Sunburn Prevention: 5 Facts and Tips to Avoid Burning and Peeling on Your Vacation

Sunburn can well be considered one of the biggest disasters of a vacation. Get sunburn on Day 1 of your vacation and you’d need to be drunk the rest of your trip to forget the discomfort.

For kids, that’s not an option. Make it one of your top priorities to avoid sunburn.

You may think, "No point in reading this, that won't be me!" Yet every day at least one guest steps aboard as a happy vacationer, and leaves as a fried tomato. 

The Riviera Maya is nearer to the equator — that means the intensity of the sun and UV radiation is more direct and stronger. Not to mention when you're out at sea and the ocean is shining that sun back at you from  every angle below as well.

For some people, even the part in their hair can burn. It’s not surprising. When you’re on a beach or out at sea on a boat, it’s all sun and sea around you. It’s up to you to prevent the effects of the nearly non-stop sun-kissing-skin that happens!

While on charter with us, every once in a while come under our sunshades, or go inside for a bit. It all helps, and you won’t miss out at all! Music can be heard from everywhere and drinks served anywhere!

Most of our guests go on a cruise in the Riviera Maya when it’s winter or soggy spring (in the case of those from Britain, wet summer). That brings us to Fact #1.

1. Our natural photoprotection, resistance to sun exposure, is down during winter and spring.

For those coming from the north with fair skin fresh from the coolness of winter/spring, stepping out of the airport at Playa is like entering a furnace. It feels heavenly, but your skin doesn’t adjust that fast. If you wonder why the expats don’t seem to burn any more, that’s because our skin has adjusted.

What to do: We all know that tanning beds cause skin cancer. But a tan does give you SPF 4, meaning that it would take you 4x longer to burn than when you have no tan.

Build up your skin’s natural photoprotection by getting a tan before your cruise. We’ve heard from guests that this works. They arrive with what they call a “base tan.” Weeks before your cruise, start with 5 minutes’ worth of tanning, increasing the duration on every session afterward. 

Understand that this is NOT protection. You should still be devoted to sunblock, covering up and seeking shade. Think of tanning as waking up your skin and preparing it to not be a wimp when you sit on the sun deck!

Note: We included this tip because we’ve had consensus that it helps. Doctors recommend that we skip tanning salons. Getting a base tan MIGHT help, and it might not, sensitive skin or not.


2. Avoiding sunburn on a vacation or charter means covering up.

What to pick: Kimonos have great big butterfly sleeves to relieve your chest, shoulders and back from sun exposure. Just throw it on over your two-piece. Bonus is you can even swim in them.

Maxi skirts won’t billow and harm (or flash) anybody. They look phenomenal worn barefoot or with sandals. Whites and khakis ooze with ‘cruise’. Go for light colors to repel the heat.

Tilley hats get rave reviews for their sun protection. Guys and gals both get great designs. Hats also protect your scalp, ears and nape — the often-forgotten areas of skin that scream bloody murder if you let them fry in the sun.

For snorkeling, fishing, surfing, opt for rashguards that provide SPF.

If you have really sensitive skin that burns easily, stay clothed and hatted. And you’d need denser fabrics than the usual. The trick: Hold it up to the light. If light gets through, you can get burned if you stay in the sun for too long.


3. Waterproof and sweat-proof is not wipe-proof.

This is why sunblock and sunscreen manufacturers tell you to re-apply after swimming and sweating even when their product is waterproof or water-resistant. They assume you’d wipe it off. Rubbing against lounges and patting your face free of salt water is enough to remove your sun protection.

What to do: Re-apply.

Re-apply every 2 hours, or after swimming, no matter the SPF. Re-apply every time you could. The 20 minutes you have to wait before you go out in the sun again is good for you, too. If you want the sunburn-protection without the wait, there are lotions with ‘immediate’ protection (Nivea Sun).  

Choose SPF 75 and up if you have sensitive, easy-to-burn skin. Look for physical sun-blocking ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) protection.


4. Mid-day means micheladas or margaritas. At the bar. Inside. Or under umbrellas.

From 10am to 4pm, the sun is prime for that glorious Riviera tan. Just remember to be careful and vigilant. Put on some cover-up. Come in the shade for longer periods than you’re in the sun.

Better to slowly bronze over your vacation than to go Full Lobster on the first day.

Trick tip: Stand and look at at your shadow. If it’s shorter than you, the sun is at its peak strength for the day. Have no shadow because it’s overcast? Doesn’t matter. You can STILL burn.


5. Chemistry and blood affects your skin.

If you take medications, all it takes is one ingredient, or a blend of them, that makes you ultra sensitive to sun exposure, and all your precautions to prevent sunburn would be moot.

These medications can cause phototoxicity (reactions happen within hours of sun exposure) and photoallergy (reactions happen within days of sun exposure).

Source: Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America

What to do: Months before you go on your vacation, talk to your doctor about your meds. If need be, you might have to temporarily switch to alternatives.

Have any other tips about preventing sunburn during a beach vacation or yacht charter? Let us know in the comments!


Meet the Crew: Michael

Photo by  Lucky Girl .

Photo by Lucky Girl.

Heyo! I manage customer service and all things digital here at H2Oh, which translates to me spending a lot of time talking with our guests and making sure they are completely taken care of.

Once a guest and I begin to talk, whether in the chat box here on the site, by phone or email — maybe it’s corny — but it feels like we're friends, and I mean it. It's not just business around here! 

We'll talk about suggestions for great places to eat in Playa del carmen, favourite beaches, you name it.  

I live down in the Caribbean, I love it. I want you to love it. You’re coming on the best yacht tour in the region and what is very likely to be the absolute best day of your trip (wedding days excluded, of course... But, we host those too!)

My genuine belief is, "This trip is going to make your vacation."

Sometimes guests will not get off the boat after we dock! They stay and chat with the crew, with Mack or myself.

Our guests stay like friends, because after a day at sea with us, they are. If we don’t have a tour afterwards and people are still partying? We are happy to enjoy their company and let them have another round. 

A big philosophy of mine is that you are not our customer. You are our client, guest and friend.

A customer is defined as, "a person who purchases a commodity or service" while a client is, "a person who is under the protection of another."

What this means is we aren't here to sell you a yacht tour.

We are here to take care of you.

Sure, you may have discovered us while searching for a boat tour, but what we understand is that ultimately what you're really looking for is an incredible day with family and friends.

Hosting that amazing day for you is our only goal, the ocean and boats just happen to be the tools we know best.


What about you?

Now that you know a little more about me and what I do here at H2Oh, why don't you let us know more about yourself and what you're looking to get out of your vacation.

Ultimate relaxation? Swimming with sea turtles? Partying with new friends? An unforgettable day for your wedding guests?

No commitment, no pressure, just send us a note and kick the tires a bit!

You can also use the chat box on the bottom right of the site. It may not always be me there, but you will always be in good hands!

Some things I sure do enjoy...

No caption needed for this one!

When not at sea on the 72' Yacht, Piratas de Tejas, my wife and I have our own sailboat we cruise the Caribbean with.

A good beer and a nice cigar is all you need sometimes.

What is the weather like in Playa del Carmen and the rest of the Mayan Riviera?

The thing about weather is: Rain or shine, it's going to happen with or without your permission.

That may seem like an obvious thought, but take a second to think about it, accept it and read this guide to apply it to your vacation plans. 

Trust me, your stress and anxiety worrying about the conditions will fade away.

93% sunshine sounds pretty good to me

Typically we see 340 days of sunshine a year down here in the Riviera Maya. That's over 93% of the time. Those are fantastic odds, and a part of the reason we see millions and millions of visitors to the Mayan Riviera every year.

Now, even though it's far less frequent, no one wants rain on their vacation... Or destination wedding!

But if it's going to happen, it's going to happen. At that point, all you can do is focus on how to make the most of it or how to plan around it.

If it rains, what can you do about the weather?

A fisherman from the Pacific Northwest of the US (if you're unfamiliar, a particularly wet climate) once told me, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just a wrong choice in clothes."

I'd never thought about it that way until then.

My very first trip to the region with my wife was during the rainy season. It rained almost the whole week we were here. Upsetting? Not at all. Do you know what we did?

We grabbed some cocktails, jumped in the pool and swam in the ocean in the rain. Everyone ran for cover inside the dark lobby bar. We were the only ones on the beach splashing around and loving every moment of our newly private beach, cocktails in hand.

Your vacation will be what you make of it.

Let's talk about the weather (apps!)

The weather you check in many apps and websites for the most part is presented very simply.

They show you graphical representations of the forecast. Sun, clouds, rain, lightning and whatever else mother nature is deciding to do at the moment. 

Don’t be so quick to trust your weather apps!

Sure, in many regions you can rely on the weather report you see. Southern California? It says sunshine, you’re probably getting sunshine! The very few times it says rain? You're getting rained on.

We are in a very unique location, weather wise

Because of the very peculiar and ever changing nature of the coastline down here in the Mayan Riviera, I would never recommend strictly trusting one source.

The weather here can literally change within minutes, or stay the same for days on end. It may never reflect what you see when you look online to check.

I have personally had friends checking the weather for Playa del Carmen every single day before coming down on a vacation calling me saying, “Are we in trouble? It’s been storming there all week, we’ve been checking the weather every day!"

My response was, “What? I haven’t seen a drop of rain in weeks."

I have seen torrential downpours for ten minutes that could fill an entire pool, and the clouds part moments after to reveal sunshine for the rest of the day. I have also seen it rain for days and days on end.

The truth is...

The truth is, weather is tricky here. We have warm Caribbean waters and one of the world’s largest ocean currents in our backyard that alter the conditions by the moment.

In winter we have hot days and cooler nights, which can cause predictable but drastic changes in weather and wind direction. We have a wet season, a dry season and everything in between. 

Real world example, and this actually happened yesterday, September 15th, 2015. There were loud claps of thunder, lightning and rain in Playa del Carmen around midday. When I called down to the yacht to see what the weather was like in Puerto Aventuras (20 minutes away), there was no such weather. 

Weather Tips

Here are our tips on knowing what to expect for your vacation in the Mayan Riviera, whether you’re visiting Canucn, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Puerto Aventuras or anywhere else.

How to check the weather before you come:

Weather Sources / Apps

One source probably isn’t enough. Double check multiple weather sites. My favourite free one is Weather Underground.

Here is a link to Playa del Carmen's weather, via Weather Underground.

You can also download the app for your mobile device here.

Not only do they have lots of detail should you choose to read into it more than the temperature and the image of the prediction, but they have localized reports where any user in an area can confirm or deny the current conditions it is forecasting.

Boat / Ocean Specific Weather Forecasting

Don't worry about this part! It's a bit more technical than most people would care to be interested in.

Just know that we have some top of the line services that we pay for subscriptions to to ensure we receive the highest quality reports. That way we know exactly what to expect at sea for our guests.

Webcams (The most reliable for current conditions!)

Above I mentioned some friends who had been seeing terrible weather reports ahead of their vacation when in fact it had been beautiful all week.

I told them that the best thing they could do while checking the weather report was to look at a beach webcam, then reference that with what they were seeing reported.

That way you can see in real-time how accurate the forecast is, and for those times when it says thunder and lightning and it’s actually as sunny as could be.

Bookmark this webcam facing the beach at Playacar Palace.

We have two main seasons

Seasonal predictions aren’t perfect, but they’re historical enough to bet on with confidence.

Down here despite it “feeling” like summer all year round, we do have seasons. You get to know them and appreciate them as you live here. But, as a vacationer you need to know which season may work best for a specific time of year.

Let’s break the Mayan Riviera up into two seasons: High season with its sunshine and low season with its unpredictability, also known as "Hurricane Season".

Don't let the name frighten you, it doesn't mean we get rolled over by hurricanes all season long. The last hurricane to touch ground here was ten years ago! More on this below, but let's get to the sunny stuff first.

High Season (December 1st to May 31st)

High season is typically from December through to the end of May. During this time the weather levels out to consistent sunshine and moderate temperatures in both daytime and evening. Click here for a breakdown of annual weather averages in Playa del Carmen.

If you absolutely, no questions asked, must have pure sunshine for your entire trip, this is the time of year to bet on! It’s high season for a reason.

Besides, it’s probably cold where you are while we're having all the fun with margaritas and sunshine.

Hello, sunshine!

Hello, tequila!

You probably won’t find too many deals on flights and hotels during high season, but that doesn’t mean it’s break-the-bank expensive.

There is something in the Riviera Maya for everyone. We have everything from hostels and $0.50 tacos to 5-star resorts with steak and lobster dinners.

Low Season, Hurricane Season (June 1st - November 30th)

As I mentioned above, don't let the name scare you off. It's been 10 years since our last hurricane, all the name implies is that if one were to make its way here, this is the period of time it would happen in.

Bonus points for low season: Here is where you find the best deals!

Hotels, airlines, tour operators and vendors seem most willing to lower their prices between June to mid November.

When booking, know that low season weather can be hard to predict. I have been in the region for summers where it felt like from June 1st all the way to December it rained at least once every day, even if it was only for a little bit, to other summers where it was very dry and it almost never rained.

If you’re coming for a week in the low season just know that you may wind up with all sunshine, all rain or a little bit of both rain and sunshine.

It may be completely overcast up above, but the fish don't care down below!

It may be completely overcast up above, but the fish don't care down below!

If low season months are the ones that work best for you, it helps to come with the attitude, “Who cares, we’re on vacation!”

It may rain, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t palm trees everywhere, good company and great food to enjoy. Plus, there's something kind of wonderful about warm tropical rain!

Vacations are great in the pure sun, but they can be just as good with the company you bring.

Too busy jumping off boats to worry about those giant clouds in the background.

Too busy jumping off boats to worry about those giant clouds in the background.

Yacht Tours with H2Oh Sun Cruises

If you’re wondering how weather works with us, we have a 100% inclement weather refund policy.

If the conditions are unsuitable or unsafe for a day at sea, we offer complete refunds no questions asked. We of course can also do our best to reschedule around the weather since you may still want to head out to sea! 

Our whole goal is to serve you first and make sure you have the best day possible on the water. It's that simple.

If you have any questions about our tours or policies, check our FAQ out or drop us a line.

Contact Us Today


Vacations can be expensive! Here's how to save money while visiting the Mayan Riviera

I wanted to share a helpful little document we put together for you.

We all know how the cost of vacations can add up rather quickly, especially when you are paying for a whole family, eating out a bunch or even planning to join in on fun activities like our boat tours. 

With that in mind, we created this guide on how to save some extra cash while visiting our region down here in Mexico.

The guide ranges from food tips, taking taxis, shopping, tipping and more. Click the image of the guide to the right, or the big button below to download the PDF. 

It was our pleasure to put it together for you just for being so awesome.

Save it and refer to it when you're on vacation, it will come in handy, we promise!

Do you have any other ideas on how to save money on vacation? Comment below and let me know, I'd love to hear how you make the most of your vacation while also saving!

Thanks again, and have a great week,
Mack and your family at H2Oh!

What is a typical snorkel and boat cruise like?

Around the website there is a lot of detail on what is included when you decide to join us on your own private charter.  However, I thought it would be a good idea to write out the day's events in a simple and chronological order here so you can get a better feel of a day at sea with us!

Welcome Aboard!

We begin at the dock with a cocktail and some photos as you board the boat. Once everyone is on board, our crew will quickly prepare to head out. As we head out of the beautiful marina into the Caribbean, we prep the fishing lines and get those in the water so that we can troll for game fish our whole way north to this beautiful, secluded reef.

At this point, your group can be enjoying cocktails, enjoying music from our huge catalogue on a 6,000watt system, picking your favourite karaoke songs with lyrics to be played on our HD TVs (indoors and out), or just relaxing on one of the many decks and enjoying the sun.

When we get to the reef, we’ll drop anchor and give a quick safety demonstration with the snorkelling gear and get you guys into the water!

We also have a second level high-dive if anyone feels like jumping from the top into the turquoise waters below.

As you snorkel, you’ll see an endless amount of beautiful reef fish and often some sea turtles swimming around!

After a good amount of time at the reef, when everyone’s back aboard we’ll pull up anchor and start heading south past the marina we came from (while trolling for fish again). We then pull into a private canal for the architectural tour, which also happens to be time to eat. As we slowly motor by boats and beautiful homes in this canal you will enjoy a full Mexican cuisine style lunch on the bow of the boat.

After this, we pull back out into the sea for a short final cruise into the marina where we’ll dock.

During all of this, remember that the boat is your home! Let us know if there is anything we can do for you to make it an even better experience and we will always do our best to accommodate you.

We have full staff to make sure your drinks are never empty and to set up any songs you’d like to hear, and maybe to even encourage a bit of karaoke! 

Join us for a day at sea, and you might just walk away feeling like family after the best day of your vacation!

Reef Fish of the Mayan Riviera

Taking a swim in the reefs of the Mayan Riviera can show a lot of color and excitement. The reefs are amazing with the largest variance of species in the world!

Taking time to snorkel through the reefs is time well spent when on vacation, and every one of our private charters includes snorkeling and gear for all.

Use this guide on your next snorkeling adventure to identify some of the most unique fish species of the Riviera Maya.

Queen Angelfish

The queen angelfish is seen frequently through the reefs of the mayan riviera. They can be spotted by the color of their electric blue bodies and have been know to be a fish. They are usually seen by themselves or in pairs. Watch for their rounded head and beak like mouths for distinct identity.

Black Durgon

The name of this fish can be quite confusing because the black durgon is actually a greenish-black tropical fish with purple overtones. The durgon rear scales will have prominent keels that form longitudinal ridges to help make them more distinguishable. They can be found eating small bits of algae from the top of the water or small plankton around the reef.

Queen Triggerfish

This fish is a striking fish to see swimming around the Mayan Riviera reef. The queen trigger fish if stressed will slightly change colors, so be careful when approaching this majestic sea creature. The diet of the queen triggerfish consists mostly of sea urchins and other small creatures such as krill and hard shelled shrimp.

Glasseye Snapper

This unique fish can be seen swimming around the hundreds of other species. Although it is not always the brightest fish it still adds appeal to the reef community. The glasseye snapper can be easily distinguished with its pinkish red color, and dark red spots. What makes this fish more appealing is how rare it is. If you see this fish consider it a honor.               

These are just a sample of the many species swimming in our waters here on the Caribbean coast of Mexico.

Bonus: When snorkeling with us, you will often see sea turtles swimming around the reef, snacking on the sea grass. Read this post to learn 7 Fun Facts about Sea Turtles and check out what we see when we go swimming!                                    

Sunrise and Sunset times and dates in the Mayan Riviera

We often are asked by our guests when sunset happens here in the Mayan Riviera. This is so they can plan out departure times for sunset cruises or know when to have their wedding ceremonies aboard our boat.

A handy guide that we often refer to is's chart for the region. Time & Date shows you everything you'll need to make the right decision for activities and timing while on vacation.

There is a column for sunrise, sunset, day length, even the angle of the sun at certain times of day! Some of it is probably more info than you may need, but it's definitely a handy tool, with sunrise/sunset/day length probably being the most important details for visitors to the region.

The chart shouldn't just be for those planning yacht tours, though...

Are you having a wedding on the beach, planning to propose to someone here in Playa del Carmen or even just wondering how much sun you can pack into a day?

Wedding tip: Check the sunset time to see when the best hour is for your photographer, also known as "Golden Hour."

Follow this link to see a sample of April 2016's details. At the bottom of the chart on their website you will find links for the sunrise and sunset times for the rest of the months as well.

Enjoy your vacation, and if you have any other questions about the region, feel free to get in touch!

Sample chart of April, 2016

New Year's Eve Yacht Party in Playa del Carmen!

Looking for a truly memorable New Year's Eve?

Hop aboard our 72' yacht for an unforgettable evening and party from 10pm to 2am, and ring in the New Year from the Caribbean Sea!

Included in your ticket is:

  • Open bar for the whole night
  • Food
  • Fireworks at the Hard Rock Hotel from sea
  • Champagne
  • Transportation to and from the yacht in Puerto Aventuras (meet at the Royal Resort in Playa del Carmen)
  • An amazing evening to remember!

Tickets are only $100usd per guest and include everything listed above. Book below...

Seven Quick, Fun Facts about Sea Turtles in the Mayan Riviera

  1. They live an estimated 70-80 years!

  2. Mother sea turtles lay their eggs on land, returning to the same location that they were hatched. They'll even return over huge ocean crossings to lay their eggs.

  3. There are seven species of sea turtles (not all native to the Mayan Riviera): Leatherback, Green Turtle, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley, Kemp’s Ridley and Flatback. Learn more about them here.
  4. Male sea turtles spend their entire lives at sea, while females return to their birthplace on land to lay their own eggs.
  5. A sea turtle's gender can be determined by the temperature of the nest in which they are laid. Warmer temperatures tend to hatch female sea turtles while colder climates produce more males.
  6. The first marine turtle is thought to have lived 220 million years ago!
  7. The largest sea turtle on record (a leatherback) was found on the coast of Wales in 1988. This leatherback weighed over 2,000lbs and measured 9 feet in length and was estimated to be approximately 100 years old. 

Sea turtles are incredible creatures and swimming alongside them can be experienced on our snorkeling tours. While you can get close to them while snorkeling, we do ask that you please do not touch them and simply enjoy the view and experience!

Let the Boat Tours Begin! Introducing the all new H2Oh Site

We're getting ready to enter high season down here in the Mayan Riviera, and what better way to greet it than with an all new website?

We launched it last night and I thought we'd take this opportunity to tell you about our plans for the site and how it will become much more than a site about our boat tours here near Playa del Carmen.

How will it be more than just a promotional site?

Well, here at H2Oh, we love the Mayan Riviera and we love taking our boat out to sea, and we want to share it all with you.

Over the coming season we will be posting all of the best type of content we can think of to help would be travellers (and even locals) to learn more about the region.

Some upcoming posts to look out for...

  • 50 Things We Love about the Mayan Riviera
  • Fishing tips
  • Snorkelling tips
  • Info on safety in the Mayan Riviera (hint: It's a very safe place to travel to!)
  • Photos and explanations of all the types of reef fish you'll see in the area
  • And more...