Ultimate Beach Packing List 

what to pack for the beach

At Caribbean Journey, we specialize in luxury hotels in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, and many of the items below are available at our preferred hotels. When you book your vacation with one of our Caribbean Travel Specialists, we are available to answer all your questions about what to pack for the beach.  We believe that a well-prepared traveler always has the best time.

Traveling with kids? Read our beach packing list for families with kids.

Already packed? Download a copy of our Pre-travel Checklist!


Beach Bag – Most luxury hotels provide complimentary beach bags in the hotel rooms; however, I always bring along my own. I prefer a mesh option, so the sand stays on the beach and is not carried into my hotel room and suitcase. 

Cash – Only a few all-inclusive hotels have a full-stop ban on cash tipping. For all other hotels, it is nice to have some cash on hand to show your appreciation for anyone that goes above and beyond. I like to carry $10-$20 USD in singles for every day of my trip. A small gratuity is also standard practice for your airport transfer driver or taxi.

Copies of your passports, credit cards (front and back), medical cards, prescriptions, and anything else that would be helpful if you lost the original. I always pack a copy of my passport in a separate bag from where my passport is packed.

Hats – Don’t forget to pack one for every member of the family. The tropical sun is brutal. 

Outfits – A typical day at a beach resort can involve 2 to 3 wardrobe changes. Breakfast + lunchtime could be workout clothes or a swimsuit + coverup. Dinner is usually a sundress or skirt for the gals while guys wear slacks + collared shirts for the finer establishments, or shorts + tees if venturing out to eat local. 

Long Sleeve Shirt, Sweater, or Light Jacket – it’s a common misconception that the Caribbean and Mexico are warm 24/7. The evenings can be quite cool – sea breeze on sunkissed skin will make 75 degrees Fahrenheit feel much cooler. 

Water Bottle – I can’t stand drinking water from plastic bottles for a variety of personal reasons. Bringing your own refillable insulated water bottle will ensure you have easy access to cool water while you enjoy your beach vacation. The water & ice served at all the bars & restaurants goes through a state-of-the-art filtration system. 


There is nothing worse than having your dream vacation negatively impacted by a raging sunburn or an explosion of mosquito bites. When I’m trying to decide what to pack for the beach; I make sure I bring a few remedies to these issues and more.

Bug spray – While all the best resorts in the Caribbean & Mexico maintain a routine mosquito prevention regimen, you will likely find yourself looking for bug spray should you do an off-property excursion or spend an extended amount of time on the beach at dusk. 

Disinfecting Wipes – these have two very different purposes for being included in my travel bag when headed to the beach. First, even pre-pandemic, I was that person who wiped down my personal space on the airplane as soon as I boarded. Secondly, I love to try local flavors, which often means eating from beach stalls or food trucks. Having disinfecting wipes handy gives me added peace of mind above and beyond using my favorite hand sanitizer.

Reef Safe Sunscreen – Sunscreen is one of the highest-priced items in resort gift shops, so pack your own. Please do our oceans a favor and make sure your selection is safe for coral reefs. I usually travel with 3-4 reef-safe sunscreens per trip (body, face, lips, and my personal favorite, a loose powder sunscreen for easy reapplication throughout the day.) 

First Aid Kit – a few band-aids, ointment, safety pins, and medicines for headaches and upset stomachs can make treating a small issue very simple. This is a good starter first aid kit.

Medical Explanation Card – if someone in your party has an allergy or other medical issues, it’s wise to bring some cards explaining it in the native language of your destination. This way, you are armed with something to show the waitstaff or hotel staff if there is a language-based communication concern. 

Vitamin C – Travel equals germ exposure. When you combine that with immune-suppressing actions such as late nights and increased alcohol consumption, you could find that you bring home more than just memories and souvenirs from your vacation. A box of single-serve vitamin C supplements accompanies me on every trip.


Binoculars – especially for when you have an ocean-view room, binoculars can help you spot dolphins, check out boats, and more! Here’s a list of the best ones on the market.

Clips – so many versatile uses for these! Most hotel blackout drapes have a fatal flaw – they don’t quite meet up in the middle. Stick a clip on there and avoid that tiny sliver of light pulling you out of a deep morning sleep! A large enough clip can also help keep your towel in place on your beach chair on a windy day. 

Jewelry Organizer – A travel jewelry case does the best job of keeping necklaces secure if you want to avoid arriving with a tangled mess.

Packing Cubes – total game changer! You can unpack in less than 5 minutes when everything is already organized. I pull these right out of my suitcase and into the drawer – done! 

Reusable  Ziploc Bags – every size, and lots of them. Great for keeping your phone, cards, and cash safe on the beach, and for sticking wet clothes or seashells in for your trip home. Stasher bags are my favorite.

Secure Card Wallet – if you plan to leave the hotel and explore the local markets or other populated areas, a secure card wallet is a good idea to protect your plastic from being scanned and duplicated without your knowledge. Amazon has plenty of RFID-blocking wallets, but I like the collection available from this company

Travel Steamer – some luxury hotels have started providing steamers now. I find that these work so much better than any hotel room iron, so it is worth the space in my suitcase. Here’s a roundup of the best travel steamers on the market.

Waterpoof Phone Case – a sand, water, and slimy kid hand-proof phone case is one of the best things I’ve recently thrown in my suitcase. 

Waterproof Speaker – booked a private plunge pool suite? Then you might be wishing you had a little soft music as the background for what will surely be the most relaxing hotel room you’ve ever stayed in. We are a Sonos loving family, so this one always comes along.


Click here to complete our contact form, and we will reach out to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation. During this call, we will explain our planning process and help you decide if the Caribbean, Mexico, or Central area are good choices to consider for your next family vacation.

PRO TIP // In 2022, there were more cases of lost luggage than ever before. To avoid this, we suggest investing in a product such as Apple Air Tags that can track your luggage while traveling. Additionally, a useful tip is to divide your suitcases, each containing items for all family members, so that if one suitcase is misplaced, everyone will still have access to some essential items. It’s also wise to pack a swimsuit and cover-up in your carry-on bag so that you can enjoy the pool and beach even if your luggage is delayed or your hotel room isn’t available when you arrive.

W H Y    B O O K    W I T H    U S ::

The team at Caribbean Journey consists of talented and experienced travel advisors who have worked in the travel industry for a combined 150+ years. When you book your trip with our Caribbean travel agency, you will have a single point of contact from start to finish and access to our collective wealth of travel knowledge.

This list of what to pack for the beach is the result of those times we showed up in the Caribbean without our favorites… hat, bug spray, sound machine, etc. For years we’ve circulated this list around our office and thought it was time to share! Let’s start planning your next Caribbean vacation! 

Laura Sangster

P I N   T H I S   F O R   L A T E R ::

what to pack for the beach

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