British Virgin Islands 2018

There's that one particular harbor…

Suggested Packing List

Pack what you like, but here are a few things to keep in mind.

Regular BVI travelers have a saying when packing for the BVI: Pack half the clothes and twice the money. First-timers either don’t believe this or don’t appreciate just how little they will need. Except for your scuba gear, most of this should fit in a large carry-on. Below is my recommendation for the well-packed sailor. Don’t forget to pack those liquids properly or the TSA will take them from you!

Just the basics here! As long as you brush your teeth and your hair and wear deodorant, you will pass inspection! Gentlemen, shaving is not required, but it does help your dive mask get a nice seal, so bring the razor along. Bath soap and shampoo should round out your hygiene kit nicely, but we will buy some there, so ditch them if the packing gets tight.

Of course, bring any regular medication that you are taking. Finding medication in the islands isn’t easy. I typically pack basic pain relief (Advil, Tylenol, Aspirin), and stomach relief (Tums, Pepto). I also recommend that you bring both non-drowsy and regular Dramamine. Even if you don’t usually get motion sickness, you may be surprised. Time spent below, along with one or two passages where we will likely experience some swells, can sneak up on you. Once you get sick on board, you are likely to remain sick until we get to land. This may be hours, so it is best to be safe. In the end it is your call, but I will be on Dramamine 24 hours a day throughout the trip.

The sun will surprise you in the BVI. Because of the wind you often won’t notice it until it has burned you. Make sure to bring good sunblock that is waterproof. You will probably find yourself applying it at least twice daily, so bring plenty! I also recommend you bring your favorite hat (nice wide brim) and a good pair of polarized sunglasses. In fact, an extra hat and sunglasses wouldn’t hurt either.  You will also find some benefit from a lightweight long sleeve UV shirt. Leslie likes these. I prefer linen shirts, mentioned below.

Most folks nowadays are carrying iPhones. Unless you have international service, your US phones won’t likely work down there for cell service. More and more places have wifi now, so in the evenings in the moorings and at dinner you’ll probably be able to connect most days. We are also able to play music from your iPhone through the boat speakers, so the iPhones are good for that as well. Make sure to bring any chargers! If you wish to take underwater photos with a disposable underwater cam, plan on purchasing it at home and bringing it with you. They are more expensive in the islands.

Gentlemen: Seriously! I am bringing 4 or 5 pairs of swim trunks which will be about all I wear. I’ll have enough t-shirts to cover me all week. I also bring a few linen shirts (very comfortable in the sun and breeze). I bring no socks. I only wear sandals (Leslie likes Keens) and even then go barefoot most of the time. Whatever shoes you bring, make sure they are non-marking. We will have one nice breakfast ashore and men are required to wear a collared shirt to this breakfast. I wear one of my linens, but a simple knit polo will do fine.

Ladies: Leslie says: I typically wear a bathing suit a day for a day of cruising on the boat and being able to get in & out of the water at will.  I might wear a pair of wet/dry shorts over it some of the time.  And I would have a t-shirt to snorkel in.  I will have an outfit that I wear to dinner that is some combination of Capris & a top.  I would bring 4-5 different outfits at most.  I literally bring only 2 pairs of shoes, the Keens (beach sandal equivalent) and a pair of nicer flip-flops for dinner.  I do have a long sleeve UV shirt that was helpful when I’d had enough sun & in the evenings for the dinghy rides to and from shore.  Oh, and 2-3 hats & sleeping attire if so desired.

The boat will come with bath towels, but they are not likely to be enough for you. I recommend you bring at least one beach towel per person and one bath towel. For bath towels give serious consideration to a microfiber towel or two. They pack light and small and dry out quickly.

I know this sounds odd, but since we’ve started chartering boats with AC, my crew whines incessantly about being too cold at night. Bring a blanket in order to be a good neighbor and avoid whining. Harold thanks you…

Reading Material
Be sure to bring a good book or two. There will be plenty of time to read aboard and on the beach.

Snorkel/Scuba Equipment
If you are scuba diving, I recommend that you bring your mask, snorkel, booties and fins. If you are only snorkeling there are some on board that are fine unless you’re the picky sort. For diving, I strongly urge you to rent the rest of your gear down there. For me, it’s worth not having the travel hassle and you don’t have to clean the gear! Don’t forget a nice lightweight mesh bag to throw your snorkel gear into when we go ashore to snorkel in locations other than the boat (such as The Baths and Cow Wreck Beach). This little bag also helps keep your gear organized and stowed when we aren’t using it. I don’t recommend a wetsuit unless it is very lightweight. A t-shirt works fine. Finally, divers, don’t forget your certification card!

You might want to consider purchasing a good water-proof bag. We will get around between the boat and the shore in a little zodiac (we call them dinghies or dinks). This little boat will have some water sloshing around in the bottom. You will want your wallet/books/towels/cameras to stay dry as we go ashore and return to the boat. These bags also help protect your things at the beach. You can get some great bags at REI, like this. Leslie and I each carry the Seal Line Kodiak Window 10 Liter and find it to be just about right. You can go larger, but don’t go smaller.

As for your luggage, please consider using duffel type bags. Especially avoid using hard suitcases and suitcases with wheels. Once you unpack into your cabin, you will not have space to stow a large hard suitcase. You’ll want a suitcase that rolls up or folds up. Again, duffels are great. The wheeled suitcases are pretty hard on the decks…we like to leave the boat in the same shape we received it so the next charter can enjoy it as much as we did! So leave these at home if you can.

Don’t forget your wallet. You will want cash (don’t mess with traveler’s checks!) and a credit card. Remember, all alcoholic drinks ashore are on you. You will also need to pay for scuba rentals and any optional excursions (such as the spa). Then there are meals in the airport and taxi and ferry tickets (especially if you fly into STT). You will also have to pay a departure tax of about $20 cash each when leaving the BVI. I typically recommend that people bring no less than $200 cash and no more than $400. Then use your credit card everywhere they are accepted (which is most places). I’ll take this opportunity to remind you not to forget your passport!

Always a good idea. They come in handy more often than you might think. Something small and light, such as a mini-mag or a backpacker’s headlamp, is fine. But if you really want something great, try this.

That’s it! Seriously, if you don’t bring scuba gear, all of this fits nicely into a medium duffel and makes traveling so much easier. Enjoy!



  Scott W Miller wrote @

Thanks. Going for the first time and this was helpful.

  sempereformata wrote @

Glad to help! Enjoy!

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