WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR VIRGIN ISLANDS VACATION (AND WHAT TO LEAVE AT HOME!)
Your Virgin Islands vacation is coming up fast and you’re wondering what you really need to pack – and what’s a waste of suitcase space. We’re here to help!
In general, things are pretty casual here in the USVI. While we do have a few upscale dining options, a nice sundress and sandals will be acceptable anywhere for women, while a polo shirt and shorts is welcome anywhere for men. Island days are even more laid-back, and function takes precedence over fashion under the Caribbean sun.
So beyond the obvious – swimsuits, swim trunks, and flip flops – what should you pack for a holiday on St. Thomas or St. John? Here’s our quick & easy packing list for what to bring with you on your trip, and what to leave at home.
Sun-protective clothing, ideally rash guards
You’ll likely be spending a bunch of time here being active in the sunshine. There’s so much to see and explore, whether you choose to hike our scenic trails, kayak through the protected mangroves, paddle board along the shoreline, or island hop on a boat for the day. All of these activities mean extended periods under the sun. Because we’re so much closer to the equator down here than you’re likely accustomed to, the sun’s rays are much more intense. Rash guards are an amazing way to keep your main torso, shoulders, and arms protected; they’re light weight and quick drying when you’re in and out of the water.
Fitted, wide-brimmed hats
Your head and face will benefit from a hat as sun protection, too. One with a wider brim will keep you looking like Rudolph at the beach bar later, and one that’s fitted (or better yet, has straps) will keep it from being taken in the wind.
If you plan on joining us for a tour that includes kayaking, hiking, and/or snorkeling like our most popular Cas Cay tour, water shoes aren’t necessary but are always a huge advantage. Water shoes give you traction when navigating a rocky coastline, and dry quickly when you go from walking through the shallows to climbing a gravely trail. If you don’t have water shoes, sandals with straps are a good alternative. While you can participate in flip flops, they tend to be slippery and we’ve seen many a flip flop bust its strap on a hike, making for an uncomfortable trek home for its wearer.
Waterproof phone case
These days, our phones go with us everywhere because they’re also our cameras. And the scenery here is so gorgeous, you’ll likely leave with hundreds of photos to document every stunning sunrise, view from the bow of a boat, and sunset cocktail. Everything in the islands is all about the water, and you’ll be on or around it constantly. Having a waterproof case for your phone will protect it from tragedy; all it takes is one stumble along the sand for it to end up in the sea. A water proof case is also useful for when you want to bring your phone for pictures while out boating, kayaking, and paddle boarding.
Life jackets for littles under 30 lbs
Traveling with a baby or toddler? Most tours and boat trips will have life jackets for everyone, but many don’t have the smallest sizes available. You will need an appropriately sized life jacket for your children that are under 30 lbs in order for them to participate in our tours or join in on boat trips.
A juicy beach read
Our Maho Bay beach pass has everything you need to relax and play all day on this breathtaking stretch of sand. Sitting in a chair, soaking up the view with the company of a good book is the perfect post-snorkel activity.
Fancy shoes like high heels
You’ll be walking on docks, down slopes, and through sand constantly, even on your way to dinner. Not only do you not want to bring anything that a little sand scuffing would ruin, tottering in heels on a hill is impractical and dangerous. Trust us – after a couple of Painkillers at happy hour, you’ll be happy you’re wearing flats.
Traditional sunscreen with ocean-damaging chemicals
While you’ll definitely want to protect yourself with sunscreen, please leave the chemical-laden mainstream brands back at home. Everything on your body will end up in the ocean and toxic ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate irreparably damage our reefs and marine life. Look for sunscreens labeled as “reef-safe” or “reef-friendly” before you buy.
Water sports gear
We’ve got you covered here, so you can leave these bulking items at home. We have fins, masks, snorkels, floats, beach chairs, paddle boards, and more available for rent by the hour, day, or even the week.
We hope this handy guide to packing for your Virgin Islands vacation was helpful to you. Please feel free to click around our new website – we want to make planning your trip as simple and easy as possible, which is why we’ve made booking an array of USVI activities accessible to you here, all in one place.
See you soon, island friends!