St. Thomas Vacation Packing List

Lindquist Beach St. Thomas, USVI Copyright Mango Media 2022

Photo by; Mango Media, St. Thomas, USVI

If you are planning a vacation to St. Thomas, USVI, chances are you have some questions about what to pack. The great news is Philo Villas is based in St. Thomas and we are very familiar with what might be hard to come by on the island.  Not only that but packing certain items in your suitcase can help you settle in on your vacation faster and smarter.

One of the top questions we are asked, as vacation rental specialists, is, what is important to pack?  St. Thomas is a remote vacation destination. This means there are some items you may require during your trip that are a little harder to come by.  Items in stores can be sold out or simply unavailable. This is especially true if you prefer a certain brand name.

Before you get the suitcases out for your St. Thomas vacation, here are some of the most common items that you should pack!

1. Reef Safe Sunscreen

There are a few reasons this is important to pack vs. buy here on the island.  If you’re checking luggage, this is a no-brainer, pack it.  Of course, there are plenty of locations where you can find reef-safe sunscreen to purchase.  Just get ready for a hefty price tag.  This is the number one reason I recommend packing, it’s expensive!  Stock can be low at times as well.  This is especially true during the high season.

Why reef-safe sunblock? A fairly new law was enacted on June 25, 2019, in the USVI.  This law banned the sale, importation, and distribution of sunscreen containing the ‘Three O’s”.  Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, and Octocrylene.   These are the three worst reef-impacting chemicals.  The full ban is in effect throughout the entire Virgin Islands territory.

2. Insect repellant / Bug spray

Did you know there are 18 different mosquito species in the US Virgin Islands? You will want to protect yourself every time you head out for an adventure.  Especially during hiking, after it rains, or being near or on a beach during sunset. (An especially active time for mosquitos and other biting insects like no-see-ums)  Packing insect repellant in advance means you will also save yourself some dollars.  Bug spray is a particularly high-priced item on St. Thomas.

3. Extra UV protection

St. Thomas sits 18 degrees north of the equator.  Whether you are out on an adventure or soaking up the sun at the beach, the sun is more intense, hotter, and more extreme than what you’re probably used to.  While reef-safe sunscreen is important to apply daily in St. Thomas,  it’s also important to make sure some of the clothing items you pack offer extra sun protection.

UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays and allows two percent (1/50th) to penetrate, thus reducing your sun exposure risk significantly.  Packing a few items of clothing with UPF protection is a great idea when you’re vacationing in St. Thomas.

4. Waterproof bag for personal items and cell phone

If you have a vacation planned to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, chances are you will find yourself on a beach, on a paddle board, kayak, or on a boat.  Surrounded by water.  Not a good combination for keeping your personal, important, items safe and dry.  Packing a few waterproof bags will go a long way to help you keep what you need by your side, no matter what adventure you’re going on.

5. Bluetooth travel speaker

Whether you’re jamming out in your vacation rental or on the beach, you’ll want to pack something to amplify your vibe! Packing a waterproof speaker will be helpful for those moments you’re around water.

6. Comfortable shoes

Walking in St. Thomas isn’t always recommended since it’s a mountainous island.  However, most roads, walkways, and driveways can be older, more uneven, and either dirt or gravel. For example, If you spend a day walking around Charlotte Amalie, downtown, you’ll be walking on cobblestones.  *For heel-wearing travelers, a chunky heel or wedge will get you a lot further than a stiletto.

7. Underwater Camera

St. Thomas is the perfect location to pack an underwater camera!  If you plan on snorkeling or swimming in the ocean, this is the perfect way to capture your vacation memories.  You’re sure to see turtles, a variety of fish, and even a stingray!

8. Beach bag

Chances are you are going to be spending a day at the beach in St. Thomas.  Make sure you add a small packable bag to your list.  It will be helpful to have a place to store towels, snacks, and personal items while you’re spending time by the ocean.  Save some space in your luggage and use this as a personal item carry-on as well.  *Pro tip – the bags that offer a small cooler are a plus!

9. Snorkel mask & fins

This might seem like an odd suggestion to pack because of the size.  However, you will thank this article over and over after you arrive.  This is going to be a much better, and lower-cost, option than renting or buying sets while you’re on the island.  *Pro tip – Skip the fins! If you plan to only snorkel off the beach, a mask and snorkel will get you by!

10. Snacks

If you’re a food person, or just love a certain brand, or type of snack, I highly recommend filling your bag with some snacks.  The cost of food in St. Thomas is higher than what you will find in the states and it’s also hard to source that special something you’ve been craving.  Load up your bag with all your favorites, you’ll be thanking me as you arrive at your vacation rental, not hungry.

Now that you know what to pack, besides your essentials, I want to touch on why I recommend packing things in your checked luggage.  The biggest reason is this; St. Thomas does not use street addresses.  This means your vacation rental, likely, doesn’t have an address to ship anything to.  All packages that come to St. Thomas also have to go through US Customs and this can take a few extra days in the shipping process.  (This even includes overnight shipping.)

If you plan on packing extra items down, let’s say you’re celebrating a special occasion, your best bet is to pack an extra suitcase and check it at the airport.  This will insure you have everything you need and it’s so much easier than picking up a package after a long day of traveling.

Philo Villas participates in affiliate programs, including the Amazon Associates Progam. Philo Villas earns commissions from qualifying purchases made through links posted.