Snorkelers Guide to Sun Protection

As snorkelers, we spend a great deal of time floating around on the surface completely exposed to the intense tropical sun, and there’s no quicker way to ruin a sunset cocktail than a full body burn from that day’s snorkeling sessions. While the water may be bath-water warm and you may feel inclined to just wear your bikini or bathing suit, we strongly suggest covering up as much as possible (backs of the legs, top of the head, ankles, and hands) with some form of an exposure suite. This not only guarantees you won’t get sunburnt but also solves those prolonged and annoying sunscreen lathering and re-lather sessions. If you do insist on showing some skin, we strongly suggest that you at the very least give your exposed skin a solid coat of reef-safe sun cream, and use a neck-gaiter. 

How a Professional Snorkel Guide Covers Up

Unless you want to look like a cross between a lobster and a leather bag at the end of a snorkeling safari, we strongly suggest you cover up as much of your body as possible, as we said before. It may seem like a simple thing, just wear a rashguard or a wetsuit and that’s that. Not quite. Our snorkeling guides spend about six months a year bobbing around in the world’s tropical seas, here are a few different examples of how they cover themselves up.

Other Coverage Combos:

  • Full body snorkel skin + neck gaiter to protect the head and neck
  • Hooded vest (thermal or neoprene) with a long sleeve rashguard over the top + shorts & leggings + socks & gloves
  • Thermal top + thermal bottoms + socks & gloves + neck gaiter to protect the head and neck

Magical Neck Gaiters

Neck gaiters have become massively popular in the last few years as an outdoor fashion accessory. They not only look cool but are also unbelievably versatile for being a literal tube of cloth. For snorkelers, these neck gaiters are one of the first things you should grab and stuff in your bag before your next snorkeling adventure. Here’s why.

  • They can be worn around the head and neck to keep the sun off as you snorkel
  • They can be worn as a headband or bandana to keep the hair out of our faces as well as to keep the sun off our exposed scalps as we snorkel
  • They can be used as a hair tie/scrunchie
  • They can be worn around the lower part of our face to keep the sun off our nose, ears, and neck for that time in-between snorkel sessions or as we go on treks
  • They can be worn as a neckerchief to keep the sun off our exposed necks in or out of the water

Sunscreen Do’s and Don’ts

Do

  • Use reef-safe sunscreen
  • Apply to the backs of your legs, necks, ankles, hands, ears, foreheads, and the top of your head 20 minutes before EACH snorkel 
  • Cover as much of your body as possible with exposure suits, hoods, socks, gloves, and neck-gaiters/buffs
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after applying sun cream and before you rinse your mask out. The leftover sun cream on your hands will make your mask fog up.

Don’t

  • Use non-reef-safe sunscreen. 
  • Put sun cream on your nose or on your face before snorkeling. Your face will be in the water the entire time so it does not need it. The sunscreen will only make your eyes burn and cause your mask to fog up. 
  • Forget to put sun cream on every bare bit of skin. (backs of your legs, necks, ankles, hands, ears, foreheads, and the top of your head)
  • Put a bunch of sunscreen on and then rub the baby shampoo or anti-fogging spray around your mask with your sunscreen-covered hand. This will only spread sunscreen around your mask and make it fog up. 

About Author

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Alex Lindbloom
Alex is a Snorkel Venture and Dive Safari Asia guide as well as the video and photo pros for both companies. Alex is also a field editor for a popular underwater photography magazine. Prior to joining Snorkel Venture in 2018 Alex lived and worked all over the world working as an underwater cameraman, with five of those years living/working on a yacht in Indonesia. Alex's images and videos have garnered many international awards such as Underwater Photographer of the Year and can be seen on NatGeo, Discovery Channel, the UN Building, and various magazines.