Updated on May 11, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
Check out this comprehensive Caribbean Packing List, which will also touch on what to wear in the Caribbean, what NOT to bring, and other FAQs.
What to Pack for the Caribbean – 17 Essentials
1. Packing Cubes
2. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger
3. Universal Waterproof Phone Case
4. Neck Wallet
5. Carry-on Bag
6. Universal Power Adapter
7. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Protect your private information such as passwords and credit card numbers with a good VPN while traveling. This is essential, particularly when connecting to WiFi sources in public places like airports, cafes, or hotels, where you’ll want to be sure to keep your information safe from potential hackers.
9. Travel Insurance for the Caribbean
10. Sun Hat
11. Water Shoes
12. Quick-Dry Towel (VPN)
15. Swimsuit Cover Up
16. Gorgeous Dress
17. Activated Charcoal
Don’t forget these other items for a Caribbean vacation:
SPF lip balm
Steripod Toothbrush Cover
Hard Copies of Vital Documents
TSA Approved Travel-Sized Bottles
Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes
ATM Card With No International Fees
Hanging Toiletry Case
Noise Cancelling Headphones
Watch or Alarm Clock
Aloe Vera Gel
Sand-Resistant Beach Blanket
Camera Flotation Strap
Over the Counter Medications
What to wear in the Caribbean
For evenings out to dinner or drinks, be prepared with a nicer outfit, such as a stylish dress or top, a nice pair of khakis, and attractive sandals.
When visiting the Caribbean, men should pack casual, versatile, and lightweight clothing such as t-shirts, shorts, polos, and swimwear. Prepare for hot, tropical weather, and make sure to leave valuables at home. Be sure to bring some collared polo shirts, perhaps in light, fun colors, which can be worn during the day or out to dinner. Men will also want to bring a pair of long pants, as restaurants in many resorts require nicer evening wear.
There are only two seasons in the Caribbean, rainy season and dry season. During the dry season which runs from February to June, you can expect warm, sunny weather and the occasional tropical rain shower. The wet season runs from July to January, with hurricane season taking over from June to November. Temperatures in the Caribbean remain in the 80s°F (~27°C) throughout the year.
DRY SEASON – February, March, April, May, June:
The best time to visit the Caribbean is during dry season. You can expect warm, clear days with lots of sunshine and the occasional tropical rain shower. Temperatures in most of the Caribbean islands remain in the 80s°F (~27°C) year round. Pack light, breezy clothing and plenty of swimwear to enjoy the gorgeous tropical weather when visiting during dry season.
WET SEASON – July, August, September, October, November, December, January:
Wet season in the Caribbean results in more days of rain and less days of sunshine. Hurricane season runs in the middle of wet season, from June to November, often causing flooding and damage to the islands. If you plan to visit the Caribbean during wet season, be prepared with a sturdy umbrella and raincoat, though temperatures will still be in the 80s°F (~27°C) the entire season.
Sightseeing – Regardless of which island you’re visiting, the Caribbean is full of much to see and explore, from hidden beaches to tropical rainforests, to local towns and markets. Be prepared with comfortable clothing, walking shoes, sunglasses, and a daypack, and always check the weather before leaving your resort or Airbnb.
Adventure Excursions – If you plan to explore the islands on excursions or partake in adventure activities, be sure to pack accordingly. Bring comfortable walking or hiking shoes, and athletic, waterproof clothing. Be prepared with the proper attire in case you decide to rock climb, spelunk into a cave, or wind surf!
Beach – Be sure to pack plenty of swimsuits and coverups that will dry quickly on a clothesline or balcony so you’ll be ready to soak up the sun at the beach. Sunglasses, sandals, flip flops, and sunhat will also surely come in handy. A sarong is a great multi-purpose item, and can double as a beach blanket if you want to lay out in the sun!
Evenings Out – During your Caribbean vacation, you will likely have opportunities to enjoy nice dinners and nightlife activities. In some places, you may also want to venture into the city center to experience the local nightlife. Whatever you plan to do, be sure to bring at least one nice outfit, for women, a stylish top or dress, and for men, a nice shirt and long pants. Some Caribbean islands tend to be a bit more conservative, so research your destination ahead of time to find out if you should dress more conservatively when leaving the resort.
What NOT to bring to the Caribbean:
2) DON’T BRING a Hair Dryer: The Caribbean islands are notoriously humid. If you must dry your hair, almost all hotels will have a hair dryer you can use. Consider giving in to the tropical Caribbean climate and letting your hair dry naturally.
3) DON’T TAKE too many clothes: Because the weather in the Caribbean is so tropical and hot, you will likely be spending the majority of your trip on the beach or in the water, and you’ll really only need one or two nicer outfits for evenings out. Be sure to pack versatile clothing you can wear more than once, and if you end up needing it, nearly every hotel has a laundry service that will be available to you.
5) DON’T BRING Unnecessary Valuables: Things can get lost on the road, and there’s always some risk of pickpocketing and theft when traveling anywhere. Unless it’s a true necessity, like a smartphone or kindle, be sure to leave valuables like flashy jewelry or expensive electronics at home.
6) DON’T TAKE Heavy Sweaters or Jackets: Regardless of whether you’re visiting during dry or wet season, temperatures in the Caribbean will remain warm and tropical year round. Though you might consider packing a rain coat, you’ll mostly be wearing shorts and beachwear, so leave your cold weather clothing at home.
FAQs about traveling in the Caribbean
1. What’s the best time of year to visit the Caribbean?
Weather-wise, December to April are the ideal months to visit the islands of the Caribbean. However, it might be worth your while to visit during off-season if you’re budget conscious and don’t mind the rain. Check local weather conditions throughout the year, and plan from there!
2. Which languages are spoken in the Caribbean?
There are six official languages spoken in the Caribbean:
- Spanish (official language of Cuba , Dominican Republic , and Puerto Rico )
- French (official language of Guadeloupe , Haiti , Martinique , St. Barthelemy , French Guiana and St. Martin )
- English (official language of Anguilla , Antigua and Barbuda , Bahamas , Barbados , British Virgin Islands , Cayman Islands , Dominica , Grenada , Guyana , Jamaica , Montserrat , Puerto Rico , St. Kitts and Nevis , St. Lucia , St. Maarten , St. Vincent and the Grenadines , Trinidad and Tobago , Turks and Caicos Islands , and U.S. Virgin Islands )
- Dutch (official language of Aruba , Bonaire , Curaçao , Saba , St. Eustatius , St. Maarten ,
and Suriname ) Haitian Creole (official language of Haiti )
- Papiamento (a Portuguese and Spanish-based Creole language) (official language of Aruba , Bonaire and Curaçao )
For the most part, though, English is widely spoken throughout the Caribbean, so you won’t have any communication issues in popular tourist areas.
3. What kind of adapter do I need to bring?
In most of the Caribbean, G power sockets are used. However, be sure to research ahead of time which type of adapter the country you’re visiting uses, and if you’re not sure, invest in a handy International Power Adapter which will cover you in any case.
4. Do I need any vaccines before my trip?
Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines are recommended for most Caribbean islands, especially if you plan to leave popular resort zones and explore rural areas. Regardless of which island you plan to visit, it is strongly recommended that you consult a travel medical clinic at least three weeks before departure to check whether vaccinations are needed.