When packing for any type of vacation, the trick is balancing what you need with what you want, to ensure you don’t go overboard. On top of that it is important to consider what you want to do during your vacation to determine what to pack for your trip to The Bahamas.
Whether you plan on island hopping, or you want to swim with the pigs in Big Major Cay, all you need to do is plan carefully about what to bring and you’ll be all set. Both first time and repeat visitors to The Bahamas will benefit from keeping this packing checklist handy, whether they plan on a beach vacation, at an all-inclusive resort, or renting your own place.
In this article on the Sandals Blog:
Clothes to pack for 7-days in The Bahamas
List of essential travel items
Things you’ll need for sunbathing
Things you might not have thought of
Read on to find out what things you want to consider before packing for the Bahamas, or go directily to clothes to pack for 7-days in The Bahamas instead.
This can help to determine what you’ll need to pack for your trip. If you’re going on a family vacation, you’ll need to ensure you have everything the entire family will need for the duration of the trip. The same goes for if you’re traveling with elderly members of the family. Singles, and particularly couples going on adults-only vacations probably have it the easiest, as they can pack less depending on the duration of their stay.
The weather is generally great all year round in The Bahamas, so you can expect to spend most of your time during the day in beachwear. However, don't forget to bring some dressy clothes to go out for dinner in the evenings! Read our 'Best time to visit the Bahamas article' to find out more about the weather in each month.
Accommodation plays a factor in what you’ll need to pack, particularly when it comes to hotel versus villa, or apartment options. It also makes a difference whether you select an all-inclusive resort, as opposed to a regular hotel or resort stay.
Not all villas or apartments are created equal, which means that not all will come with everything you need for your stay. Most resorts, particularly all-inclusive resorts, tend to provide items like hairdryers, towels, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, body wash, soap, and even bath robes for your stay.
Picture: The Sandals Royal Bahamian resort beach.
Tip: Resorts like Sandals Royal Bahamian and Sandals Emerald Bay are perfect for a worry-free vacation in The Bahamas, particularly if you’re planning on a romantic adults-only vacation. Make sure to bring some dress clothing for the restaurants!
In order to plan properly for your vacation in The Bahamas, it helps to know the sort of activities you plan on participating in while among the islands. Are you going for a destination wedding? Do you plan on swimming with the pigs on Big Major Cay? Are you going for a fishing trip off the coast of Nassau, or do you want to explore some of the best beaches of the Bahamas?
Trips with a focus on beach hopping or pool lounging may require more swimwear, while hiking trips would require more comfortable shoes, and all-weather clothing. Mostly, casual works fine for The Bahamas, with emphasis on summer dresses, shorts, t-shirts and khakis!
Tip: If you are looking to fill up with your vacation with lots of other activities, have a read through our top things to do in The Bahamas article, for some more inspiration.
How long do you plan on staying? Typically, people who vacation in the Caribbean tend to stay for five to seven days, but some choose to stay for two to three weeks, or even longer. If you’re staying for a longer period, you may feel inclined to pack more, which may lead to problems particularly if you plan on shopping once you get to your destination. Weight restrictions apply for most airlines, so it is best to pack light when possible, to avoid any delays and extra costs at the airport. For longer stays, you can always make use of the laundry services at your accommodation!
Packed your clothes? Have a look at these essential items to pack for the Bahamas.
For the flight, make sure that you’re comfortable in whatever you wear, and that you’ll be warm if the airport is cold. Jeans or slacks are usually fine, with a casual shirt of jacket, along with comfortable shoes. Wear things that can be reused during your vacation if possible, which can help you pack lighter.
Generally, the key to packing light is mixing and matching, so keep this in mind as you go along.
Keep these essential travel items either on you, or in your carry-on luggage.
Do you need a possport to go to The Bahamas? Most countries in the Caribbean require that you travel with a passport. The Bahamas is no different. Be sure that you don’t leave this behind, otherwise you may not be able to leave the country! When traveling, it is wise to check ahead of time that your passport has at least 6 months remaining before its expiry date. Though it is not common, immigration authorities in some countries and airlines, can deny you entry on this basis.
Bonus tip: If you’re travelling with children, check passport expiry dates as children under 16 have a duration of five years before expiry, as opposed to adults with 10 years.
Although a passport is normally enough to get your boarding pass printed, you’ll want to print your boarding pass if you already checked in online. In most cases you can bring your boarding pass on your phone, but you might lose it when accidentally dropping your phone or when you run out of battery. It's always good to bring a back up on paper!
More than likely, you will be asked to present the address and phone number of the place where you will be staying for your trip once you get to your destination. It is a precautionary measure on most airports, and also helps to ensure that you know where you’re going once you’ve landed!
Tip: When booking your trip, ask for a contact name and number for someone associated with the property, that you can present at the airport if need be. Exchange your contact information as well, in case they need to reach you. If you stay at a Sandals resort, someone will be waiting for you to transfer you to the resort.
Doing some exploring on your own? If you decide to rent a vehicle, bring a valid driver's license to the Bahamas. You can use a US driver's license for the first three months of your stay.
Better safe than sorry when traveling to faraway locations. Walk with your insurance cards, which will come in handy if you have an emergency or require medical assistance.
As a wise man once said, if you can’t afford travel insurance, then you probably can’t afford to travel. Though we all hope for the best when going on vacation, it's impossible to predict if and when things will take a turn for the worse. Resorts like Sandals make it possible to get travel insurance at a small cost, as part of your reservation.
Be sure to walk with one or two pens to fill out your immigration forms and keep these in an area where they’re easy to find, like in the outside pocket of your carry-on. Also walk with copies of your travel documents and passports; you can take photos of them with your phone which will come in handy if they are lost or stolen.
You’ll need money to make your trip to The Bahamas. Include small bills for tipping at the airport. Notify your bank about your trip before you leave, so your debit or credit cards don’t get cut off. The US Dollar (USD) to Bahamian Dollar (BSD) exchange rate is 1:1, but all vendors accept USD. Not all vendors take credit or debit cards, however, so ensure you keep this in mind to make provisions on how much money to bring. Keep in mind also, that when you spend US Dollars, you may get your change back in Bahamian Dollars, or a combination of US Dollars and Bahamian Dollars.
Insider tip: Sandals resorts have currency exchange services at the front desk, so you’ll be able to change your money easily.
If you have prescription medications, make sure you pack enough to last the duration of your stay. It can be difficult to find some prescription items in The Bahamas, particularly from American pharmaceutical brands as medicines available in The Bahamas are typically based off the British system. Also, you may have to pay more to get replacement prescription items than you would at home. Depending on what the item is, you may need a doctor in The Bahamas to prescribe it to you, so if you don’t want to spend time going through the motions of replacing your medications in The Bahamas, ensure you fill and pack your prescription medications early. Non-prescription items in the US, including narcotic pain medication may also be hard to obtain. To avoid the hassle, walk with these items in their original prescription bottles, and with enough to last your entire vacation.
Whatever it is that you can’t live without, don’t leave it behind – within reasonable limits, of course. Keep in mind that you will be able to find almost everything you can think of in stores in The Bahamas, but likely with a higher price tag, from a lesser known brand. Still, take what you need, but be reasonable, to avoid overweight fees.
Travel times can be lengthy, particularly if there are layover times in between. If you’re travelling with children, it helps to pack things that will help keep them occupied in between, including cell phones, laptops, tablets, and the like. Remember, don’t leave home without chargers for these devises!
Lost luggage is not uncommon, so walk with extra clothes and some essential items like deodorant, toiletries, and undergarments in your carry-on just in case you have to go a day or two without your bags. Keep in mind the restrictions on liquids in the carry-on luggage; the restriction being liquigs can be in a 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume).
Insider tip: All Sandals resorts provide Red Lane Spa shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, body wash, hand soaps, towels, and wash cloths for guests, in their rooms.
Sure, you’re travelling to the Caribbean for the sun, sea and sand, but that doesn’t mean you signed up for getting sunburnt. SPF 50 will keep you safe against 98 percent of harmful rays, which is pretty much all you’ll really need. As for the rest of the numbers, they don’t equate more protection. Don’t go below SPF 30 in The Bahamas, and you should be just fine!
It is advisable to reapply about every two hours in the Bahamas, particularly if you’re in the water, or engaged in any physical activity which can cause you to sweat it off.
Tip: Invest in reef safe sunscreen if you plan on snorkeling or scuba diving near reefs. Reef safe sunscreens do not contain some of the reef-harming ingredients in regular brands, like oxybenzone, avobenzone and others.
Keeping your lips lubricated and well protected is important when on a scorching Caribbean island. Don’t forget to take lip balm which includes SPF.
Be fashion savvy and protect your skin all at once with a wide-brimmed hat. If you’re out in the sun during the hottest hours of the day, you’ll want to keep cool with one of these.
Resorts like Sandals have beach umbrellas or cabanas, which are perfect for cooling off after your sunbathing session!
Cover ups are a major vacation fad now, and you can choose one from a variety of styles when deciding what to pack for The Bahamas. You can try traditional sarongs, translucent dresses, or even crochet styles. Most of these pair well with wide brims or other styles of hats, which serve their purpose of protecting your skin from sun exposure. Weirdly enough, loose fitting long sleeve shirts and pants, for men and women, can help keep you cool in high temperatures. Choose the sunniest of these that you’ve got stored in your closet or buy a couple items just for your trip. Linen styles are popular and fashionable.
Heading to a Caribbean vacation with no sunglasses is almost unheard of, whether solely to protect your eyes from the sun, or just to be fashionable. Even if you just want to be fashionable, you’ll want to ensure you have a pair with UV protection. Polarized sunglasses are highly rated, and they will keep your eyes protected, even when its overcast.
Perhaps you’ve never investigated this type of clothing until now, but you’ll be happy to know that there is such a thing as Ultraviolet (UV) protection clothing. Mostly this feature can be found in athletic gear, but there are some regular items you can pick up off the shelf for your beach vacation that will help protect you from harmful rays. UV ray protection clothing comes in handy for activities including snorkeling, so it helps to pack this to protect your skin from burning.
Avoid walking down the beach with so many things in your hands that you can’t catch your hat as it blows away. Invest in a good beach bag to throw in all your beach vacation essentials. The ideal beach bag will have a cooler storage pouch to keep your drinks cool.
Forget bulky beach towels. Invest in a good beach blanket which is quick dry and made with a material that you can shake sand off easily. There are lots of variations to choose from, some which can be fixed into the sand to ensure they don’t blow away. Other options are ultra-portable, which means you’ll be able to fold and pack them easily.
Get a waterproof phone case to bring along just in case you get thrown into the ocean or a pool, are taking a picture from the ocean, or you get suddenly rained on by a tropical thunderstorm.
As you’ll be in and out of the water, it helps to have on hand something that will dry fast. Look for quick dry materials when selecting the towels that you will bring with you to The Bahamas, if you have the space to pack them. Most resorts will provide beach towels for you.
Tip: Be sure to bring along some soothing aloe Vera based after sun lotion, or pure aloe Vera. It’ll help with sunburn, if you do happen to get burnt.
People tend not to think about things like losing valuable jewelry while on vacation, but it is more common that you think. On the list of commonly lost items during snorkeling and diving trips are engagement and wedding rings; don’t let that be you. Whether it’s your wedding ring, or another priceless item, opt to bring something else you can wear while engaged in activities like snorkeling. Some people choose to wear cheaper replacement items for most of their vacation, while saving their precious items for use back at home. If you have valuable items with you that you wish to store, resorts like Sandals offer in-room safes which are highly recommended.
The Bahamas is one of the best places to snorkel in the world. If you plan on snorkeling, it is completely possible to rent gear once you’re on island, but if you want to have your own authentic, true-to-size and personalized snorkeling gear, you’re probably going to have to bring your own. Besides, when you bring your own, you know without a doubt, the equipment was cleaned properly. Even if you don’t walk with a full snorkeling set, you can bring along some goggles, which will come in handy if you plan on swimming. People with prescription goggles will need to bring these along. Note that at all Sandals resorts snorkeling equipment is free to use during your stay.
The fun doesn’t stop with a waterproof camera, and in The Bahamas you’ll see this firsthand. You can explore beaches and coral reefs, and have neat underwater videos and photos to cherish forever. You can also look into waterproof pouches for your phone, or camera.
You’ll be grateful when you’re getting ready to head out on a snorkeling trip and remember those fish pellets you packed in your suitcase for those beautiful fishes of paradise!
These are perfect to hold wet suit suits and works great to keep your small electronic items dry during on the water sporting activities. Zip lock bags are ideal.
A luggage scale is worth looking into not only if you plan on shopping while in The Bahamas, but before you head off for your vacation. Having a luggage scale helps you along while you’re packing so that you don’t overpack, and your luggage isn’t overweight. Most airlines have a limit of 50lbs per bag.
Don’t miss the moments by forgetting to charge your camera battery or forgetting to walk with your memory card. Bring an extra battery with you and take a back-up memory card.
Find your luggage easily with customized or bright luggage tags or ribbons. This will save you some time, so you can get through customs more quickly and head to the beach!
A money belt is a great option for keeping your cash safe. As theft is likely anywhere in the world, you’ll want to invest in one and bring it along to The Bahamas. Go for designs with hidden pockets, that are easy to conceal.
Though you may not need to bring a complete first aid kid, it is worth packing some of the essentials like band-aids, alcohol pads, and pain relievers like Tylenol and or Ibuprofen. You may also want to walk with antibiotic ointments, antihistamine, medication for seasickness or gastrointestinal ailments like Pepto-Bismol and Tums. Baby powder always comes in handy for chafing, as does Desitin. It's also useful to walk with an Epi-pen for food allergies, which will be a life saver in the event of an emergency.
Insider tip: All Sandals resorts have a dedicated nurse to service guests on property, in the event of emergencies.
Mosquitoes will likely be a factor in the Caribbean, particularly once the sun goes down. Plan ahead of time by finding a bugspray with at least 20% picaridin or 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus, both of which are ingredients in top performing bug repellents. These are safer options, than products with the controversial DEET ingredient, which are not necessarily more effective.
Aside from mosquitoes, you need to plan ahead for interactions with other bugs. This is recommended especially if you have allergies, in which case you’re also going to need to walk with Benadryl cream or Cortaid creams.
Keep your immediate area and your hands clean and germ free. While you may get these in The Bahamas, they will likely be more expensive, and you won’t have much variety. These are valuable if you are traveling with children. Bring along a small bottle or two.
If you plan on staying at a hotel or resort, chances are you’ll find a hair dryer in your room, but this is not always the case at other kinds of accommodation, like villas or apartments. If you have specifics on the kind of hairdryer you want to use, your best bet is walking with your own. If you’re travelling with a group, decide ahead of time who will walk with the specific hair dryer you all need, to save on space.
Did you know? It is pretty normal for hotel rooms to provide you with hairdryers nowadays. Sandals Resorts was the first to introduce this concept!
The electrical system in The Bahamas is the same as that of the U.S. The chance of a power surge however, is more likely. Bring a portable surge protector along with you to minimize the risk.
Bring a multi-port charger that has USB ports and plugs. These comes in handy when staying at hotels or resorts with limited outlets. With this item, you’ll be able to keep multiple gadgets charging in a single place, which helps you keep better track of them.
Beat the heat by sipping on water, but ensure you pick a reusable bottle. Bringing a water bottle with you will help minimize the number of plastic bottles you use, which is great, since The Bahamas isn’t great at recycling.
This will help you keep your drinks nice and cool, which can save you quite a bit of time standing around at the bar trying to get an ice-cold refill. You’re going to The Bahamas to relax, so take care of the little things ahead of your trip for a completely leisurely vacation. Be sure to get an extra-large mug!
Water shoes are useful for just about any water activity you can think of, especially when going to secluded beaches, like those located in the out islands in The Bahamas. You can rent these, but it's more economical to take your own, if you have them.
Sunny shores and flip flops are pretty much synonymous. You don’t even need to be near the ocean to wear these. You may find that these are your go-to footwear while in The Bahamas, particularly if you’re staying at a beach resort. Take a couple pairs to add some variety and to have a back-up at hand if one pair breaks down.
Some other items that may come in handy are over-the-door shoe racks (for use while packing or once you arrive), which can help you keep track of the shoes you bring so nothing gets left behind, and a laundry bag to put dirty clothes.
As The Bahamas and the US use the same types of plugs and sockets, this piece of advice relates to travelers from non-US destinations. Get an adapter at a local convenience store or pick one up at the airport.
Once you have these things in check, you’re all set for your trip to The Bahamas! Now that you’re ready, the one thing you need to remember is to relax and enjoy yourself. That’s the point of your vacation in the first place, and now that you’re no longer scrambling around trying to figure out what to pack for The Bahamas, you’re well on your way to an amazing vacation!