Over the past few years, there has been a lot of coverage of Hawaii’s sunscreen ban and a lot of you who have been boating with us know that we don’t allow certain types on the boat.  So we wanted to get into this a little bit with some more information and some alternatives to Reef safe sunscreens to use.




In May of 2020 the sunscreen ban was officially passed in the USVI and we are super excited to tell you that any NON Reef Safe Sunscreen is completely banned from the USVI; including bringing it in with your luggage. 


The Friends store and Chelsea Drug will be offering a discount with a trade in of non-reef safe through the month of December!


First things first, there are some bad chemicals in sunscreen and for whatever reason, the aerosol ones seem to exasperate the issues we have with it on the boat.  The aerosols cause upholstery to turn reddish orange and make the decks super slippery.  If any of you came boating with us in our first year, you’ll remember we originally had white upholstery which we ended up having to completely replace, largely due to the effects of sunscreen.  Here’s the link the the NY Times article laying out the sunscreen ban and some research that was done at Trunk Bay: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/03/travel/hawaii-sunscreen-ban.html One of the other and more important issues with sunscreen is the damage the chemicals cause to our coral reefs.  I’ve noticed while sitting at a snorkeling stop that the sun will hit the water and you can see a solid sheen of oil on the water from sunscreen.  An excerpt from the NY Times article that has stuck with me is this, “In 2015, the nonprofit Haereticus Environmental Laboratory surveyed Trunk Bay beach on St. John, where visitors ranged from 2,000 to 5,000 swimmers daily, and estimated over 6,000 pounds of sunscreen was deposited on the reef annually.”  That is a devastating amount of sunscreen being dumped on that reef on a daily basis. The two big chemical culprits are Oxybenzone and Octinoxate and are the first and most concentrated ingredients in almost all sunscreens on the market these days.  These two chemicals are linked to deformed coral larvae, inhibiting the regrowth of new coral which is essential to reef health, especially now with coral bleaching, increased ocean temperatures, and the hurricanes from the past year.  These two chemicals are linked to various issues in humans as well, and are, interestingly enough, generally not found in sunscreens formulated for babies, as the FDA does not deem these chemicals safe for Baby products. Another issue is that just because the bottle says reef safe, it doesn’t mean it actually is reef safe.  There is actually a brand called Reef Safe and it contains all of the bad chemicals, they just branded themselves Reef Safe and aren’t even close to it. So our recommendations to combat the sunscreen chemicals are:
  1. Wear a sunshirt instead of sunscreen and sit in the shade when you can
  2. Invest in a zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreen for your face
  3. A few brands we like are Badger Sunscreen, Babo Botanicals, Some of the Super Goop Brand, but not all of them, Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen, and Stream2Sea Sunscreen.  These are all products we’ve used ourselves that work great, aren’t harmful to us or the environment, and are relatively inexpensive.
  4. You can buy a few of these sunscreens on St. John, most of them are stocked at Low Key Watersports in Cruz Bay and they even give you a discount for bringing in your non-reef safe sunscreen and making the trade!