Ultimate Sailing Vacation Packing List

The Ultimate Sailing Vacation Packing List

You’ve booked your next sailing vacation and now you need to figure out what to bring. Fear not! We’ve put together our recommended packing list for a sailing vacation with everything you’ll need out on the water.

The below list consists of all the lightweight sailing clothing, gear and accessories you’ll need as well as some recommended extras.

Our quick packing check list:

  1. One T-shirt per day
  2. Reef-safe sun cream and after sun
  3. Credit cards and cash
  4. Duffel bag
  5. Toiletries
  6. Sunglasses
  7. Spec savers
  8. Waterproof phone case
  9. A hat/cap
  10. A few different swimwear options
  11. Deck shoes
  12. Flip flops
  13. Two sets of nice evening wear
  14. Good book or two
  15. Undergarments
  16. Three pairs of shorts
  17. Medication (if necessary)
  18. Pack of playing cards
  19. Insect Repellent
  20. In date passport, credit cards, travel money and important documents (sailing qualifications if you are chartering your own yacht
What to pack on sailing charter

Sailing Vacation Packing List

Reef-Safe Sunblock

During your vacation, you’ll have the opportunity to visit gorgeous reefs and marine ecosystems that need to be protected—including from chemicals in certain forms of sunblock. Be sure to look for reef-safe sunblock to bring on your trip. Don’t forget to pick up some SPF lip balm!


A hat provides sun protection for areas that we often forget about. Your scalp, ears, face, and neck will be protected from unpleasant sunburn under a hat. Look for a hat with a wide enough brim to give you some shade.

Polarized sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses are ideal for your time on the water: polarization reduces glare from the water’s surface. This makes it much easier to observe marine life. Remember: do not touch the reef, shells, or animals!

Rash guards

Rash guards provide great sun protection for your arms, keeping you cool in the heat. Not sure where to pick up sun guards? We’ve got you covered: visit our store for all your sailor-approved gear.

Insulated water bottle

It’s important to stay hydrated. Bring an insulated water bottle for every member of your crew, and refill it regularly. We recommend each crew member drinks one gallon of water per day.


Keep track of important items like your ID, cash, cards, and keys to the yacht and dinghy. A lanyard is a great all-in-one storage spot that ensures you won’t lose anything important! Keep your lanyard close by throughout your trip.

Children’s life vests

Adult-size life vests are available on the vessel. However, these vests may not fit smaller children. We recommend bringing a child’s life vest for each small child you’re bringing aboard.

Snorkel masks

Following the COVID-19 pandemic and out of an abundance of caution, we are no longer providing full face masks for snorkeling. Be sure to pack your own. Fins are provided!

Power converters

You’ll want to make sure you have power converters for your device chargers. Check the specs of your yacht—this information is available on every yacht page. You may not need to bring converters if the yacht has multi-region outlets.

Weather-appropriate clothing

Check the weather forecast for your trip and pack accordingly. Waterproof cold-weather gear or linen fabrics are a great choice. These clothes can keep you warm and dry in the Mediterranean, or nice and cool in the Caribbean and Exotics!

Dry bag

Bring a dry bag for essentials like your phone and wallet. A dry bag will keep these items safe and dry while you’re traveling from the yacht to shore. Whether you take the dinghy or swim to the beach, a dry bag is a must.

Water shoes

Bring a pair of comfortable water shoes with you. Water shoes are essential for excursions, and will help protect your feet from sharp rocks and hot sand. Pack a pair and explore in comfort!


No WiFi? No worries! Download your favorite books, tunes, and movies before you hit the water and avoid buffering during inclement weather or while in remote areas.

What you should never forget to pack:

Applicable sailing license

Be sure you have the applicable sailing license, where required. Some regions require specific licensing. Review the list of where sailing licenses are required.

Passports and other relevant documentation for customs

Your passport and other materials are a must for customs. Check to make sure your passport is up-to-date and readily accessible throughout your trip.


Don’t forget about any medications you or another crew member will need during your trip! Pack all medications in your carry-on to ensure they are available.

Space for souvenirs

Your trip is sure to create lasting memories—and you might want to make a special purchase or two. Leave some room in your luggage for any souvenirs you buy.

What not to pack on sailing charter

What you cannot bring:

While it’s important to know what to bring, it’s equally important to know what to leave at home—some items will not be permitted through customs.

You can buy groceries through our provisioning store in advance, and we’ll put everything on the yacht for you. Visit our main store or the BVI store , which is separate from the other bases, to pick out your groceries.

Check with the customs department for your specific destination, as customs requirements and restrictions may vary.

Examples of items not to pack for a sailing vacation:

  1. Firearms
  2. Certain fruits and vegetables
  3. Animal products and by-products
  4. Coffee and tea
  5. Spices
  6. Live animals (including pets—your pets must stay at home, and cannot be brought aboard the yacht)

What to wear when sailing:

Quick dry UV top

When out on the water, it’s important to keep the sun off your back, while also wearing something that will dry quickly. Helly Hansen’s technical T-shirts have quick drying technology which wicks moisture away from your skin and provides UPF 50+ sun protection. A bonus is that many of its shirts are made from Oceanbound recycled plastics that otherwise would be polluting the ocean.

It’s also a good idea to pack enough quick-drying t-shirts, shorts or sailing trousers so you have a fresh pair every day, as well as a few outer layers or warm tops for the evenings.


Pack a few different swimsuits, bikinis or swim shorts, so that you always have a dry set to wear.

Deck Shoes

Why can’t you wear normal shoes on a yacht? This is a question we’re often asked! Good grip and non-marking soles are a must for the shoes of all your crew to avoid any nasty slips on deck and prevent leaving any marks. Deck soles are usually designed with this in mind, so make a great choice. Chatham have a wide range of options, from stylish boat shoes to sturdy boots.

Second pair of anti-slip shoes or sandals

Bring two pairs of anti-slip deck shoes or sandals. Keep one pair for excursions, and another for walking around the yacht. This helps keep the yacht floors dry and free of debris, which reduces the chances of any painful slips.

Sailing jackets

Even weathermen get caught in the rain sometimes, so it’s always worth having a light jacket wind and waterproof jacket with you. Helly Hansen’s crew jackets are suitable for a variety of conditions thanks to the Helly Tech® Protection. The breathable fabric means you won’t overheat while the fleece lining and waterproof outer layer will keep you snug on chilly or wet days.

Clothes for little sailors

From sun cream to water toys, you’ll almost certainly be packing more things for your kids than yourself, so it’s easy to forget things. Children’s life jackets are available on a first come first serve basis, so we recommend bringing your own. Helly Hansen has everything your little ones will need, from buoyancy aids to sailing jackets. All the same advanced technology from the rest of its ranges goes into the children’s sailing clothes, so they’ll be safe and comfortable while out on the water. What we recommend…

Soft-sided duffel bag

To start, we recommend packing everything into a duffel bag rather than a hard sided suitcase. They’re much easier to carry on and off your yacht and once you’ve unpacked, soft waterproof bags are much easier to stow away. 

Transparent, waterproof phone case

Even though the purpose of a sailing vacation is often to escape the modern world, we would all be lost without our phones, so it’s important to bring the right protection. Avoid splashing out on a GoPro, if you don’t have one, and buy a transparent waterproof case which lets you take underwater pictures, capturing the amazing wildlife you’ll see while snorkelling. Whether you’re an amateur photographer or an avid diver, you’ll want to have a way to capture all your experiences while protecting your phone.


At some point in our lives, we’ve all lost a favourite pair of sunglasses, so it’s worth making an investment to avoid that while sailing. A lightweight fabric strap will do the trick to stop them slipping. If you’re looking for a new pair, bear in mind you’ll be out in the sun for a lot of the day and will need to see where you are going, so prioritise high UV protection with anti-glare lenses. Picking a pair that floats and are designed for sailing will mean your glasses avoid salt and oil stains, meaning you can keep your sights set on that horizon.

Spec savers

If you’re the skipper, you need to look the part and be able to see where you’re heading. To stop your sunglasses slipping off at any moment, invest in a lightweight sunglasses strap. Most products on the market have neoprene fabric that provides a comfortable fit around the back of the neck, so as not to put any added strain on. We’d also recommend you purchase fully floatable and 100% glare-free sunglasses with high UV protection to get the best experience out on the water. Some glasses also come with hydrophobic and oleophobic coating to repel salt residue, fingerprints and oils leaving you with a view as crystal as the waters.

Sailing Gloves

If you plan on helping with the sailing, we really recommend investing in some gloves. They can help you avoid getting nasty rope burns and blisters while providing plenty of grip while handling the ropes. Helly Hansen’s short fingered gloves offer extra protection, just remember to take them off when you’re moored to avoid some interesting tan lines.

What to leave off your packing list

From general kit to sailing equipment, so that you know what to leave off your packing list, take a look at what is included on a bareboat yacht charter.

The fun stuff…

Bottle of Lost Years Rum

To fully unwind on board your yacht, we can recommend the delicious taste of award-winning Lost Years Rum, Sunsail’s official rum partner. As a brand, it is dedicated to creating a range of outstanding rums, devoted to saving endangered sea turtles. Lost Years works closely with its charity partner, SEE Turtles, a company that helps fund community-based conservation at key nesting sites across the Caribbean and Latin America. In the brand’s first year alone, it raised enough money to save more than 31,000 sea turtles!

Watch a video featuring Sunsail Ambassador Dee Caffari trying out our favorite cocktail recipes using Lost Years rum for some island inspiration.

Portable Speaker

Finally, a portable Bluetooth speaker is a great thing to pack as a lightweight item. Set the mood with your favorite songs or sit back with a podcast. Just make sure you bring someone who can find the right tune to match your vacation vibe.

Author Name: 


Ian Pedersen

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