I remember my excitement when I finally bought my first tickets to the Caribbean. Now, you are probably on the same level of excitation, don’t you?
The Caribbean – the land of eternal sun, the motion of the ocean, and coconuts hanging on the palm trees. I am pretty sure this trip will be memorable for you.
But to make it planned in the best way, you cannot go further without the complete Caribbean packing list.
So in this post, I will show you all of the essential items you should bring to your fabulous Caribbean vacations.
One note for the beginning: traveling to the Caribbean requires a surprisingly small number of things you need to bring. Unless you’re not sleeping in a tent, it is possible to visit the sunny islands with carry-on luggage only. I will tell you more about it later on.
So keep reading, learn to pack your Caribbean clothing and be prepared for the trip of your life!
[BONUS: printable Caribbean vacation packing list waits for you at the end of this article!]
Table of content:
- Consider the purpose of your trip
- Travel bag for the Caribbean
- – Best backpacks
- – Useful packing gear
- The Caribbean packing list:
- – Essential items
- – Caribbean packing list for women
- – Caribbean packing list for men
- – Toiletries
- – Electronics
- – Other gear
- Caribbean trip planning
- – Currency
- – Transportation
- – Accommodation
- Download PDF list
Consider the purpose of your trip
Packing for a cruise or simple land relax in the Caribbean is relatively easy. The only condition that could determine your Caribbean outfits is the type of activities you want to enjoy.
If you aim to benefit the sun and lie on the beach every day, you should definitely pack a bunch of different swimsuits and cover-ups.
But many Caribbean islands have much more to offer than blue water and white sand. In most places, you will be able to enjoy adventurous nature activities such as hiking trails or even climbing. In this case, you should definitely bring comfortable wear, shoes, and a light blouse to keep you warm in the highest mountains.
The other thing that you should think of is weather conditions. The temperature in the Caribbean has minimal variations throughout the year with a minimum of 20 Celcius degrees.
But you should definitely consider the rainy season in your travel plans. The wet season usually starts in June and ends up in late October. If you will be traveling in those months, consider bringing a light raincoat or small umbrella. This will for sure rescue your clothes from an unexpected short downpour.
Choosing a travel bag for the Caribbean
Unless you’re not gonna spend your Caribbean vacation in a luxury all-inclusive hotel, I recommend you to bring a backpack instead of a huge suitcase.
In fact, traveling to the Caribbean is totally doable with hand luggage only. And this is something that I did while going to Guadeloupe and Martinique. You can check out how to pack all your necessary stuff in carry-on luggage only by clicking here.
Best backpacks for the Caribbean
Me and Mariusz, while traveling to this sunny paradise, brought only two carry-on backpacks and we were super comfortable with it.
Below you can see both of them plus some other backpacks that we didn’t try but which are often recommended by other travel bloggers.
I personally recommend this backpack for any kind of city break. It was designed as a dedicated airplane cabin backpack. Its main feature is flexibility. The volume is 44l which provides you a lot of space to pack with your travel items and clothing. Moreover, every CabinZero bag comes with an OKOBAN tracking system which increases the safety of your luggage.
This backpack is a bit less spacious since it has only 26l. But even so, it was sufficient for our needs. Moreover, it was perfect as a day bag which we were carrying for every day trip in the Caribbean.
Those two bags were our personal choice for our Caribbean travel. They have many features which you can check out in a separate review post.
Useful packing gear
Besides the main travel bag, there are also other helpful items that will make your packing much easier.
One of them is packing cubes which help you to keep the order in your backpack or suitcase.
The other thing that I cannot imagine travel without is a light cotton sack bag. I totally love using mine while traveling. It’s very light and easy to fold and place in the main luggage. But it’s also irreplaceable if it comes to daily trips and such prosaic activities as doing some grocery shopping. Or any shopping at all. But be sure to buy high-quality strong cotton so it will last for years!
The Caribbean Packing List
Essential items to bring
Here’s a short list of the most important items you need to bring with you for the perfect Caribbean vacation. As a quick reminder!
- Wallet with some local cash
- Bank cards
- National ID card
- Passport and visas
- Flight/ferry tickets
- EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card of European citizen) for islands belonging to EU overseas territories
- Travel insurance
- Travel guide book – I recommend checking out Lonely Planet website for some great guide deals!
Caribbean packing list for women
The obvious answer for the question of what to pack for the Caribbean travel? is swimsuits! But there is more than that of course.
Nevertheless, for Caribbean travel, you should pack as few as you can. In fact, you will only need summer clothes there. Unless you travel in winter from a colder country. But then the only warm clothes you will use will be at the airport.
So let’s go through a list of the ultimate women’s Caribbean wear packing list!
The very basic part of your travel closet. Be sure to bring with you a few of close tops and loose shirts. The best material here will be cotton to give you some breezy feeling.
I like to have one shirt with long sleeves with me in case of spending too much time on the sun. Sleeves will help your skin take a rest from burning sun rays. And if the shirt will be made of natural material, like cotton or linen, you will still feel pretty cool.
This kind of wardrobe will be convenient for any more elegant outgoing. But it will also be more appropriate if you would like to visit any sacred place or temple where beach dresses will not be that much adequate.
Similar to a long sleeve shirt, I like to have one pair of light trousers in case I would like to get relief from the sun. Personally, I love wearing linen trousers since this material is strong, grateful, and natural. I think it’s much more comfortable to wear than leggins made of unnatural polyester.
Obvious again! Shorts will be perfect for any kind of physical activity such as taking cliff or jungle trails. Preferably if they would be made of cotton, linen, or jeans.
Here you can go really crazy. There are tons of different summer dress models out there, so you will know the best what suits your figure. I can only recommend the material: choose the natural one, like cotton or linen, since you will be feeling the most comfortable by wearing them. Also, you will not harm the planet with some more plastic textiles!
Just in case of climbing in the mountains. In general, the temperature there is still quite high, but on the open spaces, the wind might make you feel a little bit cold. Plus, if you will overdo with air-conditioner in your hotel room, a sweatshirt will rescue you.
Total must-have in the Caribbean. I propose you to take 2-3 different sets since you will be wearing them a lot!
Perfect for wearing on the beach. Entering the beach bar, or a souvenir shop with a lovely swim suit’s cover-up will ensure you to keep the beach-tourism etiquette. Plus, you will probably look gorgeous.
Here the thing is easy. Choose only natural materials, since polyester underwear might harm your health and mood. Organic cotton will be the best.
Even if you will spend barefoot most of the time, I propose to take a few pair of socks with you. I recommend flat socks for everyday shoes.
The basic shoe type that you need on your Caribbean packing list. I recommend purchasing high-quality leather sandals so they will last with you as long as it’s possible.
Personally, I am not a fan, but if you like to wear flip flops, that’s ok! Just remember, that flip flops are the common ocean pollution element. So don’t consider them as a cheap piece of plastic that it will not be a waste to lose them on the beach. Instead, better buy high-quality pair made of leather. Not only it will be more natural, but also you will take care of them much better and focus not to lose them. This way they will serve for a very long time.
I totally love hig- quality sailing shoes! My favorite pair is traditional and classy Sperry Top-Sider. They’re perfect for everyday wear, for the beach, and even for the hiking trails! I even achieved the highest peak of the Lesser Antilles with those shoes! They are hard to damage, and they’re great for water + fast-drying. Great work also does the non-slippery sole. Totally recommended!
A hat will be useful both on the beach and on the hiking trail where there will be no shadow to hide in. It will successfully secure you from sunstroke.
Another obvious must-have on the list. Choose the model that will protect your eyes from UV rays. Also, pay attention to its shape so the rays will not reach your eyes from the sides (totally flat glasses are not the best choice).
Caribbean packing list for men
I must be honest that I don’t like most of the men packing lists found there on the Internet. Most of them include mostly sport-look clothes which are maybe comfortable, but not that natural and classy.
Luckily, Mariusz follows the classy men’s fashion trends, so thanks to him we can suggest you a bit more stylish travel look.
So gentlemen, let’s take a look on your Caribbean packing list for men!
The very basic item in men’s travel wardrobe. Let your tops and T-shirts be comfortable and made from natural materials like cotton. This will ensure your nice feeling.
In fact, casual shirts are a great choice for the Caribbean vacation! Our favorite material is linen which is just perfect for shirts. Long sleeves will also help your skin take a break from sun exposure, so they’re great for daily trips.
Definitely take a pair or two. Perfectly cotton, linen, or jeans. They’re ideal for hanging around in the cities, but also for awesome jungle hiking trails.
It’s great to have with you also a pair of long trousers. Think about classic linen trousers. They will not only look handsome but also will give you some airy feeling.
If you plan any evening going outs, you should consider bringing a stylish linen vest with you. They are much underrated in my opinion, and look so fine! Linen is perfect as a material for summer blazers.
Definitely a must-have. Some of them can serve you as everyday shorts as well. So consider taking even 2-3 pairs with you as your Caribbean attire.
Definitely light and airy. Organic cotton will do a great job, as always. Better avoid synthetic materials such as polyester. It’s much better for your health and for the planet.
You should bring with you at least a few pairs of socks, even if you can assume not using them every day. Flat socks will be perfect for covered shoes.
Your first association might be sports sandals, but actually, I have got something else in my mind. When you’ll look for good enough, you will for sure find elegant leather sandals which will be perfect for everyday trips. Plus, if the job will be high-quality, they will last with you for years.
Flip-flops are convenient to wear in the pool or on the beach. But even they can be classy. Since plastic flip-flops are common ocean pollution cause they easily get lost, I recommend you choose more natural materials. Leather flip-flops are comfortable and help your feet get relaxed after the whole day of sightseeing.
We both, me and Mariusz, think that sailing shoes are the best option for any travel. Traditional leather models, like our beloved Sperry Top-Siders, are so comfortable that we can easily spend the whole day walking in them with absolutely no corn. Also, they look so much better than any sports shoes, so it’s a great alternative for touristic shoes.
You should definitely consider wearing a hat on your Caribbean hiking trips. The head covering helps you avoid sunstroke. You can bring a standard baseball cap, but Panama hat will definitely give you more style. Plus it will look so awesome with the Caribbean background!
Definitely a must-have in any sunny island. Make sure that the sunglasses protect your eyes against UV rays. Also, pay attention to their shape – the glass should not be totally flat, cause it makes it easier for sun rays to reach your eyes from the sides.
On most of the Caribbean islands, you will have no problem with buying any toiletries you’ll need. The content of a toiletry bag is a personal choice but I encourage you to pack it in a sustainable way.
So better bring with you some of your favorite natural and plastic-free items than buy their synthetic substitutes on place:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Soap bar
- Face oil
If you prefer to use fluid soaps instead of bars, I recommend you to equip with small refillable bottles dedicated to travel. You can fill them with your favorite lotions at home and then use while traveling.
In the Caribbean, you need to remember about the proper secure against mosquitos. Sometimes they are really annoying and nothing works. But usually, you can do pretty well with some natural citrus remedies.
If it comes to toiletry bag, personally I use… my old bag which still remembers times of my primary school. Pretty long-living. But if I would choose one again, I would purchase a leather bag with a little hook so you can hang it if needed.
I would love to say that you can leave all the electronic stuff behind while going to your dream Caribbean vacation. But usually, it’s not the option nowadays.
So here’s a handy list of all the electronic stuff that you can bring with you.
The obvious one. Luckily, for most of us, smartphones also play the role of the camera. I still use my Samsung Galaxy S7 for this purpose, until I find a perfect camera for myself. After a few cracks here and there (falling on the windy street of Tarifa in Spain or winding stairs of Bran Castle in Romania) it still works perfectly (since 2016).
Extremely useful gear for selfies! You can purchase a tripod that will work both with phone and camera. The best option is to choose a tripod with remote controller which allows you to take great photos of yourself on your own during your great Caribbean vacations.
If you love to take photos you probably already have proper camera gear. In this case, it’s good to remember to bring with you some extra SD cards to be sure to have enough place for all your great pics. Alternatively, you can bring an external drive if you have your computer with you.
This electronic gear you will probably bring only for longer stays. Since I usually work in travel (aka write blog posts) I always pack my ASUS VivoBook S14 to my travel bag. It was with me in the Caribbean and was doing pretty well. What I love the most about it is the ultra-small weight (only 1.3 kg).
The charging device is especially useful when you plan whole day trips and rely on electronic maps and takes thousands of photos. A power bank can save your day though.
This small device is a perfect thing for people traveling to different countries. In the Caribbean, islands vary if it comes to electricity plugs. So universal adapter might become one of your best friends during a trip.
What to pack for the Caribbean: other gear
Hooray, we have packed all the essentials! Now we can expand this list with some extras which will make your holiday even more joyful.
The Caribbean region is perfect for snorkeling and diving. If you want to admire the underwater world, you should bring at least swimming goggles.
Trust me, it’s worth purchasing one. My waterproof case saved my phone not only once. The Caribbean means beaches, watersports, but also unexpected rains. Phone protection is definitely a must. And once you’ll buy it, keep your phone inside [because otherwise, you might drown your phone as we did – learn from our experiences!].
In some Caribbean islands drinking tap water is totally safe. So water bottle can not only rescue your wallet from unnecessary expenses but also save lots of plastic. For islands where water is not that safe, you can bring Lifestraw bottle which purifies the water from bacterias.
Absolute must-have if you want to enjoy street food and reduce waste at the same time. You can purchase hard-plastic of bamboo cutlery and bring it with you for trips.
Great picnic item. Lunchboxes are perfect if you plan long trips. You can pack your sandwiches or other tasty snacks with you. And I love using foldable boxes made of silicone cause after emptying, they don’t take that much place in your bag.
Useful if you plan some local shopping. In addition to my main sack bag, I always have at least one light cotton bag with me. I also love those old-school string shopping bags. Exotic fruits look so tasty in it!
Caribbean trip planning
In the Caribbean region, there are currently three different currencies in use. There is American dollar in the Virgin Islands, Euro in islands being European overseas territories, and Caribbean dollar on independent islands.
You should better have some local cash if you travel to independent countries cause you might have some problems with using a credit card there. On the other islands, in bigger shops or hotels, you can usually pay with card and use ATMs, but it’s good to have some cash with you as well for smaller expenses.
The costs of your trip may vary depending on different Caribbean islands. I was traveling for two months in Guadeloupe and Martinique and I wrote down every single penny that I spend on this trip. I prepared an informative financial report from this journey which I would like to share with you. You can download it by clicking below!
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Getting to the Caribbean is in fact relatively easy. When I booked my flights to Guadeloupe and Martinique I had used the Skyscanner flight search engine to get the best deal.
On place, you will usually have some different options for transportation. The easiest one is to rent a car because it will give you the biggest flexibility. But you can also use public transport like buses or ferries which will ensure you with some great adventures.
In the Caribbean, you will find plenty of options for your stay. You can choose from all-inclusive hotels, private tourists villas, or even lovely bungalows on the beach.
My number #1 if it comes to finding accommodation is Booking.com. There you can find a perfect place in minutes. Plus, sometimes get a really nice deal.
My number #2, another favorite, is Airbnb. It works pretty well on some Caribbean islands. It lets you rent a cozy local apartment in some great places. I used this platform personally to find my own accommodation in the Caribbean.
And for your first stay with Airbnb, I have a special coupon code for you! By clicking below you will receive 23€ of discount for your first accommodation!
Read more: The best hotel choices in Guadeloupe!
Printable Caribbean packing list
Packing is one of the hardest parts of travel planning. But it can also be one of the most satisfying. Because once you have got you suitcase packed, it the undeniable sign that you’re almost on the road again!
Below you can see my ultimate Caribbean packing list for both men and women. Click it and download in a printable version!
Ready for your perfect Caribbean trip? Share this post with the people going with you and be sure to pack everything for a dream vacation!
Packed already? Check out some more practical information:
- The list of food, drinks, and sweets you must try in the Caribbean
- 8 things that surprised me in the Caribbean
- Guadeloupe or Martinique: which island to choose for a perfect Caribbean vacation?
- 20+ insanely beautiful Caribbean photos to inspire your travel spirit
- 48 Gifts for Boaties: Best Sailing Gifts Ideas for Every Kind of a Sailor
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Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links. That means that if you click on them or make any purchase via them, I receive a small commission. But don’t worry, this will not cost you anything and in a few cases, you can even receive a special discount! And I will still be able to chase my dreams. So thank you!
Dominika is a founder of Sunday In Wonderland and she recently switched her life to be local independent. She aims to travel the world and admire all of its wonders. She is much focused on sustainable life, self-development and making this world a better place.