The Top 9 Things You Forgot to Pack for the Caribbean

I’m so excited that you’re planning a trip to the Caribbean! Can you hear the steel drums and smell the salty sea air yet? Before you get too far ahead of yourself, however, don’t forget to pack! Here are the top 9 things you’re most likely to forget—or just never think to pack in the first place. Not to worry, though. I got you covered!

1. Water Shoes

This is the number one thing my readers tell me they’re SO GLAD I recommended to them! Having your toes in the sand sounds like an iconic, paradise thing to do, right? Well, how about rocky beaches? Feet that accidentally bump into coral and get infected? Also, not all sand is soft or powdery! Water shoes are essential for any beach vacation. Trust me on that!

Take it from my podiatrist: The Ultimate Guide to Travel and Your Feet

2. Dry Bag

This is about to become your new favorite thing. I LOVE my dry bags! They come in a variety of sizes, and not only do they keep the water out during a rainy hike, day at the beach, or on a kayak down the river, they also keep out the sand and dirt! Get yours as a crossbody bag or backpack, and thank me later. 

Also helpful: 5 Things You Forgot to Pack for Hawaii

3. Reef Safe Sunscreen

We all know the importance of covering up with sunscreen and protecting ourselves from skin cancer. But what about the fishies? The coral? The sea turtles? A lot of sunscreen comes off in the ocean, and when you wash off in the shower, those drains all lead to the ocean. (A teaching moment from Nemo.) To keep the sea life healthy and alive for generations to come, use a mineral-based, reef safe sunscreen. There are tons of options these days!

Huge thanks to my dermatologist: Your Ultimate Guide to Travel and Sunscreen

4. A Hat (or two!)

Sunscreen is awesome, but your face and neck may need a little extra shade. Don’t forget a fun beach hat, baseball cap, or my favorite, a visor! (Because, big hair.) My husband and I both wear them almost every day when we visit the islands. 

Read next: How to Pack the Perfect Carry-on

5. Sunglasses

You’re here for the sunshine, right?! But your eyes maybe don’t appreciate seeing spots all day. Toss a pair of polarized sunglasses, and maybe a protective case, into your bag. Your eyes will be grateful, and you’ll also look extra cool!

Read on: How to Shop Local in Your Travels

6. DEET-based Bug Repellent

The downside of an island paradise is… the bugs! You won’t have to worry about malaria unless you’re visiting the island of Hispanola (the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic), but several Caribbean islands are home to illnesses like Zika virus and Dengue fever. Use a bug repellent with DEET (don’t take chances on less-reliable natural bug repellents), and stay away from swampy areas. 

Essential info: Everything You Need to Know about Travel Immunizations (from a travel nurse)

7. Reusable Water Bottle

This isn’t necessarily Caribbean-specific; you can bring one on all of your travels! You’ll be spending a lot of time in the sun, and you’ll probably be pretty active either in or out of the water (or both!), so you’ll want to keep water with you during the day. It just makes sense to fill up the same bottle as needed instead of buying bottles of water once you arrive. Stay hydrated!

Also helpful: 5 Practical Ways to Travel Sustainably

8. Power Adaptor

What kind of adaptor? That depends on the islands you’re visiting! Several Caribbean islands use a North American standard outlet, but you may also see European-type outlets here. On St. Martin/Sint Maarten, you’ll see both!

More here: Your Ultimate Pre-travel Checklist

9. Quick Dry Towel

You’ll be amazed at how handy this towel is on your trip! We never visit an island destination without at least one of these. And because it dries quickly, you can dry it after one last swim and pack it in a flash. Use it as a cover-up, blanket (planes are chilly!), car seat cover (for those muddy hikes), and, of course, as a towel. 

Read next: What to Know Before You Visit the Caribbean

Want more? Get everything you need to plan your Caribbean vacation on my dedicated Caribbean Islands Page!

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