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!


Tips on How To Snorkel in the Riviera Maya (and anywhere else YOU CAN SWIM)

Snorkeling is one of the best experiences to tick off your bucket list. And snorkeling in the Caribbean with its calm, clear waters and living reefs full of coral and fish — ahh!

It's one of the main the reasons why expats end up here. Everyone falls in love with the water, above on the beaches and underneath with the fishes!

Snorkeling always looks so easy, doesn’t it? And it is! All you need is the right equipment, and to relax. Snorkeling isn’t a sport. It’s like watching TV. Interactive TV. And just like TV, you don’t  touch much (aside from the water,, and the sand)!

Flotation Device

If you’re not a sure/strong swimmer, you can still safely and confidently enjoy snorkeling. Vests, or water noodles. They may not be photogenic as you wish, but they extend your snorkeling time! Just float when you get tired.

Wetsuits (optional)

Shorty wetsuits. No, they’re not just for cold water. They also add buoyancy AND sunburn protection. No little bits of stings and nicks on your covered skin either.

Reef-friendly sunscreen 

Whether you go snorkeling with a swimsuit or wetsuit, you need sunscreen. It should be eco-friendly that won’t leave harmful elements in the water. Some areas in some countries check your sunscreen. Look for ‘certified organic’ ingredients, and “certified safe for human, fish and coral health.”

Mask & Snorkel

Tours like ours usually provide quality masks and snorkels, complimentary as a part of the trip. We do!

If you get into it, buy your own set to take with you whenever you travel. Saves you rental costs! And the fit will be even better.

How to fit your mask, snorkel and fins:

  • It should be as narrow or as wide as your face, and should fit your nose size and length. By sight, you can tell if the mask is made for you or not.

  • Try it on. Press it to your face. Does it fit comfortably? Water pressure will press it to your face. All its edges should be just right. Not too high up that it touches your nostrils, not too near your eyes. (Men, shave before trying on masks so you can see properly!)

  • Suction test. (Here’s where men should shave, because stubble/full mustache doesn’t allow a water-tight seal). Put the mask onto your face (without pulling on the straps) and breathe in through your nose. This should seal the mask to your face. Move around a bit-- the mask should stay on without you having to hold it.

  • Now try the straps. The fit should be snug, not tight. The straps should sit high on your head. If they rest on your ears, that will be painful.

  • Try it with a snorkel. Put your snorkel in your mouth. This is enough to shift your face muscles, but it shouldn’t break the seal/suction of your mask. If it does, try another one.

  • Look for semi-dry/dry snorkels. They have splash guards or a valve at the top that seals when your snorkel goes underwater, and a purge valve at the bottom so you can easily blow water out. Don’t forget, the snorkel mouthpiece should be comfortable in your mouth.

  • Defogger. Snorkeling is all about seeing, so it sucks when you can’t see. Your mask will fog up because you generate heat. But it’s preventable with defogger gels, or even your own saliva. Make sure your defogger is also biodegradable, non-toxic, alcohol-free.

  • Enter the water with a dry mask, over a dry face, and do not take that mask off at all during the snorkel. That’s it.

  • Or you can simply use baby shampoo. Dilute 5-10 drops of baby shampoo in 2-ounces of water. Spray your mask with this solution, swish it around and dump the excess. Don’t rinse. The mild soap should coat the mask-- this prevents moisture attachment. And the baby shampoo won’t sting your eyes.

  • Fins. Like your mask, your fins should fit comfortably. Snug, not tight. The big fins may look awesome in the movies, but that’s for experienced swimmers. They require a lot of muscle to use. Opt for smaller fins.

Practice snorkeling

When you’re familiar with it, it keeps you relaxed. You enjoy the water, instead of worrying if you’re doing things right.

Get used to your snorkel. Don’t bite. Rest your teeth on your snorkel. Avoid a sore jaw by staying relaxed.

Practice deliberately flooding and clearing both mask and snorkel. When water comes in, you might get a salty surprise, especially for first-timers! So practice calmly reacting to this scenario and blowing out all the salt from the snorkel.

  • Simply get out of the water and let the water out.

  • Or, without leaving the water, press the top portion of your mask to your face and blow air out through your mouth. The air will force the water out through the looser lower portion of your mask.

Practice floating face down and breathing. This is the best part of snorkeling. Just lying on the ocean, letting the salt water carry you, and watching everything underneath. Beginners get plenty of encouragement and excitement from this! It’s so easy!

  • Keep the snorkel upright. Get help from a friend with more experience. At H2Oh, we help you out with this!

  • Gently kick with your fins to get yourself moving. That’s it! You’re snorkeling!

Practice looking around. Get familiar with your mask and your surroundings. You lose some of your peripheral vision because of the mask. Always look around so you don’t bump into other snorkelers.

They learned to snorkel watching the Little Mermaid.

They learned to snorkel watching the Little Mermaid.


Snorkeling safety and etiquette

When you head out with us, we go in groups with guides, so stay close. Or if you’ve chosen a beach, make sure you have a spotter or a lifeguard, or better yet a buddy system and only go out together. Watch out for flags or anything indicating rough conditions. You may see whitecaps or heavy winds, red flags or yellow flags.

We don't have much of this in the Riviera Maya, but elsewhere watch out for jellyfish and undertow or rip tides

Touch nothing and take nothing. Even a shell can look harmless — but if everyone took just one tiny shell, what would be left? 

Touching nothing applies to your feet as much as your hands. Be careful to swim a safe distance so you don’t kick corals. This could damage your skin and your fins. But the damage to the coral is worse. Corals are living creatures and so essential to marine life. It’s up to us to preserve them. It’s so tempting to touch them, but don’t. It can poison them.  

Certainly don’t stand on them to rest from swimming! One second’s damage could take one decade to grow!

Every creature deserves its personal space. Don’t go too near. If they’re used to people, they’d come to you instead! Let them, but don’t stress them with cuddles. Remember, no touching.

No feeding either. It turns out that feeding fish creates havoc on the ecosystem. Think about it. If certain species are too full from feedings, they won’t eat the creatures they’re supposed to eat, and they’re supposed to eat those so they have the nutrients needed by those that eat them.  And so on. It has a rippling effect. 

A trick is to move your fingers as if you have food! The fish are tricked by that, and you’d have gorgeous underwater photos without damaging the marine food chain!

Most of all...

Enjoy snorkeling! Relax. Rest. Meditate. Don’t forget to turn over now and then, getting your exposed back into the water, or you might bake in the sun. And hydrate! The salt water absorbs moisture from your skin.

When you get back aboard with us, one of the crew can get you a water to enjoy while you think of all you experienced. 

After snorkeling... it's time for the high-dive!


5 Tips for your Destination Wedding in the Mayan Riviera

Have you ever given thought to having a destination wedding? How about turning that thought into a reality! Making plans to have the perfect wedding in the Mayan Riviera can be a wedding of a lifetime.

Knowing what to expect when planning your destination wedding is crucial and can save you from potential problems. Below we have listed six tips you need to know.

1. Know the Requirements for a Legal Ceremony

When you travel to a different country to get married, there may be a different process than back home.

In Mexico there are two options.

1. Legal Ceremony, also called Civil Ceremony

This ceremony will have to be spoken first in Spanish by an officiant who is also a government representative, then spoken in English. 

There are a couple other rules if you plan to get legally married in Mexico.

  • You must be in the country for at least three days prior to the wedding.
  • The bride and groom to-be are required to have a blood test.
  • Your marriage certificate will be in Spanish, which will then need to be translated into English.
  • A valid passport.
  • Tourist Card (provided when crossing the border)
  • Single Status Affidavit from back home.
  • Health Certificate.
  • Have 4 witnesses picked.

While these may seem like big tasks or maybe just different than what you are used to hearing about back home. Don't worry! It is a simple process that your resort or wedding coordinator can help sort out for you. They do it all the time, and can make it easy and stress free.

2. Symbolic Ceremony

With a symbolic ceremony, everything can look identical to a legal ceremony, only with less hoops to jump through down in Mexico. 

You can take care of the entire legal side of your marriage back home in private before even coming down to the Mayan Riviera. The process is different for each region, but look into the process in your home town.

With this method, once you get to Mexico for the wedding, your ceremony can be in English (or your native language), and you don't even need to tell your guests you were "officially" married just before coming down! As far as everyone will know or can tell, you are getting married then and there.

2. Know when the sun sets

The Mayan Riviera is comprised of well known locations such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen. If your choice of wedding is to be towards the evening be sure to look up sunset times to give your photographer plenty of time to capture the perfect moments in the perfect light.

Photo tip: Shooting photos at "golden hour".

Here's a link that will tell you the time and date of all sunsets throughout the year (just select the month near the bottom): Sunset times in the Mayan Riviera 

3. Pick your resort

When deciding where you would like to get married a big decision is which resort you will stay at. Spend time reading Trip Advisor reviews or even searching forums like Best Destination Weddings or Facebook for relevant groups that you can join and talk to brides who have had or are having weddings at these resorts.

Your resort should be carefully chosen based off of your own personal tastes, location and budget. The coast stretches from Cancun south through Playa del Carmen to Tulum and beyond, and most are on the water or very close to it.

4. Plan some activities (and relaxation!)

Before leaving on your dream vacation, know your surroundings.  You can do a quick Google search of things to do in the Mayan Riviera and it will turn up tons and tons of results. There are endless adventures to be had in the Yucatan.

Water activities are a huge hit in the region as the entire coastline is along the Caribbean Sea. Fishing, snorkeling, diving and yacht tours are among the most popular things to do in the region — and for good reason: Sea + sun + friends + family = good times!

If you have various family members and friends flying in to join the celebration it helps to keep everyone entertained and happy while on their vacation to celebrate your marriage.

However, you probably don't want to over do it by planning activities for every single day. Of course everyone is there to see you married and be a part of the group, but they're also there to relax.

Down days laying by the pool or beach are just as important as the adventures.


5. Find time to relax!

After the big day has happened it is time to relax. You have made it past the stress and now you get to spend time alone with the person of your dreams.

Take in the sights in the Riviera, Cancun, and Playa del Carmen surroundings. Spend a day on the beach in the sun or snorkeling in the ocean. Time is on your side and the drinks are waiting...