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Photography by Crimson Photography

Every year, exciting escapes are planned and realised in the beautiful British Virgin Islands.

The high seas and the islands play host to many happy wanderers, including families looking for an adventure—a family sailing trip delivers.

What you pack can make all the difference. If this is your first trip with your family on the open water, you might be wondering what to bring and what to see; here are some tips to accomplish the best in both brackets.

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Babies and Toddlers:

Your floating accommodation will likely be an upgrade in views and mobility, but smaller in space. Since quarters are efficient but close, consider the sleeping arrangements. Fold down travel cots work brilliantly in the cabins, especially the lightweight ones that are long and narrow.

A travel cot also provides a break from worrying about your toddler’s location and can serve as a handy barrier to areas you want blocked off. Typical charter boats do not have netting at the life lines to contain little ones, so lifejackets are important and should be warn at all times; a good rule for older children too.

It becomes the uniform of the boat with no arguments about putting it on each time. Easily packed down baby inflatable floating devices with canopy’s make it possible for little ones to join in the water fun, adding to the family experience.

For families with wee ones: the perfect pairing? Cooper or Peter Island’s quiet beaches, boardwalks, and paths for the stroller, provides plenty of shade, great restaurants, and a lovely cafe at Cooper for caffeine ingestion for sleep deprived parents.

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The pre-schoolers and school-aged children:

The BVI usually has incredible weather but there are no guarantees. To stave off rainy day blues with small children, set up a colouring/entertainment area for poor weather, quiet time while parents finish their coffee, or even a break from the noon day sun with crayons, markers, books and games in the galley.

Beware of the trampoline – it is not for jumping on despite its unfortunate name. Encourage star gazing from it – sailing is also a great time to learn about the ocean, winds, and the vessel so create opportunities for your school-aged child to pick up some sailing tips and how to read a chart.

Many captains will be happy to teach and offer an incredible experience. Pick up a sea guide for the underwater life; many children and adults alike find it very interesting to learn names of snorkel and dive sightings.

Parents and the middle ages: the perfect pairing? Norman Island or Leverick Bay for pirate lore and pirate performances, fun restaurants, and great beaches. Also check out The Indians and The Caves for exciting snorkelling adventures.

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The teens:

Space is limited so pack light.

Assure your teen—prone to over packing—that sixteen outfits won’t be necessary even for the most fashion conscious. For the majority of the trip, one usually wears a bathing suit, t-shirt, or cover up for the boat or island hopping,

As for gear, most charter boats are kitted out with stand up paddle boards, snorkel sets, kayaks and the like for anchoring and beach fun, so you won’t need to pack much entertainment. If bringing technology, remember to use wet bags and Ziploc bags for careful transfers from boat to shore. And speaking of technology, here is a tip I learned from Tim Schaaf of Jet Stream that works well for the selfie-taker who isn’t so keen on having constant sea salty hair – put conditioner in your hair and then rinse with fresh water prior to taking the plunge; it helps facilitate a comb getting through your hair after snorkelling expeditions.

Of course, one has to capture the beauty of our islands with the camera, but remember, the best way to experience the BVI is hands free.

Families with Teen Spirit: the perfect pairing? The Baths and Jost Van Dyke for cool climbs, bubbly pool, funky shops, beach games, and excellent restaurants.

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The rest of the packing list: 

A duffel or wet bag packs down well

3 swimsuits

1-2 rash-guards

1-2 coverups


Beach towels are likely provided by the boat. If not provided bring lightweight and quick dry micro-fibre towels

Sunscreen, some boats have preferences both for sea life and for the boat

A few outfits/shoes for restaurants/ hikes/ sightseeing


Pj’s, it can get cool at night!





Small bag to carry small necessities to shore

Kid/baby friendly food if shopping for yourself and if having the boat provide let them know of any dietary sensitivities or restrictions for any of the passengers

Beach toys

Take these tips and have a wonderful sail. With the stunning beauty and incredible experience, it will be a trip like no other, remembered through the years.