Tanning Safely in Hawaii – Top 5 Sunscreens for Protecting Reefs

Sunburned in Hawaii
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Tanning Safely in Hawaii – Top 5 Sunscreens for Protecting Reefs

Want to know the secret to a rockin’ tan?


Yes, sunscreen has potential in giving you that golden glow, so if you want to tan the right way, then you’ve got to do it the safe way. Find a sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 and apply generously. Reapply as needed, probably every couple of hours, and make sure to let it soak for at least 15 minutes before jumping into the ocean or pool.

Despite countless skincare campaigns, there are still those out there who think they can get away with zero screen. Not only will that leave them red but very sorry as well. The pain that comes from a burn isn’t always nice; it can hang around for days and make even smiling a chore. Not to mention, there’s the long-term effect of not protecting your skin, and that could come in the form of cancer.

In addition to screen, make sure to wear protective gear. Hats, visors, sunglasses all work great. If you want to make sure your face tans evenly with your body, then use the gear intermittently. Just be mindful of how long you’re exposed.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing sunscreen in Hawaii:

  • Broad-spectrum: Choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Water resistance: If you’ll be swimming or sweating, choose a sunscreen that is water-resistant for at least 40 minutes.
  • Skin type: Consider your skin type when choosing a sunscreen. If you have sensitive skin, look for a hypoallergenic sunscreen that is free of fragrance and parabens.

Reef-safe: Since 2021, Hawaii has banned the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, as these chemicals have been linked to coral bleaching. Choose sunscreens that are labelled as reef-safe and contain mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Here are our top 5 specific recommendations for reef-safe sunscreens to use in Hawaii:

  • Sun Bum Mineral: This SPF 50 sunscreen is water-resistant for 80 minutes and is made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60: This oil-free, fragrance-free sunscreen is a good option for oily or acne-prone skin.
  • Thinksport SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen: This mineral sunscreen is available in a variety of forms, including lotion, spray, and stick. It is also vegan and cruelty-free.
  • Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30: This fragrance-free, hypoallergenic sunscreen is a good option for people with sensitive skin.
  • Alba Botanica Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch SPF 50 Sunscreen: This oxybenzone- and octinoxate-free sunscreen is a good budget-friendly option.

Even if you don’t plan to tan but may just be visiting someplace outdoors, then it is still just as important to lather on the sunscreen. You might not even realize that you’re getting burned until you get back to the hotel mirror! As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry (and sunburned).