When it comes to sunscreen for the Maldives one of the biggest reasons the sunscreen you choose can be important is if you’ll be doing any water-based activities in the Maldives.
That includes snorkeling, scuba diving, and even if you will be just wading in the water.
So going snorkeling in the Maldives means that for your Maldives packing list for snorkeling, you’ll want to include some snorkeling clothes (which can mean less sunscreen you need to wear) and a specific type of sunscreen.
You don’t want to choose just any sunscreen for the Maldives.
Ideally, you’ll be thinking about the health of the ocean marine life when you do choose your sunscreen.
That means choosing reef-safe sunscreen.
So you’ll just want to check to make sure you get the type that’s best for the Maldives!
And be sure to see this Maldives itinerary for some activity ideas.
What IS reef-safe sunscreen?!
And why should you care?
So there is this thing that’s called “coral bleaching.”
You can probably gather from the name that this doesn’t sound good.
There are said to be a number of reasons for this coral bleaching that’s happening.
One of the given reasons for the Maldives is what’s considered to be unusually warm ocean water temperatures.
Another one of the given reasons for coral bleaching in general is said to be because coral reef are exposed to certain chemicals.
So where are these chemicals coming from?
Largely from all the beach go-ers who enter the water wearing sunscreen containing these toxic chemicals that aren’t biodegradable.
And that’s where your preparation for packing for the Maldives becomes relevant!
If the coral reef continue to be exposed to harmful chemicals from “bad” sunscreen, that means that there’s less abundance of food (reef) available to the colorful tropical fish, and all that makes snorkeling so great will be less and less too.
So by wearing reef-safe sunscreen, not only are you helping the marine life, but you’re also helping everyone’s future Maldives vacation! 😉
Okay, so you know chemicals are bad for the ocean environment.
And maybe you’ve heard of “mineral sunscreen.”
Mineral sunscreen sounds good, right?
Is ALL mineral sunscreen reef-safe?
Instead of chemicals being the base of a sunscreen product, reef-safe sunscreen is made as a mineral-based sunscreen.
The important thing to remember is that while minerals ARE the replacement, that doesn’t mean there can’t also be toxic chemicals made with it too.
One example of this is the Sun Bum signature mineral sunscreen.
It IS made with minerals, but it ALSO includes an ingredient that is among the worst offenders as being agreed upon as harmful to coral reef.
So, if you’re looking to buy a sunscreen because you want a reef-friendly sunscreen, don’t just quickly see the label “mineral” and think it’s all good.
What sunscreen chemicals are the WORST for coral reef in the Maldives?!
There are basically 2 main chemicals that are often cited as most definitely NOT being coral reef-safe.
The ingredients you want to avoid in your sunscreen for snorkeling in the Maldives are:
And how do you know that these are the worst offenders when it comes to the health of coral reef?!
The sunscreen ban in the other parts of the world
While there’s currently no such “sunscreen ban” (or the ban of sales of certain types of sunscreen) in the Maldives, you can look to what other countries have implemented to get an idea for what sunscreen ingredients may be the WORST for coral reef.
And for that, let’s look to the US! 😉
Hawaii and Florida are among the top destinations for snorkeling in the US.
Each government has passed a law to make it illegal to sell sunscreen in their state/city containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.
Specifically, here are the stated reasons as to why Hawaii implemented the sunscreen ban:
The legislature finds that two chemicals contained in many sunscreens, oxybenzone and octinoxate, have significant harmful impacts on Hawaii’s marine environment and residing ecosystems, including coral reefs that protect Hawaii’s shoreline.
Oxybenzone and octinoxate cause mortality in developing coral; increase coral bleaching that indicates extreme stress, even at temperatures below 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit; and cause genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms.
These chemicals have also been shown to degrade corals’ resiliency and ability to adjust to climate change factors and inhibit recruitment of new corals.
You can read more about that.
So, it’s safe to say that it would be a good idea to avoid these sunscreen ingredients to help marine life in the Maldives too.
These aren’t the only ingredients that have been deemed as not reef-safe.
But you can take it as these are the ones that matter the most.
So in your quest to search for reef-safe sunscreen, look out for these 2 ingredients.
What are the alternative ingredients that are more reef-friendly?
As per the U.S. National Park Service, these are 2 ingredients that haven’t been found to be harmful to coral reef:
- Zinc oxide
- Titanium oxide (titanium dioxide)
Well, side note. You can place the emphasis on “haven’t been found” because it’s also been said that too much titanium dioxide in sunscreen is not good… so this is another grey area.
So, with all this in mind…
What reef-safe sunscreen to wear in the Maldives?!
The sunscreen brands below have products made WITHOUT oxybenzone OR octinoxate.
So they are oxybenzone-free AND octinoxate-free.
In general, you may find a sunscreen label say that it’s oxybenzone-free, but do make sure to check for octinoxate too.
Again, these are the 2 ingredients most important to the governments that will be implementing a sunscreen ban.
There are affiliate links below. You should totally check out the sunscreen reviews.
When you want to go for reef-safe sunscreen for the Maldives, check out the products below.
1. Sun Bum
Reviews: Mineral sunscreen
See the ingredients list straight from Sun Bum.
Reviews: Sheer zinc dry-touch sunscreen
See the ingredients list straight from Neutrogena.
Reviews: Mineral Sport Citrus Mimosa Moisturizer Sunscreen (part of skin care travel kit)
See the ingredients list straight from COOLA.
Reviews: Sport sunscreen
See the ingredients list straight from Badger.
Reviews: Mineral-based sunscreen
See the ingredients list straight from Stream2Sea.
What to pack for the Maldives?!
Quick packing list for snorkeling in the Maldives:
- Sun shirts with UV protection (for women and for men) so you have to wear less sunscreen
- Popular water shoes (for women and for men) for the hidden rocks and dead coral on the beach and in the water
- This standard snorkeling set
- This CHEAP way to make your phone waterproof so you can take amazing underwater photos!
- This type of waterproof pouch so you don’t need to leave valuables on the beach
- And that reef-safe sunscreen!
HAPPY WEARING CORAL REEF SAFE SUNSCREEN IN THE MALDIVES!
The need-to-know India travel tips!If it's your first trip to India, be sure to see these tips for getting around India on a budget, and more! You might wait until India to buy this mosquito repellent that works for many foreigners! Also be sure to see how to spend one month in South India and 2 weeks in North India, as well as tips for the Golden Triangle. And, overnight sleeper bus travel isn't so bad, and neither is traveling in general class on the train! Also see the easy way to get an e-visa. And this is the easy way to book train tickets online as a foreigner. I've used it, and it's simple! You can just show the e-ticket on your phone.
There are affiliate links on this page that lead to partner websites.
Hostels in KeralaFor a hostel with international standards in Kerala, try Zostel!
More Zostels in Kerala:
Zostel is a top backpacker chain across India, and I've stayed at many Zostels in India! And outside of Kerala, if you'll be passing through Gokarna as you go from Goa to Kerala (here are options of how to get from Goa to Kerala!), then Zostel Gokarna is in an amazing location too! Here are pictures from the on-site cafe that overlooks the ocean.
Where to stay on the tourist trail in KeralaThese places basically go down the coast from north to south!
- Cochin: Try a homestay in the cute heritage area of Fort Kochi.
- Marari Beach: This is an "off-beat" location as Marari is mostly unknown to backpackers, but it can be a convenient stop to make between Cochin and Alleppey with chill laid back vibes. For an idea of what type of beach can be nearby, see my beach walk from Alleppey to Marari.
- Alleppey Beach:
- Funky Art Beach House again for chill vibes with a location among locals in a residential neighborhood
- And there's Zostel Alleppey too for another beach location to stay several days
- OR if Alleppey is a quick visit, try Dream Nest to be closer to town
- And see how to spend one day in Alleppey (short version: go for the backwaters village canoe tour instead of a houseboat!)
- Alleppey backwaters:
- Munroe Island: This is another generally kind of more off-beat location, and you can see a different part of the Kerala backwaters on a quiet island
- Varkala cliff:
Retreats in KeralaFor relaxation and rejuvenation for health and wellness, also see:
- Yoga retreats in Kerala
- Ayurveda retreats in Kerala - ayurveda is basically healthy living through natural herbs and remedies, and Kerala is the birthplace of ayurveda!
How to book India train tickets online as a foreignerIf you don't want to go through the complicated process of setting up an IRCTC Indian railways account as a foreigner...
Then the most convenient way to buy train tickets online is through this booking website. I've used it, and it's super simple! You buy the ticket, and then show the electronic version on your phone once you're on the train. Compared to buying directly through an Indian ticket booking website (IRCTC account required) or directly at the train station in India, there is a small convenience fee, as well as a less flexible cancellation policy, though!