If you are planning a holiday to the Caribbean, it can be challenging to know just what to pack. After all, bringing the right belongings really does depend upon your intended activities and your personal lifestyle. For example, the person who intends to dedicate themselves to the beaches, a bit of shopping and a bit of sightseeing will have different packing needs over the traveler who intends to stay in a five-star resort with upscale dining establishments, more formal events and an array of excursions or activities.
Even so, it is possible to use a few savvy packing tips from experts and islanders alike, and avoid lugging around some bags full of things you may never put to use during your stay. To make things even more efficient, let’s first consider issues like climate, items most have packed and never used, and those super useful things that most find they did not bring but actually needed.
Consider the Climate
The Caribbean climate is very moderate but it also depends on your elevation. Though the prevailing, northeast trade winds are reliable and keep things comfortable, when you are at sea level the temperatures will often hold steady at roughly 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on the season), but go upward into the hills of some Caribbean islands and you will find temperatures during the day as low as 50 degrees.
Though it may not seem that islands could have defined seasons, they do, and during the winter seasons you will notices that daylight hours are shorter than in the summer months. However, unlike many parts of the world with a very defined spring, summer, autumn and winter, the islands of the Caribbean tend to have a distinctly rainy season and a drier season that are a match to the spring/summer, autumn/winter seasons of the northern hemisphere.
Some islands receive much more rain than others, and if you are on the windward side of any island or in the mountains, you can expect more rain than the leeward areas. Islands without many mountains, or even flat islands (there are several), do not get as much precipitation either. There is also the issue of hurricanes, but these appear during a very clearly defined season that typically runs from June to November, with modern science being able to identify and predict them with great accuracy.
What this means to a savvy traveler is that their packing should be dictated by the time of year they will visit, and the general geography of the island or the location of their luxury villa or accommodation. If it is likely that you will experience some rain, do bring lightweight rain gear as it can allow you to still get out and see some of the sights comfortably.
What NOT to Pack
If you trust the advice of many long-time island residents, most will insist that the casual traveler who intends to stay in a private villa or accommodation, head to the beaches or make casual explorations will need very limited packing. Some go to the extreme and say that two bathing suites, one or two shirts, one or two pairs of shorts, a dress or sarong for women and some flip flops will do the trick. Naturally, that is not as comprehensive as most would like, but most can skip dress shoes or heals, hair dryers, multiple swim suits or beach covers, and lots of jewelry.
What You MUST Pack
While lightweight clothing, including a few “going out” ensembles is a good idea, as well as multiple bathing suits, some rain gear and a light jacket for cooler nights, don’t forget a beach tote, good sunglasses, excellent sun guard, lip balm with SPF, a great hat and some bug spray if you are going on an excursion. Most experienced Caribbean travelers know that they will wear the two or three ensembles they pack when going out, and enjoy optimally comfortable clothing for the rest of their stay. This means you can pack light and focus on enjoying your stay.