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What Lies Beneath: Coral Reef and Sunscreen

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As a snorkel and sailing company that loves to explore and enjoy the beauty of our oceans and its ecosystems, we believe it is our responsibility to use products that help protect and preserve the environment.  With that in mind, we highly recommend using reef safe sunscreen to minimize the negative impact on our coral reefs and marine life.

Why is reef safe sunscreen important?

Many common sunscreens contain chemicals that are harmful to coral reefs and marine life.  These chemicals include oxybenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate, which have been known to damage coral reefs and cause bleaching.  Bleaching occurs when coral reefs lose their vibrant color, which can lead to the death of the coral and the entire ecosystem that depends on it. 

Reef safe sunscreen, on the other hand, uses natural ingredients that are less harmful to marine life.  They often use the mineral non-nano zinc oxide to protect the skin from harmful UV rays without harming the environment.  Zinc oxide is the best mineral active ingredient because it is truly a broad-spectrum blocker.  It protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

How to choose a reef safe sunscreen?

It is important to look for products that are labeled “reef safe” or “reef friendly,”   These products often use natural and organic ingredients that are biodegradable.  Be careful if titanium dioxide is an ingredient, as in the water, it can produce hydrogen peroxide, which is a strong oxidizing agent.  It generates high levels of stress on marine phytoplankton.

We have been long time friends with the creators of Kokua Sun Care, whose mission is to create high-quality sunscreen while utilizing locally sourced ingredients.  Local ingredients such as macadamia nut oil, kukui nut oil, noni fruit extract, plumeria extract and spirulina.  Since sunscreen is regulated as an over-the-counter drug, it must be manufactured at a licensed facility monitored by the FDA., and must be tested, labeled, and registered by the FDA.  Utilizing non-nano zinc oxide and Hawaii sourced natural ingredients, the formula took years to complete.  After 5 years and over two dozen formulas, the final product was achieved.  We believe Kokua Sun Care offers a high-quality product that can help us take steps to responsible ocean stewardship and feel confident in sharing their product with our guests. 

In closing, using reef safe sunscreen is an easy and effective way to help protect our oceans and coral reefs while snorkeling our beautiful reefs.  At Ko Olina Ocean Adventures, we care deeply about our planet and strive to promote eco-friendly practices for our customers.  We hope that you will join us by choosing reef safe sunscreen for your next snorkel adventure.  Together, we can make a positive impact on our planet’s health and future.






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