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Summer Sun Protection (Photo: Leah-Anne Thompson/Shutterstock)

Best Sun Protection Gear for Your Beach Cruise

Cruising to a tropical destination beckons us to spend as much time as we can under the sun. (After all, vitamin D is vital to our immune system function and overall health.) But it also means we have to be more proactive about protecting ourselves against ultraviolet rays. Using sunscreen alone doesn't cut it. In fact, many health organizations list clothing as the first line of defense against skin damage. Step up your sun protection game with these five must-have items. (Note: You should always protect yourself from the sun, even on non-tropical itineraries such as Alaska or Canada and New England.)

Updated February 13, 2019

Sun Bum Sunscreen

Sun Bum Sunscreen (Photo: Amazon)

While sunscreen shouldn't be your only defense, that doesn't mean it's not an important one. We recommend going with Sun Bum's broad spectrum and water-resistant lotion in your desired SPF level. It's hypoallergenic, lightweight and actually smells nice. Even better: It's made with vegan ingredients that are reef-friendly -- ideal for snorkeling, scuba diving and other underwater shore excursions, as some tour operators only allow sunscreens that are free of oxybenzone, octinoxate and other harsh chemicals.

Sun-Protective Hoodie

Sun-Protective Hoodie (Photo: Amazon)

PSA: You can still get sunburn, even if the sky is overcast or it's chilly outside. That's why you need this adorable Seaside Hoodie by sun-protective clothing line Coolibar. An ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50+ means the fabric is infused with minerals that block 98 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. It's even backed by a Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation. Also, unlike other UV-blocking clothing items, this is one that actually looks and feels good.

Cropped Rash Guard

Cropped Rash Guard (Photo: Amazon)

For those who love to show off a little more skin, we love this long-sleeved, crop top-style rash guard by Coastal Blue, which makes flattering swimwear for women of all shapes and sizes. Rash guards are designed to offer some protection against the sun, as well as abrasions when partaking in water activities such as snorkeling and surfing. With its trendy front-wrap design, this piece also can be worn as a casual nighttime outfit with a high-waisted flowing skirt.

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Speedo Swim Tee

Speedo Swim Tee (Photo: Amazon)

Leave it to trusted swimwear brand Speedo to design what has become one of the top-rated sun-protective clothing items for men. This long-sleeved, UPF 50+ tee fits looser than a rash guard for added comfort and features specially engineered polyester fabric that shields up to 98 percent of the sun's rays. What really makes this shirt stand out, though, is the fact that its UPF rating will never decrease, regardless of how much it's overstretched. Wear it casually or in the water; it dries quickly.

Portable Umbrella

Portable Umbrella (Photo: Amazon)

Snagging a beach chair is usually no problem, but if you want anything with shade -- from a clamshell to a cabana -- be prepared to fork over some cash. One way you can save is with the Sport-Brella. This portable umbrella can be attached to most chairs; its connector is compatible with both squared and tubular surfaces. Product highlights include UPF 50+ protection and 360-degree swivel capabilities that allow it to be easily adjusted. Rest assured, too, the Sport-Brella is compact and easy to carry in a beach tote.

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