Sun, sand and suitcases: What to bring on vacation to the Caribbean

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Your Caribbean vacation is booked and the excitement of your holiday is growing closer every day. To help you enjoy your time in the tropics, here is a useful guide on what to bring on vacation to the Caribbean, plus a few suggestions on not what to pack, too.

Colorful beach towels on a line by the sea.
Hanging beach towels. Photo credit: Pixabay.


  • Documents and money – Passport and driver’s license are essential. Bring a small amount of cash to cover you for the first couple of days as ATMs can be hard to find at first. Many Caribbean islands will accept the US Dollar, but your change will be issued in the local currency.
  • Sunscreen – This is often very expensive to purchase in the Caribbean with a limited product range. Bring a few bottles of high SPF sunscreen with you and ensure that it is reef friendly.
  • Sunhats – Keep your head out of the sun with a sunhat. If you are on a boat tour, choose a hat that will not blow off into the ocean (and don’t forget to pack the best beach shade for your baby).
  • Sunglasses – Protect your eyes from the sun and look fabulous in paradise with sunglasses.
  • Reusable shopping bags/tote bags – A reusable shopping bag is handy for a supermarket run and can double up as a beach bag, too.
  • Insect repellent – The tropics are full of fierce, thirsty mosquitoes that spread unpleasant diseases such as Dengue and Malaria. Bring a few bottles of strong insect repellent.
  • Tiger balm – this tiny jar of balm is great for insect bites and gives immediate relief.
  • Books and magazines – Hotels may have a small selection of used books to borrow but the Caribbean islands do not have many bookstores, let alone racks of magazines in supermarkets. If you plan to chill in the sun, pack plenty of reading material. Electronic reading devices do not fare too well in heat and water.
  • Ear plugs – The whistling frogs at night can sound like a loud squeaky wheelbarrow and until you get used to the noise, ear plugs are invaluable. They help when your partner is in a rum punch snore, too.
  • Toiletries – keep your toiletries to a minimum. The hot humid climate will result in you sweating moisturizer. A dry shampoo may be more useful than large bottles of liquid shampoo and lighter in your baggage allowance. Makeup should be the bare minimum, as the heat and humidity will melt heavy makeup in 30 minutes. Keep your beach look natural with waterproof mascara and light lipstick.
  • Prescription medications – Bring a good supply of your prescription medicines.
  • Antacids – Overindulging on holiday can occur so keep your favorite antacid on hand. Activated charcoal is also useful for any food issues.
  • Cooling towel – Cooling towels are useful for anyone who needs to stay cool in hot weather. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, and can be used multiple times by simply re-wetting them with water.
accessories for the beach on a bamboo mat
Beach accessories. Photo credit: Pixabay.
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The clothes you bring should be light and breathable fabrics.

Caribbean islands have a conservative dress code in stores and Government buildings. Throwing a flimsy cover up over your thong bikini is not acceptable when shopping. Please don’t bring the People of Walmart to a tropical paradise.

  • Swimsuits – Pack a few swimsuits if you are planning to spend a lot of your time at the beach or by the pool.
  • Shoes – Pack your most comfortable sandals or shoes for exploring. Bring flip flops and water sneakers for the beach. Gentlemen may require closed shoes at some resorts for dinner, so it’s best to check ahead with the dress code. Smart sandals are ideal for the ladies, but if you want heels, it may be best to pack wedge heels as many roads do not have pavements and can be precarious for walking.
  • Long lightweight trousers – as you watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand, the mosquitos and no-see-ums are out in force for a snack. A pair of long lightweight trousers will protect your legs from becoming a trophy wall for these critters, you may want to consider reversible travel clothes and to keep them looking good, take a look at the best travel irons.
  • SPF clothing and a cover up for the beach – protect your skin as you enjoy the sunshine.
Man taking sunset photo with phone
Taking a sunset photo. Photo credit: Pixabay.


Try to keep electronics to a minimum. Focus on recharging yourself and enjoying the island vibe. Try not to bring your most expensive equipment as there is always the possibility of it being lost or stolen.

  • Universal power adapter – The Caribbean islands all vary in their voltage and power outlets. Be prepared with an international adaptor.
  • Camera (with charger) – don’t miss a moment of the crystal blue waters or stunning sunsets.
  • GoPro (with charger) – these are great for taking waterproof action shots.
  • Virtual Private Network – this may or may not work in some Caribbean countries but can be a good source of safety when connecting to WIFI in public places.
  • Roku/Firestick – There can be regional issues with some applications such as Netflix, so download at home and come prepared for any viewing in case of a rainy afternoon.
Caribbean beach with beach chairs and palm umbrellas
Caribbean beach chairs. Photo credit: Pixabay.


Aside from the obvious guns and drugs, there are a few items that you should not bring on your vacation to the Caribbean.

  • Camouflage – the wearing of camouflage in any form is illegal in a few Caribbean islands. Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, St Lucia and Antigua all have strict laws on the importation of any clothing and items resembling the island’s Defense Force uniforms. If your suitcase has a camouflage pattern, it WILL be detained by airport Customs staff, with your clothes placed in plastic bags.
  • Citrus fruit – The importation of citrus fruit such as lemons, limes and oranges is illegal in St Lucia. It is strictly island grown and seasonal.
  • Sex toys – You may be on your honeymoon, but many Caribbean islands have a strict rule against the importation of sex toys.


However beautiful the Caribbean islands are, they are not as developed as other countries and if you think “I can buy it when I get there”, you probably cannot. Bring the essentials, a smile and enjoy the warm hospitality. Explore the islands and make wonderful memories.

Angela is the creator behind Another Rum Punch and currently lives in Saint Lucia. She is also the owner of Pawsome Recipes, spoiling her island dogs with homemade dog food and treat recipes.

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