Lifestyle Travel

How to respect the reef: Safe sunscreen for snorkelling and other tips

If you’re like me, one of the things that you love the most about going to be beach is the opportunity to see the incredible marine life that you’ve seen on Blue Planet. Our oceans are a fascinating ecosystem with more creatures that we might ever know, but they’re suffering because of overfishing, pollution and climate change as well as other factors.

Whether you’re snorkelling in Nusa Penida or Phuket, it’s more important than ever to know how to be safe and responsible. Read on to discover how to have as light an impact on the ocean as possible when you’re in it.

Diver underwater surfacing towards seaweed
A diver surfaces in a beautiful ocean underwater

When choosing your accommodation for your beach holiday, look for those with eco-friendly credentials that operate in an ethical and sustainable way, a great way to do this is by checking and booking on Tripadvisor below:

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Tips for safe snorkelling:

The most important thing to remember when snorkelling in the sea is to keep yourself safe, so make sure to follow these golden rules:

  1. Make sure you and your party are confident swimmers, you can even practise in the pool if you need to brush up your skills.
  2. Use a good quality snorkel that actually fits, you can either buy your own or rent one if you don’t snorkel very often. It’s worth paying more for a good one than ending up in the sea with a squashed face or leaking snorkel – trust me!
  3. Never snorkel alone unless you’re in sight of your friends. Solo travellers can go on boat trips if you don’t have a snorkel buddy.
  4. Rest after eating and don’t snorkel on a full stomach
  5. Drink water, not alcohol or do not go in the water when high
  6. Don’t go out too far as currents can be dangerous.
  7. Protect your skin for the sun by covering up in the sea and wearing reef-safe sunscreen (see responsible snorkelling).
  8. Always check the weather and sea conditions
  9. Make sure boat operators are responsible and have life jackets
  10. Keep your distance from marine life

Tips for responsible snorkelling:

  • Don’t touch marine life as it could harm you or you could harm it
  • Learn to retain your buoyancy so you don’t hurt the coral
  • Learn about the marine life that you see
  • Don’t take anything from the ocean
  • Move slowly and avoid kicking sand
  • If you’re swimming or snorkelling then make sure that your suncream is as reef-safe as possible as the chemicals in it have been linked to coral damage. Of course, this isn’t the only thing damaging our reef systems but its imperative that we take this seriously and tread lightly.
  • One of the best sunscreens for minimal chemical pollution is badger suncream that is zinc oxide based and avoids the chemicals that have been banned in places like Hawaii. If you cover up and avoid the sun then you can protect yourself from harmful sun damage and help the oceans at the same time. Find out more about the study here, as well as the arguments against it.

Lastly, be sure to protect our sealife from overfishing by eating sustainable seafood, check on the Good Fish Guide to see which fish is responsibly sourced, and what isn’t.

If you want to know more about the oceans and how to support and take care of them then here are some places to go:

Where do you love to go snorkelling and what do you love to see in the ocean? Share your stories and let me know if you have any snorkelling tips of your own!

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How to respect the reef: Safe sunscreen for snorkelling and other tips
How to respect the reef: Safe sunscreen for snorkelling and other tips
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