I always find it hard to pack for a place I am going for the first time, so here is a suggestion on what to pack for USVI. Comments and feedback are very welcome!
What to pack for the USVI
The mistake I did when coming to the Virgin Islands for the first time, was packing way too many clothes, especially long-sleeves/sweatshirts/jackets. You really won’t need anything warm, except for on the plane. It is always warm on St. John, even at night. The average temperature is 80° F and at night it does never drop below 70°F. Most bars / restaurants are open-air and the only I ever wear something long is in the supermarkets or on a boat where the wind can make it chilly. Check out these great charts with temperature overviews
That said, thin, light long sleeve shirts or pants can provide great mosquito protection.
You are fine with shorts, T-shirts, tank tops, dresses & a tunic or scarf for cover-up. Also for watersports, the water temperature is 78°F to 86°F, you won’t need a wetsuit, just a long sleeve lycra against sun-burn. If you want to surf/snorkel around reefs, a short, thin (2/1 or 1/1) wetsuit can protect you from scratches. That said, the water gets colder with depths, so for diving you do want a wetsuit.
So here we go with the Virgin Island packing list
Which clothes to pack for St. John, USVI
- T-Shirts & tops/tank tops
- Shorts & Skirts
- Dresses & a tunic
- Flip Flops
- Bikini/Boardshorts and Lycra (also long-sleeve against sunburn)
- A thin, light rain jacket, downpours can be crazy
- One long sleve against bugs, sunburn or windchill on boat trip.
Which Shoes to pack
- Flip/Flops and Sandals are all you will need unless you want to engage in some of the sports below
- Reef Booties if you want to go snorkeling / paddleboarding / surfing on rocky beaches
- Hiking shoes/sandals, there are some great hikes which cannot be done in flip-flops. They should have a firm sole but be otherwise open and airy (mesh on sides)
- Tennis or Running Shoes if you want to play tennis or hit the gym
- Passport if you want to go to Jost van Dyke or other BVIs
- Medication & small first aid kit for reef cuts (desinfect)
- Sunscreen/Bugspray (you can buy on island but it is really expensive, 7.95$ for a can of bug repellent
- Batteries (also very expensive on Island)
- Camera & SD/CHF Cards (cards can be hard to find on island) & chargers
- Tripod for your camera, you will make some amazing sunset and night-time pics.
- Waterproof Case for Camera, unless you have a waterproof one like the Go Pro Hero or Sony TX-10
- Waterproof Case for phone & passport and Dry Bag.
Entertainment / Sporting Goods
- Fins&Masks: If you have a good fitting snorkeling mask or a shop at home that has a very wide variety of masks to try on, get it there and bring it, as the right size is crucial. Fins might be a bit bulky to pack so you can rent those on St. John.
- Surfboard (you’ll need a thick one with a bit of volume)
- Tennis Racket&Shoes (you can buy tennis balls at Chelsea Drugstore)
- Beach Games
- Cards, Board Games
- Books or Kindle (choice of books is limited on St. John, but you will find some great local books at the Bookstore opposite Starfish and the Spice Shop at Wharfside Village)
Buying/renting on St. John
- Beach Chairs: At Hardware Store by Starfish or Paradise Lumber on Centerline Road. Check if your villa provides them
- Hammock: The Surf Shop next to beach bar has some nice hammocks
- Snorkeling gear: Low key water sports
- 1$ disposable rain coats
- 1$ bug repellent bracelets at Pine Peace
- Overall, St. John is a tiny island, most of the stuff is imported and you will not have the choice/variety of things you are used to at home. All imported goods will be much more expensive then home, also groceries. A good option is to actually rent a car on St. Thomas, stop at Kmart for groceries & beach chairs/snorkeling gear and come over on the car barge (50$ round trip). Make sure rental company allows to take car on car barge.
- While everything that is imported is naturally expensive you will find some great unique things that are locally created at good prices: clothes, jewelry, arts&crafts.