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If polarized sunglasses were made for a specific sport, it’s gotta be fishing. When you’re talking about the sun’s bright, intense rays reflecting off the surface of the water, serious glare reduction and protection is a necessity.
And when it comes to polarized fishing sunglasses, there’s none better than Maui Jim or Costa. But how do they stack up against each other?
Maui Jim vs. Costa: Which is better?
The short answer: Both companies are known for their excellent glass lenses, you can’t lose with either one. Incredible clarity and protection from glare and harmful UV rays make bright, sunny days on the water easy on your eyes.
If you want to save a couple bucks, Costa is slightly more economical. They’re also big on using eco-friendly frame materials. If we have to declare one the winner though, Maui Jim gets the edge with their superior lens optics.
Maui Jim: The Aloha Company
This industry giant has a rags-to-riches story. It all began when a fisherman started selling sunglasses on the beaches of Maui back in the 1980s. This side-venture soon grew into a company, which an enterprising ship captain later bought in 1991.
Since then, Maui Jim has become the world’s third-largest sunglasses manufacturer. And, despite their size, they are still independently owned. They are their own boss and produce some of the best polarized beach and watersports sunglasses on the planet.
Costa Del Mar: Life on the Water
Spanish for “coast of the sea”, Costa Del Mar (or just Costa) is an American company that focuses on polarized sport sunglasses for racing, fishing, and boating.
One of their claims to fame is that their products are all made in the U.S. Nowadays, while they still assemble their frames domestically, parts are manufactured in China.
Like many premium sunglass retailers (*cough* Ray-Ban, Oakley * cough*), the company is a subsidiary of international eyewear giant Luxottica.
Costa’s commitment to reducing plastic waste via their Kick Plastic Initiative includes making and using a plant-based Bio-resin material in their sunglass frames. They also fundraise for coastal environmental disasters and repurpose discarded fishing nets found in the oceans as raw material for their Untangled collection.
Maui Jim vs. Costa: Lenses
Both Maui Jim and Costa make polarized lenses that are highly effective at reducing glare, enhancing contrast, and excellent for water-based sports like fishing, sailing, and hanging out at the beach.
Maui Jim: Lenses
Maui Jim has some of the best, if not the best polarized sunglass lenses on the market. While they do sell some lighter polycarbonate lenses, their most highly-regarded lenses are glass or a glass composite.
Glass lenses are optically superior to pretty much any other material in terms of clarity and image crispness. They are also very scratch-resistant.
The company uses layered technology and pigmentation for an anti-smear outer layer and a contrast-enhancing inner layer. All Maui Jim lenses utilize their PolarizedPlus2® lens technology for protection from UV rays, reducing glare, and enhancing contrast and colors.
Those particular to superior optics often go with the SuperThinGlass lens for its optical clarity. For lighter, more impact-resistant lenses, either the Maui Brilliant or Maui Pure work well.
Maui Jim’s pigmentation recipes are excellent, with each color variant serving a specific purpose aside from aesthetics.
The Neutral Grey tone is the most useful for fishing in terms of sheer UV protection and glare reduction. Meanwhile, the Maui Rose has razor-sharp contrast, making it easier to distinguish the borders of objects even while moving fast.
There are other pigmentation variants, such as the HCL Bronze, which is more indoor-friendly.
Maui Jim does not have as many colors to choose from, though each color comes with a unique function and niche application.
Costa Del Mar: Lenses
Costa is famous for their 580G (glass) lens for it’s unrivaled glare reduction on the water as well as resistance to saltwater damage and scratches.
The 580 absorbs most of the harmful, high-energy blue light that can damage your retina, reducing the potential for developing macular degeneration or cataracts.
They also reduce glare, predominantly from harsh yellow light, making reds, blues, and greens more defined. This result is sharper contrast and crisp, well-defined objects.
They’re ideal for fishermen, as you can see clearly below the water’s surface for movement and signs of life.
While glass lenses are heavier than polycarbonate, Costa’s 580G is lighter than most with how thin it is.
If impact-resistance is key, you may prefer their polycarbonate 580P lens instead. Costa also offers more color variants than Maui Jim.
The Blue Mirror is dedicated to waterside protection, while the Green Mirror has the most significant color contrast.
For everyday activities, their Gray Silver Mirror is best. The simple Gray also falls into this category.
For the most accurate image, choose the Copper Silver Mirror. Otherwise, the Copper tint is suitable for driving, and the Sunrise Silver Mirror can be used for low-light, indoor, or twilight activities.
Maui Jim vs. Costa: Frames
While Maui Jim is most known for their top-notch lenses, they’re no slouch when it comes to their frames either.
They make frames out of all the standard glasses materials including acetate, metal, nylon, and specialty metal including titanium. Overall the feel, fit and comfort is excellent with any of their frames.
The only rare complaint we were able to find was about the relative flimsiness of their rimless Ho’okipa frame, but that’s pretty much true for any non full-frame pair of glasses. They also make several frames in alternate fit for those with low nose bridges and broader cheeks.
Costa frames can accommodate those with larger heads and faces, which isn’t always the case with Maui Jim. For example, Costa’s Rincon fits larger heads comfortably, while its smaller cousin, Rinconcito, is perfect for medium or average-size faces.
They offer bio-based nylon frames similar to Maui Jim’s nylon collection. As noted before, Costa also makes eco-friendly frames materials collected and repurposed from ocean cleanup projects.
Many customers praise the flexibility of Costa frames, making them less conducive to breaking or snapping in half. Costa glasses are also resistant to the corrosive effects of saltwater.
You can also buy titanium frames from Costa, which are strong, lightweight, and extremely durable. Lastly, their hypoallergenic rubber nose pads prevent allergic reactions and slipping down your nose from sweat or moisture.
Maui Jim vs. Costa: Style
Style-wise, Maui Jim tends to have more conservative, simple lines in their sunglasses collection. Nothing too flashy or extreme, though they get very colorful with their lens tints.
Maui Jims are generally sophisticated and polished. You won’t look out of place whether you’re spending the day hoping to catch the big one or driving around in search of the next best iced latté.
For example, Maui Jim aviators and browline glasses go well with a more casual day-look or country club-style prep. Born from the islands, they also go perfectly well with a Hawaiian shirt, flip flops, and a straw hat too.
Costa’s designs are also mostly on the classic side, with most of their popular shades being either full-rim nylon or acetate. Given their focus on water sports and harsh glare reduction, you’ll find large lenses that provide full coverage up, down, and around the sides.
The majority of their performance sunglasses sport a square or rectangular lens, with several wraparound styles that have a wider side temple.
Maui Jim vs. Costa: Price
It’s no surprise that neither brand is going to be cheap. If spending a couple hundred bucks on a pair of sunglasses is completely out of the question, you can stop here.
And if you need prescription lenses, you can expect the price to go up into the mid 3-figures for a pair of Maui Jim’s.
Your average Costa 580g sunglasses retail for about $180, while Maui Jim averages around $200.
You might find discounted pairs online, but beware of fakes. To be sure you’re getting the real thing, only buy directly from Costa or Maui Jim or from authorized online retailers like FramesDirect or SportRx.
Maui Jim and Costa offer 2-year warranties for product defects as long as your glasses weren’t altered.
It’s hard to go wrong with a pair of Maui Jim’s or Costa. Both brands make excellent polarized glasses that give you distortion-free, pristine-clear visuals with comfortable frames to wear all day.
Of course, the big question is whether they’re worth the premium price tag they command. For the vast majority who own a pair of Maui Jim or Costa sunglasses, the answer is a resounding yes.