10 Essentials for a Tropical Vacation

Text by: Kelsey Begg

Billabong, Body Glove, Brixton, Columbia, Corkcicle, Eagle Creek, Herschel Supply Co., hydro flask, June Swimwear, Klean Kanteen, RVCA, The North Face, Vans, YETI. 10 Essentials for a Tropical Vacation

The new year is always a fun time to plan new vacations and fill up the crisp, blank pages in your new agenda. Having important dates to remember and get excited for is always a great antidote for long days at the office. Our list of tropical vacation essentials will get you one step closer to getting away from it all. 

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Tropical Vacation Essentials

For the folks who cringe at temperatures dropping below zero in the forecast, you’re most likely looking for any opportunity to pack up your suitcase with your favourite swimsuit, sandals, sunglasses, sunscreen and of course inflatable flamingo, all ready for you to head for tropical beaches and fruity drinks at the swim-up bar. Vitamin D and vitamin sea await those who dream of a tropical getaway.

To help you out, here’s our list of top 10 tropical vacation essentials – plus a couple of helpful reminders. From swimsuits to sandals to sunglasses to hats, beach essentials and even inclement weather emergency shells, check out the list and make sure you’re all set for fun in the sun. 

1. Swimsuits

Of course you’re going to hit the beach, rivers, lakes and natural water-slides because what’s a tropical vacation without some fun in the water? Having at least two swimsuits that you can rotate is perfect—while one dries or is being cleaned (hand washed in a sink) you can wear the other.

June Swimwear Charlie One Piece

A classic one-piece with cute pattern, the smooth-wearing June Swimwear Charlie stretches comfortably. Get your tan on with the plunging back


Body Glove Smoothies Alani Swim Top

Super comfortable bikini tops don’t get better than the Alani by Body Glove. Clean lines and a multi-strap back detail reveal just enough on the beach. 


O’Neill Hyperfreak Heist Boardshorts

Comfortable and stretchy, the Hyperfreak boardshorts come with a handy zip pocket and are anti-rash all over. 


Rip Curl Mirage Windward Boardshorts

Rip Curl makes another ultra-comfy cool boardshort. The Mirage Windwards are the right length, feel and look you’ll want for all-day lounging or swimming – take your pick. 


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2. Sandals

Sandals let your feet to get the fresh air they need and you can enjoy walking with your toes in the sand without much fuss. From straps and stability to quick on-off thong-style sandals, you’ll love getting out of office shoes and winter boots and free your feet. We’ve got a selection for him and her below. 

Chaco Z/1 Chromatic Classic Sandals – Women

Simplicity and a custom fit? Only from Chaco. These women’s-specific Chromatic models have what they call a Luvseat midsole. One day in these and you’ll fall for them too. The outsole is thick enough for cushioned steps and grippy enough for wet or slick surfaces. And the lugs will serve you well on muddy or dirt trails through the jungle. Anti-microbial too.


Merrell Terran Post II Sandal – Women

Merrell brings their air-cushioning from hikers to beach sandals in a perfect, breathable leather sandal. A leather upper and stretch collar make for premium comfort. And seriously, is there anything better than stepping into memory foam? We love our Terran Post II‘s and can’t take them off all summer. 


Birkenstock Arizona Birko-Flor – Unisex

The timeless wonder that is Birkenstock oozes comfort – now with added toe room in the Arizona Birko-Flor. The contoured cork footbed absorbs shock and there aren’t an easier pair of sandals to slip on and off. They wick moisture too. It feels like stepping into your own footprint. 


Volcom Victor Sandals – Men

The Victor sandals by Volcom don’t slip and feel great, with a smooth upper and footbed that keeps things bouncy and light. There’s a non-scuff outsole and a comfortable thong. Seriously, nothing says tropical vacation more than these. 

3. Sunglasses

Harmful UV rays are serious business—make sure you pack some sunglasses for your trip. Polarized and stylish, they are a tropical vacation essential for those from more northern climes. Protect your eyes from the deep glare of the sun. You can go lighter colours or all-mirror, sporty framing or sleek and chic. The beauty of shades is the mystery they bring. With a sunglass leash, they hang conveniently around your neck too.

Oakley Feedback Polarized Sunglasses

Teardrop is always in style, and Oakley knows it. The Feedback sunglasses are light, comfy, sleek and bronze. The snug, comfy head wrap fit means no slipping issues. That wire front shape is called C5 – we call it classic. Pair with whatever outfit you choose, from tanning to sunset at the bar. 


Julbo Vermont Classic Sunglasses

Bendable, full 360-degree protection isn’t just for the mountains. Wear the Vermont Classics with a summer dress and knock em out up and down the boardwalk. Leather covers don’t let harmful rays seep in, and a lightweight polycarbonate frame resists shocks and drops.


Maui Jim Sunny Days Polarized Sunglasses

Thin, clear lenses with polarization keep you protected and offer the highest contrast around. The Sunny Days even work in cloudy weather (heaven forbid). Glare control and colour enhancement help you see better in bright sunlight or overcast days. 


Ray-Ban Polarized Silver MirroR Chromance

Hydrophobic coatings will be a treat at the beach. Lounge in the chair or take a quick run – the Chromance by Ray-Ban always seem to have that perfect balance between style and tech, active and relaxation.

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4. Daypack

A quick trip to the beach or a hike in the jungle will require a bag that does the job but doesn’t swarm all over your back. These lightweight compact bag choices make for easy carrying. The best thing about them is that they become everyday or weekend essentials long after your vacation is over – until the next time you venture south. 

Osprey Tempest 20L Backpack

Women’s specific fitting, cushy air foam panel, roomy interior with plenty of pockets and attachments, the Tempest hiker is the perfect day bag for the beach too. 


Fjallraven Kanken Backpack 16L

Nothing more alluring than the Kanken backpacks – but it’s more than just a pretty face. The boxy style is rugged and spacious, and you can even remove the backpad to use as a foam seat.  


5. Water Bottle

A reusable water bottle is crucial for any trip because you need to stay hydrated. A stainless steel water bottle that holds a decent amount of water so you’re not having to run to find a tap after 3 sips is best. These stainless steel bottles are just the thing, packed with insulating technology to keep drinks cool long after you pack them.

Hydro Flask 32oz Wide Mouth Bottle

All the safety, clean construction and durability you’re looking for in a water bottle is found in the legendary Hydro Flask Wide Mouth. No-slip grip and lifetime warranty too. 


YETI Rambler Bottle 26oz

Pour in 26 ounces of your fave bevvy for the beach into the Rambler and sling it along with the easy-carry handle. Throw it in the dishwasher and reload the next day. 


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6. Rainjackets

Is there anything worse than being caught out in the rain wearing nothing more than a tee and shorts? Don’t worry – grab a lightweight, waterproof, packable rain jacket and stay outside to explore. Breathable shells with vents are a must when travelling to hot, humid countries. 

Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Shell – Women

Waterproof, with pit zips to keep airflow going and stretch for movement, the StormLine Stretch is a great rain shell to have just in case. Made for mountains but great in a pinch wherever you are. 


The North Face Venture 2 Jacket – Men

Pack the Venture 2 small and relax if the clouds roll in. Waterproof and very breathable fabric means it works great in warmer climates, meaning you don’t have to scurry for cover when the rain hits. 


7. Money belt / passport holder

Without money, you are a little stuck and may be quite bored and hungry very quick so don’t forget your money. Do some research before you leave for your trip so you are aware of the type of currency that is used where you are headed. Without a passport, you’re just standing in an airport with a suitcase and a dream of sipping margaritas on a white sandy beach so don’t forget it. Depending on where you are headed, the less fancy and flashy hipbag, the better.

Eagle Creek RFID Blocker Neck Wallet

RFID blocker tech and a ripstop fabric make this Neck Wallet a secure essentials carrier that is built for passports and cash. Sling it across your body and under a tee for discreet carrying. 


Eagle Creek Undercover Money Belt

For those who prefer the more traditional hip belt but don’t want to stand out, this low profile Money Belt secures important docs and money and packs small when you need it to.


9. Hat

When the sun is hot and you can feel your forehead and the back of your neck baking, you’re going to wish you had a hat to throw on. Whether you bring a ball cap, a 5-panel hat, a fisherman’s hat or a big ol’ straw sunhat, any hat will give you that extra bit of protection and keep you shielded from the sun.

Billabong Tipton Hat – Unisex

Surfs up and the sun is out, so pop on the lifeguard-style Tipton Hat and stay protected. There’s an adjustable chin strap and a beach vibe that lasts all vacation long. 


Reef Moment Hat

Seize the moment – and slow down in the Moment Hat by Reef. Airy mesh back panels and a high foam peak make this cool beach ballcap comfortable in the heat. 


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10. Towel

There’s nothing worse than forgetting your towel and having to scramble around for something more worthy than a small face cloth to dry yourself. Quick-drying towels are perfect for a tropical vacation. They dry quickly so you’re ready for the next adventure in no time. If you prefer quilty luxurious towels, there are a few beach towel options as well.


Channel Woven Towel


Sea to Summit

Tek Towel


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Sunscreen & Lip Balm

First and foremost, you’ve got to pack sunscreen. Where there are tropical sandy beaches and turquoise waters, there are lobster-red sunburns waiting to happen. Avoid wincing in pain in every position you lie in bed your first night by remembering to pack a tube of sunscreen. When the sun is roasting your skin, it is also roasting your lips although you may not notice it. Lip balm is an important necessity to pack no matter where you go, especially in dry climates.

If you really want to get a tan, no problem, there are a variety of levels of SPF so if a tan is a must, just go for a lower SPF. What we often forget is how much stronger the sun rays are in different parts of the world, so even with sunscreen, you can get a tan.

Aloe Vera or After Sun Lotion

We all know how painful a sunburn can be and how much relief can be found in a cold wet towel or cold shower. For those days where you really slacked off while putting on sunscreen, having a tube of aloe vera after sun gel or any other kind of after sun cream will be your savior.

The aloe vera after sun gel is the best in my opinion because its cool and soothing. If you have a fridge where you’re staying, you can increase the relief factor by storing the tube in the fridge so it can be even colder.

Bon Voyage!

Eliminate any packing stress by writing yourself a packing list a few days before you have to start packing for your trip. This will give you time to think about what you really need, remember items you may have forgotten in your first brainstorm and allow you to think with a clear, calm mind. Once you’ve got the essentials, you can fill up your bag with the rest of your gear, zip it up then head for the plane!

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