Family Walking on Caribbean Beach; Courtesy of TravnikovStudio/
All Ages

What to Pack for the Caribbean: 13 Essentials for Families

See recent posts by Cynthia J. Drake

Your family is headed to the Caribbean for a much needed getaway filled with sun, sea and sand. The only thing that’s left to do: figure out what to pack.

Whether you’re seeking the “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica, liming in Trinidad or jammin’ in Jamaica, here’s what to pack for the Caribbean.

lightweight paperstraw bag

1. Beach Bag

Don’t forget a beach bag that can handle all of your towels and beach accessories. Some great options include this partly mesh bag with several pockets and compartments for all your family gear; this pretty, lightweight paperstraw bag; or a heavy-duty mesh version—see-through to eliminate the need to dig in order to find everything. Bonus: Your beach bag can double as a carry-on bag for the plane. 

Personal Splash Pool

2. Personal Splash Pool

Babies and toddlers at the beach love playing in the sand, but they’re too bitty to make a splash in the ocean. Make their own personal splash pool, such as this bblüv Arenä pop-up beach pool. It’s easy to fold up and transport, and it can provide hours of cool water fun for them to splash around while you’re nearby on the beach.

Dry Pak dry bag

3. Dry Bag

A Caribbean beach vacation is an excellent excuse to invest in a dry bag for your cell phone or other electronics, especially if you plan to take a boat tour. We’ve had a good experience using the Dry Pak. Not only can you use this at the beach without worrying about water damage to your phone, but it will come in handy when you’re traveling with your family throughout the year at pools and water parks.

FlexSae Beach Safe

4. Beach Locker

And speaking of keeping your valuables protected at the beach, consider a miniature “safe” that you can connect to your beach chair and keep your credit cards, phone and other valuables locked away while you’re swimming and playing with your kids. The FlexSafe by AquaVault is a great option that is slash-proof, compact and easy to use.

WildHorn full-face snorkeling mask

5. Full-Face Snorkeling Mask

For years, snorkelers were limited to the old-school mask/snorkel combo that required practice with breathing through the mouth and into a tube and were prone to leaks, pinching and fogging. Enter: the WildHorn full-face snorkeling mask, an integrated mask and snorkel that gives adults and kids a bigger, clearer view of the underwater landscape and also allows you to just breathe normally.

6. SPF Hats

When that Caribbean sun is beating down on your heads, you’ll be glad you packed a little shade for the whole family in the form of hats. There are several cute SPF hat options for babies, kids and adults. Find ones that are collapsible, easy to pack and water resistant.

Related:  Best Sunhats for Babies

Lapasha Rash Guard

7. Rash Guards

It’s lovely to feel the sun on your skin in the Caribbean, but too much sun can leave you with a souvenir sunburn you won’t want to take home with you. In the last few years, options for rash guards for children and parents alike have become easier to find in stores and online. Pair them with swim bottoms or just wear them over your normal bathing suit. Check out these great options for moms from Sbart and ATTRACO, and for kids, a zippered version from LAPASA and whimsical prints from Jxstar.

8. Beach Cover Ups

A trip to the Caribbean calls for a new beach cover-up for mom. Check out some of the sexy, yet functional options available, such as this embroidered cover-up, this cinched beach dress, or this sheer, tasseled cover-up.

Related: #MomGoals – 11 Swimsuit Cover Ups You Need In Your Closet Now

Maxi Dress

Dinner Outfits

When you want to get a little fancy or enjoy a special barbecue on the beach under the stars, a nice dinner outfit will come in handy. 

For the adults, mom can go high or low by accessorizing a maxi dress or sundress, such as this floral, off-the-shoulder option or this dress, available in a tank or short sleeve option and several prints. Dad should go for a classic white cotton button-down shirt paired with tailored jeans or shorts.

Adorable sundresses for girls are everywhere, but we swooned over this cotton print sundress with a peek of lace underneath. Go seersucker for your little guy—you can mix and match these pieces with other items from his wardrobe (like skinny jeans) to dress it up or down.

Paw Patrol Crocs

10. Crocs and/or Sandals

Don’t forget to consider footwear while you’re assembling your packing list. For kids, Crocs can be ideal for slipping on and going between the resort and the beach without a lot of fuss. Crocs also makes a men’s canvas loafer that dad can wear out for a night. For moms, we love these versatile sandals (and tested them on a recent vacation), a stylish and comfortable leather sandal that can go from the beach to dinner.

Related: The Most Comfortable Women’s Sandals

badger zinc oxide sunscreen

11. Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Some of the chemicals commonly found in sunscreens, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, are damaging the world’s coral reefs. One possible solution is to wear rash guards and clothing that protects your family’s skin from the sun without using as much sunscreen (see above for suggestions). Though no sunscreen products may be truly “reef-safe,” despite their claims, another idea is to use a mineral sunscreen made from non-nanotized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, such as Badger Balm Sun Cream. This brand received a “good” rating from Consumer Reports.

12. Makeup Remover

Treat yourself to Farmacy Natural Makeup Remover, which can even tackle your waterproof mascara using natural extracts. We like this product because unlike many “travel” makeup removers, you don’t have the waste from individual wipes.

Buzz Away insect repellent

13. Insect Repellent

Don’t let mosquitoes bite into your island vacay—tuck some insect repellent into your toiletry bag before you leave. If you’re looking for a DEET-free essential oil-based spray, try Buzz Away Extreme, recommended for families with young children.

Related: Natural Bug Repellents for Kids

What to Pack for Your Caribbean Vacation

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