How To Choose Your Surf Bikini

How To Choose Your Surf Bikini

When it comes to surfing, a swimsuit is as much about function as it is about style. Here’s a handy guide to choosing a comfortable surfing bikini.

Swimwear that's ideal for tanning may not be the best for surfing, so before you go shopping, it’s important to learn a few rules about surf bikini fit and construction. 

How To Make Sure Your Surf Bikini Will Stay Put?

Before we start on the design specifics of sporty swimsuits and surfing bikinis, let’s talk quickly about fit and style. It’s essential to get a proper fit – too loose and your suit might move with the waves, too tight and it might feel uncomfortable and restrictive out in the lineup.

The easiest way to test a sporty swimsuit’s fit is to jump around in the changing room; If it slips or digs in – keep searching. There are certain styles that may complement your fit based on body shape – see our article on How To Choose a Bikini for Your Body Type for more details.

Now, it’s time to get into the finer details of what makes a great surfing bikini or swimsuit. There are three key criteria here:

  • Security: The swimsuit that stays put when you’re getting tumbled is worth its weight in gold.
  • Support: Surfing is very physical  look for a swimsuit that holds everything in place without restricting movement.
  • Comfort: You’ll be paddling and sitting on your surfboard for long periods – you may want to avoid extra add-ons if you feel like they get in the way.

Bikini Bottoms to Surf

womens surf bikinis

First and foremost, security. We recommend trying surf bikini bottoms with some width on the side band. And, because all bikini fabrics stretch when wet, bottoms with a sewn-in drawstring are an added bonus.

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Boardshorts vs. Swim Shorts vs. Surf Leggings

If you’re looking for more coverage than a typical bikini bottom – no problem, you’ve got options:

womens board shorts

Board shorts provide great coverage and security, but some can give you seam rash.

womens swim shorts

Mid-size swim shorts/trunks deliver good all-round comfort, coverage and security.

womens surf leggings

Surf Leggings are growing rapidly in popularity, thanks to their all-over support and extra warmth in cooler water temperatures.

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Bikini Tops to Surf

Like with sports bras, how much strapping and support you need depends on the size of your chest. But, regardless of size, some strap types offer more support than others.

halter neck bikinis

A halter neck offers decent security, but look for wide, supportive straps as thin ones can lead to neck strain.

cross back bikinis

A cross back is the best option, distributing weight evenly across your back and shoulders for great security and comfort, without restricting your paddling motion.

  • Unless they’re designed specifically for surfing, other top styles like triangle bikinis, strapless/bandeau tops and bra-style shoulder straps are best avoided – they just aren’t designed to withstand the impact of ocean waves. Same applies to underwired tops – they’re not suited to extended paddling sessions.
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    Can I Surf with One-Piece Swimsuit?

    one piece surf bikinis

    One piece swimsuits are great for surfing as they deliver a more secure fit that a two-piece. Check out the increasingly popular long sleeve versions for even more sun and wind protection.

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    Bikini Materials and Colors

    surf swimwear

    When it comes to surf-specific swimwear, always put functionality before style. Stick to technical synthetic polyester blends with plenty of stretch and fast-drying properties, while avoiding textured fabrics like rippled, embroidered and chrochet as these all have a tendency to bunch and sag. As far as colors and prints are concerned – go wild. But like any other swimsuit, remember that water can increase a fabric’s transparency, so avoid mixing light colours with thin fabrics.

    Rashguards: A Surf Bikini Alternative

    surf rash guard for women

    Worn over a bikini top or as a standalone, rashguards are a must-have addition to your surf wardrobe, keeping you protected from harsh UV rays and abrasive surfboard decks. Find out everything you ever needed to know about rashguards here.

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    How To Take Care of Your Surf Bikini

    Last thing to remember – salt water is corrosive, so always rinse your surfing bikini after a surf!