Perhaps more than anywhere else, the Caribbean evokes the romance of travel: endless sandy beaches, swaying palm trees beneath clear blue skies, shoals of brilliant fish shimmering in the crystal-clear water.  Those are the kind of images that many of us hold in our head. What is surprising is that not only does the Caribbean offer impossibly beautiful beaches, but its seven thousand islands also offer a diversity of delight you’d be hard put to find anywhere else on the planet.  If you enjoy the natural world, then the islands of the Caribbean offer an incredible range of flora and fauna, which you can experience by hiking through rain forest or from the deck of a yacht. If the high life is more your style, then there are spa resorts and top-quality restaurants a plenty.  What you pack will be determined by the kind of activity that you intend to enjoy, but whatever your intentions, here are some items that you should consider.

Light clothing

The Caribbean can be very humid so the lighter your clothing the more comfortable you will be.  Two sets of swimwear will ensure that you never have to slip into wet togs, because the chances are that whatever type of visit you have planned, you are going to spend some part of each day cooling off in the water.  Don’t assume that shorts and T shirts are appropriate everywhere and bring at least one set of more formal evening wear. It’s also worth having trousers and long-sleeved tops to keep the insects at bay in the evenings.  Different islands have different customs and you need to be aware of differing cultural expectations, so avoid clothing that you feel may cause offence. Some islands, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Dominica have a ban on camouflage clothing.  The arrival of luggage is often delayed in the Caribbean, so it’s worth packing a change of clothes and a swimsuit in your carry-on bag.

The often forgotten

You don’t want to waste time and money searching for something you could have easily brought with you such as lip-balm, sunscreen, insect repellent and hand sanitizer.

Snorkel

It’s much better to bring your own snorkel than rent something that doesn’t fit properly.

Sunglasses

Sea and sand reflect high levels of sun rays so protecting your eyes with a good pair of UV sunglasses is essential.  If your vision requires prescription lenses, leave the contact lenses at home and take a pair of prescription sunnies instead.

A lightweight waterproof

You are likely to encounter some rain, particularly if you are visiting during the hurricane season, which runs from June to October, though hurricanes can also occur out of season.

A wide brimmed hat

Before there were sunglasses, there were hats.  You may not be used to wearing a hat but in the Caribbean it’s a really good idea, so get into the holiday spirit and get yourself a hat.  A hat not only reduces sun glare, it also protects your head, neck, ears and face from sun, which in a cooling breeze, is probably a lot stronger than you think.