Hanauma Bay in Oahu sees over 400 pounds of suncreen deposited daily on coral reefs. / Photo by daryl_mitchel (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Travelers visiting Hawaii will have to leave behind some brands of sunscreen according to a new law passed by the state.

The law prohibits sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals believed to harm coral reefs. These chemicals are found in popular brands like Coppertone and Hawaiian Tropic.

The chemicals are washed off while swimming, which damages the beneficial algae that give reefs their coral hue.

Hawaii isn’t the only destination affected by these chemicals. Trunk Bay, a popular snorkeling spot in St. John, U.S.V.I, sees more than 6,000 pounds of sunscreen deposited on its coral reefs annually.

So what sunscreens can you use in Hawaii? Researchers recommend looking for biodegradable sunscreens, such as a new oxybenzone-free line by Banana Boat.


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