The plight of the world's coral reefs made headlines in May 2018 when Hawaii become the first state to introduce a bill to ban sunscreen. Research indicates that sunscreen can damage, bleach and kill these delicate ecosystems by leaving behind a toxic layer of chemical-laden gunk. If signed into law by the governor, the new rules won't go into effect until January 2021, but already our 50th state and some of its hotels are educating consumers about the effects of ingredients such as oxybenzone and octinoxate by encouraging swimmers and snorkelers to choose reef-safe sunscreen, and even providing complimentary samples and dispensers. The Sheraton Maui Resort has partnered with Raw Elements to offer free dispensers throughout the property and Napili Kai Beach Resort, also on Maui, will give free packets at check-in starting in December.
It's something to keep in mind no matter what tropical destination — from the Caribbean and Riviera Maya to Southeast Asia and the South Pacific — you're headed to. To be considered reef-safe, mineral sunscreens must contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that's "non-nano." So if you're ditching plastic straws, plastic bags and other non-biodegradable conveniences that are polluting our oceans, you can also do your part by opting for one of these 15 reef-safe sunscreens, all of which meet criteria established by the Environmental Working Group (which has evaluated 243 sunscreen products as safe), and are available on Amazon at prices generally between $10 and $20.