Despite the massive amount of new bikini brands, bikini styles, and bikini trends, it is still incredibly hard to find bikinis that are functional for the hardy demands that surfing puts on your swimwear.
As a female surfer, I think it’s pretty darn important to have a swimsuit that stays on. I mean, nip slips happen to the best of us but we’d probably prefer if they didn’t.
From the paddle-out to the popup, you want your bikini to stay put and preferably, still look cute.
We’ve rounded up 6 of the best surf bikini brands that have been tried and tested in heavy water.
After testing out these bikinis personally, I can promise you that these 6 surf bikinis are not only cute and comfortable, but they’re also sturdy, durable, and will absolutely stay on when surfing big waves.
Shopping for the Best Surf Bikini
Okay, so you want to rock a cute bikini for your next surf trip. Here a few tips for shopping for that new surf bikini:
Size Yo’Self Up
No size is created equal. You may be a consistent medium in all your clothing however, since bathing suits are completely form fitting, you’ll want to be sure that they are exactly the right size.
In addition, since you’re looking for a surf-friendly bikini, it can’t be on the loose side of the spectrum either. It’s gotta stay on through thick and thin.
Point being, find a measuring tape (you may need to use a piece of string if you only own a hardware style tape measure) and size your hips, waist, and bust.
Once you’ve got the measurements, be sure to check the size chart for each bikini brand to find the perfect size.
Consider Your Preferences
Coverage is a crucial factor when shopping for bikinis. Some are into the “Less is more” trend and some prefer more modest confidence with fuller fabrics.
Fortunately, most of the brands we recommend in this blog are really good about letting their customers know what kind of coverage each bikini offers. On most sites you can even shop by coverage level like Cheeky, Moderate, and Full.
Because of the varying desires in coverage style, we’ve shared our top bikini pick for each of the 3 different coverage styles for each brand.
Also note, Lo, Mid, and Hi coverage are all relative terms for each brand. Lo means low by that brand’s standard.
This means that Lo coverage Carve Designs could be way more coverage than a Mid coverage Sensi Graves bikini.
Bikinis Are Expensive
The eternal question: Why does it cost so much for so little fabric?!
The answer may never be revealed. However, what I can tell you is that occasionally there is a way around this.
New collections will always cost more but the good news is, collections eventually go out of style and you can find huge discounts on outdoor retailers like Backcountry.com.
The Best Surf Bikinis
1 | Carve Designs
Pros: Seamless fit, stylish neutral and floral prints, super soft fabrics, cuts for all preferences, flattering fit, every style is sturdy
Cons: The elastic on the bottoms aren’t super tight
Lo-Coverage Pick: Dahlia Top + Sanitas Bottoms
Mid-Coverage Pick: La Jolla Top + St Barth Bottoms
Hi-Coverage Pick: Dana Top + Stinson Bottoms
Carve Designs is my #1 pick for surf bikinis. The reason I pick this brand over any of the others is because they’re truly designed for adventurous women, and most importantly, they’re wildly comfortable.
The Carve Designs fabrics are seamless, form fitting, and are often reversible. These bikinis stay on with a perfect level of stretchiness.
I love that they have some creative styles and prints as well as some simple ones.
Carve Designs is not a fashion based brand. It’s not exclusively for skinny girls nor are their bikinis built for lounging on the sand (totally un-adventurous).
As the Carve Designs motto goes, these bikinis are for “REAL WOMEN WITH REAL BODIES AND A REAL PASSION FOR ADVENTURE”
Hands up to all the surfer girls out there who can relate to this!
In terms of picking the right style, it’s worth noting that Carve Designs runs more on the fuller coverage side. While I sometimes wear a size medium on both the top and bottom, I prefer a size small in Carve Designs.
Every single style at Carve Designs is perfect for surfing so it’s all up to you to decide which style you like the most. For more straps and style, try the Dahlia Top or for simple fashion, the Stinson set is a go-to for active women.
Shop bikinis on Carve Designs website or Backcountry for up to 60% off.
2 | Sensi Graves
Pros: Tightly fitting elastics that actually stays put, eco-friendly, lightweight materials, strappy backs, thick waistband
Cons: The thin fabric can feel too revealing for some
Lo-Coverage Pick: Issy Top and Jennifer Bottom
Mid-Coverage Pick: Colleen Top and Kyla Bottom
Hi-Coverage Pick: Alexa Top and Emma Bottom
The Sensi Graves motto alone is enough to make me love the brand: “Bikinis designed for girls who rip.”
Sensi Graves is a darn close second on the best surf bikinis.
Though the rest of the brands on this list are all great for surfing heavy water, if I were to paddle out at 8-10 foot day at Haleiwa, I’d grab my Sensi Graves bikini because the elastics are just so darn good.
The tight-fitted elastic of Sensi Graves will make sure my bikini stays on when I wipe out.
What I love about Sensi Graves is the tight fitting style of it. I love a good, comfortable bikini, but when I’m paddling out on a big day, I know the tight-fitted elastic of Sensi Graves will make sure my bikini stays on when I wipe out.
In terms of style, I like that Sensi Graves has low coverage options that are still functional, unlike most bikinis.
The whole less is more style actually works for surfing with Sensi Graves and my top pick for bottoms are definitely the Jennifer.
I absolutely love all the criss cross options of their tops and my favorite is the Issy.
Shop Sensi Graves bikinis now.
P.S. Their Instagram is pretty sick.
3 | Maaji Swimwear
Pros: Super soft, unique prints, stylish designs, not too tight or too loose
Cons: Designs aren’t as functional for surfing as other brands mentioned, not heavy-water friendly
Lo-Coverage Pick: Bralette Top + Signature Thin Cut Bottoms
Mid-Coverage Pick: Seamless Tie Side Halter Top + Signature Sublime Bottoms
Hi-Coverage Pick: 4-Way Halter Top + Signature Sublime Bottoms
I almost forgot to include this brand despite the fact that I wear these bikinis more than any other pair I own.
Unlike the simple statement of Sensi Graves, Maaji has designs built for the more magical souls. You know, the wild ones and the free spirits.
Maaji does not design as “sporty” of styles as the other swimwear brands in this blog. In fact, they don’t even identify with “active swimwear” per se. Maaji is more about fashion but I’ve included them in this blog because their suits are still innerly comfortable even when surfing.
Maaji has dozens of different cuts, designs, and styles so you have to be a little picky if you’re looking for a surf suit. Steer clear of those bandeaus (unless you’re feeling extra brave) and head towards the halters and bralettes like the Sundeck or the 4-Way Wear styles.
What I love most about Maaji is the Sublime signature bottoms. These bottoms are the perfect overall bikini bottoms. They have coverage but are also flattering. They’re sturdy but also soft and light. I’d surf anything under 8 feet in these bottoms.
Shop Maaji bikinis on their website or find discounts on Backcountry.com.
4 | Patagonia Surf
Pros: Eco friendly, stays put, soft fabric, super stylish prints, built for adventure
Lo-Coverage Pick: Seaglass Bay Top + Seaside Cove Bottoms
Mid-Coverage Pick: Seaglass Bay Top + Seaglass Bay Bottoms
Hi-Coverage Pick: Bottom Turn Top + Nanogrip Bottoms
Patagonia, man, they just keep setting the bar so damn high. I mean honestly, it’s hard to compete with their bikinis especially when you’re a surfer looking for that combo of surf fashion and true function.
Patagonia has really nailed it with their latest bikini design, the Seaglass Bay bikini.
It’s the perfect combination of sturdy, soft, and style
With a variety of coverage styles, from the Nanogrip’s full seat to the slimmer Seaside Cove style, Patagonia really has something for everyone even though they only have less than a dozen bikinis to choose from.
5 | Jolyn Clothing
Pros: Salt water (& chlorine) resistant, long lasting, stays put, functional, built for active women, cheaper than many bikinis
Cons: Basic styles, not the most flattering cuts, not the softest materials.
Lo-Coverage Pick: Triangle Top + Duke Bottom
Mid-Coverage Pick: Tomcat Top + Midl Bottom
Hi-Coverage Pick: Fendrick Top + Andy Bottom
I got my first Jolyn bikini back when Jolyn was a small brand. The SoCal based brand hosted many trunk shows at my local surf contests and festivals. At the time, it was super rare to find a functional bikini amongst the surf scene so once I found Jolyn I was hooked.
Jolyn is the most athletically designed bikini I’ve ever seen.
As far as fit, you’ve never worn anything like Jolyn. For one, their fabrics are thick and sturdy with a high thread count. Their bikinis don’t rip, fade, or wear down over time. I’ve owned the same Tomcat top for 6 years and it still works like a charm and the prints aren’t faded.
The thread count makes for an extremely sturdy fit. The straps are tight and the waistband is sturdy.
The only thing I don’t love about Jolyn is that their bottom cuts aren’t the most flattering nor are the prints the most “surfy. You have a choice in cuts at Jolyn but even their slim coverage styles aren’t quite as cute in reality.
In addition, yes, the fabric is thick and will not rip whatsoever, but I don’t love wearing this bikini all day long because of the not-so-soft fabric.
Overall, Jolyn may not as fashionable of flirtatious as Maaji Swimwear but when it comes to pure surf, not style, Jolyn is your new best friend.
Shop Jolyn bikinis now
6 | Hurley
Pros: Designed for peak performance, form fitting, lightweight but not too thin.
Cons: Not a small business, short life span
Lo-Coverage Pick: Quick Dry Top + Hipster Bottom
Mid-Coverage Pick: Quick Dry Top + Quick Dry Bottom
Hi-Coverage Pick: Max Top + Max Bottom
Last but not least on this list is Hurley. Hurley is built for performance and much like their top of the line wetsuit design, their swimwear is sleek, soft, and form fitting.
Honestly, their suits are darn close to being as perfect as Patagonia swimwear and according to Forbes article, “Hurley made the best bikini ever for women who surf”…
I’m not saying that’s 100% true, but it does say something that the best female surfer in the world right now can shred in this bikini in big waves.
Hurley offers 3 primary cuts in their bottoms: Quick Dry, Quick Dry Max, and Hipster.
If you like a thinner waistband get the Classic Quick Dry bottoms which come in a variety of prints including the Domino and Herringstripe.
The Quick Dry Max is also the same coverage, but with more fabric in the front.
I find that the Hipster style bottoms are more functional for surfing. They’re cheeky but full in the front.
As far as tops go, Hurley has two tops that are perfect for surfing: the The Classic Quick Dry an the Quick Dry Max. With sturdy coverage, soft material, and strappy backs, they will stay on while surfing and also provide sleek style
Now, there are a few reasons I put this brand at the bottom of the list.
First, their swimwear is not produced eco-consciously. It’s also corporate and they don’t put love into each thread like these other brands do.
In addition, because it’s all factory made, the lifespan on their swimwear is nothing compared to other bathing suits on this list.
Women’s Surf Suits
Bikinis aren’t your only choice for looking cute while surfing. In this day and age, designers are getting extremely creative with their swimwear designs and surf suits are all the rage for surfer girls now.
Surf suits are great for protecting you from the sun and preventing rashes.
While we do cover the best women’s spring suits in our blog, Best Womens Wetsuits, here’s a quick roundup of the best surf suits that are purely built for style, comfort, and sun protection, NOT warmth.
Womens Surf Board Shorts
There are times when the swell is rolling in and no mount of bum coverage can stay put for gnarly wipeouts. For times like these it’s nice to have the security of boarshorts.
Here are our top picks for board shorts among these bikini brands we love:
- Hurley Womens Phantom Stretch 2.5″
- Carve Designs Bali Shorts
- Carve Designs Lorenzo Shorts
- Patagonia Womens Wavefarer Board Shorts
Did we miss your favorite bikini? This is an ever-growing list of best surf bikinis so if you know of one that you think we should test out, let us know in the comments or reach out to us on Instagram!
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