What To Pack for a BVI Sailing Trip (free PDF)

Written by Sophia Roa in Destinations

The British Virgin Islands are known for their unique sailing culture and traditions. They offer pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere that entices travelers from all over the world. But before boarding your yacht, ensure you've packed the essentials. This article includes a downloadable packing list for your BVI trip. We'll also discuss what not to pack at the end.

For a sailing trip to the BVI, pack your clothes, first-aid kit, documents, nautical charts, a compass, GPS, tools and spares, non-perishable food items, and sanitation supplies. Packing for a sailing trip is different from packing for a regular vacation and requires some specialized items, as space is limited on yachts.

When preparing your suitcase for this tropical paradise, consider that the BVI weather is typically warm and sunny year-round, with daily temperatures averaging between 29 and 32°C. This will influence your clothing choices as well as any additional gear you may require.


  • Always make sure to check what's already on board your boat before packing.
  • The space on a yacht is limited, which is why it's crucial to save space where you can.
  • Do not pack bulky items, too many clothes, or valuables.
  • Choose the right clothing, keep makeup and jewelry minimal, and bring waterproof bags to protect valuables and electronics.
  • Before your trip, inform your travel party of the yacht's name and the meeting place.

Essentials to Pack for a BVI Trip

When packing, it's important to consider the climate, space limitations on yachts, and the nature of the sailing trip. In this section, we will cover clothing essentials, medicinal supplies, and necessary documentation to bring along.

Clothing essentials

Since the climate in the BVI is fairly consistent, with daily temperatures ranging from 29 to 32 degrees Celsius, it is advantageous to pack lightweight and quick-drying clothes. Make sure to include:

  • Swimwear: You'll be spending most of your time in or near the water, so multiple swimsuits are vital. Reversible swimwear can save space in your luggage.

  • Breathable tops and bottoms: Opt for moisture-wicking materials to keep you dry and comfortable all day.

  • Light jackets or sweatshirts: Evenings might get chilly, so pack a lightweight layer for those cooler nights.

  • Sun protection: Hats, sunglasses, and UV-rated clothing will help protect your skin from the sun's harsh rays.

Medicinal supplies

While you're on your BVI sailing trip, it's essential to stay healthy and be prepared for any medical situations. Here are some items to include in your first-aid kit:

  • Pain relievers: Ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen for headaches or other aches and pains.

  • Motion sickness medication: Just in case you or a crewmate experience seasickness.

  • Sunscreen and after-sun care: High-SPF sunscreen to protect your skin and aloe vera or another cooling gel for sunburn relief.

  • Band-aids and antiseptics: For treating minor cuts and scrapes during your adventures.

  • Insect repellent: To ward off mosquitoes and other bugs during your trip.


Proper documentation is crucial for a hassle-free BVI sailing trip. Remember to bring the following documents:

  • Passport: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from your planned departure date.

  • Travel documents: This includes your boat rental agreement, travel itinerary, and any necessary tickets or reservations.

  • Cash (United States Dollars): While some establishments accept credit cards, having cash on hand is still advisable.

Before your trip, inform your travel party of the name of the yacht and the meeting location (e.g., the marina name), as BVI immigration authorities will require this information upon your arrival.

If you're planning to go on an extended sailing trip, here are 41 sailboat cruising essentials to bring with you.

Sailing Gear Basics

Nautical charts

First and foremost, you should have nautical charts of the area you'll be sailing in. These charts will provide essential information about water depths, navigational hazards, and anchorages in the BVI. While many modern boats are equipped with electronic navigation systems, it's always a good idea to carry a set of paper charts as a backup.

Tools and spares

A well-equipped toolbox will save you a lot of headaches out on the water. Ensure that you pack a variety of wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, sockets, and hex keys to cover most repairs. A multi-tool may also be a useful addition, as it combines several essential tools in one compact package.

In addition to tools, bring along some commonly needed spare parts. This could include items such as:

  • Spare batteries for your flashlight, navigation devices, and other electronics
  • Spare fuses and bulbs for your boat's electrical system
  • Extra ropes and lines in various sizes
  • Spare shackles, cleats, and blocks
  • Duct tape and sealants for temporary fixes

Always double-check what your boat already has on board and pack accordingly. For a complete packing list of the sailing gear essentials for a trip anywhere, you can review this guide.

Food and Hygiene

Meal preparations

When packing for your BVI sailing trip, it's important to consider the meals you'll be having onboard. Think about non-perishable food items and easy-to-prepare meals that can be enjoyable in the limited space of a yacht. Here are some suggestions for your sailing pantry:

  • Canned goods: tuna, beans, fruits, and vegetables
  • Packaged foods: pasta, rice, and trail mix
  • Snacks: granola bars, nuts, and dried fruits
  • Condiments: olive oil, salt, pepper, and your favorite sauces

Don't forget to bring reusable water bottles to stay hydrated during your trip, as well as a compact cooking set for preparing meals. It's also a good idea to pack a cooler with ice packs to keep perishable items, such as cheese, yogurt, and fresh fruits, chilled and fresh.

Sanitation supplies

Maintaining hygiene while sailing is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable trip. Be sure to pack the following items for your voyage:

  • Toilet paper: Opt for biodegradable kinds to minimize your impact on the environment
  • Hand sanitizer: A must-have for maintaining cleanliness, especially when freshwater might be limited
  • Soap and shampoo: Preferably in bar form to save space and reduce plastic waste
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste: Don't forget these essentials for your daily oral hygiene routine
  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays with a high-SPF, water-resistant sunscreen
  • Insect repellent: Keep those pesky bugs at bay while enjoying your evenings on deck or onshore excursions

Finally, it's a good idea to bring a multipurpose cleaning solution to help keep your living spaces clean and fresh, as well as a few microfiber towels for drying off after swims or cleaning up the yacht.

A reliable and accurate compass

Make sure to pack a high-quality marine compass that is easy to read and will endure the marine environment. A hand-bearing compass can also be beneficial for taking bearings on landmarks and other vessels in the area. This will help you navigate confidently in the beautiful waters of the BVI while maintaining a friendly and enjoyable tone.

A trustworthy GPS device

Whether you choose a stand-alone GPS unit or a sailing-specific app for your smartphone, ensure that it is up-to-date, water-resistant, and easy to use. A proper GPS device will allow you to track your course, monitor your speed, and alert you to potential hazards, providing you with peace of mind during your trip to the British Virgin Islands.

BVI nautical map

Finally, don't forget to pack a detailed BVI nautical map. These charts will provide you with essential information about water depths, anchorages, and the local environment. Familiarize yourself with the map before departure and consult it regularly during your journey. Remember to combine GPS data with your compass and nautical map for a comprehensive understanding of your surroundings, ensuring a safe and enjoyable sailing experience in the picturesque BVI.

What Not to Pack

Firstly, avoid bringing too many clothes. Instead, opt for quick-drying clothes that can be easily washed and reused during the trip. Don't forget that you'll mostly be in your swimsuit, so there's no need for formal or fancy outfits. Also, leave those high heels and heavy shoes at home. Stick to comfortable footwear like sandals or water shoes.

When it comes to gadgets, you can leave your hair dryer and other hairstyling tools at home. The tropical climate and constant exposure to water won't allow for elaborate hairstyles anyway. Instead, bring along basic haircare accessories such as hair ties, headbands, or a hat to keep your hair manageable.

It's not necessary to bring large quantities of toiletries with you. Often, these items can be purchased in the BVI or provided by your sailing charter service. To save space in your luggage, opt for travel-sized toiletries or cut down on unnecessary items.

Overpacking your suitcase with valuables can be both a security risk and a burden on your trip. Keep expensive jewelry and electronics to a minimum. You won't have much use for them while sailing and swimming in the beautiful turquoise waters of the BVI. Instead, focus on protecting the essentials like your passport, identification, and money.

Lastly, skip bulky items such as large beach towels and regular-sized pillows. Instead, opt for lighter, quick-drying microfiber towels and a small travel pillow if necessary.

Packing Tips for a BVI Sailing Trip

Choose the right clothing: It's essential to bring comfortable, quick-drying clothes for your trip. Pack items such as tank tops, lightweight shorts, and swimsuits. Since cabin space on a yacht is typically limited, avoid bringing bulky items or too many clothes.

Layered sun protection: The sun can be intense while sailing, so it's crucial to keep yourself protected. In addition to sunscreen, consider bringing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and lightweight clothing that covers your skin. Nights can get windy, so a light windbreaker is also a good idea.

Shoes: Comfortable shoes are necessary for your BVI sailing trip. Prepare for both on-deck and off-deck activities by packing non-slip sailing shoes and a pair of flip-flops or sandals for beach excursions.

Keep makeup and jewelry minimal: Less is definitely more when it comes to makeup and jewelry on a sailing trip. It's best to leave valuable items or things that can get tangled or lost easily behind.

Waterproof bags: Your valuables and electronics need protection from water when you're sailing. It's worth investing in a waterproof bag to keep them safe and dry, especially when going onshore for activities.

Don't forget the essentials: Important items like your passport, sailing documents, and any required medications should be packed with care. Also, make sure to bring some cash for possible expenses while exploring the islands.

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