Vermont has better ski conditions right now than we did in December, but my mind is already on spring and our trip to Eleuthera. A friend of ours who is a big surfer highly recommended Eleuthera (one of the outer islands in the Bahamas) as a perfect spring break destination for active families. While the kids are at the mountain this morning, I’m pulling out bathing suits to see who needs what. And I know some of you are doing the same since I’ve gotten two emails from friends looking for surf bikini recommendations! So, for all of you lucky enough to be heading to warmer waters this spring, here are my surf trip packing essentials.
An active spring break requires a different packing list from the beach vacation where you plan to plop down in your beach chair with a Pina Colada and a good book for the day. For starters, I found that the typical halter top bathing suits that tie behind the neck are excruciatingly uncomfortable for surfing. You really want your top to stay put too, so I much prefer the cross-back style, which can be a bit harder to find. Also, I don’t care how modest you are at home, you will NOT want a tankini. It just doesn’t work, especially under a rash guard.
Honey Girl is one of my top picks for surf-friendly suits. First of all, these ladies are surfers from Hawaii, so they’re out there testing their suits and making sure they preform beautifully. All the suits are reversible and come in a huge variety of styles and patters, so you can really customize a fit that works for your body. As an added bonus, their customer service is awesome! I was having a hard time finding the pieces I wanted in my size and color choice, and a real live surfer girl went out into the warehouse to see what she could find.
Patagonia also has good quality cross back suits that are really comfortable and hold up well, and Carve Designs has one called the Tamarindo that looks cute and is designed with water sports in mind. All three of these brands have bottoms with a bit more coverage on the backside, which I prefer since I’m not 21 or from Brazil.
Next up, if you’re surfing, you really do need a rash guard. I have not figured out how all those bikini models surf without one. Doesn’t the wax irritate their skin? Plus, you spend a lot of time in the hot sun, so the SPF is essential. My recommendation here is go with the rash guard that feels ridiculously tight when you try it on– that’s the one that won’t get all baggy and draggy in the water. A real rash guard is very different from a sun shirt, which will not stay on properly when you’re in the water. I have two from O’Neill that are pretty basic but just right.
Board shorts offer a bit of modesty for those of us who may not look exactly graceful on a surf board, but I’m not crazy about wearing them to actually surf. They’re great for before and after, comfy and quick drying, but on the water I personally find them distracting. However, if you do want to wear board shorts, I prefer the shorter shorts for surfing, as the longer ones drag more in the water. Patagonia has a decent selection, and I also really like the Hurley Beachrider board shorts (which I’m wearing in the photo above). Oh, and since I have been asked…yes, you do wear a bikini bottom under your surf shorts.
On a fashion note, I’m a sucker for DVF (who doesn’t love the wrap dress?), but I never thought of Diane Von Fursternburg as a surfer girl…until Roxy launched their DVF line this spring! The patters are really fun and current, though I’m not sure this strapless number would do much in a big wave. For the more fashionable among you, check out the new collection. Maybe for a post-surf session?
Have a favorite brand that I missed? PLEASE share…I’m always on the look out for a great suit! In the meantime, happy packing.