The Best Sunscreens for the Cook Islands + Sun Protection Tips© Pexels
The Best Sunscreens for the Cook Islands + Sun Protection Tips

The Best Sunscreens for the Cook Islands + Sun Protection Tips

© Pexels

Sunscreens to Use in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands (That are Also Kind on the Environment)

The Cook Islands are tropical islands in the South Pacific, so we don’t need to tell you that packing sunscreen for your holiday here is absolutely essential. But with more and more research showing the damage that mainstream sunscreens are having on the ocean’s coral reefs, sunscreen choices are more than just about protecting your own skin. Luckily, you don’t have to think too hard about it, as we’ve compiled a list of recommendations for the best sunscreens for the Cook Islands. Whether you’re looking for a sunscreen that’s child-friendly, water-resistant, high SPF, easy application or something else, we try to cover all bases in the guide below.

5 Sun Protection Tips for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands

Sunscreen is only as good as the method and frequency you apply it. Here are five tips for applying sunscreen effectively, as well as more ways to protect yourself from the sun.

  1. Lather sunscreen thickly over all exposed skin
  2. Reapply sunscreen every three hours and as soon as you dry off from being in the water
  3. Go extra heavy on sun protection for children, especially those under five years old: use sunhats, sunscreen, stay in the shade when possible, and stay out of the midday sun
  4. Wear a sunhat to protect the top of your head from being burnt
  5. Use extra protection when out on or in the water, such as UV-protective shirts and rash vests.

What to Do if You Get Sunburnt

If you feel your skin burning or notice skin going red, avoid staying in the sun any longer. Keep drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and use soothing aloe vera lotion on the affected skin. If you have a strong headache and/or start vomiting, then it’s likely that you have heatstroke. Alternate between drinking electrolytes and water. If symptoms persist, see a doctor.

For more ways to protect yourself from common illnesses or injuries in the Cook Islands, check out our Cook Islands Safety Tips.

The Best Sunscreens for the Cook Islands + Sun Protection Tips©

Natural Sunscreens for the Cook Islands

As you’ll see from all of our sunscreen listings, the sunscreens chosen are natural sunscreens containing no oxybenzone. This is because oxybenzone found in standard sunscreens has a toxic effect on young coral, causing endocrine disruption, DNA damage, exacerbated coral bleaching and death.

With the Cook Islands being an amazing place to see coral and marine life, needless to say, we’d rather admire it than harm it. What’s more, natural sunscreen is better for your skin too. So when packing for the Cook Islands, be sure to look out for “reef safe” sunscreen. If you’re unsure, all of the recommendations in this entire article have been chosen because they are reef safe.

Best Eco-Friendly Sunscreens

For more options and details on each sunscreen, see the 10 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens for the Cook Islands.

Pro Tip: If you run out of natural sunscreen on Rarotonga, the Te Ara Museum usually stocks ethical and natural sunscreens.

The Best Sunscreens for the Cook Islands + Sun Protection Tips© Pexels

Children’s Sunscreens for the Cook Islands

Young skins not only need more protection from the sun, but they are more sensitive to skin products. With that in mind, it’s essential to get your little ones lathered up in sunscreen that has been specially formulated for young sensitive skin. These natural sunscreens, using natural active ingredients, are ideal for sensitive skin. Always read the labels to see the recommended ages to use the sunscreen on.

Best Sunscreens for Kids and Babies

For further details about each of these sunscreens, check out the 5 Best Kids & Babies Sunscreens for the Cook Islands. Plus, you might also be interested in the 29 Tips for Your Family Cook Islands Vacation with Kids.

The Best Sunscreens for the Cook Islands + Sun Protection Tips© David Kirkland - Cook Islands Tourism

Water-Resistant Sunscreens for the Cook Islands

We’re no Sherlock, but we’re betting you’re going to be spending some time in the water in the Cook Islands. Because of the water’s magnifying effect with UV rays, it’s essential to keep yourself protected from the sun while you’re in the water. While wearing a UV-protection rash vest is an easy option, you’re going to want to also apply water-resistant sunscreen for any exposed skin.

Note that natural sunscreens typically have water resistance for up to 80 minutes.

Best Water-Resistant Sunscreens

The Best Sunscreens for the Cook Islands + Sun Protection Tips© David Kirkland - Cook Islands Tourism

High SPF Sunscreens for the Cook Islands

You see the SPF ratings on sunscreens but what does it all mean? For the Cook Islands, SPF 30 is recommended as a minimum, which offers around 97% protection from UVB rays if applied correctly. Upping the anty to SPF 45 or 50 (50 is typically the highest you can go with natural sunscreen) and you’ll only add an extra 1% of protection. Because of this minimal difference, we recommend not getting too hung up on getting the highest SPF possible. But if that extra 1% is what you’re looking for, here are some recommendations.

Best High-Factor Sunscreens

The Best Sunscreens for the Cook Islands + Sun Protection Tips© Pexels

Easy Application and Easy-to-Carry Sunscreens for the Cook Islands

Swap bulky bottles and lotion running all over your hands and staining your clothes with some easy-application sunscreens in travel-friendly containers. From bottles and tins that can fit in your pocket to face sticks where you don’t even need to get the lotion all over your hands, there are quite a few clever designs available.

Best Easy-to-Apply Sunscreens

More Sunscreen and Health Tips for the Cook Islands

That’s it for our lists of the best sunscreens for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands but by no means the end of our travel health tips! Just browse our other guides:

Finally, get more eco-tips in the 31 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in the Cook Islands and more tips for exploring the Cooks in the 30 Tips for Travelling in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Cook Islands Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as the Cook Islands. She knows the islands inside out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Raro’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also the editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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