What to Wear & Bring: Packing List for The Bahamas

By Stacey Ebert

The planes that fly between the islands can be very tiny. Consider taking only a daypack if you’re island hopping, and keeping your packing list for The Bahamas light.

I went to The Bahamas on my first family cruise and my parents actually went there on their honeymoon. Their stories of the Freeport beaches and neighboring islands as well as our own experience of a dip in the pool at The Atlantis, shopping in Nassau, and sharing the magic of the island culture are memorable. The Bahamas was one of my first island experiences and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Complete with delightful people, friendly attitudes, beautiful beaches, and weather that was better than we could have imagined, The Bahamas kept my beach heart happy and my travel soul fulfilled.

As with any other destination, you can find yourself feeling like a tourist or embracing the role of traveling adventurer. If you’re on a cruise in the Bahamas, maybe try to head further from the ports and get access beyond the gates to the true islands. If you’re flying in and staying at a grand resort, give yourself some time to wander a bit further from the edges of the property to check out life lived as a local. Ditch the guidebooks and go rogue – you’re bound to find even more beautiful beaches, genuine people, and delicious eats.

But, before you go, use this packing list for The Bahamas to make sure you’re prepared for your island adventures.

Bahamas Luggage: What’s the Best Bag to Use for Your Trip?

The planes that fly between the islands can be very tiny and have stricter size and weight allowances for luggage than your flight to The Bahamas will. While your first checked bag is free on Bahamas Air, you don’t necessarily have to check a bag. Bahamas Air allows you to bring one personal item and one carry on item on board, so long as your carry on is less than 22 x 14 x 9 inches and weighs less than 20lbs (9kg).

Tortuga’s Outbreaker Backpack fits perfectly within these size restrictions and won’t eat as much into your weight allowance as a suitcase (compare that to Away’s Carry On Suitcase, which weighs 8lbs). A travel backpack will be much easier to manage than a suitcase, and easier to stay organized than a hiking backpack. The Outbreaker Backpack opens like a suitcase so you don’t have to dump out your entire bag looking for your last clean pair of socks.

If you really want to travel light, consider taking only a daypack if you’re island hopping. After all, how much room does your beachwear really take up?

When’s the Best Time to Go to The Bahamas?

The islands are always open, always welcoming, and always waiting for you; when do you want to go? As a kid, I remember going on school holidays – you know, the busiest and most crowded time of year. Some travelers risk the hurricane season and visit in summer where they enjoy blue skies, lower prices, and no need for advanced dinner reservations. Whether you’re running from the winter doldrums or adding Caribbean delight to your already warm summer, there’s never a bad time to visit The Bahamas… except when you cross paths with a hurricane. They’re rare, but they happen.

Mid December through mid April is the most popular time to visit The Bahamas and has the best weather. However, early December, early January, and late February are the best times to go if you want a more budget-friendly trip.

  • Hurricane season: Early June through the end of November. Prices are lower, but they come with a risk.
  • Rainy season: May through November.
  • Peak season: Mid December to mid April. FYI – many hotels book very far in advance for this time period, especially around Christmas. Make reservations 3-6 months in advance.
  • Better on the budget: Before Christmas or early January, or late February (before/after Junkanoo Winter Festival and prior to the arrival of spring breakers).
  • Off season: Mid April through mid December when the crowds are lighter (beware of Hurricane season – buy travel insurance).

Places to Visit in The Bahamas

What Special Events Should You Attend in The Bahamas?

Show Me the Money!

For the most part, the Bahamian dollar remains on par with US dollar and both are welcome and accepted interchangeably on all islands. Most major credit cards are accepted and ATM machines/banks are readily available.

Your Year-Round Packing List for The Bahamas

When putting together your packing list for The Bahamas, consider the weather, outdoor activities, and any dress codes for nights out. Many of the hotels, restaurants and casinos require jackets for men at night and a slightly more upscale ensemble for women – especially those in Nassau or Paradise Island and Freeport. Take your evenings into consideration when packing and consider upgrading to a heels or dressier sandals if nights on the town are on your itinerary.

Paddle boarding, snorkeling, and swimming with animals might well be on your itinerary. In The Bahamas, you can swim with stingrays, dolphins, turtles and even pigs. A swim shirt or rash guard might be in order.

Clothing to Pack for The Bahamas

Toiletries to Pack for The Bahamas

Everything you need is available in The Bahamas and you can always pick up whatever you forget. Rely on hotel freebies, but pack your few favorites in those small containers, fling them in your bag and you’re on your way!

  • Tissues/handkerchiefs (small packs for emergencies)
  • Baby wipes (small packages for hand washing or airport freshen-ups)
  • Soap
  • Shampoo & conditioner (consider shampoo bars instead)
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • Shaving requirements
  • Contact lens supplies 
  • Feminine hygeine products of choice
  • Makeup
  • Hair products & accessories
  • Travel towel
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen (you can always find some, but if you need a specific brand, bring with you)
  • Face stick sunscreen or zinc (for those long days on the water)
  • Baby powder (for sand removal ease when heading out straight from the beach)
  • Deodorant

Accessories to Pack for The Bahamas

Those trendy shades, the quintessential hat, and an Instagram worthy necklace can change your day wear to evening wear in the blink of an eye. Whether you’re getting your glam on at Atlantis or keeping wrinkles at bay beneath a stylish hat, pack these accessories for your trip to The Bahamas:

Electronics and Tech to Pack for The Bahamas

Whether you’re attending an international work retreat, or just keeping up with the news and your social media from your beach chair, pack the following electronics for your trip to The Bahamas:

Electrical outlets in The Bahamas are compatible with most American devices at 120 volts. American travelers will not need an adaptor. If your gear comes from somewhere else in the world, consider an adapter and converter to give your gear the juice it needs.

Packing for Travel Wellness in The Bahamas

No one wants to be sick on their travel journey. Whether you’re there for business, pleasure, or a little bit of both, keep yourself as healthy as possible with your own wellness regimen. Stay hydrated, eat healthy, and get that much needed vitamin D. But, if after all of your efforts, the travel yuck still hits – it’s best to be prepared with a few essentials of your own.

  • Personal medication essentials plus EpiPen if necessary (carry copies of prescriptions)
  • Travel first aid kit: Imodium, ibuprofen, antacid tablets, Benadryl
  • Allergy & asthma meds, inhalers, eye drops
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Anti-itch cream for bug bites
  • Bandaids

Can You Pack Food in Your Luggage When Traveling to The Bahamas?

Yes, you can pack food in your carry on luggage when flying to The Bahamas–so long as you are not bringing any fresh fruits, vegetables, or dairy products. Packaged or tinned food, like protein bars or packets of oatmeal, are good options if you want to have snacks on hand or save money on eating out.

Packing Tips for The Bahamas

Since we’re always trying to pack as much as possible into each visit to a new spot, take a moment to make your list, check it twice, and leave room for spontaneous excursions. Packing light will make your whole trip more enjoyable.

Here are some tips for staying organized as you pack for The Bahamas:

  • Whether you’re on a cruise, honeymoon, or laid-back vacation keep your packing list light
  • Pack all of your chargers and cables in a separate small bag, or packing cube for easy access.
  • Use travel size containers for jewelry, toiletries, and personal items.
  • Add dryer sheets in between your clothes keep things smelling fresh.
  • Consider rolling your clothes to save space
  • Use every bit of accessible space (socks in sneakers, hair ties in makeup bag)
  • Think about throwing in a travel sewing kit for any clothing emergencies

Pack Extras Only if There’s Room

A favorite scarf, extra travel wallet, the guidebook that you can’t find on your tablet–these are the items that you can totally live without. But, if it’s possible, you’d love to have them with you to make life that much more fun. Only pack them if you have extra space in your bag

  • Money belt or small travel wallet
  • Extra scarf or accessories
  • Favorite guidebook 
  • Eco-friendly water bottle
  • Fitness tracker & charger (who knows how many steps you’ll get in on your way to the beach?)

The Bahamas offers the novelty of island culture, natural sights, gorgeous beaches, animal friends, and nightlife aplenty.  Whether you’re shopping the straw markets in Nassau, getting your festival on at Junkanoo, or letting it ride amidst the tables in Atlantis, you’re bound to be bit by the island vibe and leave ready to return soon. When packing for your trip to The Bahamas, be sure to:

  • Use a carry on sized bag, like the Outbreaker Backpack for your Bahamas luggage
  • Pack light, especially if you’re flying on inter-island planes
  • Bring beach and pool attire, no matter what time of year it is
  • If your journey is between June and November, bring a rain jacket and book travel insurance! 

See you on the sand!