The Caribbean islands—the land of eternal sun, palm trees, and the calm motion of the ocean—is a must-visit vacation hotspot.
Got your tickets booked already? To guarantee a stress-free holiday, you need to have a comprehensive Caribbean vacation packing list.
Having a list will help you plan out things better, which, in turn, will result in a trip of a lifetime.
To help you out, we prepared a detailed tropical vacation packing list below.
Things to Consider Before You Begin Packing
Before you head out to any of the islands in the Caribbean, there are a few things you must consider:
1. Who You’re Traveling With
Knowing who you will be traveling with helps determine what exactly you need to be packing for your vacation.
For instance, if you are heading for a family vacation, you will have to ensure that you carry all the essentials your family may need during the holiday.
This also applies if you are going on holiday with elderly members of your family.
For single travelers or a couple, these vacations are much easier to plan because you only have to pack for your own needs.
2. What the Weather Is Like During Your Travel Dates
The weather tends to be fairly good all year in the Caribbean, which means you can expect to spend most of your holiday in beachwear.
That said, you should also pack some fun dressy clothes to wear to the local pub or out to dinner at an upscale restaurant.
We will talk more about this later on.
3. What Kind of Accommodation You’ll Be Staying At
Where you stay in the Caribbean will play an important role in what you need to pack.
This includes whether you will be staying in a hotel, villa, or a homestay.
Furthermore, it also makes a difference if you choose to stay in an all-inclusive resort instead of a regular resort or hotel.
Keep in mind that not all homestays or villas are made equally, which means that not all of them will come with things you need for your stay.
Resorts, especially all-inclusive ones, tend to provide their customers with towels, shampoo, conditioner, hairdryer, body wash, and even bathrobes for your stay.
This means that you can pack lighter.
4. What Activities You Will Partake In
Whether you are hiking the Waitukubuli National Trail in Dominica, going whale watching on the Samaná Peninsula, heading to a destination wedding, or swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas, you will have to find a proper Caribbean packing list.
Your tropical vacation packing list should be based on the activities you are planning to do.
If your trip to the Caribbean is mostly going to consist of beach hopping or pool lounging, packing more than a few sets of swimwear would be ideal.
If your trip will involve doing more outdoor activities, it is important to have comfortable clothing and shoes in your bag.
5. How Long You Will Be Staying in the Caribbean
The duration of your holiday will also determine what you need to be packing.
Typically, most people visit the islands for about a week, but it’s not uncommon for some to stay up to two to three weeks.
If you are thinking of staying here for a long time, you may be inclined to pack more.
However, this could result in problems, especially if you plan to shop once you are there.
Also, remember that there are weight restrictions for most airlines within the Caribbean.
It’s wise to pack as light as possible to avoid paying excess baggage fees and avoid any delays.
Caribbean Vacation Packing List
Based on what we mentioned earlier, you can go ahead and begin packing your bags for the Caribbean.
Whether you are traveling to Aruba or the Bahamas, these are the things you will need:
If your holiday in the Caribbean is only going to consist of you sitting by the beach or being in just one of the islands, we recommend carrying a hard-case suitcase.
However, if your trip will consist of you jumping from one island to another, requiring you to travel in a boat or a small aircraft, bring a water-resistant duffel bag or a rucksack instead.
We also recommend bringing a small tote bag that you can carry around wherever you go.
This bag is ideal for carrying small items, like your phone, portable charger, camera, spare clothing, cash, and more.
Depending on where you are flying out from, it’s best to have some in-flight essentials handy to ensure a peaceful flight.
In the times we’re living in today, you would be better off carrying your own pair of headphones to enjoy the backseat entertainment.
If you are flying into the Caribbean from the West Coast, you can easily watch a movie or two during your flight.
In case there isn’t any backseat entertainment, or you want to read a book, bring your tablet along with you.
Flights to the Caribbean can be quite long, and if you’re traveling coach, it can cause strain on your neck.
For that, bring a comfortable neck pillow to save you from all that unnecessary pain.
The types of shoes you wish to carry on your holiday depends on what your plans are.
However, there are specific pairs you must have along with you always.
- Sneakers or Casual Slip-On
Good old sneakers or slip-ons are a must-have when you’re on vacation.
These are ideal for traveling, casual dinners, or simply when you want to take a stroll around town.
- Water-Resistant Shoes
Since there are a ton of activities for you to participate in, we recommend carrying a pair of good water-resistant shoes, too.
These are best for walking around your hotel, resort, or villa and along the beach.
- Stylish Shoes
By this, we mean a pair of shoes you would typically wear to a club or a fancy restaurant.
Do ample research before you choose your holiday destination in the Caribbean.
For instance, if you’re heading to the Bahamas, check the weather.
Since it's mostly pleasant and sunny, pick out clothes based on the activities you’re planning to do.
Below, we will provide a list of clothing that both men and women must consider packing in their bags, assuming you’re going on a week-long holiday.
- A few bikinis/swimsuits
- Sarong or a beach wrap
- Five or six t-shirts and tops
- Two or three pairs of shorts
- One or two casual dresses
- One or two pants (like jeans or capris)
- Two sets of pajamas
- A jacket or cardigan
- Enough innerwear to last your entire trip
Lastly, you would also want to bring two or three dressy outfits you can wear to a club or a fancy dinner.
This is particularly important if you’re staying at a high-end resort with specific dress codes.
Make sure to read the hotel policy on this.
- A pair or two of jeans or chinos (along with a belt that matches)
- A pair or two of casual shorts
- A pair or two of beach shorts
- Two pairs of pajamas
- Four or five t-shirts and vests
- Two or three polo t-shirts
- Enough innerwear to last your entire trip
Again, you should also pack one or two nice button-down shirts and a pair of stylish pants to wear at fancy restaurants.
There are a lot of golf courses in the Bahamas, too.
If that’s something that interests you, make sure you carry the appropriate outfit for it.
Additionally, make sure you wear comfortable clothing for the flight, too.
There are certain toiletries you must carry along with you on your trip.
These may differ from person to person, though.
- Prescription Medicine
Always carry your prescription medicine with you, along with a few extras, during your holiday.
There are always chances that you may never get them in the Caribbean.
- O-T-C Meds
Pack up O-T-C medications, like antihistamines, pain relievers, and antacid for your trip in case you fall ill.
- Anti-Itch Cream and Bug Spray
Mosquitoes are quite common in the Caribbean, and in some areas, there is always a higher risk for Zika.
Ensure you’re carrying these creams and sprays to be safe.
Make sure you are also up to date on your routine vaccinations.
It’s almost always sunny in the Caribbean, which means you need to bring a natural and reef-friendly sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays.
In the case of burns, we also recommend carrying a pack of aloe.
- Reusable Plastic Storage Bags
These bags are ideal for storing dirty laundry, wet swimsuits, extra toiletries, and other things.
Carry a handful of them on your trip, and make sure you dispose of them properly if you need to.
- Wet Wipes
We recommend having a pack of wet wipes with you.
These are great to have during a long walk under the sun or if you want to clean up after visiting the beach.
Accessories can mean a wide range of things from one person to another, but there are a few that every traveler must carry with them.
This is a great way to protect yourself from the sun.
Choose one that matches your style and aesthetic.
Pack a durable yet affordable pair of sunglasses in case you happen to lose them, or they get damaged.
Make sure you and your fellow travelers carry these important items to have the perfect Caribbean vacation:
- Bank cards
- Passport and visas
- Wallet with local cash
- Hard and soft copy of your flight and ferry tickets
- EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card of European Citizen) for islands that belong to EU overseas territories
- Travel guide book
- Travel insurance
- Phone charger and portable charger
Caribbean Packing List FAQs
1. What clothes to pack for a Caribbean vacation?
Caribbean weather is pretty consistent, so packing clothes for the trip is easy.
In most cases, you won’t have to worry about packing various layers.
The warm weather mostly calls for shorts and cotton t-shirts and some dressy outfits for special occasions.
2. What should I wear on a resort vacation?
Resorts may have a dress code depending on how grand the establishment is.
Ideally, men should wear dressier shorts, nice pairs of jeans/chinos, and pants along with a collared or polo t-shirt.
Avoid wearing sleeveless shirts and t-shirts.
Women can wear a casual dress, a pair of jeans or tights, or a skirt with a nice blouse.
3. How do I prepare for a Caribbean vacation?
There are different ways one can prepare for their trip to the Caribbean.
Still, there are specific practical tips we recommend keeping in mind.
- Choose your travel dates wisely.
- Know the entry and exit rules.
- Choose which Caribbean island you want to visit and do ample research on it.
- Research your accommodation in advance.
Packing for a Stress-Free Vacation to Paradise
Having a proper Caribbean vacation packing list will help you tremendously when planning and packing for your holiday.
It will also ensure that you have a stress-free trip.
Do note that we have included only the essentials you must carry, so don’t be afraid to add more things to this list as per your needs.