17 Top Caribbean Packing List Items for 2020 + What to Wear & NOT to bring

press logos
press logos

Updated on May 11, 2020 by Asher Fergusson

The Caribbean is filled with gorgeous islands, crystal clear waters, and stunning landscapes. This region is one of the world’s most popular destinations for travelers, and for good reason. Though the majority of the islands are hot and humid year round, the Caribbean also experiences a rainy season, so you’ll need to be prepared with what to bring.

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

Keep yourself organized on your trip with these color-coded packing cubes! If you’ve ever been overwhelmed trying to find a specific item as you frantically dig through your luggage at the airport, these packing cubes are for you. With space on the outside to label the contents of each cube and a separate case for dirty laundry, keeping your items organized and accessible is truly easier than ever.

View on Amazon.com ➜

aqua packing cubes

2. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

A great thing to have whenever your traveling is a handy lipstick-sized portable charger. Whether you’re using your smartphone for photos, navigation, or to connect with someone back home, you’ll want to be prepared if you run out of battery at an inopportune moment. A backup external battery has saved us on several occasions and we never travel without one!

View on Amazon.com ➜


3. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

Bringing a waterproof phone case on your Caribbean vacation is a must. Whether you plan to hike through the rainforest, swim in waterfalls, or want to take photos and videos underwater, you’ll need to make sure your smartphone is protected from sand and water. This case will give you peace of mind as you enjoy all your water sports and activities.

View on Amazon.com ➜

universal waterproof phone case

4. Neck Wallet

No matter where you’re traveling to, it always pays to bring a neck wallet with you. This one will help keep all your important items organized and easily accessible when you embark on Caribbean excursions. Large enough to hold your phone, passport, keys, credit cards, and cash, this neck wallet can be worn beneath your clothes to help you avoid being the target of pickpockets or petty crime.

View on Amazon.com ➜

neck wallet

5. Carry-on Bag

Your carry-on bag has to be small enough to fit in the plane’s overhead compartment and comfortable for you to carry. Be prepared by bringing your toiletry case, medications, and a change of clothing in your carry-on, as delayed luggage is a common occurrence in the Caribbean. Your carry-on can also be used as a day pack which will be useful on excursions during your trip, or as a beach bag to hold your essentials while you’re soaking up the sun.

View on Amazon.com ➜

Osprey daypack

6. Universal Power Adapter

The various Caribbean islands differ in their voltage and power outlets. Be prepared with a handy international adapter to ensure you’ll be able to plug in everything you need. We love this one because it comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee!

View on Amazon.com ➜


7. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

virtual private networkProtect 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.

View NordVPN.com Options ➜


8. Camera

Whether you’re headed to the Bahamas or Barbados, the Caribbean has no shortage of absolutely stunning views. Let your pictures do the talking, and bring a camera to capture all the dreamy sunsets over the ocean and the old-fashioned cars of Cuba! This camera is great because it is high quality and small enough to carry with you wherever you go.

View on Amazon.com ➜

Canon digital camera

9. Travel Insurance for the Caribbean

Be sure to purchase travel insurance when visiting the Caribbean. You never know what can happen when traveling to another country and you won’t want to be stuck without it in case of emergency. We recommend World Nomads because they will cover your costs for lost luggage, stolen items, flight cancellations, and medical bills should it be necessary.

View their plans at WorldNomads.com ➜

World Nomads Logo

10. Sun Hat

Especially if you’re prone to sunburn, a wide-brimmed sun hat can be a lifesaver on your tropical vacation. We like this one for several reasons. Not only is it relatively inexpensive and can be worn for a day at the beach, but it will also protect your neck on more adventurous endeavors like hiking or going out on a boat.

View on Amazon.com ➜

sunhat

11. Water Shoes

The Caribbean is full of fun and exciting water activities to enjoy, from hiking thorough tropical terrain to splashing in waterfalls, and you’ll want to be prepared to do it all. We love these water shoes because they’re lightweight and breathable, and they provide excellent traction when walking in wet and slippery conditions.

View on Amazon.com ➜

water shoes

12. Quick-Dry Towel (VPN)

When traveling to the Caribbean, a quick-dry travel towel is absolutely essential. Bring it with you on an adventurous excursion, to a yoga session, or use it as a quick-drying solution to your beach towel. We love this one because it’s super absorbent and compact, making it easily portable and incredibly useful.

View on Amazon.com ➜

Green quick dry towel

13. Swimsuit

A swimsuit is essential for any Caribbean vacation. This one is sleek, versatile, and stays put so that you can swim, dive, walk along the beach, or even hike through the jungle. Bring two swimsuits so that you’ll always have a dry one to put on.

View on Amazon.com ➜

women's bikini

14. Sunglasses

Due to the region’s proximity to the equator, the Caribbean’s tropical sun is particularly strong. You’ll need to make sure to protect your eyes, especially since you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors. Be sure to bring sunglasses with UV protection like these, which are stylish and not too expensive if you’re prone to losing your shades.

View on Amazon.com ➜

two pairs of unisex sunglasses

15. Swimsuit Cover Up

A lightweight swimsuit cover up is something that will likely come in handy every day of your Caribbean vacation. Throw it on over your swimsuit when you head to the beach, pool, or a seaside cafe. This one is great because it’s trendy and breathable and looks great on a variety of body types, plus it comes in several different colors.

View on Amazon.com ➜

swimsuit cover up

16. Gorgeous Dress

You’ll want to bring at least one nice outfit for dinners and nights out during your trip to the Caribbean. This gorgeous dress is great because it doesn’t wrinkle easily, is relatively inexpensive, and looks great on a wide range of body types. This dress is perfect to slip on after the beach and switch from day to night with total ease.

View on Amazon.com ➜

gorgeous dress

17. Activated Charcoal

The Caribbean is filled with a variety of delicious tropical flavors and you’ll likely want to try them all. That said, your body may be unused to the germs or ingredients native to the region, and you don’t want to end up spending days of your vacation locked away in the bathroom. Activated charcoal will quickly absorb and expel the toxins in your body to keep you healthy and happy throughout your entire trip.

View on Amazon.com ➜

activated charcoal
 

Don’t forget these other items for a Caribbean vacation:


 

What to wear in the Caribbean


When you visit the Caribbean, be sure to pack plenty of casual, beachy clothing. The majority of your days will likely be spent outdoors, so dress for lots of sunshine and the occasional tropical rain shower. Bring swimsuits, tank tops, loose shorts, cover ups and sundresses and don’t forget sunglasses, sun hats, or visors to protect you from the sun. As far as footwear, sandals and flip flops are Caribbean staples, and you should also consider bringing a good pair of water shoes and sturdy walking or hiking boots for excursions.

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.

What should WOMEN wear in Caribbean? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).













In the Caribbean, women should wear comfortable, cute, beachy clothing. Different islands have different customs, so do a little research before you pack your thong bikini or short shorts. Keep it loose and breezy, and bring at least one nice dress for evenings out and nicer dinners. Leave expensive jewelry at home.

What should MEN wear in Caribbean? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).













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.

How to dress for different activities in the Caribbean – (Click to expand)

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:


1) 🚫 DON’T PACK High Heels: Many roads in the Caribbean are unpaved, and wearing high heels would be unnecessarily difficult. You won’t need your heels for the beach, and nights out in the region tend to be more casual, so you’ll be more comfortable in stylish sandals or flats.

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.

4) 🚫DON’T PACK Lots of Cash: ATMs are plentiful in the Caribbean so you don’t need to worry about bringing a ton of cash. It’s best to separate your cash and credit cards into different cases or parts of your luggage and not to have too much on you at once, so as to minimize the risk of pickpocketing and petty theft.

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.

What clothing should I NOT wear in the Caribbean? – (Click to expand)

For an island vacation, leave your warm winter clothes at home. Don’t pack overly fancy clothing or jewelry, but instead opt for easy, breezy, casual attire. For hiking and adventure activities, don’t bring heavy boots or socks; stick with sturdy, waterproof sandals like Tevas instead. You’ll want to bring plenty of swimwear, flip flops, t-shirts, and sundresses, and avoid packing anything that is slow to dry, such as wool or cotton.

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.