Protect the ocean – 5 ways you can surf sustainably

1. Ethical Sunscreen – Protect the ocean, protect your skin.

There are a few holiday essentials you probably wouldn’t dream of leaving home without – Passport, Bikini. Or if you’re anything like us then a surfboard.

No doubt if you are traveling somewhere hot then sunscreen is high up on your list. When you rush into the pharmacy to grab sunscreen before your trip what do you look for? Price, sun factor, perhaps a brand name you recognise?

When you’re shopping is “protect the ocean” high on your agenda? It should be, because it’s easier than it sounds.

People often don’t realise that the majority of sunscreens contain palm oil. If you don’t know about the horrors of palm oil then you probably haven’t watched Iceland’s (the supermarket not the countries) banned advert. Disclaimer get the tissues ready.

Iceland banned advert – Palm Oil

It is possible however to find sun creams that don’t contain this destructive ingredient, check labels carefully or do you research.

Another nasty lurking in suncream is Oxybenzone, yep we didn’t know the technical word for this either. Basically this is the ingredient that protects your skin by absorbing the sun’s rays. Sounds harmless enough, however this ingredient when washed into the ocean can damage coral. Coral being a living organism is affected by the sunscreen, only with coral it prohibits its ability to defend itself against bleaching. Meaning the beautiful rainbow coral eventually becomes white and dies.

When buying a sunscreen we can’t stress how important it is to get one that protects you and protects the ocean. We are passionate about making choices that won’t harm the marine life. Being Australian – home to the great barrier reef, it’s no wonder we are a bit over protective about coral. 

By the way don’t think you are immune if you are one of those crazy people (no offence) that prefer taking a dip in the swimming pool. Water treatment facilities do not filter oxybenzone out as part of their filtering process. Having a post sunbake shower is just as bad as swimming with the coral itself.

We aren’t out to convert you, but go vegan where possible. Tuck into a steak if you’re that way inclined, but if you’re not eating sunscreen does it hurt to pick a vegan one? People who buy cruelty free products also get laid more often, true story just do it.

After doing masses of research we have finally found a sunscreen that ticks all our boxes.

Sun Bear Sunscreen – The Original (200ml)


Not only do Sunbear Suncreen give 80% of their profits away to save the worlds smallest bear, but they also do a pretty good job of being an all round good sunscreen.

When the conditions are right you are going to want to be in the surf all day.  Sunbear Sunscreen factor 50 will protect your skin and at the same time protect the ocean.

  • Palm oil free
  • Not tested on animals
  • Oxybenzone free
  • PABA free (which can cause liver damage and skin allergies)
  • Vegan friendly
  • Cruelty free
  • Made in Australia
  • Rainforest derivatives free
  • Produced using solar power
  • Comes in fully recyclable packaging
  • 80% of profit goes to protecting the Sun Bears

2. Metal Straws

Plastic is often an unfortunate necessity when traveling, unless you fancy passing on the bottled water in exchange for gastro.

We don’t need to explain to you why plastic and the ocean don’t mix, unless you have been living at the bottom of the ocean yourself. If you need more persuading google “sea turtle straw in nose”.

You might not think about your straw while sipping your 4th cocktail, truth is we didn’t used to much either. One simple change you can make is to bring a metal straw with you, we carry ours wherever we go. Hotels are surprisingly willing to wash them for you, or you can always boil the hotel kettle if you are a particular germ-a-phobe. For us a quick rinse under the tap does the job. 


We take our metal straws with us everywhere.

3. Reduce your carbon consumption

OK so you’re jumping on a jet plane 1000s of KMs, we aren’t about to pretend that that’s exactly good for the environment. But of course travel broadens the mind, makes people more culturally aware, and allows you to find some epic surf breaks.

However, there are some things you can do to offset your carbon footprint just a little. Firstly, opt for a ceiling fan and not A/C, i know, i know. Not only does a fan make a difference to the environment, its also heaps cheaper. We used to pay extra for rooms with an A/C. On our recent travels we have found that after a day of adventure and surfing, we head to our room late once its cooled down. We really see a hotel room as a place to store our things, nap and… stuff. 

Travel light, Millie and I usually take one bag between the two of us. I’m pretty sure it’s just because she wants me to carry all her sh*t, but it works for us. On a serious note, we have been making an effort to declutter our lives in general and not purchase unnecessary stuff that will eventually end up in landfill. The same applies to holiday souvenirs, i’m sure that penis shaped bottle opener seemed fun 10 bintang’s deep… but its likely to end up on next months council clean up. 

4. Eat local, make sustainable seafood choices

The more local you eat, generally the more sustainable you are. This means tucking into the local cuisine and not opting for items that are likely to be shipped / flown in. This is a great way to not only immerse yourself in the local culture, but to try new things.

Being vegan we tend to plan in advance and visit countries where we will be catered for well locally. I sit writing this in Sri Lanka, where the surf is phenomenal and so are the local dishes of string hoppers and dahl, vegetable curries and plenty of fruit grown the garden of our hotel.

If you are partial to fish, which trust me we were (no judgement) then try to eat the “catch of the day” where you can. This not only guarantees that the fish is probably fresh, but it also implies that they have an abundance of it.

yellow lentil dahl coconut sambol fresh fruit black coffee

Vegan breakfast: Yellow lentil dahl, string hoppers, coconut pol sambol, black coffee & fresh local fruit.

5. Take your s**t with you and leave everything else there

If you’re got this far in this post, the chances are you are pretty serious about trying to protect the ocean. Well done, the world needs more of you. I don’t want to preach to the converted, but I just need to say one last thing…

Don’t leave anything behind when you visit the beach. Yeah plastic bottles are one thing, but im talking cigarette butts, bottle tops, anything.

Less obviously leave everything else where it is, this is especially the case when it comes to anything living e.g coral, sea creatures etc. Don’t even entertain the idea of purchasing products that contribute to harming marine life. You do not need to try shark fin soup to say you have, nor do you need a trashy trinket made from a turtle shell.

OK look I am the first to admit that Millie is like a small child when it comes to visiting the beach. I turn around and she’s bent over picking up handfuls of shells and shiney rocks. She even bought a dead sheep’s skull home from a camping trip once… don’t ask.

We have a new compromise however, that she is allowed to bring home one shell from each trip, one. Its become a fun game of trades and upgrades, where she compares her days find to the previous days chosen item and much like a card game decides whether to stick or twist.

We aren’t perfect, but we make small compromises and changes that we hope will make a difference and protect the ocean. If you can’t change the world, change the tiny Sri Lankan fishing village we are currently calling home.

Jessi x

Read our review of the best fun waves around the globe here

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