My husband and I just got back from a beautiful and relaxing trip to the Caribbean. We spent 7 days on St John in the Virgin Islands and it was amazing! We loved the sparkling beaches, beautiful scenery (even with drought conditions) and sea life, visiting historic ruins, hiking some impressive trails, snorkeling (swimming with sea turtles–my fav!!), and delicious dining (and drinking) options! It can be a little overwhelming planning for a vacation of this sort so I decided to share our St John Vacation Packing List.
Both my husband and I packed completely in carryons to save time and money. Zero regrets on that choice–it made things so much simpler!! We did quite a bit of shopping before our trip (life in the Midwest hasn’t outfitted us for island living) and got most of our new purchases through Amazon! Their competitive prices, super-speedy delivery, and free returns are unbeatable!
We are prime members and pay for that with our own cash money! If you are interested in a 30 day free trial of Amazon prime check it out HERE!
This Caribbean vacation packing guide contains affiliate links to products we bought ourselves and were thankful to have on our trip to St John!
What should I pack for St John?
Women’s Caribbean Vacation Buying Guide
This gorgeous coverup (show above) was amazing and a great price! It dried quickly and I was covered enough to go into any shopping area or casual restaurant.
I loved having two swimsuits on vacation! This is the two piece I bought from Amazon and for the price it was perfect! I tried on this one piece since I read rave reviews about it, but I didn’t love it. Of course, I also brought my favorite Lands End one piece!
I picked up these gorgeous and light tanks from American Eagle for our trip. They are super soft and flattering–I got a ribbed one and a floral print for less than $10 on sale!
If you are going on a couple trip and your undies are looking a little shabby, please do yourself a solid and upgrade your panties. My favorites are from Aerie and they are $29 for 7 pairs. It’s worth it.
I also bought a pair of knock-off Keens for wearing hiking and to the beach. I tried a pair of regular Keens and liked the knock-off’s better! Can I just say that I love Amazon’s hassle free returns!?
I also got a pair of cheap sunglasses that were polarized! I took these and another old pair of sunglasses with me. I was glad I had two pairs and also I wouldn’t be sad if I lost them. (Thankfully both pairs made it home safe and sound!)
St John Vacation Packing List for Women
7 casual tops
3 casual shorts (1 denim, 1 athletic, 1 neutral colored)
3 casual dresses (great to wear in the evenings out to dinner!)
2 hats – sunhat and baseball cap
Bras (one sport, one regular)
2 Sandals – love my Birkenstocks!
Keen style water shoes
Lightweight sneakers (I wore these on the plane and for 1 hike. I was glad I had them, but I don’t think they’re a necessity.)
Light cardigan for the plane
I rolled all my clothing and fit everything for this trip in a roll-on suitcase and backpack. Other things I packed were light makeup, toiletries, Bible, journal, pens, 2 pairs of earrings, 2 necklaces and 1 book. I also stuffed a box worth of luna bars around stuff.
As I mentioned before we did not stay at an all-inclusive resort, but rather stayed at VRBO. St. John actually doesn’t have all-inclusive type resorts and it’s definitely part of the charm! This list would still be super helpful for staying at a resort, but you may want to add some dressier options and eliminate some of the hiking/nature gear.
What not to bring to St John
I would wait and buy sunscreen, bug spray, and aloe (for palefaces like me) on the island. It is more expensive, but you’ll need better quality (1000 per cent deet bug spray) and larger quantities than are approved for carry-on luggage. If you are checking a bag than by all means bring the good stuff yourself!
You don’t need heels or overly dressy clothes. The whole island is very casual. Even in the nicer restaurants the dress code is very low key. You could wear a cotton maxi dress and fit in perfectly.
Pants. Just don’t bring pants. lol!
What clothes should I wear in the US Virgin Islands?
Men’s Caribbean Vacation Buying Guide
Quick drying and sweat-wicking shorts – Nate raved about these shorts that could double as swim trunks thanks to their quick drying time!
Lightweight polos – These are nice and lightweight, comfortable and still look nice!
Weekender Carryon Backpack – Nate has never had a carryon he liked so he got this backpack version and loved being handsfree and how much he could squeeze in! It also came with a couple of packing cubes if you’re into that.
Lightweight Hiking Backpack – This was great to have on our numerous hikes! Super lightweight yet enough room for all the essentials. Also, water resistant. Seriously, we went on a drenching rain hike and everything inside stayed dry!
GoPro style waterproof sports camera – A great last-minute purchase that we loved having for snorkeling and swimming and our hike in the rain. Lots of shooting modes and options at a great price! He got an accessory kit at Walmart, but would recommend getting a nicer one online. Make sure to also pick up a two pack of micro sd cards for footage!
Also advised – giant bag of gummy worms. If we were going back and had enough room I may add in a snorkel mask–we rented them on island, but you can buy a better quality for the same price as renting. Once again, just depends on your bag situation!
St John Vacation Packing List for Men
5 casual shirts (Nate thinks you only need 2-3 because he re-wore a lot of the same shirts. I beg to differ.)
2 lightweight polos
3 lightweight casual shorts
1 pair athletic shorts
2 swim trunks
Books I read on the trip
I love having a stack of vacation reading for on the beach! Here is what I brought to read on the trip! There is a local used bookstore located in the Starfish Market shopping area in Cruz Bay that we picked up books from as well.
The Wondering Years – Funny stories and witty commentary on growing up Christian. There were times I wondered “what’s the point here”, but overall once I just decided to enjoy the stories I liked it more.
The Joy Luck Club – Picked this up in the used book store and read it on the way home! Very enjoyable and well written! It lived up to the “modern classic” moniker.
Small Admissions – I also got this at the used book store and it was probably my overall favorite read. Light and engaging, it was perfect beach/summer reading.
Brave Moms, Brave Kids – Practical and challenging Biblical roadmap to motherhood. It’s a scary time to be a mom, but we have a completely trustworthy God!
I hope this guide helps you pack for your upcoming trip to St. John! We are richer for our travels there and so thankful we got to go on this vacation in the Caribbean!
While this post is specifically for St. John, it is “tweak-able” to any Caribbean vacation! Especially if you are using an AirBNB, VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) or other off-resort housing option–these packing tips will be perfect for your affordable and adventurous Caribbean vacation!
If you have any questions about what we took or any additional suggestions for St. John travelers PLEASE share them in the comments! I’d love for this little guide to be a repository of what to bring when traveling to St. John!