Whether you’re surfing, swimming or just jumping into the pool, you’re going to need something sturdy and supportive to wear by the water. I’ve tried and tested 10 of the best swimwear options for women that look great and let you get as active as you like – no accidental flashing or riding up as you swim, surf or snorkel. I’ve included bikinis, swimsuits and surf suits in my roundup of the best swimwear for 2022/23 – my top picks are all comfortable, supportive and look rather nice, too. I’ve also included a great full-coverage option, for anyone looking for a full-coverage top-and-trousers combo that they can swim comfortably in, and even a bikini you can swim in on your period.
The best active swimsuits for women
How to shop for sports swimwear
The shape of the swimwear you shop for is up to you, but there are few design features I always recommend looking for. Anyone blessed with bigger boobs will get on better with underwires or moulded cups, and adjustable straps are handy for getting a custom fit. Always try on a bathing suit in person before you hit the beach, and have a go at moving about to check it doesn’t ride up or dig in, that it feels stretchy and that you’re comfortable with the level of coverage it offers. If you’re buying a bikini, it’s worth trying on tops and bottoms in different sizes to find the perfect fit.
How to choose ethical swimwear
The tide is turning – many brands now prioritise their eco credentials in their swimwear collections, and create one and two-pieces made from everything from recycled carpets to ghost fishing nets. Buying a recycled or ethically produced swimsuit is a simple but effective way to show you love the ocean, even as you’re diving into it. And once you own your dream swimsuit, make it last and look after it by hand-washing in cold water and drying away from direct sunlight, so it lasts you for years.
Twelve of the best active swimsuits for sports, surfing and wild swimming for women
1, Adidas Positivisea Graphic Plus Size Swimsuit
Proof that plus-size swimwear can be fun and flattering while still tough enough to tackle swimming for fitness, Adidas’ larger version of their popular Positivisea suit has supportive straps and a full jersey lining to keep you feeling comfortable in the water. The chlorine-resistant fabric features a bright graphic print and is partially made with recycled materials.
2, Speedo Eco Endurance + Medalist Swimsuit
Re-enact Baywatch in this simple, sporty red suit, my top choice on a budget. Ideal for clocking up lengths in the pool, the Endurance Plus feels comfortable and well cut around the legs, and the racerback straps offer good support. The suit sizes small, so I’d recommend getting the next one up if ordering online. The Endurance Medalist is made from 50% recycled materials and available in lots of colours – I like this bright apple red.
3, Usual Objections Scoop Back Swimsuit
Usual Objections make classic-cut swimsuits from recycled materials in all manner of prints, including this frankly adorable Octopus design. A compression fit and wide straps make this the perfect suit for swimming for fitness or just for jumping into the deep from on high.
£105, Usual Objections
4, Tide + Seek Bikini Separates
Tide + Seek’s bright bikinis and suits in pastel mermaid shades are handmade in Bali using Repreve fabric, which is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. My pick of their designs are the surf bralettes, which are indeed perfect for surfing, and stay put when you’re swimming or paddling hard. Tide + Seek’s bottoms come in three different designs, from ‘cheeky’ to full coverage, so you can mix and match cuts and colours to create your perfect beachy bikini.
Tops from £45 and bottoms from £62, Tide + Seek
5, Davy J Classic Swimsuit
These beautiful British-made pieces are created using 100% recycled materials, including ‘ghost’ or used fishing nets, which account for 10% of marine litter in the sea. Davy J’s one and two-pieces over good coverage and are designed to ‘survive a dive’, and their high-waisted bottoms and crop top combinations are ideal if you want a little more fabric than a skimpy bikini for surfing or stand-up paddle boarding. Davy J’s classic swimsuits such as this olive design are the perfect balance of stylish and sporty – beautifully cut, but still comfortable to swim long distances in.
From £140, Davy J
6, Quiksilver Long Sleeve Surf Set
Hang ten in this delightfully retro long-sleeved top and bottoms set – this two-piece surf suit keeps shoulders and arms warm and safe from the sun, but the bikini cut leaves legs free to be flexible for surfing, swimming or SUP yoga. The stretchy fabric of Quiksilver’s design is made with ECONYL, a regenerated nylon made from ocean and landfill nylon waste.
7, ModiBodi High Waist Bikini Bottoms
Yes, you can still swim on your period – and you can also save the planet by picking reusable, period-proof swimwear. ModiBodi, makers of popular period knickers, also make great swimsuits and bikinis in classic shapes and with leak-proof technology built in to the gusset. This high-waist bikini bottom in bright poppy print is flattering and comfy to wear any time of the month – and it’s recycled. Matching bikini tops are also available.
8, Speedo Long Sleeve Paddle Suit
Calling all wave lovers. I have an older iteration of this suit and I love it for surfing – the long sleeves give sun protection and the bikini-cut bottom doesn’t move about even when I’m trying (and usually failing) to catch a wave. The paddle suit is made from recycled plastic bottles – wear it for a quick litter pick on the beach and you’ll be a real eco warrior.
8, Finisterre Anella Reversible Swimsuit
Finisterre’s Anella is my favourite all-rounder suit for watersports, and is crafted using a salt, chlorine and sun cream-resistant material that offers 50+ sun protection. The fabric of this suit is fully reversible – so you get two swimsuits in one – and is made using recycled ocean waste plastics. The supportive straps and well-cut bottoms stay in place whatever aquatic adventures you jump into, and I think it looks super flattering, too.
9, Finisterre Seasuit
Swimwear doesn’t have to be skimpy – Finisterre’s innovative new Seasuit means that everyone can splash about in the water and feel confident, no matter how much coverage they prefer. This full-coverage two-piece set offers SPF50 protection and includes a built-in bra for extra support, a comfy high waist and a flattering looser fit that’s also designed to fit over a wetsuit for surfing. There’s also a matching head covering available. The Seasuit is also an eco-conscious choice, made with 100% post-consumer recycled polyester and marine waste.
10, Roxy Pop Swimsuit
You can’t help but feel summery in this charming printed swimsuit, which has an all-over daisy print on one side and big bold flowers printed on the reversible side. The classic cut of the Pop suit is very flattering, and the adjustable straps and back offer less coverage (this is a bit of a bikini/swimsuit hybrid) but make it easy to get a figure-hugging fit that stays put however much you swim or surf in it. The chlorine-resistant fabric of the Pop is recycled.
11. Decathlon 1-piece shorty suit
Proving that adventure-ready swimwear needn’t be expensive, Decathlon’s shorty suit clocks in at under £15 and is brilliant for swimming, with a comfy scoop neck and longer shorts-style cut that stays put and keeps your butt covered even if you fancy trying out some daring moves during a paddleboard yoga session.
12. Rip Curl Sol Seeker Surfsuit
Surf up a storm in this comfortable, stretchy suit, which protects arms and shoulders from the sun but leaves legs free to pop up or hang ten. The zip front doesn’t get in the way of paddling, and a the lower cut of the bottoms gives a bit more coverage than cheekier cuts. Made from recycled materials.
£79.95 from Surfdome