Swimming & Snorkeling

It is important that when you select to travel to locations that have a lot of sun you plan on bringing clothing that helps prevent sunburn. I absolutely love the sun and sometimes don't think about what happens after being in the sun all day. And, there is nothing worse than being on a 12-day trip and you are sunburnt on day two.

Parents and students need to think about UV protection and how to avoid sunburn not only while swimming and snorkeling but at all times. UV protection is one of the most important things to think about when heading to the beach or visiting local markets on sunny days. It is more important to think about UV protection when you are traveling at certain latitudes.

This page will help you learn what is the best way to protect your skin against harmful UV rays, what sun protection clothing to wear when going snorkeling or swimming, and what are some of the best sunscreens to purchase.

What does UV Protection Mean?

Sunlight contains three different types of UV rays:

  1. UV-A - Penetrate deeply into the skin and plays a roll in premature skin aging.

  2. UV-B - Greatest role in causing skin cancer.

  3. UV-C - Usually absorbed by the Ozone Layer and not really a threat unless expose yourself to certain lamps and lasers

UV Ray Index

It is important to know what the UV Ray Index when traveling

Global UV Ray Index

This is just a guide but can help you decide if your educational travel experience should include extra protection like UV shirts, sunglasses, hats or sunscreen.

What does UPF Mean?

Ultraviolet Protection Factor represents the fraction of UV rays that can penetrate fabric and is used to indicate the sun-protective feature of clothing. UPF is similar to USF (Ultraviolet Sun Factor) rating for sun care products. The higher the UPF, the better the protection. For example, UPF50 rating means that the fabric will allow 1/50th of the UV to pass through the fabric (it blocks approximately 95% of the UV-B rays and 98% of the UV-A rays).

Choosing the Right Snorkel Set

Discovering the beauty of the underwater world is the highlight of some educational travel trips. The goal is to do it safe and comfortable and purchasing the right equipment if important.

A good snorkel set includes:

  1. high-quality mask that has a food-grade silicone skirt, tempered glass lenses and easy-to-adjust buckles.

  2. Good snorkel tube that guarantees effortless breathing and comes with a spashgaurd or dry-top.

  3. Good pair of good fitting snorkeling fins that are comfortable and efficient.

  4. A bag that fits all the equipment for easy storing and travel.

If you purchase a snorkel set it should fit your personal priorities, traveling style, snorkeling habits, and of course your budget. Make sure that you test and fit all of your gear before traveling because it would be horrible for you to transport snorkeling gear that doesn't fit or leaks. While gear is provided for all of our educational tours I find it important for me to have my own personal gear that I know fits and works so I am snorkeling and wasting time figuring out how to get a mask to fit.

This comes with everything you need to get started including fins. This is a well made mask and has a three-way adjustable buckle for a great fit and seal. The full foot fins are comfortable, durable, and fit true to size. The snorkel is a semi-dry, easy to clear. A few people complained that the mask fogs, and the mouth piece became uncomfortable after a while, and the carrying bag wasn't the greatest quality.

This comes with everything that you need for snorkeling. The fin is adjustable and the mask allows for panoramic viewing, you get a dry snorkel and a fast drying mesh bag to store all of your gear. You will need two hands to adjust the mask but it doesn't seem to fog as much as other masks. The fins can be adjusted so if you are wearing dive socks or boots you can make easy adjustments.

This set includes everything you need plus neoprene zipper boots and Anti-fog spray. I like this set because it does come in a variety of colors. The fins create power without generating leg fatigue. The mask has an adaptable silicone skirt so it's foldable and conforms to your face without leaving marks. The dry snorkel prevents water from coming in at any angle and the mouthpiece is silicone and comfortable. The boot is 6mm neoprene with a rubber sole so you can use in most climates around the world.

Rashguard for Snorkeling

Rashguards or swim shirts are specifically designed for water sports protecting the wearer against irritation, rash, and sunburn. It's typically made of elastic, light spandex, polyester, and nylon fabric that doesn't limit movements. Another important benefit of wearing a rashguard is it protects against jellyfish stings.

Wearing full length rashguard is extremely important if you are doing any outdoor activity Northern latitude of 20 degrees (Tropic of Cancer) to Southern latitudes of 20 degrees (Tropic of Capicorn). But from experience you should protect yourself any time you are going to be outside for long periods of time.

Tuga is a moderately priced company that offers good UPF 50+ rashguards made up of recycled nylon from fishnets or polyester made from recycled bottles, mixed with spandex. They are very eco-friendly and make comfortable clothing.

UV Skinz is another good rashguard company. The company was opened to help raise awareness to how deadly skin cancer is and how it impacts families. They claim to block out 98% of both UV-A and UV-b rays. The clothing is comfortable and flexible perfect for snorkeling and spending long days in the sun.

Quicksilver is a more recognized rashguard company that has been around for a long time. They have always focused on swim clothing and rashguards. I think that these rashguards fit a little snugger than the other brands and are a little more durable.

When it comes to selecting the right rashguard it really is up to you and the style you seek. I suggest looking into shorts that have UPF 50+. You can choose between long sleeve, short sleeve, hooded shirts, or even wearing long pant rashguard. The goal is to think about what works best for you and your preferences.

Head Sun Protection

Since your head is out of the water most of the time while snorkeling or swimming you should think about some type of head protection. Your neck, ears, and scalp are extremely sensitive to getting sun burnt and you could have issues with heat stroke without the proper protection.

While it might not be the most fashionable top it is by far the best for protecting the head, neck, ears, arms, back, and chest. Tuga offers a variety of colors and this style is purposefully designed for snorkeling because the sleeves have a thumb opening to help keep the sleeves down and if you purchase this top and a par of Tuga snorkeling bottoms you and use the buttons on the top to attach to the shorts so the rashguard doesn't move away from the body when snorkeling. $95.00

This is a great option because you can fit to your head and the material covers your neck. It can also be used in and out of the water. You can visit NAMMU HATS for a variety of styles, they have extra neck material along with visors to help keep the sun out of your eyes. $25.00

The most versatile of the swim covers because it can be used as a mask, put up long hair and on hot days keep the sweat out of your eyes. $18.00

Sunscreen for Snorkeling and Swimming

Buying the right sunscreen is important if you are swimming or snorkeling in the ocean and you have to be mindful to keep reapplying. I set a timer so I know when I should be reapplying sunscreen. It's easy to forget that sunscreen isn't a one time apply and forget. Especially, if you are doing water activities or you are sweating. It is important to think about what chemicals used in the sunscreen because you want to put on something that is biodegradable and safe for coral reefs and marine life. I tend to suggest that a full body rashguard is the best idea because you can minimize the amount of sunscreen needed.

Try to avoid sunscreen that has Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. You should look at mineral sunscreen with non-nano Zinc-Oxide and/or Titanium-dioxide, they are safe to use for you, the reef, and marine life.

Thinkbaby creates a full line of water resistant & biodegradable sun protection.

Kokua Sun Care offers a variety of skincare products that are environmentally friendly with great skin protection.