Avoiding sunburn

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa Beach with Hawaiian flowers in the front of viewWe can think of nothing worse than watching re-runs of Seinfeld from your hotel room in Hawaii. Especially while your family or significant other is l

ounging by the crystal blue ocean, gazing at the lazily rolling waves, ankle deep in white sand, while cool trade winds waft the deliciously sweet plumeria blossom scent through the air. Why would you be sitting in your hotel room? Well, you wouldn’t be if you followed these 7 tips to protect yourself from the #1 hazard while visiting Hawai’i…no, not H-1 traffic, we’re talking about the sun. The Hawaiian Islands at 19°–22° latitude, receives sunlight more directly than anywhere on the mainland. The more overhead the sunlight is, the less atmosphere it has to travel through. This means that less of the UV rays are filtered out and it’s easier to burn.

  1. Sunscreen. This may seem simple but there a few things you may not know. While sunscreen does protect you from the harmful UV rays, it does not completely block them. 15 spf (sun protection factor) will block 93% of the suns rays, a 30 spf sunscreen will block 97% and a 100 spf blocks 99% of the sun’s rays. For full benefits, you need to re-apply every 2 hours and every time you go in the water. This is the most important part to remember. Most people do not re-apply often enough and will get burned, then wrongfully blame the sunscreen. Also, remember to apply some lip balm containing sunscreen, or just rub some regular sunscreen in while you’re putting it on your face. Blisters on your lips from sunburn are just as effective at ending an otherwise perfect vacation.
  2. Remember the four s’s “short shadow, seek shade” the hours between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. are when the sun’s rays are the most intense, and if you don’t have a watch or don’t know the time, this is a good way to tell. Try to stay out of the sun during this time, get some lunch, have a cocktail.
  3. Wear a hat. A hat with at least a 3 inch brim all the way around will protect your face and neck. A good trick if you don’t have one of these hats is to lay a bandanna over your head and then put a baseball cap over the top. The bill will protect your face and the bandanna covers your neck and ears.
  4. Sunglasses. All sunglasses are not created equal, and darker doesn’t necessarily mean better. The protection is either a chemical incorporated into the construction of the lens, or it’s applied as a coating. Also glasses that wrap around will protect much better than your aviator type shades, which let sunlight in from the sides. Don’t skimp on the price here, a good pair of glasses could save your eyesight.
  5. Cover up. Again not all clothes are created equal. Loosely woven fabric will be cooler, but doesn’t protect as well. Consider getting a cheap umbrella to create shade. And make sure to read our reviews, we’ll tell you which beaches offer natural shade.
  6. Wear a rash guard while snorkeling. This is where a lot of people get in trouble. The coolness of the water will hide a sunburn, not to mention the fact that the experience may temporarily render you incapable of noticing anything other than the amazing beauty of the ocean and it’s creatures.
  7. If you do get a sunburn, try rubbing aloe on it. Not that green sticky stuff you buy at the grocery store. Use the fresh stuff. It’s easy to find here, it grows nearly everywhere here. Look near beach parks, we’ve even seen it growing in downtown Waikiki. Harvest a stem and slit it lengthwise. Then rub the inner jelly over your burn every couple of hours. The cooling feeling will bring some relief and speed healing.


One more thing, (we should have made this #8.) The combination of sun, sea and sand with a few Mai tais will make you very comfortable… and sleepy. Falling asleep can create a very bright red skin, that would make a boiled lobster jealous. We’ve seen this happen on more than one occasion. We can’t guarantee that you won’t end up watching re-runs in your hotel, but if you follow these few precautions, you should be able to spend most of your time enjoying the beach instead.

Andrew Doughty - Author
Andrew Doughty

Andrew Doughty is the famous author of the widely popular Hawaii Revealed series including Kauai Revealed, Oahu Revealed, Maui Revealed and the Big Island Revealed. He moved to Kauai many years ago after he fell in love with the beauty of the islands and decided to never go back. He is known for his candid opinion on each of Hawaii’s attractions, be it a restaurant, a helicopter ride, a beach or a resort. For the last two decades, he has managed to keep his identity anonymous so that his reviews can remain unbiased and only be influenced by his own opinions and thoughts. You can learn more about his beautiful journey at this link – About the author


Submit a Comment

No products in the cart