Caribbean Vacation Packing List: Travel Essentials and Island Must-haves

photo of wooden cabin on beach near coconut trees
Photo by Leonardo Rossatti on

Are you preparing for an upcoming Caribbean vacation? Packing can often be a daunting task, but with our detailed packing list, you can rest assured that you won’t forget anything important. The Caribbean is known for its beautiful beaches, warm weather, and vibrant culture, and it’s important to pack accordingly. Our packing list covers all the essential items you’ll need for your trip, from clothing and footwear, to accessories and toiletries. And don’t forget about travel documents, you don’t want to get caught without them. Explore our recommended gear and items by clicking on the linked words and phrases below, to ensure you have everything you need for your next trip.

Explore our recommended gear and items by clicking on the linked words and phrases below, to ensure you have everything you need for your next trip.

Quick Jumps

Know Before You Go

  1. Cultural customs: The Caribbean is home to a rich cultural heritage, with unique traditions, music, and festivals. Visitors should be respectful of local customs and traditions, especially when visiting rural areas and indigenous communities.
  2. Currency: The currency used in the Caribbean varies by island, with the US Dollar, Euro, and local currencies like the Jamaican Dollar and the Haitian Gourde all in use. Consider exchanging some cash before you arrive, as not all places accept credit or debit cards.
  3. Food and drink: The Caribbean is famous for its delicious cuisine, with influences from Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Be sure to try local specialties and sample the Caribbean’s famous rum and tropical cocktails.
  4. Health and safety: The Caribbean is generally considered safe for travelers, but it is important to be aware of common dangers such as theft and street crime. Consider obtaining travel health insurance and taking precautions to prevent illness, especially when engaging in outdoor activities.
  5. Language: The Caribbean is home to a variety of languages, including English, Spanish, French, and Dutch. English is widely spoken in tourist areas, but it is a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in the local language to help you navigate each island.
  6. Packing: The Caribbean has a tropical climate, with warm, humid weather year-round. Pack accordingly, with light, breathable clothing and a hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent for outdoor activities.
  7. Sightseeing: The Caribbean is home to stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and diverse wildlife. Consider visiting popular destinations like the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic, and hiring a local guide to enhance your experience. Whether you prefer water sports, cultural experiences, or simply relaxing on the beach, the Caribbean has something for everyone.
  8. Transportation: The Caribbean is well-connected by air, with regular flights to major islands. Local transportation options, including taxis, rental cars, and public buses, are available on most islands.
  9. Tipping: Tipping is common in the Caribbean, with 10-15% being the standard in restaurants, cafes, and bars. Tipping hotel staff and tour guides is also appreciated.
  10. Visa requirements: Depending on your country of origin, you may need to obtain a visa to enter the Caribbean. Be sure to check the requirements for each island you plan to visit.


  • Swimsuits: Pack at least two swimsuits, so you have a backup in case one gets wet or dirty.
  • Lightweight and breathable shirts: Pack a variety of lightweight, breathable shirts to keep you cool in the Caribbean heat.
  • Shorts or pants: Pack a mix of shorts or pants for different occasions and activities.
  • Cover-up: Pack a lightweight cover-up or sarong to wear over your swimsuit when you’re not in the water.
  • Lightweight and breathable jacket or sweater: Even though it will be warm, it may get chilly in the evening, so pack a lightweight jacket or sweater.

Gear and Accessories

  • Sandals: Pack a comfortable pair of sandals for walking around and going to the beach.
  • Sneakers or closed-toe shoes: Pack a pair of sneakers or closed-toe shoes for activities such as hiking or renting a scooter.
  • Sunglasses: Pack a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun.
  • Day-pack: A small backpack or waist pack to carry essentials for the day or shorter excursions.
  • Hat: Pack a hat to protect your head and face from the sun.
  • Sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Pack a bottle of sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from the sun.
  • Insect repellent: Pack insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other bugs.
  • Caribbean Vacation Travel Guide for maps, recommendations and everything you need to simplify your Caribbean travels.
  • Portable travel pillow for a comfortable sleep on long flights or train rides – preferably one that folds up for easy transportation.
  • Waterproof phone pouch: Keep your devices protected and have peace of mind from the water and sand.


  • Camera: The Caribbean is home to many beautiful landscapes that you’ll want to capture on camera. Make sure you pack a camera, and extra batteries and memory cards.
  • Portable charger: Keep your devices charged while on the go with a portable charger.
  • Headphones to listen to music or podcasts while on the go.

Toiletries and Medications

  • Travel-sized toiletries: Pack travel-sized versions of your essential toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and toothpaste.
  • Medications: Pack any medications you regularly take, as well as any over-the-counter medications you may need.
  • Basic first aid kit including band-aids, painkillers, and any necessary medication to be prepared for any minor accidents or injuries.

Travel Documents

  • Passport: Make sure your passport is up-to-date and pack it with you.
  • Travel insurance: Pack proof of your travel insurance.
  • Cash and credit cards: Pack a mix of cash and credit cards for different types of expenses.

With this comprehensive packing list, you can be sure that you have everything you need for your Caribbean vacation. Remember to pack smart, and not to over-pack. Take only what you need, you can always buy anything else you might need when you get there. And don’t forget to leave some room in your luggage for souvenirs and mementos of your trip. The Caribbean is an amazing place and you want to be able to bring back a little piece of it with you.

Travel right, pack well!

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