During a stay in vibrant Waikiki, visitors will experience both glitzy glamor and laid-back surfer vibes. One might wonder: what should I wear, and for what occasions?
What Should I Wear in Waikiki? Waikiki hosts a variety of different events, each suited for different attire. Prepare yourself accordingly by bringing beachwear, nicer pieces for dinners out, trekking attire, and lastly, your favorite sunscreen. Waikiki is known for “resort casual,” with even upscale restaurants promoting a somewhat dressed-down, yet oh-so-chic appearance.
Day Wear: Hitting the Beach in Waikiki
Waikiki afternoons are meant for long hours spent relaxing at the beach, preferably with a cold beverage in hand. A walk up and down this sandy strip of paradise will present a plethora of tanned surfer types, beach-glam sunbathers, and everyone in between. Waikiki’s informal nature makes it easy to get dressed for a day on the beach.
Beachwear is generally quite minimal, featuring string bikinis, the occasional speedo, and translucent beach cover-ups. If you head south on the beach, you will arrive at San Souci beach in front of Kapiolani Park. This portion of the beach is appropriately coined “Dig Me Beach”, which is notorious for skimpy beachwear. Regardless of flashy suits, this area is still family friendly, and a favorite of locals since it’s a little bit further away from the touristic buzz. Whether you prefer a one-piece suit, two-piece suit, speedo, or board shorts- be sure to wear your sunscreen as your most important accessory! A lobster-red tan doesn’t pair well with any of our Waikiki fashion picks.
Waikiki is a walking neighborhood, especially during the day, when beachgoers decide to explore up and down the avenues for a change of pace. Bring comfortable sandals for the daytime, so you can walk with ease, and conveniently slip them off for some barefoot beach hours when necessary.
For the non-swimmers, it makes the most sense to wear something casual, comfortable, and loose fitting. Men and women commonly wear breezy outfits for a leisure walk on the beach, when abstaining from a dip in the ocean. Linen pants and thin cut fabric dresses are a common sight up and down the beach, especially during the golden hour right before another spectacular sunset. Floral prints are a hit for both men and women, appearing on button-down shirts and maxi dresses alike. It may seem cliché, but Hawaiian shirts and prints are wholeheartedly a part of the environment in Waikiki.
Get Active: Trekking and Climbing
Hiking Diamond Head State Monument is an absolute must when visiting Waikiki. This park features sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and an ancient crater. With incrementally better views as you ascend, you’ll likely find yourself stopping multiple times to take in the view before making the full ascent. This climb isn’t terribly long or strenuous, but it’s worth a good portion of the afternoon. With Hawaii’s frequent balmy and warm temperature, you will want to ensure comfort when getting dressed for this hike. Visitors should prepare themselves by bringing lightweight athletic wear, such as dry fit material or breathable cotton apparel. In addition, flip-flops and sandals won’t make it up this climb… Bring comfortable hiking boots or your favorite pair of trusty gym shoes.
Night Wear: Dinners, Sunsets, and Cocktail Bars
The majority of restaurants in Waikiki are accepting of “Resort Casual” attire. What might this include, you might ask? There are a variety of pieces you can choose from to present yourself in this manner. Women generally wear sleeveless maxi dresses, dress shorts with an airy blouse, lightweight linen pants or skirts, and dressy sandals or open-toed heels. For men, this usually includes polo shirts, collared shirts, khaki or linen pants, dress shorts, closed toed shoes, or loafers.
Post-sunset diners have clearly prepared themselves for a nice meal out, instead of rolling off the beach with sandy toes and salt-soaked hair. You will want to avoid baseball caps, bare feet, and cutoffs.
If you’re going for the utmost level of opulence in dining, prepare to dress for it as well. La Mer in the Halekulani Hotel is one of the few restaurants that does require men to wear at least long sleeves, if not a suit jacket. Women may opt for a fancier evening dress or dress slacks. If you’re going to eat fancy, it’s advised that your attire matches the appetizers! Wine and dine to your heart’s content, while dressing to impress.
As for most bars and nightclubs, Resort Casual and Aloha wear is generally the rule. If you’re feeling ultra casual, you can always arrange a picnic or check out one of the open-air beach bars that are just in front of the shoreline.
The Fine Art of Dressing for a Luau
One of Hawaii’s best nighttime activities is a longtime classic: the luau. This traditional Hawaiian party will have you dancing the hula in no time, with Waikiki’s finest. Most luaus offer dinner and show packages, whereas others only feature entertainment and dancing. If you go to eat with the show, prepare for a feast!
Regardless of which avenue you choose, you can bet on sporting your best Aloha wear to fit in with the crowd. Hawaiian prints can be found in abundance, whether they are on button downs, long dresses, or muumuus. Men can comfortably wear dress slacks if they please, or tailored shorts on a warm evening. Even the fancier luaus encourage casual Aloha gear, such as Royal Hawaiian and other upscale hotels. If you’re feeling adventurous and the entertainers are jokesters, you might just find yourself wearing a coconut bra and grass skirt by the end of the night. Kick back, let loose, and enjoy the Hawaiian hospitality!
What Else Should I Pack?
An activity-based wardrobe is essential for Waikiki- and so are a few other essential items.
• Beach Bag: It’s easy to forget that you’ll have a few daily essentials to lug to the beach each day. Bring a lightweight, foldable beach bag to carry your towel, sunscreen, book, and water bottle.
• Waterproof Phone Case: If you’re after some adventurous phone photography, prepare yourself with a waterproof case to protect your tech.
• Bug Spray and Anti-Bite Wristbands: Hawaii is generally safe from mosquito-borne illnesses, but they do still bite. Avoid this nuisance by using bug spray and wearing a repellant wristband to ward them off.
• Sunglasses: Although this is relatively obvious, it’s always worth a reminder when packing!
What Are Hawaii’s Seasons Like?
Hawaii essentially has two seasons: summer and winter. Summer spans from May to October, and winter goes from November to April. Summer’s average daily temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas winter’s average is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Summer is typically the dry season, and winter generally has more rainfall. Early summer and beginning of winter months are off-season but still attract tourism due to the lower prices and cheaper airfare. The temperature does not vary much depending on the time of the year, so Hawaii’s tourism remains busy year round.