If you’ve been harboring a desire to pick up surfing, a new board, or one of the best wetsuits for women, now might be a perfect time. The Olympics will include the sport for the first time this year, so elite athletes will be providing bountiful inspiration in the waves of Chiba, Japan. The pandemic saw a boom of board sales meaning beginners certainly won’t be lonesome in most lineups. And a set of organizations are making the sport more accessible and inviting. In New York, the Laru Beya Collective is helping BIPOC youth get water safety training and surf lessons in the Far Rockaways. Queer Surf Club is connecting LGBTQ+ surfers around the world. The founders of Textured Waves advocate for greater diversity in the lineup, while SurfearNEGRA is providing scholarships for girls of color to attend surf camp.
Meg White, surfer and communications officer for Queer Surf Club, found the ocean was a place of refuge when she came out in her late 20s. “Being in the ocean gives me a sense of freedom like no other,” she says. “As soon as my feet hit the water, I’d feel my body relax and the hundreds of thoughts swirling around my head would stop and I could just be. Surfing and being in the ocean was my first love and has got me through everything.”
For anyone ready to take the plunge—or simply looking to get some new gear—I spoke to a set of surfers who ride waves from Cornwall to California about their opinions on the best wetsuits for women, sunscreen, and accessories. And as an enthusiastic surfer myself, I included a few of my own favorites. Here’s to staying stoked all summer long.
Best Swimsuits and Wetsuits
“My favorite swimwear brand is The Seea. Living in Hawai’i, comfort and sun protection is key. Sometimes it’s not feasible to reapply sunscreen if you are surfing for more than a few hours. The Seea offers a wide range of suits designed to give a bit of extra protection from the sun, while staying comfortable and on during the heaviest surf sessions. Bonus is they fit well, even for me who doesn’t have a sample size body. A company founded by a female surfer, I find the designs really compliment the female form while holding up in the heaviest conditions. One of my favorite go-to combos is The Palomar crop rash guard paired with the Georgia bottoms.” – Martina Duran, co-founder of Textured Waves
“In the winter, Patagonia’s R3 Yulex keeps me warm in the waves at Rockaway, but for the past five or so years I’ve worn Cynthia Rowley’s short wetsuit in the summer; it’s super comfortable and I love that it has a pocket in the back—if I ever see trash in the water, I’ll grab it and put it in the pocket so I can take it to a trash can onshore.” – Ella Riley-Adams
“My favorite surfwear is made by The Seea, an eco-friendly brand that is designed by an Italian fashion/bikini designer, Amanda Chinchilli, and made sustainably in California. The bikinis and surf suits stay on, meaning while you are going through the surf washing machine nothing moves, which is important while surfing because sometimes you don’t have the time to adjust things before the next wave hits you. Some of my favorite suits are the Harper and Swami surf suits, the Kaili leggings, and the Vega bikini. – Rosie Jaffurs