The Woes of Surfing in a Bikini (With a Few Hot Tips To Find The One)

Alana Blanchard surfing in a bikini

I have a shoulder injury and it sucks. I’ve had surgeries, done rehab, seen specialists. I’ve basically done everything I can do for it short of a reconstruction. Because of this, I find my time in the water quite limited: surf, strain muscles, out of water for the rest of the week and repeat.

So here I find myself staying out the front of Shipwrecks on Nusa Lembongan, and it’s kind of pumping. Like 6-foot and barrelling with about eight people out kind of pumping. The first day the tides weren’t right, the second day I may have just given in and had Bintangs at breakfast, and on the third day, I couldn’t take it any more. It was all about timing. Hit it on the best day, at the best time, because I won’t be able to surf again…

And here comes the biggest set of the day

It’s probably also important to note that I was staying with a guy I had recently met, who I may or may not have been sharing a bed with. You get the gist.

So we make the 20-minute paddle out and watch a few sets go by, gauging the lineup. It was a bit crowded but there were plenty of waves for everyone. After a few minutes, a long-period set comes through and the entire lineup starts turning, paddling and dropping off into the abyss. But as the waves march through, those of us still out realise that we’re about to get caught inside on the biggest set of the day.

After the underwater dishwasher, I’m naked

Scratch, scratch, paddle, breathe, scratch. Over the first one. Exhale. Scratch, paddle, get to the face and BOOM. The wave breaks, I get sucked back over the falls and it’s an underwater dishwasher. By the time I resurface, I’m gasping for air and try to fling myself back onto my board. That’s when I realise that my shoulder has come out of my socket and I am well and truly fucked, as the next set approaches.

We’re talking butt-stark-naked-birthday-suit. Top? Gone. Bottoms? Dangling off my leggie.

After flailing around like a crazy person I manage to get myself on my board. A great success, only I am completely naked. Like, not even just moved around a bit, we’re talking butt-stark-naked-birthday-suit. Top? Gone. Bottoms? Dangling off my leggie.

And as I mentioned, the entire lineup had caught a wave – including this guy I was hanging out with – and everyone was en route towards the horizon, passing me along the way.

In the end, I had to basically paddle, one-armed, back to shore with a bare ass and nips slipping everywhere, every surfer on Nusa Lembongan getting way more than they bargained for when they paddled out.

If you’re a female surfer, atrocious things can happen

Although it makes for a great yarn, it sucked big styles, and I wouldn’t want to wish that experience on anybody. The thing is though; almost every female surfer has a story like this. “The time I got barrelled and my nipple was out” or “the time my bottoms came off and I had to walk up the beach covering myself with my board”. If you’re a female surfer, atrocious things have happened to you when surfing in a bikini.

This brings up the question: can you surf in a bikini? In decades past I might say, well, tough luck, you can but you’ve just gotta deal with their malfunctions. But in today’s world, that’s not the case. In today’s world, companies like Rip Curl or Patagonia are releasing bikinis that are actually made for surfers, actually made for waves! We just have to know where to find them, and what to look for.

So here’s a brief surf bikini shopping guide

Now that you’re aware of the scary things that can happen if you wear the wrong bikini when surfing, make sure to check all the features below before buying a new one.

You want a bikini with straps

The more straps the better, in my opinion. You can have a skimpy bikini, but if it’s got enough anchor points, that thing ain’t coming off. I am talking mostly about the top, here.

Beware of moving parts

The fewer moving parts the better. For example, the classic triangle bikini top is a horrible move, unless you’ve got the two triangles sewn together.

A surf bikini should fit perfectly

In this case, size doesn’t matter. Obviously don’t go buying a bikini that’s too big for you, but at the same time, don’t go buying a bikini that’s too small for you. If it’s a bikini that’s made for the surf, it doesn’t have to strangle your middle in order to stay on.

Look for a bikini with grip technology

Lots of companies these days are coming out with grip technology, where suits are lined with sticky little bits that will keep your bikini up on your bum and stuck on your boobs. If you find a bikini like that, you won’t have to worry.

When picking a surf bikini, stay away from…

• Bikinis with ties. Knots come undone, ladies!
• Underwire bikinis. Trust me, you don’t want those bruise lines.
• Baggy bikinis. You want that material flush on your skin for maximum grip.
• Complicated one-pieces. They’re made for the day bed, not the lineup.
• Strapless bikinis. We think this is a no-brainer, but just in case…

Mimi LaMontagne


Based between Australia and the USA, Mimi is a writer, editor, producer, and media manager. She's also a keen traveller who has spent the past decade of her busy life telling stories through words and moving images.

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