Best Rash Guard For Snorkeling & Travel | A Must Have Travel Accessory!

Last Updated on February 1, 2023

I have been wearing rash guards for years now. I love them and they always make my packing lists. They are so versatile, especially when it comes to travel. I wear them for snorkeling, surfing, swimming, wakeboarding, stand up paddle boarding and at water parks! I have 3 different styles and I’ll be sharing what the best rash guard for snorkeling is! Snorkeling is one of my favourite activities when I travel!

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Best Rash Guards

What is a rash guard?

First things first, what is a rash guard? Also called rash vests, they do exactly what they say on the tin. They guard you from rashes. But where are you getting a rash from? They are commonly worn by surfers to stop surf board rash. For example my upper arms have been eaten up from rubbing against the side of surf boards, so having sleeves is helpful! They are basically swim shirts/t-shirts!

Nowadays, I wear them under wetsuits or life jackets/vests, or simply just wear them as a swim shirt. Most of the time you just buy them as a top and then wear them over the top of your normal swim wear. However, if you’re a woman, you can sometimes buy them as co-ordinating sets, so the bottoms match the top. Although I tend to still wear a bikini top under the shirt, even if it doesn’t match and will often wear surf shorts if I’m doing something more ‘extreme’.

Stand up paddle boarding Iowa


They are great for protecting you from sunburn, especially when snorkeling. They cover your skin while both in the water or if there’s not much shade on a boat/beach. Sometimes you don’t even think about it, you’re face down in the water and your back just gets cooked alive. I alway try to wear sun cream but some snorkel trips require ‘reef friendly’ sun cream only (which is something to keep in mind) and you do need to re-apply more frequently when in the water.

More recently, I now wear rash guards at water parks. I don’t get burnt while in the line, they stop my top from flying off (which has happened in the past!) and they protect your back against the joints in the slides!

Often they are made out of a swimsuit type material (polyester and elastane), so they are stretchy and meant to be worn quite tight. They are lightweight, fold up small and are pretty fast drying, great for travel. Many good quality rash guards are produced by major surf brands such as: Roxy, Hurley and O’Neill.

Best Rash Guard For Snorkeling

There are 3 main types of rash guards: short sleeve, long sleeve and growing in popularity if you’re a woman, a one piece (essentially a swimming costume with sleeves!). Some have high necks, some have full length zips, others have half zips. For snorkeling, especially without a wetsuit, it doesn’t necessarily matter if you have a zip or not. Rash guards without a zip can sometimes be hard to get on and off if they have a high neck (I’ve had many get stuck on my head!). But if you’re wearing one under a tight wetsuit, it might cause a zip to then dig in to your skin.

Belize Caye Caulker Snorkel Tour

Short Sleeve

Personally I’m a fan of short sleeve rash guards and it’s what I’ve been using for the longest. I have a shorty wetsuit (short arms and legs, not a traditional full length wetsuit), so for me I’m able to wear them under my wetsuit as well as if I go somewhere and hire a full length wetsuit. I have 2 short sleeves, one without a zip and one with a half length zip.

I like the way that I’m not completely covered up, especially if it’s hot out, I don’t feel as restricted. BUT when snorkeling it does mean that your arms are then potentially exposed to the sun…I have had proper t-shirt tan/burn from snorkeling with a short sleeve.

-More versatile if wearing with wetsuits-Arms can still get burnt when snorkeling

Long Sleeve

The best thing about a long sleeve rash guard for snorkeling is that your back and arms get the most protection. I don’t tend to wear my long sleeve one as much because I don’t really like the neck and the full length zip. As I mentioned though, this is down to personal preferences and you can get long sleeve rash guards without zips.

-Full upper body coverage from sun-Can be a pain to get off when wet
Manchester Water Park

long sleeve one piece swimsuits

I don’t have an all-in-one rash guard swimsuit, mainly because I don’t really like one piece swimming costumes. I like the convenience of wearing a bikini when it comes to things like going to the toilet! I know some people that have them though and they seem to like them! I haven’t asked if they are easy to get on and off though, it seems like it might be a bit of a struggle! I also like the flexibility of being able to take the rash guard off, yet still just wear a bikini top. The one pieces mainly come as a long sleeve option with a zip.

The one major PRO I can think of, especially when snorkeling, is that your lower back is protected. I have failed at this many times, where my rash guard has ‘ridden up’ while snorkeling, exposed my lower back and then burnt it to a crisp. With a one piece you don’t have this problem.

When I’m snorkeling, I always make an effort to try and tuck my rash guard into the back of either my swim bottoms or my surf shorts.

-Full upper body coverage from sun (including LOWER BACK!)-Potentially a pain to take on and off and going to the toilet

Best Rash Guard For Women

Shop Women’s Short Sleeve Rash Guard

Shop Women’s Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Shop Women’s Long Sleeve One Piece Swimsuits

Best Rash Guard For Men

Shop Men’s Short Sleeve Rash Guard

Shop Men’s Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Best Rash Guard For Kids

Girls Rash Guards

Shop Long Sleeve and Short Sleeve Rash Guards For Girls

Boys Rash Guards

Shop Long Sleeve and Short Sleeve Rash Guards For Boys

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Best Rash Guards For Snorkeling

3 thoughts on “Best Rash Guard For Snorkeling & Travel | A Must Have Travel Accessory!

  1. I have not heard of rash guards, but they sound great! Thanks for the info about them

    1. I love them so much! They are popular in surfing but over the years I’ve seen loads of kids wearing them just to protect them from the sun at beaches and pools…I don’t have kids though so I thought I would write it from my adult point of view haha

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