Surf Bikinis – What to look for
Close your eyes. Imagine warm water, glassy offshore head-high waves, deserted reef breaks… just you, your friends and your bikini. It’s that sensory freedom you look forward to every summer. Buying at least 3 bikinis before winter is over, in anticipation of those dreamy surf sessions. Nothing beats surfing in a bikini.
The reality of surf bikinis however, is not always the above daydream…
Your bottoms manage to roll down past your butt cheeks with every duck dive.
Why one boob always pops out and not the other.
How your neck always aches after surfing.
That one time your bikini miraculously untied itself leaving you topless in the white water!
All these things have happened to me and more. Finding a surf bikini that will stay put is hard work and surprisingly not all the women’s surf brands make them which is immensely frustrating.
If you want to shop surf bikinis, check out our tried and tested list of the best surf bikinis brands.
Through trial and error (lots of error) here are my top do’s and don’t when choosing the best bikini for surfing
DO look for cross back or racer back bikinis
These bikinis distribute the weight of your boobs across your back and shoulders while holding your assets closer to your body. There they will stay put!
DON’T surf in a halter neck bikini
When paddling, you arch your back and pull your shoulders close together to keep your chest off the board. A halter neck bikini will put opposing forces on your neck. Add to that the weight of your boobs and you’re putting unnecessary strain on your body that could lead to neck issues or headaches.
DO wear crop top style bikinis if you have big boobs
Crop top bikinis offer the greatest coverage, preventing overspill out of the top. They are my go-to bikini when the surf gets big and I need to concentrate on my wave position rather than my boob position! With no straps to tie (the bikini is often a solid structure), you never have to worry about it coming undone when you stack. With thick bra-style straps, they also distribute the weight of your chest across the shoulders so limit neck pain. Winner!
With all the testing I do of surf bikinis here on Still Stoked, I got to design my own surf bikini for Sensi Graves bikinis. The Alexa Top is a triple cross-back, crop top style with thick straps that are all adjustable. Great for big boobs and a small rib cage!
DON’T surf in a bikini with underwire
As you paddle (and you will be paddling a lot as a surfer), the underwire can dig into your side and ribs. I’ve been red-raw from underwire in my bikinis after long surf sessions resulting in days out of the water. Leave underwire bikinis for tanning ;-)
DO look for thick shoulder straps
Thick bra-style straps will be most comfortable on your shoulders. The larger your boobs, the thicker you want the straps (dispersing weight evenly over the shoulder). Thin straps will cut into your shoulders and are also easier to roll off when you take a tumble. Thick, solid straps all the way.
DON’T even think about a strapless bikini
It will be like playing pee-a-boo with your tits! Waste of time and probably somewhat embarrassing.
DO look for bikini bottoms with a wide hip band and a drawstring
A wide hip band makes it harder for your bottoms to roll down when you duck-dive. A draw-string will also allow you to tighten the bottoms. I have an amazing pair of high-cut, boy-shorts from Cenote Swimwear with a ruched back and draw-string. As I tighten the drawstring, not only does it pull up the ruched section increasing the Brazilian-style cut on the bottoms, but they get tighter around my waist, staying put.
DON’T surf in a triangle bikini
Triangles that move on the string mean movement from the sides as well as the top and bottom. You will fall out of it. Make sure all your surfing bikinis are solid and both cups are attached together.
DO get bikini bottoms that little bit tighter
Like jeans, your new bikini bottoms will stretch. If they don’t have a drawstring, you are going to want them to be tight around your hips. As mentioned above, the wider the hip band the better.
DON’T be tempted by the cute side-tie bikini bottoms
Side-tie bikini bottoms are not your friend. The thin ties roll down and when tied tight, they will cut into you. No matter how good you are at knots, they are bound to come undone. Worst case scenario, both knots come undone and you’re in the white water with no pants!
DO look for stick-fabric
You can help your bikini to stay put by choosing fabrics that will grip your skin or bikinis that have had rubber added to the edges. These non-slip designs help keep you stay inside your bikini after every tumble.
DON’T put fashion before function especially with fabric texture
Crochet, mesh, embroidered bikinis… they look great but when surfing, you will most likely have sand and wax stuck all over them. They’ll be ruined for the beach… what they were probably designed for in the first place.
DO shop for strong, thick materials
Spandex or nylon bikinis are the best. Reversible bikinis that use double layered fabric either side will offer additional support, durability and resistance over the elements.
DON’T be tempted by light coloured or white bikinis
Yes a white or light coloured bikini will make your tan look dark but it will discolour quickly and there is a good chance that you will get sunburnt through the fabric.
DO look for bikinis that tie around your ribs (not a clasp)
Although you don’t want to have unnecessary ties with surfing bikinis, it is worth looking for a tie-back fastening bikini over a clasp. You can adjust the tightness around your ribs whereas bikinis with a clip fasten can’t be adjusted tighter to stay on when the waves get big.
DON’T buy bikinis with zips or metal detail
The neoprene bikini trend raged pretty hot in Australia last summer. Many of these styles fastened with a cheeky front zip. When surfing, this is what you will be lying on… metal. Not only is it likely to be uncomfortable but it also might ding your board. Same goes with any metal detail on the bikini. It will dig into you and your board.
More surfer girl tips:
Best Surf Bikinis – Review of top active swimwear brands + discount codes
For Her Eyes Only – Surf tips for girls. Because all these things will happen to you!
Surf packing list – What to pack for your next surf trip
Surf Hair Care – Pro surfer tips on how to look after beach hair
Surf Hair, Do Care: How to get beach blonde surfer hair
How to lighten hair naturally without bleach and get surfer highlights
Surfer Girl Style – Top 10 surf fashion staples
Best Surf Sunscreen – Full review & breakdown of top brands
What bikinis fails have you had? Any tips of preventing them? Care to share? Tell us below.