CategoriesWater Adventures

Ultimate Guide to the Best Sunscreens for Water Sports Enthusiasts

Sun protective swimwear has emerged as a critical tool for individuals spending substantial time under the sun, offering unparalleled protection against harmful UV rays. Unlike regular swimwear, items designated as sun-protective are specifically designed to block a considerable portion of UV radiation, which is known to cause skin damage, premature aging, and even skin cancer. With UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings, such as the UPF 50+ which blocks 98% of UV rays, these garments provide a scientifically backed defense mechanism. Additionally, these items are often crafted from lightweight and breathable fabrics, enhancing comfort without sacrificing safety.

Identifying the right sun protective swimwear involves understanding various factors such as UPF ratings, coverage, fabric type, and comfort. This article not only highlights key features to look for in UV swimwear but also introduces a selection of top-rated products. From long-sleeve swimsuits to UV swimsuits, the guide spans essential swim and sun-protective gear designed to offer maximum UV protection for everyone in the family. Through careful consideration of durability, material, and more, this guide aims to equip readers with the knowledge to make informed decisions on the best sun-protective clothing options for enjoying water activities safely.

Key Features of Protective Swimwear

Sun protective swimwear is integral to safeguarding your skin from harmful UV rays while enjoying outdoor activities. Here are the key features that distinguish protective swimwear from regular swim options:

Superior UV Protection

Protective swimwear uses specialized fabrics with built-in UV-blocking properties, offering a robust defense against UV radiation. This is crucial for preventing sunburn and reducing the risk of skin cancer.

High UPF Ratings

Sun protective garments are rated with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) system. For instance, a UPF rating of 50 means that only 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation reaches the skin. The higher the UPF rating, the greater the protection offered.

Comprehensive Coverage

Designed to cover more body areas than standard swimwear, sun protective options include styles like long-sleeve swimsuits and full-length surf suits. This extensive coverage is vital for protecting skin areas that are often exposed to the sun.


Unlike sunscreen, which needs reapplication, the protective qualities of UV swimwear are woven into the fabric and remain effective over time. This makes it a reliable choice for consistent sun protection.

Comfort and Breathability

Despite misconceptions, sun protective swimwear is crafted for comfort. The materials used are lightweight, breathable, and designed to keep you cool even in direct sunlight.

Additional Features

Many sun protective swimwear options include features like quick-drying fabrics and chlorine resistance, making them ideal for various aquatic environments. They also come in a range of stylish designs that do not sacrifice fashion for function.

Color and Material

Darker and brighter colors enhance UV protection as they absorb more UV rays. The effectiveness of UV protection also depends on the material and how tightly the fabric is woven.

Moisture-Wicking and Quick-Dry Properties

These features help in managing sweat and water, ensuring that the swimwear remains light and comfortable, enhancing the overall beach or pool experience.

By choosing swimwear with these key features, you can enjoy sun-filled activities while significantly reducing the risk of harmful UV exposure.

Zando Long Sleeve Swimsuit

The Zando Long Sleeve Swimsuit is a standout option for those seeking effective sun protection combined with style and comfort. Here’s a detailed look at its features, customer reviews, and availability:

  • $29
Best Features:
  • Material Composition: Crafted with 82% polyamide and 18% elasthane, the swimsuit ensures breathability, durability, and quick-drying properties.
  • UPF Rating: Featuring a UPF 50+ rating, it provides excellent protection against harmful UV rays.
  • Design and Comfort: The high neck and rashguard top style cover more skin, while the flexible zipper and built-in bra enhance comfort and support.
  • Ratings: Garnering a 4.4 out of 5 stars from 651 ratings, and a separate 4.3 rating based on 11,901 global reviews, the swimsuit is well-received for its quality and design.
  • Feedback: Users have praised the swimsuit for its flattering fit, ability to hide flaws, and the quality of material. However, some noted it runs small and may be short in the torso.
Limitations or Cons:

The Zando Long Sleeve Swimsuit indeed has several positive attributes, but there are also some limitations or cons to consider:

  • Sizing Issues: Some users have noted that the swimsuit runs small and may be short in the torso, which could affect the fit for certain body types.
  • Limited Color and Pattern Options: Despite offering a variety of colors and patterns, the range may still be limited for those seeking more diverse or specific design options.

Despite these limitations, the Zando Long Sleeve Swimsuit still offers a compelling combination of sun protection, style, and comfort, as evidenced by its positive customer ratings and reviews.

Coolibar Women's Kaycos Shrug

  • $59
Best Features:
  • UPF Protection: The Coolibar Women's Kaycos Shrug offers UPF 50+ protection, effectively blocking 98% of UVA/UVB rays.
  • Chlorine and Saltwater Resistant: Ideal for both chlorinated pools and ocean water, maintaining fabric integrity and color.
  • Quick-Drying: The fabric's quick-dry nature keeps the wearer comfortable and dry after water activities.
  • Recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation: Endorsed for its effectiveness in sun protection during swimming and water sports.
Limitations or Cons:

While the Coolibar Women’s Kaycos Shrug offers several beneficial features, there are some limitations or cons to consider:

  • Limited Style Options: The shrug may have limited style variations, which could restrict the choices for consumers who prefer a wider range of designs.
  • Price: The cost of the shrug may be a consideration for some consumers, especially when compared to other sun-protective clothing options.
  • Maintenance: While the fabric is chlorine and saltwater resistant, proper care and maintenance may be required to ensure longevity, which could be seen as a drawback for some users.
  • Color and Pattern Availability: While the shrug offers a range of colors and patterns, the availability of specific colors or patterns may vary, potentially limiting options for some consumers.
  • Thumbholes Design: While the thumbholes provide better hand coverage, some users may find this feature uncomfortable or unnecessary.

It’s important for potential buyers to consider these limitations alongside the product’s advantages before making a purchase decision.

Coolibar UPF 50+ Kids Barracuda Neck-to-Ankle Surf Suit

  • $45
Best Features:
  • UPF Rating: It boasts a UPF 50+ rating, ensuring that it blocks 98% of harmful UVA/UVB rays, providing top-notch protection.
  • Chlorine and Saltwater Resistance: The fabric's resistance to chlorine and saltwater makes it ideal for both pool and ocean use, enhancing the suit's durability and color retention.
  • Variety in Sizes and Colors: Available in sizes ranging from XS to XL and colors like Apricot Crush Floral Paradise and Aruba Blue Sea Camo, it caters to various preferences and fits.
  • Skin Cancer Foundation Recommendation: This product comes recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation, affirming its efficacy in sun protection.
Limitations or Cons:

The Coolibar Barracuda Neck-to-Ankle Surf Suit offers impressive sun protection and durability, but there are some limitations or cons to consider:

  • Moisture-Wicking: Users have noted that the fabric is not moisture-wicking, which can lead to overheating during intense physical activities. This makes it less suitable for active fitness or sports.
  • Price: While the suit is available at a discounted price during sales, the original price of $45.00 USD may be considered relatively high by some customers.
  • Care Instructions: The maintenance of the suit, including machine washing cold and tumble drying low, may require extra care compared to other swimwear options.

Despite these limitations, the Coolibar Barracuda Neck-to-Ankle Surf Suit remains a popular choice for sun protection, especially for leisurely water activities.

Moving on, let’s explore another exceptional option in sun protective swimwear, the Upandfast One-Piece Zip Sunsuit with Sun Hat, which comes with its own unique set of features and benefits.

Upandfast One-Piece Zip Sunsuit with Sun Hat

  • $23
Best Features:
  • Ease of Use: Features a front and back zip equipped with a zipper flap and garage to protect delicate skin, making it easy to dress and undress your baby.
  • Sun Hat Included: Comes with a matching sun hat that offers additional coverage for the baby's face and neck, enhancing protection against the sun.
  • Material Composition: Composed of 80% Nylon and 20% Spandex, the fabric is designed to be soft and stretchy, ensuring comfort for active little ones.
  • UPF Rating: With a UPF 50+ rating, this sunsuit blocks 97.5% of harmful UV radiation, providing essential protection for your baby's skin.
Limitations or Cons:

When considering the Upandfast One-Piece Zip Sunsuit with Sun Hat, there are a few limitations and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Limited Sizing Options: The availability of sizes may be limited, which could be a drawback for parents looking for specific size requirements for their child.
  • Durability: While the product is highly rated for its quality, the long-term durability of the sunsuit may vary based on individual usage and care.
  • Style Options: The design and color options may be limited, potentially restricting choices for parents who prefer a wider range of styles.

Despite these considerations, the Upandfast One-Piece Zip Sunsuit with Sun Hat offers excellent sun protection, user satisfaction, and convenient purchase options, making it a compelling choice for parents seeking reliable sun protective swimwear for their little ones.

Cabana Life St. Pete Ruffle Bikini Top

The Cabana Life St. Pete Ruffle Bikini Top is crafted from a blend of Nylon and Spandex, ensuring both comfort and durability. This top is distinguished by its elegant ruffle detail and a stylish V-neckline, which together enhance its aesthetic appeal. The adjustable straps and removable pads provide customizable support and fit, making it suitable for various body types.

  • $30
Key Features:

The Cabana Life St. Pete Ruffle Bikini Top offers several key features that make it a notable choice for sun-protective swimwear with a touch of elegance. Here are the key features:

  • Material and Construction: Crafted from a blend of Nylon and Spandex, ensuring comfort and durability.
  • Adjustable Support and Fit: Adjustable straps and removable pads provide customizable support and fit, catering to various body types.
  • Pricing and Sizes: Available in sizes ranging from XS to 3X, offering inclusivity for different body types.
Limitations or Cons:
  • Limited Size Range: The available sizes range from XS to 3X, which may not cater to all body types, potentially excluding potential customers who fall outside this range.
  • Price Point: The regular price of $76 may be considered expensive by some customers, even though a sale price of $46 is offered. This could be a limiting factor for price-conscious buyers.

Athleta Maldives High-Neck Tankini

The Athleta Maldives High-Neck Tankini stands out for its innovative design and functional features, tailored for those who prioritize both style and sun safety during their aquatic adventures. This tankini is crafted using premium materials that ensure quick drying and offer UPF sun protection, making it an excellent choice for various water-related activities.

  • $45-63
Key Features:
  • High Neckline for Added Coverage: The high neckline design not only adds a modern twist to the traditional tankini but also provides extra protection against the sun for sensitive areas like the chest and neck.
  • UPF Sun Protection: Engineered with materials that block harmful UV rays, this tankini is ideal for extended outdoor activities, ensuring that your skin is protected under the sun.
  • Quick-Drying Fabric: The fabric composition allows for rapid drying, which is perfect for transitioning from water activities to casual beachside relaxing without discomfort.
  • Versatile Style Options: Athleta offers this tankini in various styles including one-piece swimsuits, bikini tops, and tankini versions, catering to different preferences and body types.
Limitations or Cons:

While the Athleta Maldives High-Neck Tankini boasts several innovative features and functional benefits, it’s important to consider some potential limitations and cons:

  • Limited Tan Coverage: The high-neck design, while providing sun protection, may also limit the ability to achieve an even tan on the chest and neck area.
  • Restricted Breathability: The focus on quick-drying fabric may compromise breathability, potentially leading to discomfort in hot or humid conditions.
  • Limited Size Range: Despite offering various styles, the available size range may not cater to all body types, potentially excluding some consumers from enjoying the product.
  • Style Limitations: While versatile, the style options may not suit all fashion preferences, limiting the appeal to a specific demographic.
  • Potential Fit Issues: As with any swimwear, the fit may not be universally suitable for all body shapes, potentially leading to fit issues for some wearers.

Considering these limitations, it’s important for potential buyers to weigh the pros and cons to make an informed decision based on their specific needs and preferences.


Through an extensive exploration of sun protective swimwear, we’ve underscored the importance of choosing the right gear to shield ourselves and our loved ones from harmful UV rays. We delved into various factors that are paramount when selecting sun-protective clothing, including UPF ratings, coverage, fabric types, and comfort, alongside showcasing top product picks that epitomize the best in protection and style. This knowledge equips readers with the tools necessary to make informed decisions, ensuring safety without compromising on the joy of outdoor and water activities.

As we conclude our journey through sun protective swimwear, it’s worth reiterating the significant implications such attire has on our health and well-being. Adopting these protective measures can profoundly impact our fight against skin damage and skin cancer, highlighting a broader consciousness towards sun safety. The recommendations and insights provided serve not only as a guide but as a catalyst for further action, be it through continued research or making conscious choices about sun exposure. Let this serve as a reminder of the power of prevention and the essential role of sun protective swimwear in safeguarding our future.


Sun protection swimwear, often referred to as UPF rash vests, is designed specifically to reduce the effects of sun exposure. Unlike standard summer fabrics, which typically offer about 5 UPF, sun protection clothing provides a minimum of 30 UPF. This higher UPF rating means that the fabric blocks a significant amount of ultraviolet radiation, thereby protecting the skin from harmful rays.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a measure used for sunscreens, indicating how well they protect against UVB radiation, which is primarily responsible for sunburn. For example, an SPF of 10 means that you could stay in the sun 10 times longer than you could without protection before burning. UPF, or Ultraviolet Protection Factor, on the other hand, measures how much UV radiation (both UVA and UVB) a fabric allows to reach your skin. Unlike SPF, UPF is exclusively used to rate the effectiveness of protective fabrics.

According to the ASTM Standard for Sun Protective Clothing and Swimwear, UPF ratings are categorized as follows:


    • UPF 15-24: Good protection, blocking about 93.3% to 95.9% of UV radiation.
    • UPF 25-39: Very good protection, blocking about 96% to 97.4% of UV radiation.
    • UPF 40-50+: Excellent protection, blocking about 97.5% to 98% or more of UV radiation.

UPF clothing is beneficial for everyone under the sun, especially:


    • Individuals who are sensitive to sunlight.
    • Children, whose skin is less developed and more vulnerable to UV damage.
    • People living in or visiting equatorial regions where the sun’s rays are strongest.
    • Individuals taking medications that increase photosensitivity, making them more susceptible to sunburn.

By integrating these protective garments into your wardrobe, you can significantly enhance your defense against the potential long-term effects of sun exposure, such as skin aging and cancer.



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