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What to Know About the Sunscreen Ban in Certain Destinations

woman applying sunblock on beach
Written by Shannon Durso

Many restaurants and businesses around the globe have started to eliminate the use of plastic straws to stop plastic pollution in the oceans. This initiative has taken storm worldwide and while this is a small action that’s making a difference, there are other changes that need to be recognized to save the life under the sea.

Ever wonder what happens when you jump into the ocean with sunscreen on? Ever notice the slimy film coating at the surface of the water surrounding your body when you dunk into the water while wearing sunblock? Allow us to explain.

The sunblock that you apply sheds off in the water, especially when it’s not completely absorbed on your skin. The product that floats at the surface of the ocean will eventually sink deep into the ocean, landing on coral reefs (depending on where you are) and marine life. The chemicals in many sunscreens include oxybenzone and octinoxate, the harmful elements in sunblock.

Applying SPF is very important when sunbathing and when exposed to the sun, so we’re NOT suggesting you avoid lathering up in sunblock. If you’re traveling to a tropical destination, pack sunblock that has zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide ingredients and not oxybenzone and oxtinoxate. Some popular tourists are starting to enforce a sunscreen ban to protect their marine life. The purpose of the sunscreen ban is to promote the use of bio-degradable sunscreen and to stop the use of harmful products that are made with the harsh chemicals.

Before you head out of town for your beach vacation, be prepared by packing bio-degradable sunscreen just in case the place you’re visiting requests for visitors to wear a specific sunblock. Or, join the movement by using only bio-degradable sunscreen to help protect our oceans!

Read on to learn about where you won’t be able to wear non-biodegradable sunscreen for good within the next few years.

Key West, Florida

snorkeling in Key West, Florida

Just about 90 miles north of Cuba is Florida’s southernmost point, the island of the Florida Keys archipelago. Mostly known for its coral reefs, the largest and only living coral reef in the continental US. This island city will ban harmful sunscreens from being sold here. Beginning in 2021, non-biodegradable sunscreens will not be supported in any stores as they are drying out the coral reefs.


woman sitting on surfboard in the ocean on Hawaii

From Oahu to Maui and Honolulu, Hawaii is undoubtedly a breathtaking island destination. Life under the sea in here is even more beautiful and precious. With an abundance of tourists and locals catching waves and hitting the beach the state decided to act upon the sunscreen ban. By 2021 there will be no use of sunscreen that is harmful to marine life. The ban doesn’t include SPF cosmetic problems and will not be applicable to those using a specific sunscreen for medical purposes.


sea turtle next to coral reef

If you ever find yourself traveling to this island located off Venezuela’s coast in the southern Caribbean, be aware that oiling up in any harmful sun lotions will be prohibited by 2021. Bonaire is a reef-lined coast with a great population of marine life. The Caribbean Sea has seen a growth in coral reef deaths since 1980 by cause of toxic pollution, some of which contributing to harsh chemicals in commonly used sunscreens.


diving in Palau along coral reefs

Located in the western Pacific Ocean is Palau, a country in Oceania. It’s an archipelago of 500 islands and will be the first country to ban nonbiodegradable sunscreen in 2020. In fact, a fine of up to $1,000 will be issued to businesses who sell harmful sun products. This country wishes to enforce a strict ban for both tourists and locals to only use safe sunscreens to protect the coral reefs and marine life.


swimming in cenote in Mexico

Cancun, Cabo, Tulum, and other popular spots in Mexico where tourists flock have begun to ask travelers to opt for safe natural sunscreens before entering the beach and ocean. Currently, there is no official sunscreen ban but locals are taking a stand to protect their coral reefs. Also, popular attractions like Xel Ha, Xcaret Park, Garrafon National Park are requesting for visitors to stick to using natural sunscreens only when entering natural waters and swimming with marine animals.

Know of any other destinations that are requesting for visitors to use biodegradable sunscreens only? Tell us in the comments below! 

About the author

Shannon Durso

If she’s not searching for the world's coolest destinations she has yet to explore, you can find her writing content at Fareportal or maybe even drooling over a foodies latest post. Shannon’s a Brooklyn native who enjoys good company, new adventures, and a great laugh!

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