What to Pack for a Trip to the Caribbean

Crowded beach in the BahamasWhether you’re planning on sampling the culinary delights of Puerto Rico, hitting up the beaches in Jamaica, hiking in the U.S. Virgin Islands or exploring any other of the many Caribbean islands, there are a few things you should always take with you. Whether you’ll be within a short flight of South America (such is the case in Curacao) or are as close as the Bahamas, don’t leave home without these items:

Sunscreen

The sun in the Caribbean is brutal, so apply sunscreen frequently and in copious quantities. Chances are you’ll spend a fair amount of time waterside, so make sure you choose a brand that is waterproof and sweatproof. If you dip into the water, reapply when you get out, and if you’ve been outside for any length of time, don’t hesitate to slather on a little more sunscreen. Even with the heavy applications, chances are you’ll still go home with some sort of sun.

A sarong

Whether you’re a guy or a girl, packing a sarong can serve so many different purposes. Wrap it around as a beach cover-up, use it to dry off when you don’t have a towel handy or throw it over your shoulders if you need to protect your skin after a swim. Sarongs are small and easy to stuff into a day bag, so take one with you whenever you leave for the day.

Pink flip flops feet on boatAspirin

As tasty as those frothy drinks can be, they have a tendency to leave visitors with quite the hangover, mainly because it’s hard to gauge how much alcohol you’ve actually had to drink. Cure that early-morning headache with some fresh fruit and coffee as well as an aspirin or two and you’ll be on your way to the beach in no time.

Flip flops

If you’ll be doing some hiking or activities that require a little more action (like horseback riding), then make sure you pack a sturdy pair of sandals or tennis shoes, but you absolutely must pack a pair of flip flops for a trip to the Caribbean. Chances are you’ll end up wearing them more than any other pair of shoes you brought. Pack a pair in dark brown or black and they can do double duty for day and night.

Quick-dry clothes or enough clothing to last for the duration of your trip

The Caribbean is humid, so your clothes will either be drenched in sweat and they’ll stay that way or you’ll pack something that can easily dry in the air conditioning of your room so you can wear it again. Under all circumstances, leave your jeans at home.

Sunglasses and / or a hat

We return to the conversation of the sun. Stay protected with a good pair of shades or a floppy hat that can keep you covered and protected from the glare.

Light-colored clothing

The Caribbean is a very laid-back place, and it’s almost always acceptable to wear light-colored, beach casual clothing. Guys may need a button-down shirt (but not too dressy) and khakis for dinner if you really want to go all out, but women can usually get away with a sun dress for just about any occasion. Dark, formal clothing just isn’t the norm.

Water

Always carry water with you in the Caribbean. It is hot and humid, and you need to stay hydrated under the brutal sunshine. In many places in the Caribbean, it is okay to drink the tap water, but double check when you reach your destination. Otherwise bottled water is plentiful.

6 Responses to “What to Pack for a Trip to the Caribbean”

  1. Lisa

    I definetely recommend some sort of hair gel due to the humidity and off wipes for some islands. These have helped me.

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      Bug spray of some sort is an absolute must! The sand fleas on some islands are really bad!

      Reply
  2. vitra

    Great list…maybe some bug-spray too, depending on what season as mosquitos can ruin a perfectly great trip!

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      Yep, definitely pack bug spray. Like I mentioned under Lisa’s comment above, it’s not just for mosquitoes but also for sand fleas!

      Reply
  3. Jade - Living in the Dominican Republic

    Great list. Having lived in the DR for a year I definitely agree with the bug spray comment. They don’t get me anymore, but they’ll get the newbies. I’ve actually got a caribbean packing list on my blog too, i’m curious to know what you think!

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      Thanks for your insight Jade. I’m glad lots of people are sharing info on what to pack for the Caribbean because it’s a mystery for a lot of travelers!

      Reply

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