As any surfer will tell you, riding waves is more than a sport––it’s a way of life. Between checking the tides, rising before dawn, staking your claim in the perfect spot, and finding the right wave to carry your board, you’ll need a level of commitment that’s deeper than what’s required for other hobbies. If you’re considering a test run in the water, we’ve pulled together a list with some of world’s best beaches for surfing (along with swimsuit recommendations for each destination) to give you inspiration.
Even if you’re pretty sure that surfing isn’t your thing, you can always sit back and enjoy the graceful, seemingly effortless way that the other experienced surfers navigate their boards through water––while you watch from the comfortable shade of your beach umbrella at any of these shores. Surf’s up!
Huntington Beach, CA
Surfing is a big deal all over the state of California, so the fact that Huntington Beach is known as “Surf City, USA” and is also home to the International Surfing Museum tells you that this place doesn’t play around when it comes to catching waves. Part of California’s Orange County (feel free to call Orange County “the O.C.” and reference the mid-aughts teen drama series to your heart’s desire), this temperate beach town is all about watersports and maximizing your time on the beach. You could almost forget that glam, celeb-obsessed Los Angeles is less than an hour’s drive away!
The unofficial dress code here is an amalgam of wetsuits, sand-dusted denim cutoffs, tees, and bikinis, so you’ll be spending a lot of time in swimwear. We’d recommend bringing along a swimsuit wardrobe that can be mixed and matched for as many options as possible. Swim separates like the Olive Cut Out Bikini Top and the Olive Side Ties Bikini Bottom are perfect for Huntington Beach, since they can be combined with other bikinis in different ways to make multiple swim looks.
Bondi Beach, New South Wales, Australia
On the other side of the world, you’ll find that Australia’s well-established surf culture means there’s plenty of beaches to choose from when you’re looking for good breaks. What makes Bondi unique (besides being an iconic beach, of course) is that it welcomes beginning surfers and offers more than just waves. The white-sand coast here is bordered with cute shops and all-day cafés, cliff-top paths for running and walking, and beyond-fabulous people-watching once you’ve exhausted your energy paddling around in the water.
A suburb of nearby Sydney, Bondi Beach sets a higher style bar than other surf spots. Since it’s extremely well-known and somewhat crowded, you’ll want to stand out. Bring along a swimsuit like the Tropical Leafy O-Ring High Waisted Bikini, which has a particularly polished look thanks to its oversized ring hardware and “belted” bottom. The bikini top laces up in the back, so it’s a touch more secure than a simple halter or triangle top should you decide to try your luck on a longboard.
Rincon, Puerto Rico
The surfing capital of the Caribbean is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of San Juan, even though Rincon is (technically) less than three hours away by car. This laid-back locale on the Northwest coast of the island known as “Pueblo del Surfing” (the surfing town) is rightly famous for its waves, though the insanely gorgeous sunsets come in a not-so-distant second. Check out Tres Palmas Marine Reserve via snorkel to spot hawksbill turtles, dolphins, spiny lobsters, and other reef dwellers if you’d rather be under the water than surfing the tides above it.
If you’re planning on hitting Marìa’s Beach, the hub of surfing activity in town, for a ride on your board, you’ll want to pack a bikini with a little more substance. The plan is to avoid awkward bunching and other fit issues. Since this is key, we’d pack something like the Contrast Trim Buttoned Striped Bikini, which has fixed straps that cross in the back so nothing slips, and also features a banded-waist bottom with a higher rise so it won’t roll down as you jump up onto your board.
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico
Mexico’s Pacific coastline features consistent swells and a warm climate––perennial draws for surfers. What sets Puerto Escondido apart is the Mexican Pipeline, a renowned break off Zicatela Beach, so-called for its similarity to Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline. That said, anything with “pipeline” in the name is best left to extremely experienced/advanced surfers. Mid-level surfing enthusiasts can hang ten at La Punta Beach, while novices can dip their toes into the sport at Carrizalillo Beach with its mellower waves. Another option: take in the relaxed and unique atmosphere in town, since Puerto Escondido has so far avoided an onslaught of bland, unsustainable all-inclusive resorts so common in beach communities elsewhere.
To mirror the natural beauty and sunbaked light of the location, bring along a swimsuit that fits into the setting like the Burnt Orange Braided Bikini. The sienna hue makes a sophisticated departure from the normal swimwear palette range, and the braided T-back bikini top can be paired perfectly with a breezy cotton skirt when it’s time to head out for a bit of exploring beyond the beach.
Pro surfers regularly put the reef breaks of Bali’s Uluwatu on their bucket list, but if your skills aren’t at the competitive level yet, you’ll probably be better off at Kuta Beach. This popular stretch of sand has a party-like atmosphere, gentle waves, and plenty of surfboards to rent year-round. While Kuta sometimes gets a bad rap because of the crowding (and all the stuff that comes with crowds), this beach is a more affordable, friendlier, and frankly more fun alternative for surfing neophytes than some others on the island.
Channel the lush tropical flora you’ll see in Bali with a two-piece swimsuit like the Sweet Neon Orange And Floral Ruffled Bikini. The solid color bralette bikini top features ruffled adjustable straps, so you can control the fit, while the printed bikini bottom features a coordinated leafy pattern and a higher rise at the waist that stays put in and out of the water. Speaking of water, in Kuta, it’s temperate enough to swim and surf in year-round without the need for a wetsuit to keep you warm. Plus, it would be a shame to cover up a bikini this adorable!
Featuring the only warm water break in Peru, Máncora Beach is located in the country’s north end, closer to the equator on the Pacific coast but below the more popular beaches of its neighbor Ecuador. Though the town of Máncora is small and somewhat off the grid, the vibe here is lively and friendly, with a bubbly nightlife scene and music that plays around the clock. During the day, this beach makes an ideal place to learn how to surf thanks to consistent waves and inexpensive lessons with local surfers who double as teachers. Besides surfing, this area is famous for its fishing––the world’s largest recorded black marlin was reeled in nearby. You might even catch sight of the occasional whale!
Wetsuits are only needed for certain months in Máncora, so your swimsuit will likely get maximum airtime here. We’d recommend opting for something bright and cheery, like the Neon Pink Ribbed Bikini. The pared-back silhouette is balanced by all the details, like ribbed fabric, beaded accents on the straps, and an extra-cheeky cut in back. The neon pink will pop against sun-kissed skin, too.
North & South Shores, Oahu, Hawaii
If you’re talking about the surfing, you’d be crazy to leave out Hawaii! While there are many beloved surfing beaches throughout the Hawaiian islands, we had to narrow it down (sorry), so don’t be upset if your favorite spot to hang ten didn’t make the list. The island of Oahu is probably the one most associated with surfing, specifically the North Shore, which hosts professional surfing competitions throughout the winter when waves reach enormous peaks. The South Shore is better for newbies, who can learn the basics on Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach. The smooth, long waves there help you build up confidence while mastering the fundamentals. Did we mention that there’s a ton of fab hotels, shops, restaurants, and nightspots right there, too?
Give a nod to Hawaii’s famous flowers with a two-piece swimsuit like the Red And Floral Print Low-Waisted Bikini. The hibiscus print on the bikini bottom feels on point without veering into the loud-touristy-shirt territory. The solid red tie-front bikini top is surprisingly stable and can handle a ride on the surfboard thanks to its adjustable crisscrossing straps in back––a clever design trick that looks super-cute, too.