The Best Reef-Safe and Sustainable Sunscreens to Take to the Cook Islands
Sunscreen is an absolute must for every day, every season and any time in the Cook Islands. With high to extreme UV levels all year round and long sunny days, you will need protection to cope with the tropical sun that you, no doubt, have been longing for. But with sun protection comes environmental responsibility, as the fragile coral reefs that make the Cook Islands the pristine destination that it is can’t handle the chemicals that mainstream sunscreens contain. Plus, let’s be honest, those chemicals are not always good for your skin either. For those reasons and more, we’ve come up with this list of the best reef-safe sunscreens for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands following four main criteria:
- They are reef-safe
- They contain mostly natural ingredients
- The sunscreen itself is biodegradable
If you are on the market for kids’ sunscreen as well, make sure to check out our 5 Best Kids and Babies Sunscreens for the Cook Islands where you will find options for the whole family. Plus, you might want to combine your sun protection with some mosquito protection, as listed in the 9 Eco-Friendly Mosquito Repellents for the Cook Islands.
Finally, remember to reapply sunscreen every three hours and after towel-drying yourself!
1. All Good Organic Sunscreen
It’s no secret that we are quite the fan of the All Good sunscreens. In fact, their kids’ options are also on our list of the best sunscreens for kids. The All Good formula provides up to SPF 50 protection, which is perfect for the harsh Cook Islands sun and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. But best of all, it comes in a lotion form and a butter form. We love the butter style sunscreens as they are often less greasy, super easy to apply, and come in plastic-free packaging. No nano ingredients can be found in the formula either which is an added bonus.
Check All Good out on Amazon.
2. Raw Elements Sunscreen
Another brand that offers reef-safe sunscreen in a tin, Raw Elements has a decent broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen that’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. The formula is gentle enough for kids, although they do offer kids’ sunscreens in a tin (and in a cardboard tube) too, while also free from synthetic chemicals.
Check Raw Elements out on Amazon.
3. Sun Bum Sun Care
Sun Bum is a trusted reef-safe sunscreen brand with an ever-expanding range of sun care products, from sunscreen to aftersun to tanning oil. For us, we’re happy with the Original SPF 30 sunscreen that’s been keeping the Cook Islands Pocket Guide team’s skins safe for several South Pacific destinations. While smooth and easy to apply, the thing that makes this sunscreen stand out from the rest is the subtle banana scent – it smells so good!
Check Sun Bum out on Amazon.
4. Reef Repair Sunscreen
A 100% natural sunscreen and a best-seller on Amazon, Reef Repair sunscreen is well worth considering. Their SPF 30+ sunscreen is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and does not cause excessive sweating. The sunscreen uses coral reef-safe ingredients, such as zinc oxide, is oxybenzone-free and is octinoxate-free. For your own skin’s safety, it’s 100% paraben-free, silicone-free and titanium dioxide-free. What’s more, it comes at an affordable price.
Check Reef Repair Sunscreen out!
5. Totlogic Natural Sunscreen
Containing plenty of goodness, such as jojoba, hyaluronic acid, white tea, arnica, chamomile and lavender, as well as non-toxic chemicals, the Totlogic formula offers SPF 30 protection against UVA and UVB. It is extremely gentle on all types of skin from six months old to adults. If you ever have hypoallergenic issues, this one’s for you!
Read more about Totlogic Natural Sunscreen on Amazon.
6. Coral Safe Sunscreen
Picture addicts, pay attention! This sunscreen is the least visible on the skin of the whole list. So if you are after your sunscreen stroke-free selfies, this may just be your best option. It uses mineral ingredients to protect your skin against UVA and UVB. It is also baby and kid-safe and is coral reef-safe. By the way, share your selfies with us on Instagram and Facebook! Find photo inspiration in the 10 Best Photography Spots in the Cook Islands.
Check Coral Safe Sunscreen out!
7. Beauty By Earth Natural Mineral Sunscreen
This sunscreen contains a mix of aloe vera, coconut oil and shea butter to keep your skin hydrated even in the sun and it uses zinc oxide to protect against the harsh Cook Islands UV. One of the best advantages of this sunscreen is that sets fast on your skin making its application a breeze. Sadly the SPF 25 protection offered is a bit low, hint, why it is so low on our list.
More information on the Beauty by Earth Sunscreen is available on Amazon.
8. TropicSport Mineral Sunscreen
This SPF 30 sunscreen is a good go-to for reliable water resistance, while also being friendly to the wildlife we share the water with. TropicSport Mineral Sunscreen is oxybenzone-free, octinoxate-free and avobenzone-free. The sunscreen is also suitable for the whole family, approved for use for 6-month-olds and older.
Check TropicSport Mineral Sunscreen out on Amazon!
9. Banana Boat
A brand you’ll hardly struggle to find, Banana Boat has been on the sunscreen scene for years now. Finally, their new formulas a free from oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are the two main ingredients to avoid when looking for reef-safe sunscreen. While not as eco-friendly as other sunscreens on this list, if you don’t have access to the others, Banana Boat might be an Ok Plan B.
Check Banana Boat out on Amazon!
10. Sea Safe Marine Friendly Sunscreen
If you want something a little extra from your sunscreen, then consider getting Sea Safe Marine Friendly Sunscreen! Their sunscreen will leave your skin protected against harmful sunburns but also help prevent jellyfish and sea lice which is perfect for open water swimmers. The only downside that brings this to the bottom of our list is the inclusion of octinoxate (not oxybenzone) which could potentially be harmful to the health of reefs and may have impacts on humans with long-term use. This is why we chose to have it at number 10 on this list; good but not great.
Check Safe Sea out on Amazon.
More About Reef-Safe Sunscreens for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
That’s it for our list of reef-safe sunscreens for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands but wait, there’s more! Check out a wider range of sunscreens, as well as other sustainable choices, in the following guides:
- The Best Sunscreens for Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- 5 Best Kids & Babies Sunscreens for the Cook Islands
- 9 Eco-Friendly Mosquito Repellents for Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
Finally, get more eco-tips in the 31 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in the Cook Islands.