there are certain areas that can be quite the opposite. Hawaii can get a lot colder the further you travel upward!
Mauna Kea on the Big Island
Did you know that Mauna Kea is the highest point in the entire state of Hawaii? Mauna Kea stands at nearly 14,000 feet above sea level!
If you are planning to explore the Mauna Kea summit, be sure to prepare for the cold weather. The average temperature is 32°F, which can feel even colder with the amount of wind blowing at the top.
We highly recommend wearing multiple layers of clothing including thermal sets, gloves, and thermal socks to avoid freezing at the summit. Another item you will want to consider is a nice windbreaker jacket because the winds at the top of the summit can get pretty intense.
Haleakala on Maui
In second place for the highest point in the state of Hawaii goes to Haleakala at a height of 10,000 feet above sea level. The weather at the Haleakala Summit is a bit warmer than Mauna Kea with temperatures frequently in the range of 40°F.
Again, multiple layers (thermal sets, gloves, thermal socks, and windbreaker jackets) are recommended to stay warm. This will help as you adventure the summit through their hiking trails or spend a night at their campgrounds.
It’d be unfortunate to take this amazing journey all the way up to the summit and be miserable the entire time (speaking from personal experience). Always be prepared to bundle up if you are to attempt to go up to the highest point in Maui.
What Not to Wear in Hawaii
By now, our guide will have shown you that the dress code in Hawaii leans toward a laid-back aesthetic with light and breathable fabrics. Items like suits and heavy jackets can be left at home due to the hot and humid climate.
You will stick out like a sore thumb and will probably overheat in any formal or thick clothing. The only exceptions would be if your wedding invitation calls for formal attire or if you are visiting one of Hawaii’s summits, like Mauna Kea or Haleakala. You should stick with casual and comfortable clothing to blend in with Hawaii’s Dress Code.
Although Hawaii isn’t very strict about what you wear, you should still be mindful of the local culture when choosing your attire. This means not wearing any attire that could be considered disrespectful. For example, wearing a swimsuit or revealing clothing while visiting sacred or historic lands like Iolani Palace or Pearl Harbor is not advised.
Being sensitive to local customs and heritage will ensure a more enjoyable experience in Hawaii!
Ultimate Hawaii Dress Code Guide FAQs
Do People Wear Jeans in Hawaii?
Yes, people wear jeans in Hawaii. Although the opportunities to wear them are very slim simply because it’s usually just too hot out. Locals will usually only be seen in jeans at night or when going out for a special occasion.
You won’t necessarily look out of place if you do opt for jeans, but you may be uncomfortable and risk a heat rash.
What Brands Do Locals Wear in Hawaii?
Locals in Hawaii will often be seen in surfer or skater brands because they embody the casual and laid-back vibe.
Here’s a list of popular brands that locals will often be seen wearing:
What Accessories Do Locals Wear?
Locals in Hawaii wear a variety of accessories that reflect the unique culture and climate of the islands.
You can also elevate your outfit with fresh flowers. There is the common lei that lays on top of your shoulders, but there are also haku lei’s to wear as a flower crown.
If you are more simple, then you can also simply wear a flower on your ear. A common question is which side should a flower go behind your ear?
In Hawaiian tradition, wearing a flower being your left ear means you’re taken or married. On the other hand, wearing one behind your right ear means you’re single and open to love!
Does the Dress Code Differ on Each Island in Hawaii?
No, the dress code will generally be the same throughout Hawaii no matter which island you visit. Although on some islands, you will see people dressed up a little more compared to the others.
For example, Oahu is the urban oasis of Hawaii so you will likely see more people dressed up for nightlife. Comparing that to the Big Island or Kauai, there is a difference in casualness since these islands are more country-like and relaxed. Maui is the in-between spot between modern urban life and country life, so you will see all levels of clothing from casual to fancy.
Each island has its own specialty that they are known for, so it will slightly affect your dress code, but not by much.
Closing Thoughts: Ultimate Hawaii Dress Code Guide
In our guide, we have seen that the dress code in Hawaii is as diverse as the islands themselves. The dress code isn’t only about what you wear, but it’s a reflection of the island’s soul. The harmonious blend of vibrant colors, fragrant flowers, and the laid-back spirit of Aloha.
Be sure to embrace the local style and adapt to the ever-changing climate and lean in with Hawaii’s island lifestyle!