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What to pack

What To Pack – The Essential List


Ahoy Mates! And Welcome Aboard!

Getting close to your departure for the Virgin Islands and wondering what to pack? You’re not alone. Just about everyone who has come to visit us for the first time has asked for advice.

I remember some of our first visits. We would rent a car as soon as we landed, then drive around to several stores and purchase everything we needed for our week in paradise. And wow! It’s definitely an adventure diving around on these roads. As Kenny Chesney sings in his song, Life on a Rock, “driving on the left side gotta be learned.”

a couple of people sitting around a car



It’s just second nature to us now, but those first couple of visits it was not. More than once, we ended up on the wrong side of the road or came close to rubbing bumpers with another car. Please remember if you rent a car: Stay Left and Go Slow. (No one is in a hurry here anyways!) If someone is tailgating behind you, kindly pull over and let them pass. Just keep your left shoulder next to the shoulder on the left side of the road (Remember: Left Shoulder to Left Shoulder) and you’ll have less chance of getting one of those infamous “Virgin Islands high fives” or losing a passenger-side mirror.




To make your first day on island a little smoother, pack wisely. We’ve put some suggestions together that should help you decide what to pack. (Hopefully, we’ll also prevent you from lugging around unnecessary items.)


Here’s a great quote to keep in mind as you start packing:


“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” 

– Susan Heller


Three Questions to Ask Before Packing


  1. What do you plan on doing? 

If most of your time will be on the beach, make a list of the items you’ll need like sandals, swimsuits, coverups, a tote bag, a hat, and Sunguard shirts. Most villa rentals provide beach towels, chairs, ice chests, and sometimes even beach bags and snorkel gear, but if you’re staying at a hotel, those items may be available but only for use on the property.

a group of lawn chairs sitting on top of a sandy beach

Plan on hiking? You’ll also need good sneakers as some trails can be quite rocky or slippery.

You’ll also want a good daypack to carry essential supplies like water, snacks and reef safe sunblock.


a person sitting on a rock next to a body of water


Any plans for fancy dining? Although most restaurants are fairly casual, women may want to pack a nice sundress, while men might opt for khakis and a collared shirt. (No need for ties.)

Determine ahead of time what you’ll be doing throughout the week and pack accordingly.


  1. Where are you staying?

If you’re staying at a hotel, your needs will be different than if you’re renting a villa. Hotels, in general, often have dress codes, so make sure you know what’s expected of you as you travel from your room to the pool to the restaurants. Ask if your hotel has laundry service. If not, pack extra t-shirts, swimsuits, and shorts to accommodate the tropical climate that will have you sweating, even if you’re merely shopping for the day. (Most villa rentals include washers and dryers, so outfits can easily be laundered and worn again.)


  1. What season is it?


Because the islands are near the equator, temperatures don’t fluctuate much, but the winter months (December through February) generally have slightly cooler temperatures than the rest of the year. Pack a light sweater or wrap to ward off those chilly evenings and pack a lightweight rain jacket, regardless of season, to protect you from those pop-up showers that can occur throughout the year.


What to Pack – Our List


You really can come to the Virgin Islands for a week and put everything you’ll need into a small backpack. If you bring anymore you probably have overpacked.


Essentials to bring for a 7 day trip:

  • Bathing suites (2-3)

  • Bathing suit Cover up (2-3)

  • Shorts (2-3)

  • T-shirt (2-3)

  • Sundress for women (2)

  • Button down / collared shirt for men.

  • Typical toiletries

  • Maybe some favorite light snacks or granola bars

  • Diapers or other Baby Supplies

  • Important papers like travel insurance documents, passports (if planning on traveling to the BVI), health insurance cards, etc.)


Optional things to pack:

  • First Aid Kit

  • Neck Wallet or Fanny Pack

  • Phone Charger

  • Underwater Camera

  • Waterproof Phone Case

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) (Good for protecting sensitive information such as logins and passwords)


Things to purchase here on island:

  • Reef Safe Sunscreen

  • SPF Sun Shirts

  • T-shirts

  • Hats

  • Stainless Steel reusable cup.

  • Groceries

  • Alcohol & Drinks

  • Bug Repellant & Anti-itch Cream

(Island communities rely on tourism for survival so support as many local businesses as possible.)


Things you can rent here:

  • Snorkel Equipment

  • Beach Chairs

  • Sun shades for the beach

  • Baby Equipment (cribs, pack and play, car seats, stollers, etc.)


Save Time, Hire A Provision Service


These days there are several companies who can make your arrival day easier. Known as provision services, they will shop for your groceries and supplies. Some even deliver and put everything away in your kitchen. Please Note: If you want a delivery, you must schedule your delivery well in advance, even if you don’t have your complete list of items ready.

Some of the companies we recommend:


On St. John:


On St. Thomas:


On Tortola:


End Notes: If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends. Have suggestions for future blogs? Send us a note. Then visit our website and book a boat day with Stormy Pirates Charters – we’ll put the gang plank down and escort you in style.


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