The Best Sunglasses For Sailing

the best sunglasses for sailing

The best sunglasses for sailing can make the difference between a really enjoyable day on the water and a disastrous one!

Whether you’re relaxing on deck in the Caribbean or beating into waves off the UK coastline, a pair of decent sunglasses for sailing will protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays, and stop you squinting into the light for hours on end!

Why Buy The Best Sunglasses For Sailing?

The best sunglasses for sailing on a beach at sunset
The Best Sunglasses For Sailing – This post contains affiliate links for products we recommend

It might be tempting to settle for wearing your every day sunglasses when sailing but we’d advise against this. You need sunglasses fit for purpose if you’re going to spending hours on the water, and most every day sunglasses just won’t cut it. Not only are you competing with rays from the sky while out at sea, but you also have the sunlight reflecting off the water, making glare a real problem if you don’t have the right equipment.

A lot of specialist sunglasses for sailing are pretty expensive (but worth the money in our opinion!) They’re designed for purpose and have a lot of ‘built-in’ features that make them superior. If you plan on being out on the water frequently and for long stretches then spend well, spend once as the saying goes! With that in mind, make sure you get yourself a lanyard to prevent them from falling off when you’re dolphin-watching – skip to our top suggestions for how to keep your sunglasses safe!

If you aren’t sure if sailing is for you yet, or you don’t plan on being out on the water very often, then we’ve included a few budget options that we got on well with when we first started sailing.

What To Look For In The Best Sunglasses For Sailing

The best sunglasses for sailing on a hat
Features of the best sunglasses for sailing

Polarized Lenses

Polarized lenses are vital in protecting your eyes from UVB and UVA rays that can be super damaging. When choosing sunglasses for sailing this should be your top priority, and the great thing is that polarized sunglasses aren’t necessarily more expensive.

Asides from providing the best protection for your eyes, polarized sunglasses give sailors a hidden advantage! They are amazing at cutting through the sun flare on the water, giving you eyes on dangers lurking beneath the surface when coming in to anchor. They honestly make such a difference to visibility under the water when you’re standing on the bow and we would never go sailing without a pair!

Lens Shape

This isn’t to do with how stylish you look I’m afraid! The shape of the lens in the best sunglasses for sailing is important for another reason!

Flatter lenses are usually much better at preserving the contour and contrast of various objects BUT they have less resistance to glare. Flatter lenses also typically struggle to keep out the rays reflected from the water.

If you have a choice, we would recommend going for curved sunglasses to keep your eyes protected. We haven’t noticed a big difference in the contrast quality from pair to pair, though you may want to try both before you decide which is best for you.

Lens Color

a pair of sailing sunglasses sat on the side of a pool
Go for blue lenses if you’re sailing somewhere sunny!

This isn’t all about fashion! Just like when you go skiing your can buy goggles with interchangeable lenses for different weather, the same idea applies to sailing. Different colour lenses provide different levels of visibility in changing weather, so if you’re serious about your sunglasses you might want to buy a few different lens colours to suit the conditions.

Most will want to opt for a pair that can cope well with all weather conditions, such as black/grey, and if you’re sailing in sunny countries then you might want to opt for blue/purple tints which are great at blocking glare.

For a more in depth analysis this is a really helpful guide.

Type of Material

Not only do your sailing sunglasses need to withstand being constantly battered by the sun, sea and wind but it’s also a good idea to make sure they’re shatterproof just in case you suffer any collisions with hard surfaces while out in a seaway!

The other thing you may want to consider is the fact that you might well lose a pair or two to the ocean, and if that happens it’s good to know you went with a more eco-friendly pair. We’ve listed a few for you below.


Ok, ok, style shouldn’t be the main thing you look for but it’s impossible to ignore the fact you’ll want your sunglasses to suit you! If you hate how you look in them then you’re far less likely to wear them! Buy a pair of sunglasses that you really love the look of.

Keeping Your Sailing Sunglasses!

The chain for sailing sunglasses
Make sure you keep your sailing sunglasses safe!

When Adam and I first started living on board we must have lost about 5 pairs of sailing sunglasses to the sea. Perhaps Poseiden saw them as a gift and has been kind to us because of this, but it’s far more likely he was pretty cross at us adding to the plastic in the ocean. We felt terrible and even poorer.

Save your money and the ocean by getting yourself a lanyard to keep your sunglasses from falling into the ocean as you look overboard. We found an added benefit is that you can store them easily around your neck when you take them off to go below. You don’t put them down for someone to sit on later, and you always have them on hand.

a shell sunglasses chain
These make great gifts too!

Sun Soul Sistersis a small business run by two sisters who design and hand-make their products and Emily’s fallen in love with the designs. Not only are small businesses so much better for the environment, but you also won’t find anyone else out there with these unique designs! The deliver worldwide.

We particularly love the Goa rope designs made from vegan leather, which are waterproof and practical for watersports at anchor. The Gili turquoise stone is lovely for sunset walks, and Emily’s favourite is the Langkawi shell design.

The Best Sunglasses For Sailing

a pair of sunglasses for sailing lying on the beach in the sunshine
The best sunglasses for sailing

This is the part that you’ve been eagerly waiting for, so we’ll jump straight in.

Maui Jim Polarized Sailing Sunglasses

Maui Jim sailing sunglassesare among the best – these are sunglasses worth paying that little extra for.

There’s a large range of different styles to choose from but we love these Hananpa’a sunglasses for women and the Ho’okipa sailing sunglasses for men.

They’re subtle but one of a kind and will go with almost any outfit. The embedded nose pads ensure ultimate comfort and the PolarizedPlus2® lenses eliminate 99.9% of glare and block 100% of harmful UV. Plus, these Maui Jim sailing sunglasses are made from super-thin glass, providing the crispest optics available. They’re scratch and solvent resistant and made from shatter-proof polycarbonate. The blue/black lenses make them great for a range of different weather conditions.

These are a really quality pair of sunglasses but they don’t come cheap, so make sure you get yourself a sunglasses chain so you don’t lose them overboard while dolphin watching!

a pair of sunglasses for sailing lying on their side on the beach
Think quality when choosing the best sunglasses for sailing

O’Neill Sailing Sunglasses

O’Neill sailing sunglasses are a great mid-range option. They have a fantastic reputation for making quality sporting products designed for harsh outdoor environments.

All O’Neill polarized lenses are made of polycarbonate, an ultra-durable, ultra-lightweight, impact-resistant material, and offer optimal polarization and visual clarity.

We love the fact that polycarbonate is a sustainable material with a minimal impact on the environment, being fully recyclable at the end of its life.

These women’s oceanside sailing sunglasses are a great all-round option, as are these sailing sunglasses for men, with their wrap-around eye protection.

a pair of round sailing sunglasses
Choose a style that suit you so you wear them more!

Knockaround – Best Budget

If you’re looking for a budget option then these sunglasses for sailing are a great choice. They’re designed for outdoor use and are rugged and polarised, yet affordable! They come in a range of different styles and lens tints so you find just the right pair for your needs.

The women’s Deja Views sailing sunglasses are the perfect option for low light sunglasses, so if you’re sailing in areas that aren’t known for their sunshine then these are the sunglasses for you!

a pair of sailing sunglasses being held up so you can see the waves through them
Double check that your sunglasses for sailing are polarized


For another great affordable choice check out Calcutta’s range of sunglasses, just make sure you opt for one of their polarized options. These Caymen sunglasses are perfect for all weather conditions with their blue-tinted lenses, and we love the look too! These sunglasses are also super lightweight so they’re a great option for long days onboard.

a pair of sunglasses for sailing sat on a beach with the sea behind
Don’t forget a chain or lanyard to keep your sunglasses safe!

Pelagic Sailing Sunglasses

Pelagic have really thought their sunglasses through and designed them perfectly for life on the water. With features such as a hydrophobic coating applied to the lens to resist rain, dirt and dust, and oleophobic coating to repel sweat, sunscreen and skin oils these sunglasses will stay cleaner for longer. They have a rugged design and are made for a life outside. They are designed to protect you from harmful rays and glare and have some really interesting extra features that enable this, alongside the polarized lenses.

The Isla is a women’s specific frame and was designed to fit a wide range of facial types, so this is a great choice if you aren’t sure what style you prefer!

a pair of square sunglasses for sailing next to a straw hat
Sailing sunglasses can be used for every day too

Sunski Polarized Sailing Sunglasses

We really like the simple, stylish look of these sunglasses, and obviously the fact they’re designed for outdoor use and polarized for the best eye protection possible! If you’re looking for something simple that works then go for these sunglasses for sailing and you won’t be disappointed! You should note however that some users have found they don’t fit very well. We think the price bracket probably makes up for this but you should be aware before you buy!

a pair of sunglasses for sailing in the sea

Oakley Sunglasses

Oakley are well known for making quality outdoor products and their sunglasses are no exception. The dark lenses on this pair make them a great choice for all weather conditions, and the wrap around arms mean maximum protection from harmful rays and glare.

Costa – Best Eco Sailing Sunglasses

If you’re looking for quality sailing sunglasses made with the environment in mind then the Tasman Sea sunglasses from Costa are a great choice.

This bio-based resin offers a 70% reduction in emissions over petroleum-based resin, helping to reduce the overall carbon footprint. They are, of course, 100% polarized, scratch-resistant and ensure reflective glare and eye strain is minimized or eliminated altogether. The blue mirrored lenses are the way to go for offshore use with bright, full sun on open reflective water.

These sunglasses are on the pricier side but come with a lifetime warranty, so if you’re looking for sunglasses for life then these are the pair for you!

So there you have it! Our top picks of the best sunglasses for sailing. Hopefully this has helped you choose the perfect pair for you – do let us know what you went for in the comments below and shout if there’s any you think we’ve missed!

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