Home Forums Melanoma: Newly Diagnosed – Stages I & II Family Vacation to the Caribbean: Any Sun Safety Tips?

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    23 yr old female stage 1B mel. I live in a region of the U.S. That has very short summers and I work in a basement with no windows for 10hrs a day. I was diagnosed this past spring and used sun hats and sunscreen religiously all summer. Because of the climate and my lifestyle, however, I haven’t really needed to buy much. Because of this, I’ve never really been sure what kind to buy… I want to stock up for a 5-day cruise I’m taking the beginning of next month to the Caribbean. The local Walmart doesn’t even carry much anymore because it’s winter, but I can order whatever I need off the website.

    So, my question is: Does anyone recommend anything? Are there any certain brands / types of sunscreen I should consider? We’ll be doing water sports, so I want something waterproof, light, non-greasy. How often should I re-apply. What are some other things I can do to protect myself from the sun?

    Also, I was hoping to get a spray tan before the cruise. What are people’s thoughts on this? Would it provide any extra protection from the sun? Will tons of sun screen ruin it?



    in terms of clothing you could check out Coolibar, Sunday Afternoons, REI, etc. . .


    I have been using sunscreens for babies since I have sensitive skin. My favorites are Banana boat Natural reflect SPF 50. Green tube. Also, Banana Boat Natural reflect baby SPF50 green tube with pink. I re apply every hour when at the pool but still get slightly pink. I also wear my wide brim hat in the pool….not a swimmer just splashing around.

    For water sports you might look into SPF clothing and get a long sleeved shirt. I know if I went out on a jet ski for an hour I would burn to a crisp even with sunscreen.

    Seek out shade whenever possible and have a fantastic trip

    Catherine Poole

    Take a look at our seal of approval products: http://www.melanomainternational.org/resources/sealofapproval.html

    Avoid the high intense UV times, 10-4pm, wear a broad rimmed hat, carry a shade umbrella, be wary of spray tans for the spray and ingredients. Have fun!


    I have used several of Coolibar’s clothing options and have been very happy with them. Whenever I am in the water I use sunscreen (usually Coopertone for Babies) and wear a long sleeved SPF swim jacket & hat; I have an SPF long sleeved cover jacket; big rimmed hat (find one that rolls up for packing), etc. The long sleeved SPF swim jacket is also great for snorkeling; jet skiing; boating. I tend to wear capri length shorts instead of shorts or longer skirts – overall more skin covered.

    Sunscreen: Put on sunscreen 1/2 hour prior to going out in sun (if possible) and reapply frequently. I would reapply every time I got out of the water if though its ‘waterproof’ it still comes off. Don’t skimp on sunscreen.

    I went on a cruise this past February and was able to find shade at the back of the ship (near a pool & bar) – scope out the decks when you first get on board to get an idea; some of the ships have areas that are shaded & quiet (usually costs additional $ – Princess Cruise lines charges $10 for a half day and $20 for a full day to use what they call their sanctuary); during on shore visits always had my sunscreen, big hat & sunglasses. Last time I went to Mexico I brought one of Coolibar’s personal SPF umbrella’s for the sun at the ruins (brutally strong & hot). You can be safe and still have fun too!

    Have a great time!!



    We took a family trip to St John and St Thomas last year. It was amazing! We were out in the sun EVERY day. It’s fairly easy to find shade on beach, as trees line many of the beaches (at least in St John/St Thomas – not sure where your stops will be). While doing water sports I HIGHLY recommend wearing a long sleeve rash guard and hat. Lands End has them, or you can just go to amazon.com and search women’s long sleeve rash guards.

    When you are lounging, a swim cover up is very nice to have. There are some cute ones here:


    As for sunscreen, I would get the hard-core zinc. The sun is SO intense that no one cares about how the sunscreen ‘looks’ when you are in the Caribbean. There are all kinds of people walking around looking like ghosts due to sunscreen, you’ll fit right in. Then there are the ones who just chose regular sunscreen and they are walking around like lobsters. I’d rather be a ghost than a lobster! Blue Lizard brand has several varieties – and you can get that off amazon or elsewhere online.

    As for spray tan, they don’t last that long (maybe 2-3 days tops) but will come off when you shave. A spray tan doesn’t offer any sun protection.

    Have fun!

    Lisa P

    My derm recommends Neutrogina Ultra and Ultimate Sheer sunscreens. I use the sprays for my body and the cream for my chest and face. They go on fairly sheer and don’t feel at all greasy. In terms of clothing, REI has a line of clothes with 50 SPF. Also, my derm recommend RIT Sunguard, which is a suncreen you put in your wash to make your naturual fiber clothing 50 SPF for 20 washes.

    Here’s the link and product description:


    Product Description

    Sun Guard puts an invisible shield into clothing that helps block more than 96% of the Sun’s harmful rays from reaching your skin! Your clothes may not offer enough protection from harmful UV Rays from the Sun. For example, a typical white T-shirt is rated UPF 5. A single treatment with Sun Guard boosts its rating to UPF 30. It won’t change the color or comfort of clothing. One treatment is good for repeated washings. It’s safe for the whole family. Safe for all washable fabrics. Will not add sun protection to 100% polyester and acrylic fabrics. We have packaged this item in 6 packs. Each box provides enough protectant for one laundry cycle.


    Active Ingredient: Ciba Tinosorb FD. Also contains Sodium Chloride and Nonionic Surfactants.


    Safe for all washable fabrics including cotton, linen, rayon and silk. Sun Guard will not add sun protection to polyester or acrylic fabrics. Use 1 package of SunGuard for Small, Medium or Large Loads. Use 2 packages for Extra Large Loads. If washing just a few items in the sink, use 1/2 package of Sun Guard. Select water level suitable to load size. Choose hottest water and wash cycle appropriate for fabric. Add Sun Guard as washer is filling, pouring just above the water level.. . .

    Good luck and have a blast!


    Thanks everyone. We’re going to the Eastern Caribbean on the Carnival Destiny. Ports of call: Grand Turk, Half Moon Kay and Nassau. This will be our first family vaca and I’m very excited. However, I’m kinda disappointed by the amount of sun protection it sounds like I’m gonna need. I know my health is the most important thing, but swimming in a long sleeve jacket and hat just doesn’t sound appealing to me :( I was planning on swimming in long shorts/capris, a sports bra type top and water proof sunscreen. I didn’t realize I would need clothing with SPF protection and it all seems very expensive.

    That UV protection laundry detergent sounds like it may be a cheaper alternative. I could just buy regular clothes/coverups and wash them a couple times with that before my vaca. My only concern being that whatever it does to the clothes to add the extra protection would wash away in the water? or ware off quickly? Sounds like the spray tan may not be the best idea, so I’ve decided against that.


    Icegurl, I am going against the flow here. When I go into the water I wear a regular one piece bathing suit. If I were in the Caribbean I would add a sunscreen t-shirt. I get out of the water a lot to reapply sunscreen. Cover up the rest of the time and have a good vacation.


    Hi! I just wanted to weigh in a bit on the sun safety.

    I have spent 3 summers in the south of France after my diagnosis (my husband is French) and I live in California. I was paranoid at first and would just coat on sunscreen and wear long sleeves and pants in 100 degree weather and a hat and run from tree to tree hiding from the sun. I also have a super white baby girl (aged 2) that I took to Mexico for 10 days this past August.

    Here is what I did. I had a few long sleeved sunshirts for her (and myself I had one). Thin, airy and sorta expensive but that was for the days I was spending in the noonday sun (in Mexico). I used an spf that was zinc (50) I think, it was a Coppertone Pure and Simple one I found that had decent ratings on the EWG site and was affordable. I used this SPF and so did my daughter and husband.

    I also always wore a hat (baseball cap) and so did my family. I know it doesn’t cover the ears and neck as much but I loaded those with SPF. It helps keep the sun out of your eyes and off the top of the head (which helps to not get those sun headaches)!

    As for swimming, I personally would use spf and a normal swimsuit as long as I am not swimming for hours in the most intense noonday sun. My daughter wears a bodysuit type of thing that is covering most of her skin. I do have a long sleeved swimshirt, I wore it in the boat when we went out from like 10-4, but otherwise, I just wear spf and try to stay shaded between 10-4.

    Have a good vacation and my advice is pretty simple, just don’t burn :)



    I wouldn’t swim in a shirt and pants! I actually wore my bikini when I swam…but when you are doing water sports you should wear a rashguard and hat, just because you are so exposed and for a longer period of time. Have fun!


    carribean is a place,where you feel so hot…In last month,we were go at this place with my family but there are various things that also bring with us such as:-sunscreen,or also the body lotions that protect from the sun rays…These are the things that you must have to take when go at this place for the vacation…


    Click in this link for more information:- airboat ride


    Hi all! I’m stage 1B too. Please be careful of the ingredients in sunscreen. I am convinced that off the shoulder tops I’ve been wearing for the past few years combined with the oxybenzone contained in my sunscreen caused my melanoma. (I never burn, and hate to burn, so I sprayed myself consistently every two hours with that daggone stuff. Terrifying…)

    I think the best option is a non-nano particle zinc based sunscreen. I use Badger now but Ava Anderson Non Toxic has a really good sunscreen too.

    Take Care!!




    Hello, I am new here and I don’t know where to ask if this mole could be melanoma.. I have this mole from my birth. I appreciate every replay. Thank you.

    Catherine Poole

    The only way to diagnose a melanoma is with a biopsy (excisional) is preferred and a dermatopathologist looking at the specimen. Be sure to get an appt. with a dermatologist to find out more about your concern.

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