The world’s worst places to get a sunburn

2018-11-14 12:00 - Marisa Crous
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Blue lake on a snowy mountains background and clou

Blue lake on a snowy mountains background and cloudy sky Torres del paine

The South African sun is pretty harsh, and wearing sunscreen, almost year-round, is definitely recommended. 

But there are many places in the world where because of altitude and natural elements like snow we are more vulnerable to the sun's UV rays. 

Here are just a few of those destinations: 


So, to avoid burning, we all need sunscreen, right? I love Smarter Travel's analogy, that just as much as we need our sun protection, so does our earth. 

The ozone layer is the earth's sunscreen. In areas where the ozone layer is very compromised it tends to let more harmful UV rays through, burning the skin more harshly than in other areas on earth. 

READ: How to have a year-long summer on the cheap 

AUS sits close to the South Pole and the so-called seasonal "ozone hole", thus cementing it as one of the world's skin cancer capitals.

MAP: Where to ditch the blazing sun and get shady in SA this summer 

Take note when travelling here for sure. 


In Hawaii, you are basically handed a sunburn along with a lei around your neck at the airport. Hawaii is known for its beaches and similarly for its peeling tourists.

The sandy beaches are some of the best in the world, yet the sand reflects 25% of the sun's rays, which in this part of the world is already very harsh. 


Locations like Boracay has an extremely low latitude, meaning it's very close to the equator. 11 degrees north of the equator to be exact. This means the sun's rays don't have to travel as far as it would have to 'burn' you in other spots, like The Mediterranean. 

The Caribbean 

Because this beautiful area is covered in mostly water, and shallow at that, it drastically increases the likelihood of getting a sunburn in this location. The sun reflects off the sand, increasing your UV exposure.


Snow burn is very real. Snow is extremely reflective, even more so than sand. Ski resorts like Zermatt is a hotspot for sunburns, and particularly areas on the face like the nostrils, neck, and chin as the sun reflects onto your face as you take the slopes. 


Believe it or not, but wind burn is also a thing. Patagonia is known as one of the world's windiest places and with winds up to 96km/hour, you are sure to get a burn very close to a sunburn.

WATCH:vPenguin conservation in Patagonia 

Blue lake on a snowy mountains background and clou

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