Sunburn in Hawaii? Here’s What to Do

sunburn in Hawaii
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Sunburn in Hawaii? Here’s What to Do

Sunburn in Hawaii — it happens to even the most careful travelers. The island’s proximity to the equator and our endless outdoor activities are the perfect recipe for lobster-hued skin. Read on to learn all about our favorite remedies for a classic Hawaii sunburn.

From Sun Tan to Sun Burn in Hawaii

Hawaii is the perfect place to get a little sun. A golden tan after a vacation in the tropics is almost like a trophy, evidence of your level of relaxation. Getting a few shades darker doesn’t happen in a day, though, and it’s hard to do it in a safe way. 

Many times, sunbathers get carried away with sun exposure and end up red and burnt. There’s nothing worse than starting your Hawaii vacation off with a sunburn.

Sunburn Relief

*This is for educational purposes only and does not substitute medical advice*

However protective and careful you may be with the sun’s harsh rays, it almost seems inevitable that you’ll get a little red during your vacation. Taking care of a sunburn in Hawaii is something you should be prepared for here in the Islands.  

Maybe you forgot to put sunscreen on your legs for the day hike, or missed the tops of your feet at the beach. Another common area for people to get burnt is the tip of their ears, so don’t let this happen to you!

If you know how to deal with sunburn, though, it’ll make your misery a little more bearable. There are all sorts of remedies for sunburns, but here are my top 6 choices.

Aloe: The Classic Remedy for Sunburn in Hawaii

Aloe sunburn releif

It’s one of the most popular sunburn remedies: aloe. It’s particularly popular in its raw form. But aloe gel or lotion works great too. 

Just make sure you find a brand that contains 100% aloe vera gel, or at least a higher amount than a leading brand. 

The aloe vera plant works great for burns because it contains anti-inflammatory properties, as well as factors that help damaged cells regenerate and heal faster. 

It’s a common sunburn remedy in Hawaii, which is why you’ll see it lined on shelves throughout ABC and grocery stores.


Many people don’t consider taking pain medication for sunburns, but Ibuprofen is great to have on hand. The ingredients in it help to reduce the redness and swelling that will occur after a burn. It will also help to relieve some of the pain you’ll feel from your Hawaii sunburn, especially if it’s a bad one!


If your skin is burnt, your body will dehydrate faster. This is because burns draw water to the surface of the skin and away from the body, so it’s important to drink extra water during this time. 

Juices and electrolyte sports drinks help too.

Cold Milk Compress for Sunburn in Hawaii

Soak a washcloth in a bowl of milk and ice cubes and then compress it to your skin until the cloth warms up, then repeat. 

The milk is to help soothe the inflammation, (and will feel refreshing!), and the ice cubes will make the blood vessels contract, which will reduce swelling and redness.

Sliced Cucumber

Cucumber is naturally cool and refreshing, so it’ll feel good on your skin. But the fruit also has antioxidant and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, which promote healing and relieve the discomfort and pain associated with sunburns. 

Slice up an extra cucumber for your friends or family to enjoy a relaxing spa treatment alongside you. They can place cool cucumbers over their eyes. So cucumber is a two-in-one: spa treatment and sunburn relief in Hawaii.

Lotion and Vitamin E Oil

Keep your red skin hydrated with lotion to help soothe, and also to minimize peeling. Banana Boat Aloe After Sun Lotion has worked great for me in the past as well as their gel. 

Vitamin E oil will also help, and can be applied topically or swallowed in its capsule form. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that provides electrons to free radicals and saves healthy molecules from being depleted.

Other Hawaii Sunburn Safety Tips

Prevention is the best step you can take to stay sun-safe in Hawaii. Here are the top ways you can prevent a sunburn during your vacation:

  • Wear reef-safe sunscreen and reapply regularly
  • Put on sun-protective clothing with long sleeves and full shoulder covers if you plan to be out snorkeling or kayaking for more than half an hour at a time. 
  • Don a wide-brimmed hat (or even a baseball cap) to add extra coverage over your face
  • Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet and ears.
  • Don’t save sunscreen for your time in the pool or ocean. Also apply it before walking through town, taking a hike, or driving around. 
  • Spend as much time as possible in the shade and take breaks from the sun indoors.
sunburn protection in Hawaii

Ready to enjoy Hawaii without sunburn pain? Hawaii Aloha Travel can help plan a vacation that includes lots of fun in the sun, but also unforgettable activities to enjoy when your skin needs a break.