Reef Safe Sunscreen – Maui is fairly close to the equator making the intensity of the sun very high. The thermometer may only read only 75 or 80 at times, but rest assured the sun is blazing hot and blasting your skin. The accumulation of sun here can really sneak up on you and nothing screams “tourist” like bright red legs, arms, and faces with contrasting white stripes and lines. Naturally, you want to protect yourself, but the most common sunscreens could actually be harmful to you and the marine environment. On July 3rd, Hawaii signed into law a ban on the sale of sunscreen containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate that will go into effect early 2021. The fact that they are difficult to pronounce might suggest its nefarious nature, but technically speaking, why? You know the coral reef where all the cool sea turtles, tropical fish, and other critters hang out? Well, rising water temperatures cause the symbiotic relationship between the coral and the algae that feed them (zooxanthellae) a lot of strain and eventually the algae leaves. Without zooxanthellae, coral loses its color and becomes white, inspiring the term “coral bleaching” which has now become a household name. Studies have shown that the aforementioned chemicals actually settle onto coral and enhance the effects of the sun. Sounds like an old-school tanning bed an no one does that anymore right? Imagine all the thousands of visitors a day slathering coral-killing chemicals onto their skin and heading out to a little volcanic formation off Maui you may have heard of, Molokini Crater. That’s a large concentration of sunscreen in a small area. Luckily, there are several alternative mineral-based sunscreens that so far do not cause zooxanthellae evictions. Additional studies have shown the human body gets confused and treats Oxybenzone like estrogen. This is what we call an endocrine disruptor. Do you remember the who frenzy over BPA plastic? It was an endocrine disruptor and there’s a reason companies made a move away from the harmful plastic. The Environmental Working Group has a Guide to Sunscreen so you can enjoy your vacation more and spend less time reading labels. Some activity companies also sell and or provide reef safe sunscreen before activities or one on board.
Rashguard – Another way to protect yourself from the giant ball of fire in the sky is to wear a barrier. Rashguards are a staple for surfing but they can also be used when swimming, snorkeling, hiking, or just hanging out next to the pool. They offer varying degrees of UPF protection as well as moisture wicking properties. What’s even better, you might be able to significantly reduce the need to use sunscreen while wearing a rash guard. Lately, we have seen a lot of rash guards with hoods popping up. Hooded rash guards provide everything mentioned above, with the added benefit of ear and neck protection. We, of course, are not doctors, and it is always a good idea to consult your doctor to determine a sun care plan that is best for you.
Hat – Do you like wrinkles? Though smile lines can be endearing, most of us like to avoid the presence of lines on our face that were not personally drawn with eyeliner. A hat is a fantastic way to shield the very culprit from your face that can enhance the development of wrinkles. Most shops on Maui have a sweet selection of hats that will protect that money maker and double as a souvenir that will make all the kids jealous when you return home. If you would also like to protect your ears and neck, check out the wide-brimmed fishing hat.
Hawaii Ecotourism Association – When looking for activities to do on Maui, there are so many to chose from. Why not choose activities from companies who are committed to high environmental standards and promoting Hawaiian culture? The Hawaii Ecotourism Association is an independent certifying body that reviews Hawaii business members’ practices for sustainability. You can check out their process of certification as well as utilize their travel planner to a list of certified businesses when making travel plans.