Best Sunscreen for Hawaii: Reef-Safe Tropical Picks!

Heading to Hawaii? The wrong sunscreen could get you in trouble… choose wisely!

Aloha, sun chasers and beach lovers!

Planning a Hawaiian escapade? You must be excited (and we’re super jealous).

But as you pack your floral shirts and shades, there’s one island companion you absolutely need – the trusty sunscreen. 

You need a bottle that’s as ready for adventure as you are, one that’ll protect you from the golden rays above while respecting the vibrant marine life below. So before you hula your way to paradise, let’s find the perfect sunscreen that says “Mahalo!” to your skin and “Aloha!” to Hawaii’s ecosystems. 

Get ready to slather your way to a carefree trip, because we’ve got the lowdown on the best sunscreens suited for the Hawaiian sun, sand, and sea!

How to Choose the Best Sunscreens for Traveling to Hawaii

What makes for a sunscreen that’s worthy of Hawaii’s tropical beaches? Let’s discuss:

  • Stick to the high SPF factor. Catching rays in Hawaii means needing sunscreen with an SPF that goes the distance. Seek out the best reef safe sunscreens boasting an SPF of 30 or higher (ideally 50 and beyond) to effectively block a broad spectrum of sunbeams. But remember, the secret sauce is reapplying sunscreen often – like clockwork, folks – to maintain that sun-shielding prowess!
  • Always go with broad spectrum protection. When it comes to sun defense, broad spectrum is the name of the game, shielding your skin from both UVA rays (those sneaky, wrinkle-inducing, cancer-causing rays) and UVB rays (the notorious sunburn offenders). Ensure the label reads “broad spectrum” to get the ultimate sun protection setup for your island escapades.
  • Understand the mineral vs. chemical sunscreen debate. In the sunscreen saga, you have two heroes: chemical vs physical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin where they absorb UV rays, while mineral reef-friendly sunscreens, which sit on top the skin and reflect UV rays away. Mineral sunscreens don’t contain ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which have been shown to damage coral reefs. So, for Hawaii, you’ll want to stick to mineral sunscreens exclusively.
  • You’ll have to stick to reef-safe sunscreen — it’s the law! Hawaii’s sunscreen law bans sunscreens using chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which have been shown to damage coral reefs. Hawaii is committed to safeguarding its natural resources from potential damage caused by certain sunscreen ingredients, and as a visitor you’ll want to honor and respect those rules too! In fact, no non-mineral sunscreens are sold in Hawaii without a prescription. It’s no biggie though — just opt for mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that are kind to coral (as well as sensitive skin).
  • Consider going after tinted formulas. The only downside to reef-safe, mineral sunscreens is that come can leave you with a ghostly sheen. But never fear, modern mineral formulations are stepping up, with many developing the ability to be blended into the skin without the dreaded white cast. A guaranteed way to bypass the white cast issue is to opt for tinted formulas, which provide a gentle, subtle tint to the skin that overrides any whitening effect.
  • Make sure your sunscreen is easy to apply. Sunscreen application shouldn’t feel like you’re trying to solve a Rubik’s cube. Opt for user-friendly lotions alongside sprays or sticks that make reapplication a breeze, so you can apply on the fly and jump right back into your beach volleyball game or snorkeling adventure.
  • Go with waterproof for a stress-free beach day. Since you’ll likely be engaging in all kinds of water sports in Hawaii, you’ll want to go with a water-proof formula that’ll last through the snorkling and scuba diving! Just don’t forget to always reapply once you’ve gotten out of the water.
  • Take care if you have sensitive skin. Your skin’s comfort is key, especially when it’s being bombarded by the tropical Hawaiian elements. Look for hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic labels to avoid pore-blocking and irritation. And as with trying any skin product, a patch test is always smart to ensure your chosen sunscreen is a perfect match for your skin.

Go With the Non-Nano Zinc Oxide

You may see some sunscreens celebrate using nano zinc oxide. And there are definitely major pluses — zinc oxide using nano particles can blend seamlessly into the skin without even a hint of white cast.

The bad news is that nano particles are small enough to get ingested by coral reefs and do damage internally. So, look for non-nano zinc oxide instead.

Normal, non-nano zinc oxide features particles big enough that they won’t get absorbed into the coral and wreak havoc. You may have to deal a bit with white cast, but that’s well-worth protecting our oceans (plus a tinted formula can still solve the issue).

hawaii sea turtle
Hawksbill sea turtle swimming in Indian ocean in Seychelles

The Best Sunscreens for Hawaii (That Are Reef-Safe Too!)

Looking for reef-safe? All these sunscreens fit the bill!

You need a reef-safe sunscreen for Hawaii — it ain’t optional! Don’t worry though, we’ve made it easy. All of our recommendations below are 100% mineral, reef-safe sunscreens.

It’s worth noting that some sunscreens claim to be reef-safe due to their lack of known problem ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate. Here’s the thing though — many of those chemical sunscreens claiming to be reef-safe just swap out those bad boys for avobenzone or other chemical filters.

While avobenzone may be better for reefs, there isn’t enough data out there to say for sure. Chances are, it’s not all that better than oxybenzone and oxtinoxate.

If you want a really and truly reef-safe sunscreen, a 100% mineral sunscreen is you’re only option. And those the only sunscreens we’re highlighting below.

1. Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Stick: Best Stick Option

A great mineral stick option
BLUE LIZARD Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Stick

BLUE LIZARD Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Stick

Your favorite lizard sunscreen, in stick form

  • SPF 50 and broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen
  • Reef-friendly, mineral composition with no oxybenzone or octinoxate
  • Paraben-free & fragrance-free -- ideal for sensitive skin
  • Sweat and water resistant (80 minutes)


About: Dive into the crystal clear Hawaiian waters without harming the coral or your skin. Meet Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen – your skin’s new BFF that’s tough on sun rays but soft on you. 

This gentle giant comes with a reliable SPF 50 that uses zinc-oxide, served up in a formula so caring, that even the most sensitive skin sings its praises. 

Blue Lizard, a brand committed to producing top-quality sun defense, crafts this sunscreen without a drop of chemical active ingredients. Fancy a swim? The good news cascades down like a Hawaiian waterfall – it’s water-resistant!


  • Made with Zinc Oxide: You can’t ask for a better shield than zinc oxide; it’s like wearing sunglasses for your skin! A physical blocker to keep those UVA and UVB rays at bay.
  • Stick Designed for Easy Application: This sunscreen’s stick design makes it quick, easy, and effortless to reapply onto your skin. No reapplication excuses here — just whip this bad boy out and apply to your skin like a deodorant stick so you can get back to the sunshine action in no time. That’s why it’s on of our top picks for sunscreen face sticks across the board (although it works great for body use too).
  • Designed for Sensitive Skin: You’ll be hard-pressed to have breakouts or rashes with this ultra-gentle formula.
  • Fragrance-Free, Paraben-Free: No sneaky irritants hiding here – just pure, unadulterated sun protection.
  • Water Resistant: Whether you’re surfing or sweating, this sunscreen sticks with you like your favorite beach tunes.
  • Reef-Safe with No Oxybenzone and Octinoxate: It’s like a love letter to the coral reefs – preserving an underwater wonderland, with no coral bleaching while protecting your skin.


  • This fragrance-free, zinc oxide sunscreen is ideal for sensitive skin.
  • With its formidable SPF, you’re rocking beachside defense on par with Hawaii’s legendary surfers.
  • Its commitment to being reef-safe means you can snorkel guilt-free, knowing you’re not turning the coral into sea ghosts.


  • You may experience some subtle white cast, but most folks don’t seem bothered by it.

2. Australian Gold Botanical Tinted Face BB Cream: Best Affordable Tinted Sunscreen

An affordable, tinted face suncreen
Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Sunscreen

Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Sunscreen

A mattifying BB-cream great for face coverage

  • SPF 50 plus broad spectrum protection
  • Mineral sunscreen with zinc & titanium
  • Subtle tint that blends into many skin tones and covers blemishes
  • Mattifying BB Cream that's oil-free and won't clog pores
  • Includes soothing antioxidant-rich elements like eucalyptus & red algae
  • Non-nano and free of parabens, PABA, sulfate, and others

About: Say “G’day” to sun-smart sophistication with Australian Gold Tinted BB Face Sunscreen. This little beaut is not just your average sunscreen – she’s a smooth operator, charming your face with a subtle tint while wielding a hefty SPF 50. 

This physical sunscreen is a multitasker, keeping your skin safeguarded and looking fresh. And if you’re the type to read labels, take a seat – this concoction is free from pretty much everything you’d want to avoid, and then some. 

Not to mention it feels heck-ing great on the face — it’s smooth to apply and effortlessly covers up blemishes alongside a mattifying effect. It’s a real all-in-one.

Oh and did we mention? It’s pretty affordable too. It doesn’t get much better!


  • Oil-Free, Chemical Filter-Free: Slip into something more comfortable – this sunscreen has none of those sticky oils or chemical nasties – keeping your look clean and mattified. It also takes top pick as on of our favorite oil-free face sunscreens, no qualms whatsoever.
  • Non-Nano and Reef-Safe: No tiny, reef-damaging particles here – just chunky zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for a completely mineral composition with no reef-damaging ingredients, so you can snorkel with the sea turtles guilt-free.
  • Packed with Aussie Botanicals: Infused with native Australian gems like Kakadu plum for Vitamin C goodness, invigorating eucalyptus, and red algae – because your face deserves that extra moisturization.
  • Dermatologist and Pediatrician Tested, Plus Good Vibes Only: Even the pros give it a thumbs up, and it’s vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free, making it the quokka’s smile of the sunscreen world.
  • Subtle Tint for a Perfect Finish: Say goodbye to dodgy imperfections; this sunscreen moonlights as a BB cream, giving your mug a smooth, even complexion with a gentle tint that doesn’t scream “I’m wearing sunscreen!”


  • The tint isn’t just there to look pretty; it evens out your skin tone like an Instagram filter in real life.
  • Water-resistant wonders mean you’re good to go for dips and dives for up to 80 minutes – splash the day away!
  • It’s chuck full of nourishing botanicals, giving your skin a vitamin-powered hug every application.


  • The tint may not be a one-size-fits-all; if you’re rocking porcelain vibes or a deep, rich complexion, you might find it’s not the perfect match – but for the majority of skin types, it’s spot on!

3. Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen: Best Choice for Body Coverage

Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen

Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen

A clean mineral sunscreen that's Leaping Bunny certified

  • SPF 50+ and broad spectrum
  • Clean mineral sunscreen with no no PABA, parabens, phthalates, BPA, oxybenzone, or avobenzone.
  • Water resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Cruelty-free and Leaping Bunny certified

About: Ready, set, protect! With Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen, you’re signing up for a partner that endures as long as you do under the Hawaiian sun. 

Whether you’re volleying on the beaches, riding the waves, or just out for a jog along the coastline, this sunscreen boasts the SPF 50+ muscle to shield your skin from the sun’s mighty rays. 

Established as the first sunscreen to partner with Whole Foods Premium Care requirements and with a Leaping Bunny certification, this bottle takes ‘care’ to a whole new level. No wonder it’s a sporty soul’s go-to guard!


  • Water and Sweat Resistant: Dive into the ocean or break a sweat without any sun-protection slip-ups for a full 80 minutes. Reapply and keep ruling your sporty kingdom.
  • Designed Specifically for Sports Use: It’s like the sunscreen equivalent of a high-performance sports gear – it stays put so you can keep playing, which makes it one of our fav sunscreens for any ultra-sweaty activity.
  • Leaping Bunny Certified – Hop to It! Wear this sunscreen with a warm, fuzzy feeling, knowing no furry friends were hurt in the process.
  • Reef-Safe Mineral Goodness: Sunshine and ocean life can coexist peacefully thanks to this sunscreen’s non-nano zinc oxide formula, so splash and explore with a clear conscience.


  • No PABA, parabens, or other nasties.
  • Designed for oily and sensitive skin types so you won’t be read and blotchy for those beach pics
  • The eco-warrior in you will do a little dance knowing you’re respecting marine life and bunnies alike.


  • Let’s be real, this mineral sunscreens need a bit of elbow grease to really rub in.
  • This one’s probably best for primarily body use — it could leave a significant white cast on your face.

4. Badger Sport: Best Clean, Ethical Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Woman-owned, sustainable sunscreen brand
Badger Sport SPF40 Sunscreen

Badger Sport SPF40 Sunscreen

An ultra-clean mineral sunscreen that's reef-safe and woman-owned

  • SPF 40 and broad spectrum mineral sunscreen
  • Made with just four ingredients: zinc oxide, sunflower oil, beeswax & vitamin E
  • Hypoallergenic & non-comedogenic -- gentle on sensitive skin
  • 80 minutes sweat & water resistance
  • Reef-safe formula that's Mexico and Hawaii approved.
  • No synthetic ingredients, cruelty-free, and in 50% PCR tubes.

About: Embrace the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle with Badger Sport Mineral Sunscreen Cream, the sunscreen that’s as easy-going as it is powerful. With a cozy SPF 40, this physical sunscreen is your gentle guardian against those deceptive UV rays. 

Let’s talk simple but mighty – its minimal ingredient list is like the “aloha” of skincare: welcoming, friendly, and kind to all. 

Made by a women-led, family-owned business in a solar-powered facility in New Hampshire, this sunscreen is as American as apple pie, and as sustainable as your tote bag made entirely of recycled beach party cups.


  • Broad Spectrum Protection: This sunscreen isn’t just strong; it offers a reliable SPF 40 broad-spectrum cover to shield you from UVA “aging” rays and UVB “burning” ones.
  • Mineral-Based Without the Casper Effect: Zinc oxide is the star here – clear, non-nano, and as kind to the fishes as it is to your face.
  • Hypoallergenic & Non-Comedogenic Comforts: Perfect for sensitive skin, unscented, and free of pore-clogging fears – breathe easily, and your skin will thank you later.
  • Water Resistant Wonders for Water Warriors: Paddle, snorkel, or jog along the shore with up to 80 minutes of water resistance. Reapply post-dip and you’re golden.
  • Natural and Organic Sunscreen Ingredients: Four unassuming ingredients make up this organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO superhero – simple, clean, and worry-free.
  • Reef-Safe Sunscreen: Approved for Hawaii and Mexico travels, it’s not just reef-friendly; it’s practically a reef cheerleader – eco-conscious and proud.
  • Sustainable: Made by a B-Corp that’s as committed to the environment as you are to your tan, along with 50% PCR tubes that reduce waste.


  • Perfect for the eco-warrior surfer or the beach bookworm – gentle, sustainable, and protective.
  • With a woman-owned badge, solar-powered crafting, and a USA-born label, it’s as wholesome as sunscreen gets.
  • A boon for skincare minimalists, this cream keeps things pure with just a handful of organic ingredients.


  • The price tag may have you fishing for a few extra coins, but consider it an investment in both your skin’s health and Mama Earth’s happiness.

5. La Roche-Posay Anthelios 100% Mineral Sunscreen: Lightest Tinted Facial Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Sunscreen

  • Broad spectrum SPF 50 protection
  • Ultra lightweight 100% mineral tinted face sunscreen (with titanium dioxide)
  • Developed specifically for sensitive skin
  • Non-greasy, fast-absorbing texture leaves a tinted matte finish
  • Fragrance free, paraben free and water resistant (40 minutes)

About: Swaying palm trees, azure seas, and a sun-kissed glow that rivals sunset luaus – that’s the vibe La Roche-Posay Anthelios’s tinted SPF50 sunscreen promises (and delivers!). 

Starring in your beauty routine with the finesse of a hula dancer, this physical and natural mineral sunscreen lifts the performance bar sky-high.

It’s a lightweight formula that lavishes your skin with protection, while a special tint blends seamlessly into your island-adventure. 

Designed with titanium dioxide for the diligent sun dodger, and sporting a snazzy “cell-ox shield” for the antioxidants aficionado, this gem is all about keeping things luxe for your sensitive skin.


  • Lightweight, UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum: This sunscreen is like slipping into your comfiest flip-flops—easy, breezy, and ready to tackle the entire spectrum of sun rays.
  • Tinted, Just Like a Hawaiian Sunset: Smooth coverage that brushes your skin with the right amount of color for that natural, beachy look.
  • Fast Absorbing with a Matte Finish—No Grease, Please: This sunscreen sinks into the skin faster than you can say “Aloha,” leaving you with a fresh, matte finish that whispers rather than shouts.
  • Made with Titanium Dioxide — Sensitive Skin’s Hero: A champion ingredient for keeping skin calm while the rest of you climb volcanoes or conquer waves. The combo of gentle formula and rash-covering makes it a great sunscreen for keratosis pilaris too (or any skin conditions that can make your face red and rashy from time to time).
  • Oil-Free, Fragrance-Free, Allergy-Tested: The Trifecta of TLC. An oil-free, fuss-free, allergy-friendly formula that’s as gentle as an island lullaby.
  • Unique “Cell-Ox Shield”: Aka, antioxidants in armor. Extra protection comes standard with added antioxidants because your skin deserves a full entourage.


  • Wave goodbye to heavy, cakey sunscreens – lightweight and tinted is here to play.
  • The matte finish means smooth, velvety skin that doesn’t shine brighter than the midday sun.
  • For those all about hydration, the hyaluronic acid bonus is like a refreshing sip of coconut water for your parched pores.


  • With a price tag that has you clutching your lei, this may be more of a facial treat than a full-body affair – save it for where the sun shines brightest, your beautiful face!

It’s clear that the right sunscreen can make or break your Hawaiian holiday. Remember, your choice of sunscreen isn’t just a guardian against the sun’s embrace; it’s your pledge to preserve the island’s delicate beauty. 

Whether you’ve been surfing the waves, exploring lush trails, or just lounging with a pineapple drink in hand, the best sunscreen is the one that protects you without a trace – no sunburns, no harm to the coral reefs, just pure, blissful memories. 

So, choose wisely, eco-warriors and beach bums – may your sunscreen shield you like the traditional Polynesian tattoos of old, as symbols of protection. After all, what’s better than returning home from Hawaii with a suitcase of souvenirs and skin just as healthy as when you left? 

We’d love to hear about your favorites and sun-kissed stories of Hawaii, so don’t be shy – drop us a line and share your tales and your best Hawaii sunscreen top picks!

Leave a Comment

The Sun is Killing Me
1530 P B Ln # M3299
Wichita Falls, TX 76302

Affiliate Disclosure is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Additionally, participates in various other affiliate programs, and we sometimes get a commission through purchases made through our links.