Caribbean sailing trips are the perfect vacation for busy families to disconnect from the stresses of life and reconnect as a family. With over 60 islands and cays to sail to and explore, the US and the British Virgin Islands offer many different activities to keep everyone engaged, active, and having the time of their lives. To make the most out of your vacation with children, we have compiled a list of 10 essentials you should pack for an unforgettable family yacht charter.
What to Pack for Entertainment and Family Memories
“On your boat, we were all able to disconnect from devices and social media and spend quality time together as a family. We enjoyed it all—snorkeling, paddle–boarding, swimming, hiking, hanging out on the trampoline or quietly reading while taking in the sun and waves.”
1. GoPro Cameras for a Montage of Your Family Sailing Trip
Your Caribbean yacht charter will be sailing you to some of the most spectacular places on earth for:
Having a lightweight underwater camera with a pole will allow your family to capture the beauty above and below the water. Turtles, rays, dolphins, and even whales can become the stars of your daily videos, and these make for a fantastic travelogue that you will enjoy editing and sharing with friends and family when you return home. It is a project for the whole family to get involved in together. Make sure to bring a big memory card and a recharging device for the camera.
Sailing trips are already a real pleasure for the senses. Add in fantastic music while you cruise by the shore and you have
an utterly marvelous experience of sight, smell, and sound.
Creating a music playlist for your vacation is also another fun activity the whole family can get together to plan. Most modern charter yachts have iPod hookups to their stereo system, so you can play your own music on board, or listen to theirs.
Downloading a few favorite movies onto an IPAD is a good idea for your family’s trip. The boats all have an abundant selection of movies on board, and some of them even have pull-down screens in the aft sitting lounge for an outdoor theater experience. Videos are ideal for the occasional rainy day, or an evening when the parents want to go ashore and have some fun.
3. A Sketchbook and Colored Pencils Create the Perfect Journal
Sketchbooks are a great idea for a family memento. Everybody can take a page and write something about the day’s adventures or discoveries and illustrate it. This activity will be perfect for kids during down times: at anchorages, while meals are being prepared, mornings when parents might want to sleep in a little longer. The boats all have Caribbean books on board for identifying the endless types of colorful fish you will see on the reef, to help inspire their creativity. Creating a vivid diary is a fun and educational activity for the kids–and adults!
4. Books About the Caribbean or About Sailing
Treasure Island is a terrific book to be reading during this trip since Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic is said to be based on Norman Island. The book Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi is about a young girl’s solo sailing trip around the world, making it fitting for the quiet times sailing between destinations.
5. A Favorite Family Game Instead of Electronics
The boat will have games, but we recommend you bring your own too! After dinner, families particularly enjoy hanging out around the outdoor table and playing different games. It’s a nice change from the television or the computer screens. If you find that your kids are still spending too much time looking at their phones, you can even ask your Captain to limit the WiFi on board. Some Captains make rules of 1 hour in the morning and evening to help families disconnect and reconnect.
What to Pack for the Caribbean Sailing Weather
“Beautiful weather, fabulous days filled with great food, snorkeling, beach exploration and Paradise: Caribbean expectations were wildly exceeded.”
6. Raincoat with Hood
Dinghy riding at night can be a bit wet, which means you’ll want something to protect you from becoming cold and damp. As well, sometimes there is short, intermittent rain. You and your kids will be happy if they can stay dry during those times while remaining outside enjoying the sailing.
7. Flip Flops for Land Time
It’s always good to get off the boat for some land time. Barefoot goes most places in the casual beach environments of the BVI, but for dinner ashore or an excursion, your kids will need to at least have flip flops. We recommend flip flops or Teva sandals because you will be leaving your shoes in the dinghy while on board the boat and going barefoot. So having something they can easily put on or kick off is best.
8. Long-Sleeved, SPF Rash Guards
Your kids are going to be spending lots of time in the water: snorkeling, tubing, swimming or just jumping off of the decks. The warm, crystal clear sea is irresistible to kids, and parents know it is a struggle to get your kids to halt every hour or so to reapply sunscreen. The Caribbean sun is so intense so even dark skin tones can easily get burned here. And let’s face it, nothing ruins a vacation like a bad sunburn!
The remedy is SPF long-sleeved rash guards: an easier prevention method than sunscreen alone. These quick dry shirts not only keep the sun off, but they’ll keep everyone warmer in the water during an extended snorkeling expedition.
We recommend you pack two of them per child: one for wearing in the water and one for wearing ashore. The Caribbean Sea is super salty, and the rash guard can cause a rash if worn for walks ashore while still damp and full of salt. Dressing in a dry rash guard ashore will prevent your kids from getting uncomfortable rashes.
9. Sunscreen and Sunglasses
Remember that hot sun we were talking about? The backs of the legs and tops of the feet are the places most overlooked on sailing trips for sun protection, so they tend to get burned. Re-applying quality sunscreen to these areas is necessary.
Ensure you pack a sunscreen with a high SPF. Creams are favored over sprays on board as the sprays can deteriorate the non-stick decks. An after-sun cream with Aloe as a first ingredient is also a good idea.
The sun is bright and produces a lot of glare off of the white decks of your charter yacht. To protect your child’s sensitive eyes, pack sturdy sunglasses with UV protection. It might be a good idea to bring two pairs per child (in case they get lost) and attach the cords that hold them around their necks.
If your child is on medication, make sure you refill them before your sailing vacation. As well, think ahead for any severe allergies your child has (such as to bees) and bring an EpiPen.
The tropical environment of the Caribbean combined with the constant salt air during your yacht charter creates a pervasive moistness which can exacerbate bumps or bites. If you have kids that tend to break out into rashes, then bring Benadryl and hydrocortisone cream along, too.
While onboard you will not need to fight off any mosquitoes or insects as the yacht will be anchored off the land in breezy mooring areas. However, occasionally honey bees do land on board looking for water or rest.
Also, if you go ashore for dinner or are on a beach at dusk the Caribbean’s infamous “No-See-Ums” can attack. You may not see them, but you may feel their itchy bite. Your charter yacht will have bug spray with Deet for shore excursions, but make sure to have hydrocortisone cream as well if you have a child with sensitive skin.
Caribbean sailing trips are quickly becoming one of the most popular vacations for families looking to explore a destination in a new way while spending time together. Celebrating a graduation or similar milestone? These are excellent excuses to book a yacht charter – and the beginning of what will become your most spectacular vacation yet. So, what are you waiting for– pack your carry-on bags and get down here! We’ve got the best charter yachts under the sun, waiting to show you the best time of your lives.