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Reef-Safe or Reef-Friendly?

An Assessment of the Availability and Use of Reef-Safe Sunscreen on the Island of Maui


I want to make a difference and help our planet. I care so much about animals and saving the planet, so I’m really glad that I got to learn about how the sunscreen that we use can impact future generations. I want to continue making this place better.”  – Liliʻu Kaʻahumanu, 7th-grade, Kihei Charter School



In an effort to protect coral reefs and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards, MOC Marine Institute, Kihei Charter School, and Stanford University worked together to study the accessibility and use of reef-safe sunscreen products on the island of Maui. 

Students surveyed 100 beachgoers to learn about sunscreen use and the factors that influence purchasing decisions.

96% were visitors to the island of Maui
20% were using reef-safe sunscreen
45% did not purchase their sunscreen on Maui
35% purchased their sunscreen because they believed it was good for the reef

Students also surveyed 17 retail stores and 210 sunscreen products across the island of Maui. The students collected in-store data on available sunscreen products and noted if products met Hawaiʻi’s legislative designation and if the products were reef-safe (mineral-based).

The full report can be viewed below.


Sunscreen-Report_Final-compressed-2