Big Island Snorkling Tours Blog

UV Protection For Snorkelers, Swimmers And Beach Fans: Information, Tips and Gear

Admin for Snorkel Planet Tips and Gear gives tips on UV protection for snorkelers.  Join Sea Paradise to snorkel with a fun and professional staff.  It’s great for the beginner or more seasoned snorkeler.


Protecting your skin from sunburns is essential for any outdoor activity. Not only is it of big importance to keep our skin healthy, but any pain or discomfort must be avoided to fully enjoy that sunny day. In this article we share some of our own tips and tricks in regards to this topic. Both information and helpful equipment is what we focus on.


Apply Every 2 Hours

This has obviously crossed your mind in the first place, but we want to take a moment to share a few details. Did you know that experts advise you to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours? It’s true! Sunscreen usually works for 2 hours after which it loses its effectiveness.

Water Activities

Any water activity, including snorkeling, will have an impact on sunscreen. Sunscreen is often water resistant, which means that water penetration into its formula is avoided. However, they’re often not waterproof! That’s why some people advise swimmers to reapply a new layer after every swim. Especially if you use a towel to dry your skin.

SPF (Sun Protection Factor)

Depending on your skin, always seek advise which SPF is the right choice. Generally speaking, experts say that an SPF of 30 – 50 is a good choice for most of us. To stay on the safe side, or if you have a sensitive skin, a higher number could be necessary. We cover SPF 100 sunscreen in our snorkel gifts article.

It’s also important to choose a product that offers “broad spectrum” protection. This means that the specific sunscreen protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

Reef Friendly Sunscreen

We talked about reef friendly sunscreen in our article about snorkeling and the environment. The thing to understand, is that not every product that claims to be reef friendly is in fact reef friendly. You must check which ingredients are used in order to tell. We link to an article at the bottom of this page that explains all the details. But here’s a product we use ourselves:

Protecting Your Feet From UV Rays

Water Shoes

Feet have thin and often sensitive skin. Sure, you could be just fine with an effective sunscreen. Some people however prefer to cover their feet with either swimming socks or shoes. Not only does this help to avoid sunburns, but they protect your feet from scratches, stings and heat.


UV protection is not the main purpose of snorkel fins. But if you experience sunburns on your feet regularly, and if you enjoy flexible swimming, they could help you out. Some fins can even be worn in combination with water shoes or socks.

Protecting Your Hands From UV Rays

For anyone with sensitive hands or fingers, gloves for snorkelers could be a helpful gadget to own. Just like shoes, they protect your hands from UV rays and keep them warm. Probably not a necessary addition to your snorkeling equipment, but who knows they’ll just do the trick.

Hands receive a lot of sunlight throughout the day. They’re often not covered and sunscreen can wear off quickly. Regular reapplication and moments in the shade are of help as well.

Protecting Your Body From UV Rays

Rash Guards

The biggest advantage of snorkel rash guards is their protective layer. If you plan to snorkel in a rocky area, scratches or wounds are a possibility. However, they’re also available with UV protection. For a quick snorkel session, people often don’t prefer to wear one for many reasons. But if you have a sensitive skin and experience sunburns easily, they can definitely help you out.

Swim Vests

People usually wear a swim or snorkel vest in order to float. They’re available in many different versions, even inflatable. Obviously, these vests will cover your upper body and not your legs. When we snorkel we often face our back towards the sun. Always have that red back after a day of swimming? Do you find it hard to stay afloat? Well, consider one of these vests.


If the gear above is just “too much” for you, consider to simply wear a shirt. However, make sure it comes with decent UV protection. They’re available with long and short sleeves. If you’re interested, they’re usually around 20 bucks and can be found at Amazon (link to the shirt below on the right).

Protecting Your Face From UV Rays

Before we start: Snorkeling with a mask that covers your entire face can be dangerous. Yes, they’re very popular and many people enjoy them (and so do we). But it’s of big importance to understand their risks and downsides. We cover the details in our full face snorkel masks guide (and we don’t promote, use or advise UV protecting snorkel masks).

But yeah, if you get yourself a decent product that has been tested in a variety of ways, this could protect your face from sunburns. Be aware that your ears, cheeks, neck etc won’t be covered, so you still need to use sunscreen in these areas. We link to the official Smaco website at the bottom of this article (which is the mask we show you below on the right).

Protecting Your Head From UV Rays

For bald people, or anyone with insufficient hair on their head, a swimming cap can be very helpful. We did a little research and found out that some sellers claim their caps protects against UV rays. Just like we mentioned before, doing your own research is necessary. Simply ask any manufacturer directly to be absolutely sure.

Most caps protect your ears as well. And some even cover a bigger portion of the face. There’s a lot out there. We don’t link to any products when it comes to caps because we never tried them ourselves.


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