Planning a tropical vacation?

You’re in good company. Almost 30 million people took Caribbean vacations last year.

What’s not to love about a tropical destination?

Hot weather. Unlimited food and free-flowing drinks. Once-in-a-lifetime excursion opportunities.

The only tricky part of a Caribbean vacation is packing for it. You don’t want to forget any essentials. It’s not like you can find a Wal-Mart down the street if you’ve forgotten to pack something important.

Our Caribbean vacation packing list ensures your suitcase has all the necessities. Read on for tips on picking your island wear and all other trip essentials.

1. Sun Protection

Your skin may be used to the sun exposure you receive where you’re from. But the Caribbean sun is a whole different ball game. Even if you don’t use sunscreen at home, you should commit to using it on your vacation.

You’ll need to apply sunscreen every day of your vacation, even if the sun isn’t out. Your body may not feel as warm as it would on a sunny day, but you’re still being exposed to UV rays.

If your vacation is a hot and sunny one, try to stay out of direct sunlight between 10 am and 2 pm. This is when the sun’s rays are the hottest and most damaging.

If you’ll be spending a lot of time in the water, buy sports-specific sunblock. This type is water-resistant and won’t run off even when you get wet.

Don’t forget to pack a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, too.

2. Island Wear

If you’re traveling during the hottest months, expect daylight hours to be very warm. Your tropical vacation outfits should be light in color and weight.

For bottoms, we recommend bringing capris and shorts. Choose fabrics like cotton or linen as they’re light and will dry fast if they get wet. Leave heavy denim clothing at home.

As for tops, sleeveless is the way to go. You can bring some t-shirts, too. But don’t bother with long-sleeve shirts made from heavy fabrics.

Evening weather can get chilly even in the Caribbean. Bring a light sweater or jacket. You might also consider bringing a waterproof jacket, umbrella, or poncho for rainy days.

If you’re going to an all-inclusive, bring a few fancier outfits for dinners out. Many a la carte restaurants have strict dress codes and won’t allow capris or tank tops.

If you’ll be swimming a lot, pack two swimsuits. Swimwear often takes a while to dry, so having a back-up will ensure you’re always ready to go in the pool. Plus, nothing feels ickier than trying to squeeze into a wet suit.

3. Appropriate Footwear

No tropical vacation packing list would be complete without sandals.

Flipflops are easy to slide on and off, but they don’t often provide the most comfort for long walks. Try finding some that are both convenient and comfortable. This shop here has stylish wedge sandals that offer both convenience and comfort.

If you are doing excursions on your vacation, closed-toed shoes are a must. Some activities, like ziplining, require shoes other than sandals.

You’ll want a pair of water shoes for both safety and comfort while you’re at the pool. Conditions like athlete’s foot feed on bare feet, so protection is critical.

A pair of dress shoes will be necessary for those date nights, too.

4. Toiletries

As we mentioned above, at most resorts, you’ll be able to buy the bare essentials. Sunscreen, Tylenol, and feminine hygiene products are almost always available to buy at the resort. You will be paying a premium price for all of these items, though.

Aside from your toothbrush, toothpaste, and razors, there are some toiletries you shouldn’t forget.

The sun can do a number on your lips if you don’t protect them. Be sure to pack lip balm to prevent them from chapping.

Bug spray is an essential item most people tend to forget. Many resorts will use insect foggers to prevent bugs from hanging out at the property. But if you leave the resort for excursions, the bugs can be relentless.

Aloe vera is another excellent product to bring along for after-sun treatment. Aloe gel is a soothing anti-inflammatory that’s been proven to aid in burn and wound care.

5. Your Own Snorkel Gear

Are you planning on snorkeling during your trip? We recommend buying and bringing your own rather than renting.

You never know how gear like this is sanitized between uses. You probably won’t contract a deadly disease from used equipment, but it’s better to be safe.

When you have your own snorkel gear, you can adjust the fit so it’s just right. This will cut back on time wasted in the water fiddling with the equipment to make it fit. Plus, you won’t have to spend time standing in line waiting for a rental or to be fitted properly.

6. Tote or Crossbody Bag

Don’t head down to the beach or on an excursion without a bag to carry your supplies. You won’t want to bring your purse to the beach with you, so a separate bag for your gear is necessary.

You’ll want something big enough to hold everything. Depending on what type of beach-goer you are, you might have a lot of things to tote with you. A bag with separate compartments is handy to keep your items organized.

7. Dry Bag

You won’t want to carry your wet swimsuits and towels in the same bag you brought them in.

A dry bag to store all your soaked gear is an excellent investment. Everything can then be kept separate. You don’t want your dry clothing and electronics getting wet.

What to Pack for a Trip Made Simple

With all your toiletries, bags, and island wear packed, all that’s left to do is enjoy your holiday. Take a lot of photos, but remember to live in the moment, too.

Check out our Travel section for inspiration for your next trip.