What to Wear at a Hawaiian Themed Party

Attire for a Hawaiian themed party can range from island-inspired selections such as floral prints and sarongs to more traditional beach wear such as swimsuits, depending on the context of the party. If invitations do not make it clear that costumes are preferred, call the host for clarification before investing time and money in your selection.

Hula Girl

For a simple version of the hula girl, wear a grass skirt over a bikini; add leis around the neck and wrists and in your hair. For a more complex costume, buy a coconut shell bikini top or affix coconut shells with fabric glue to an older bikini top. Accessories can include a ukulele, seashell necklaces, or dancing aids such as "'uli 'uli" and "ipu," which are decorated gourds used as rattles and drums, respectively.

Big Kahuna

The Hawaiian term "kahuna" is used to describe many types of people, including priests, doctors, and experts in other fields. The goal for the Big Kahuna costume should not be to re-create an authentic character but, rather, to present an idealized image, much like a village chieftain or medicine man. Wear a khaki- or green-colored grass skirt over shorts in a matching shade, to prevent too much exposure. Add wrist cuffs and a necklace made with matching feathers and beads. Round out the outfit with a ceremonial mask and a large spear. Any of the components can be bought or handmade, depending on time and resources.


The activity most frequently associated with Hawaii is surfing. The only items needed to complete this costume are surf shorts, flip-flops and a surfboard. If a full-size surfboard is too cumbersome, substitute a body board or child’s surfboard. The board can be used for water activities or as a seat on the beach.

More Elegant

For a less casual party, a Hawaiian shirt over khaki or white pants is suitable for men. For women, a sarong or a Hawaiian-print sundress is appropriate. A flower lei around the neck makes any outfit, male or female, more festive. A Hawaiian orchid over the ear is a more understated accessory for a woman. Both pay homage to the Hawaiian Islands without the need of a costume.