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Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
38 posts
Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

Hi all! We are headed to GC next week for a week on 7 mile beach. It is our first trip "south" and we are looking for any pointers on how to avoid sunburn and the like while spending as much time as we can either swimming or snorkeling. (We live in Canada, so we will not have seen strong sun for over half a year.) Some of the specific things we are wondering about are: what is the best clothing for snorkeling; recommended sunscreen number and/or brand for salt water activities and how often to re-apply; if we are snorkeling, is it only the back we have to worry about or does the sun get at your front one way or the other; and are there certain hours of the day that we can stay out of the water while not giving up the best hours to snorkel. (I should mention that neither my wife or I are real early risers by nature, but we will try to adjust our lifestyle if this is really the key!) Answers to these any other tips you may wish to share would be much welcomed!

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
4,252 posts
57 reviews
1. Re: Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

Look up some good sun rash guards... coolibar has some nice ones. Best time to avoid sunburn is before 10 am and after 3pm. My hubby had a melanoma on his back and the only time he swims with a rash guard is in the early morning and late afternoon. I swim with a jacket because I am always cold... liquid peace is where I bought my last one.

Syracuse, New York
Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, West Bay, Syracuse, Cayman Islands
Level Contributor
6,152 posts
100 reviews
2. Re: Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

When snorkelling, if I don't wear my dive skin (which gives me full-body protection), I will wear swimming shorts and an old golf shirt - the collar helps cover my neck. I don't tend to have a problem with my legs.

The sun will only affect your back - water blocks pretty much anything that will burn you.

And please don't use sunscreen in the water - there are numerous studies now that say that the chemicals in sunscreen will destroy coral. Here is a write-up on one of them: time.com/4080985/sunscreen-coral-reefs/ - so please help all of us keep our reefs in good condition - don't touch anything and wear clothing to cover up, rather than sunscreen. :-)

Level Contributor
225 posts
14 reviews
3. Re: Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

+1 for the rash guard. Used for the first time on my last trip to Cayman. I will not enter the water without it now. Superior protection from the sun.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
4,317 posts
117 reviews
4. Re: Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

I have had more than 2 dozen non-melanoma skin cancers successfully removed and yet I am still a beach & water lover. I do try to avoid the mid day hours..... dermatologists have told me between 1000 and 400, which is not always practical. I always wear UPF-50 clothing. (UPF is the fabric equivalent of SPF skin protection). I wear long tights and a long sleeved top with thumb holes to keep the sleeve over the back of my hands (where I have had several skin cancers removed...:-(. ). I do put a SPF 50 product on my face every day, but otherwise do not use sunscreen while in the water because of the reasons mentioned above. I find that wearing the clothing really works once you get used to the idea of wearing clothes in the water. I also like to stand-up paddleboard and wear the same pants & top. Have not had a recurrence in the past several years...... fingers crossed!

Look at coolibar.com, solumbra.com, cabanalife.com (my favorite), and llbean.com. mott50.com. More companies seems to be carrying products like this all the time, so perhaps Google *UPF 50 clothing*. Happy snorkeling!

NH
Level Contributor
3,802 posts
9 reviews
5. Re: Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

As mentioned by others, UV swim rash guards are your best protection. ...Long sleeve swim shirt (at the least). You can find lots of great choices on Amazon.

Most commercial sunscreen products cause "coral bleaching." The bleaching allows viruses to attack and kill the coral. However, there are some brands of sunscreen that is eco-friendly and safe for the reef. I have done a good amount of research on this subject. On the Turks and Caicos forum have enlisted the help of others to compile a list of eco-friendly sunscreen products to use in concert with swim rash guards.

Here is a link to that forum. I hope that you will find it informative.~~~allfins ><>

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g14739…

BKK
Level Contributor
616 posts
2 reviews
6. Re: Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

Another vote for a rash guard. Just be sure to order it small so it is very tight on your skin before you get wet or else it will act like an anchor and make it hard to swim.

Illinois
Level Contributor
1,643 posts
2 reviews
7. Re: Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

We usually wear full-body sea skins when we snorkel for warmth and protection but if you don't have time to get a rash guard then at least wear an old tee-shirt to protect your back. There are several diver supply stores on the islands where you can buy a rash guard if you wish. Have fun!

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
4,317 posts
117 reviews
8. Re: Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

Please do not rely on a regular tee shirt for sun protection. It's a false sense of protection.The Skin Cancer Foundation states that a dry white tee shirt offers SPF of only 7. That goes down to SPF 3 when it gets wet. Slightly more protection from darker colors, but why take chances...... purchase proper protection before you go.

Burlington, Vermont
Level Contributor
2,562 posts
15 reviews
9. Re: Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

Here's what I do and I live in VT and am fair skinned - spf 30+ on face, spf 30+ everywhere else. Sometimes I wear a rashgard while snorkeling, but usually not. AS long as I apply sunblock about 20-30 minutes before swimming and reapply when I get out of the water I am OK. I find cream sunblocks work better, but I also use sprays.

Of course a rash gaurd is easiest since you dont need to apply sunblock on your back and arms.

Syracuse, New York
Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, West Bay, Syracuse, Cayman Islands
Level Contributor
6,152 posts
100 reviews
10. Re: Avoiding Sunburn While Snorkeling

Oh, I should also point out that my snorkelling is usually far later in the day when the power of the sun is a lot less. During the main part of the day I would definitely be wearing my dive skin. Rash guard is easily the way to do, in my opinion - even if the sun block is "coral-friendly" it's not going to last forever, and more body protection will also give you some protection from stray jellyfish stings, which sun block would not. (Jellyfish tentacles still carry the stinging nematocysts and they tend to float on the surface) - not a massive problem in Cayman, I know, but not a bad habit to have.