Help Protect Hawaii’s Reefs

Sun Screen Safe for Coral Reefs

Simply put, using coral safe sunscreen is essential in protecting Hawaii’s unique and invaluable eco-system. Many of our guests plan ahead for visiting our sunny shores by packing sunscreen, but some recent research (the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology) on the health of our coral reefs has shown that certain brands and types of sunscreen can be damaging to our ocean’s ecosystem.

We’ve had guests asking about what eco-friendly sunscreen they can bring. Many other tropical destinations around the world promote the use of biodegradable sunscreens when spending time out in the water, as these will break down naturally. Often, the culprit of these damaging effects is the ingredient oxybenzone, which is used to filter UV rays, or preservatives such as butylparaben. Recent research has shown that there are high concentrations of oxybenzone near the shores of Hawaii and in the Caribbean.

When people wear traditional sunblock, the water will wash away some of the oils, which then settle like a film on our coral’s delicate ecosystems. The film can infect or bleach an adult coral reef, be fatal to baby coral, or the chemicals can even disrupt and change the hormones of our fish life.

The study above found that each year, between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen ends up in the world’s coral reefs. While this chemical has not been proven to be harmful to humans, it’s important for us to do our part in protecting the reefs.

Here are some suggestions for eco-friendly sunscreen but we do invite you to do your own research as well.

Coral Safe – Biodegradable and created for use in natural parks with delicate ecosystems.

Raw Elements – Raw elements focuses on organic and naturally effective sunscreen without depending on chemicals that are harmful to the ocean.

Rubber Ducky – Rubber Ducky boasts a 100% natural sunscreen and is 100% biodegradable. Rubber Ducky is approved as eco-friendly for all regulated surfing and diving spots.

Tropical Seas – Tropical Seas offers reef safe sunscreens and even showcased them at the 2010 Maui Whale Festival as they shared information about the harmful effects of sunscreen on coral and marine life.

If you prefer to avoid using sunscreen but still want to enjoy Napili Bay, we recommend bringing light layers, a hat or sun visor, and finding shady spots under trees or bringing an umbrella when spending time at the beach. You may also want to swim in the morning to mitigate time in the sun or wear a rash guard to protect your skin.

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