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May 1, 2022

Don’t Get Burned

No one wants to start their Costa Rican dream vacation with a terrible sunburn.


It’s uncomfortable, extremely hot, sometimes debilitating, and makes you look like that dude from “The Hangover” who spent all day on the rooftop of Cesar’s Palace.

You can, however, beat the burn with top-notch sunscreen, a nice, big hat and a couple of long-sleeved shirts tucked inside your luggage.

More than likely, wherever you’re visiting from isn’t quite as hot and sunny as our vacation rentals in Dominical and Uvita. Most mornings in the southern zone are splashed with crisp sunshine and few clouds. The afternoons are different in the green season, with clouds and rain often creeping in as the sun begins to dip toward the horizon.

On the topic of sunscreen, most experts agree that the best way to protect your skin is

  • a combination of covering up with clothing
  • frequently reapplying broad-spectrum sunscreen
  • staying in the shade when the sun is at its peak. (Even though staying in the shade can be tricky.)

After all, you’re probably traveling here to have a good time in our amazing outdoor environment! Be it surfing, rafting, zip-lining, fishing, snorkeling or a myriad of other heart-pumping activities.

As you prepare for your trip, shop for water-resistant sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum”.  They should help combat both UVA and UVB rays. Anything lower than an SPF 15 should be avoided. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends products with an SPF 30 or greater. This is especially recommended for people with light skin or a family history of skin cancer.

Understand that SPF 30 sunscreen isn’t twice as strong as SPF 15.

According to WebMD, SPF 15 filters out 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 filters out 97 percent of UVB rays. Furthermore, there’s no rating that says how good a sunscreen is at blocking UVA rays. For the best protection against UVA rays, look for a sunscreen that contains at least one of the following ingredients: ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone or zinc oxide.


These days, the market is flooded with sunscreen for both children and adults. Some work wonderfully, while others actually cause more harm than good. We highly recommend checking out the Environmental Working Group Guide to Sunscreens. This is an excellent website that rates just about any sunscreen available for purchase. You can even check on a sunscreen you already own, to see how it stacks up against the competition.

As an avid surfer in Costa Rica, I’d recommend Watermans face stick with an SPF 55. This paste-like substance refuses to wear off of your face even after prolonged sessions in the water, sometimes upwards of four or five hours at a time. It isn’t intended for the body, but it’s great on the face. I actually purchase my Watermans online for approximately $20 a tube.


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