Your flights are booked, the hotel is ready to go, and the beaches are awaiting you. All that’s left for your trip to the US Virgin Islands is packing your bag – a crucial step to ensure a memorable and hassle-free journey. Thankfully, my US Virgin Islands packing list is here to help.
I work in the tourism sector as a Boat Captain on St. Thomas – I know firsthand the importance of being well-prepared for an island adventure. Many items below complement your upcoming adventures, while others are critical for your health, safety, and enjoyment.
Read on to discover everything you need to pack to make the most of this tropical paradise in the US Virgin Islands!
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!
US Virgin Islands Packing Checklist
A GoPro is an excellent addition to your travels in the USVI, even if all you do is sit on the beach. The durability, utility, and ease of downloading and editing videos and photos before posting to your social media are unmatched.
Travel Snorkel Set
Most beaches in the US Virgin Islands have something cool to see underwater directly from shore – sea turtles, eagle rays, or expansive coral reef systems. And that’s not even considering the many snorkel locations accessible via a boat charter.
I always recommend bringing a travel snorkel set like Cressi’s Palau. By bringing the snorkel set to whichever beach you end up on, you open yourself up to endless underwater exploration.
Packable Beach Blanket
The beauty of the Virgin Islands resides on the many pristine beaches accessible only after hiking. Many of these fall within the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John or east end beaches on St. Croix. But how will you carry all the beach necessities if you’re hiking?
My wife and I religiously use this Parasheet by Grand Trunk during our beach days. Even if we’re not hiking, it’s still a handy, water- and sand-resistant product, plus lightweight and compact. We keep it in the back of our truck in case the sea calls!
Virgin Islands National Park on St. John is my top pick for places to visit in the USVI. Plan accordingly with this weather-resistant adventure map from National Geographic. It’s fun to see your hiking routes around the park, secluded beaches, and the historic ruins sprinkled on the hillsides like Annaberg Sugar Plantation.
With so many adventures scattered throughout the islands, whether it’s a day trip to Water Island, beaching on St. Thomas, or hiking on St. Croix, a daypack is an absolute must to bring adventure essentials like sunscreen and water.
The Osprey Daylite is a mainstay at Travel Lemming as it’s featured in many of our other packing lists, including Colorado and Mexico – it’s just that good, durable, and versatile. The Virgin Islands and the Caribbean are no exception.
Reusable Water Bottle
Freshwater is a precious commodity in the Caribbean, with most of the potable water in the Virgin Islands coming from rainfall. That’s why it’s essential always to bring a water bottle wherever you go – drinking fountains are not readily available.
You could buy plastic bottled water, but that’s wasteful, especially since the USVI has no recycling infrastructure. So it’s best to pack a reusable water bottle like this one from Hydro Flask.
Eco-friendly Insect Repellent
I don’t know why, but I’ve never had a significant problem with bug bites since moving to the Virgin Islands. Conversely, my wife has had horrendous issues with insects seemingly within seconds of stepping outside. If you fall in the latter category, I’d highly recommend bringing eco-friendly and travel-sized bug spray.
In the US Virgin Islands, the sale of standard, or non-reef-safe sunscreen, is strictly prohibited. That’s without mentioning the obvious benefits of using reef-safe sunscreen for our environment. Sure, you could purchase some when you arrive, but why pay the extra markup in the islands when you can bring it and save a few bucks?
If you have space in your luggage, consider bringing a few bottles of this mineral sunscreen by All Good. It’s reef-safe and ultra-effective at protecting your skin from the intense UV rays in the Caribbean.
I’ve been working as a Captain aboard boats in the tropics for years, and the best pair of sunglasses I’ve ever owned – built for the ocean, the beach, and adventure – are from Costa Del Mar. They’re durable, sleek, and comfortable sunglasses, perfect for any tropical outdoor adventure.
Whether on a boat day, poolside, or drinking a PainKiller on the beach, chances are your personal effects, like your phone, wallet, or keys, will be put into risky (and wet) situations in the Virgin Islands.
As someone who works on the water daily, I always keep this dry box by Pelican in my bag. I’m going two years incident free with no water leakage. Because of this gadget, I’ve had a dry phone, wallet, cash, and keys for years.
Small First Aid Kit
Even with basic items, a first aid kit can keep a not-so-good situation from devolving into an emergency. This small, handy mini first aid kit is perfect for any travel situation and Caribbean packing list.
VisitorsCoverage is a travel insurance marketplace where you can quickly compare quotes from hundreds of insurers -- all it takes is a minute to enter your details!
Always prepare for the unexpected. That’s why it’s critical to consider travel insurance even on this US Virgin Islands packing list. Because you never know.
Stuck in a hurricane? Lost or stolen gear? Canceled flights? Medical emergency? Comprehensive travel insurance can help alleviate potential financial burdens.
Packing light means effectively compressing your necessities into a tighter area. I’ve yet to encounter a toiletry bag that serves this purpose more effectively than Osprey’s Ultralight Zip Organizer. That way, you can pack more souvenirs on our journey home from the USVIs!
Although the US Virgin Islands are safe for tourists, petty crime occasionally rears its ugly head (much like anywhere else). One of the most common crimes is for someone to quickly swipe your belongings on the beach when you go for a swim. Although it’s a rarity, it can happen to anyone.
Prepare accordingly with this handy vault designed for beachgoers. You’ll be happy you got it when you can swim or snorkel in peace, knowing your phone, wallet, and cash are safe from theft.
The best way to experience the Virgin Islands is from the deck of a boat, on a beach, or in the water in some capacity. You’re simply doing it wrong otherwise. And as such, if you have long hair, you’ll find some reprieve in using a leave-in conditioner after all those saltwater outdoor activities.
My wife uses this leave-in conditioner by Stream2Sea every time we go scuba diving. She’s been using it for years and swears by it.
Quick Dry Towel
A quick dry, packable microfiber towel must be on any US Virgin Islands packing list. These small, lightweight, practical towels are perfect for a beach day, hiking, poolside, or boat trip. Again, I keep one of these in my bag when working as a Captain in the USVI, and it has never failed me.
Other US Virgin Islands Essentials to Pack
- Toiletries (deodorant, toothpaste, etc.)
- Phone Charger
- Beach Bag
- Power Bank
- Books or Reading Tablet
- Laptop and Charger
- Dramamine (for boat days!)
- Contact Lens Solution
- Cooling Towel (If you’re susceptible to sweating in the heat)
Clothing to Pack for the US Virgin Islands
I recommend bringing enough clothes for 7 – 10 days with a heavy emphasis on sun and UV protection. Think beyond the vacation-standard layers of sunscreen. You can only reapply sunscreen so many times in one day. The Caribbean sun is intense, and the best way to protect your skin is to cover yourself up.
Think about the practical clothing pieces that assist with all the exciting outdoor and water activities you’ll do during your stay, like hiking, snorkeling, beaching, sailing, and scuba diving. Otherwise, the average temperature is around 80° F most of the year, with the rainy season occurring from June through November. Evenings tend to be a bit cooler with a mild breeze.
Evening attire is exceptionally casual in the Virgin Islands, with sundresses or simple button-downs suitable for most occasions. As someone who lives here, I often wear flip-flops and a casual shirt out on the town, with most of my wardrobe dedicated to combatting the intense sunlight.
So what clothing should you pack for the US Virgin Islands? Here is a quick clothing checklist for the USVI:
- 2-3 pairs of shorts
- 2-3 sundresses
- 1-3 bathing suits
- 1 ball cap or sunhat
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of hiking sandals
- 1 pair of water shoes
- 1 pair of walking shoes (only if you plan to work out during your stay)
- 7 pairs of underwear
- 1 light raincoat
- 1 light sweatshirt or jacket for cooler evenings
- 2-3 neck gaiters for sun protection
- 2-3 short-sleeved shirts, tank tops, or T-shirts
- 3-4 sun shirts (long-sleeve, UPF rating)
- 1-2 light and airy dress shirts
- 2-3 pairs of socks
- 1 beach coverup
Most hiking trails in the US Virgin Islands culminate their descent into white-sand beaches making traditional hiking boots somewhat impractical for most USVI hiking trails.
🥾 Know Your Limits: If you’re not as nimble on your feet, I recommend still using traditional hiking boots on trails like the Annaly Bay Tide Pools on St. Croix, John Brewers Rock on St. Thomas, and Reef Bay Trail on St. John.
Upon your arrival, go ahead and look around. You’ll quickly notice that flip-flops are practically the law of the land in the US Virgin Islands. They’re suitable for many jobs, a day on the beach, around town, or an evening out.
I’ve worn this pair of Chaco’s for years (admittedly, on my second pair after the first broke after four years of heavy wear and tear), and I don’t know if I’ll ever wear any other.
Bucket Hat or Sun Hat
Any hat is necessary, with bucket hats being the most practical. After years of working in the sun on a boat, I’ve learned my ears have been exposed far more than they should be. This bucket hat by Salt Life helps resolve this issue.
UPF Long-Sleeve Shirts
Clothing with a UPF rating is the only shirt you should wear during outdoor activities in the Caribbean. I love long-sleeve shirts by Columbia for most adventures on the water or beach. My wife also loves their women’s line of hooded long-sleeve shirts for her marine science workdays in the outdoors.
Lightweight Rain Jacket
I’ll be honest, there’s not a ton of things to do in the US Virgin Islands on a rainy day. Outside of a few museums on St. Thomas or the distilleries on St. Croix, chances are you might be making the best of it outside despite a rain cloud.
That’s why I pack a lightweight rain jacket whenever I leave the house. Rainstorms typically don’t last too long here, but they can bring heavy rain when they occur.
Swimming, diving, or snorkeling without a rashguard is an easy and often-forgotten way to get sunburned, stung, or scuffed up.
Think about it: your back is exposed to the sun for a snorkel. A marine specimen decides to swim past and give a little sting. Or you accidentally bump into the reef. All of these become no big deal if you simply wear a rashguard in the water!
US Virgin Islands Packing Tips
Sun Protection is the Most Important
If I haven’t stressed this enough, protecting your skin from the sun is paramount to help prevent long-term skin damage. It’s hot here year-round, and you will be inclined to dress down. However, wearing long-sleeve UPF clothing, a hat, and other coverings are essential so you don’t burn quickly.
Abide by the Unspoken Dress Code
The unspoken but assumed dress code is reserving beach and bathing suit attire for the beach or pool. Culturally speaking, walking around town, aboard public transit, or into places of business shirtless or in a bikini is deemed incredibly offensive.
Prepare for Wet Season
The wet season in the US Virgin Islands isn’t too rainy compared to other tropical destinations. Rain clouds tend to last a short time before moving on. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare, though. If you’re traveling to the USVI between June and November (the cheapest time to visit), I recommend packing a light rain jacket and umbrella.
Bring Your Passport to Visit the British Virgin Islands
Although you don’t need a passport from the mainland United States to visit the US Virgin Islands, you will need one if you plan to travel to the British Virgin Islands.
Day trips into the BVIs from St. Thomas or St. John are incredibly popular. So if you plan on visiting The Baths on Virgin Gorda or Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, even for a day, don’t forget your passport!
Laundry is Readily Available
Most hotels, resorts, and private vacation rentals can access laundry facilities. On the off chance they do not, laundromats are frequently sprinkled throughout the island.
US Virgin Islands Packing List: FAQs
What Do You Wear on a Plane in the Virgin Islands?
Wearing clothes for cooler temperatures and often blasting air-conditioning is a great way to remain comfortable and save space in your luggage on a plane to the Virgin Islands. Once you arrive, be sure to have something lighter underneath to shed into because the weather in the Virgin Islands is always warm!
What Should I Pack for a Trip to the Virgin Islands?
You should pack enough clothes for at least 7 – 10 days with a heavy focus on outdoor attire, including UPF shirts, hats, bathing suits, and shorts. Flip flops and one pair of shoes are suitable for an evening out. You won’t need clothes for cold weather except for your airplane ride to the islands!
What Do People Wear in the Virgin Islands?
Almost everybody in the Virgin Islands dresses casually. T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops are suitable for men, while women can wear a sundress, tank top, or t-shirt. Walking around in public areas without a shirt or in beach attire outside of the beach or on a boat is culturally frowned upon.
My US Virgin Islands packing list is comprehensive, but If you have any additional suggestions or personal experiences, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Now start planning your adventures with our 10-day USVI itinerary!
Help us help you travel better!
Your feedback really helps ...
What did you like about this post? Or how can we improve it to help you travel better?