Your Complete Guide to Packing for a Tropical Getaway

Whether it’s Costa Rica, the Caribbean or the Tahitian Islands, Windstar offers a number of cruises to stunning tropical locations. From snorkeling in crystal clear water to picnics on the beach, having the right clothing and gear will help make your island getaway even more enjoyable. Here’s a packing guide that will help you prep for your next trip to paradise…

Sun Protection

The sun in the tropics is strong, and from clothing to sunscreen, you’ll want to make sure you’re covered. Since you’ll likely be spending a lot of time in the water, mineral sunscreen will not only help prevent you from getting burned, but it also helps protect the pristine coral reefs you may be exploring. A sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology, and waterproof formulas generally last longer between reapplications. Reef-safe sunscreens are made with non-micronized versions of the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, and you’ll want to look for formulas without oxybenzone. In addition to creams, like Thrive Bodyshield SPF 50 Sunscreen, there are a number of reef-safe spray options, like All Good’s Sport SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray Insect spray is another essential, as mosquitoes and other biting bugs can be prevalent in the tropics. In addition to sprays and lotions for your skin, treating your clothing with Sawyer’s Permethrin Spray to help keep pesky bugs at bay.

While baseball caps are a great way to shield your eyes from the sun, wide brim hats offer even more protection. Sunday Afternoons’ Latitude hat has a 4” brim and folds in half for easy packing, and San Diego Hat Company’s packable straw Campo hat has a 5” brim, and it retains its shape after being crammed in a suitcase. While it may be tempting to work on your tan, consider bringing a few lightweight, hooded sun shirts with moisture-wicking capabilities, like Patagonia’s Long Sleeve Capilene Cool Daily shirt. 

Gear on the Water

You’ll want to pack a pair of flip flops for hanging out, but if you’re planning on kayaking or other shore excursions that may call for slightly sturdier footwear, consider a pair of Chacos or Tevas. Both brands offer water sandals with back straps and tougher Vibram soles, which are ideal for warm weather adventures on land or on the water. On the subject of footwear, a pair of Aqua Socks (or similar water socks) will help protect your feet from rocks, reef and hot sand, and if you plan on snorkeling or swimming, consider investing in a pair. Beyond swimsuits, another piece of gear you may want to pack is a rash guard, like Roxy’s Whole Hearted UPF 50 longsleeve, which can help protect your upper body from rocks, reef and sand — and offer you yet another layer of protection from the sun. 

As far as documenting your tropical adventure, don’t forget to pack a GoPro or underwater camera, and if you’d rather use your smartphone, you may want to purchase a waterproof case with a wrist strap, like Pelican’s waterproof floating pouch. Lightweight roll top dry bags are another item to consider; Sea to Summit has a variety of sizes, which are perfect for keeping everything from cameras to clothes from getting soaked on your adventures. 

Dining Aboard Your Windstar Yacht

While you’ll want to pack shorts, tee-shirts, hats and casual sandals for your daytime adventures, dinner aboard your Windstar yacht calls for a slightly more structured dress code. If you are dining in Amphora, Stella Bistro, or Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso in the evening, slacks or non-distressed jeans are appropriate, paired with collared, button-down or polo shirts, or fashion tops or blouses. Skirts, casual dresses and sundresses are also acceptable. With the warm, humid weather of the tropics, cotton, linen, and loose garments will help keep you cool and comfortable. Dress shoes, nice sandals or stylish athletic casual shoes will complete your evening wardrobe. You can leave the tuxedos and ball gowns at home though, since there are no formal nights on Windstar. 

For a more comprehensive checklist, with notes on travel documents, toiletries and additional clothing, be sure to check out our Cruise Packing List blog. 

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