11 best active swimsuits
Whether you're taking the plunge with a spot of cliff-diving or need something for stand-up paddleboarding, these are the suits you can trust
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Itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie bikinis may be a summer staple, but they are next to useless if you want to do anything more active than lying on a sun lounger sipping a cocktail. If you’re surfing, swimming or – the ultimate swimsuit test – cliff jumping, you’re going to need something a little more sturdy and supportive.
We’ve included bikinis, swimsuits, rash vests and leggings in our round-up of the best swimwear to mix and match for different water sports – our top picks are all comfortable, supportive and, crucially, tested against accidental flashing.
1. Finisterre True North Marea One Piece: £80, Finisterre
The classic-cut, zippered front and cheerful red and navy palette of Finisterre’s Marea stand out from the crowd, but this smart suit is also ready for action, crafted using a salt-, chlorine- and sun cream-resistant material that offers UPF 50+ sun protection. The supportive straps and well-cut bottoms stay in place whatever aquatic adventures you jump into. The sizes come up slightly small, so we recommend plumping for the size above your usual.
2. GlideSoul Vibrant Stripes Collection Spring Suit: £105, GlideSoul
GlideSoul’s beautifully bright wetsuits are a welcome dash of colour in the black neoprene world of watersports. Its designs range from full suits to bikinis but the thicker material makes them all ideal for sports. Our favourite piece is this stripy long-sleeved number – it 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. Also available in two other black and white designs.
3. Seasalt Cornwall Swilker Swimming Costume: £37.50, Seasalt Cornwall
It may look rather pretty but Seasalt’s Swilker vintage-inspired suit, made from a polyamide-lycra blend, is also great for active wear. Thoughtfully designed with lots of coverage on the bottom, soft padded cups on top, light boning on the sides and tummy control, it stays put for wild swims and beach days. We love the vintage feel of this versatile choice, also available in a smart navy stripe, or a lighter blue.
4. Fat Face Breton Board Shorts: £28, Fat Face
Leaping into the sea in just skimpy bikini bottoms is liable to lead to disaster. Pop these striped board shorts on top and you’ll have no more flashing issues. The fabric is quick-drying and breathable, and the shorts are smart enough to wear around town with a t-shirt, too. Our tester loved the simple Breton stripe, a nice change from the sea of pink floral board shorts usually aimed at women.
5. Protest Stylo Surf Leggings: £59.99, Protest
This is the swimwear you never knew you needed. Protest’s flattering floral surf leggings give great protection for your knees on a surfboard, offer extra coverage from the sun when stand-up paddling and add a welcome extra bit of warmth when diving or snorkelling. They’re so comfy and breathable you could wear them for a beach run or a yoga session, too. Pair with the Protest Superbird (below) for a versatile beach outfit.
6. Protest MM Superbird Bikini Top: £24.99, Protest
Here’s our favourite bikini top on test. Protest’s floral number will holds your boobs safely in place no matter what underwater acrobatics you want to try. We like the removable padded cups and the fact that there are three different bikini bottoms in the same print to choose from, so you can mix and match to suit your figure. The Superbird looks lovely on, too, with a flattering scoop cut and cool crossover straps (watch out for strappy tan lines though).
7. O’Neill Rash Vest: £29.95, Surfdome
A rash vest is the surfing lady’s best mate. Stick it under a wetsuit in winter for warmth or wear on its own with bikini bottoms in tropical seas to protect your chest from the rough surface of your board. O’Neill’s mint-hued rashie is quick-drying, comfortable and cut with a flattering longer length. It also offers 50+ UPF UV protection.
8. Roxy Keep it Roxy One-Piece: £70, Roxy
Tend to burn your shoulders out on the water? This t-shirt-style swimsuit from Roxy offers more protection than a standard suit without looking frumpy. We love the soft, loose sleeves, zippered back and psychedelic-looking, chlorine-resistant fabric (which is recycled, for extra brownie points). Be warned – the bottom is rather high cut, so not a good choice if you’re shy. Offers UPF 50+ sun protection.
9. Speedo H2O Active Hydra Fizz Tankini: £63, Wiggle
Excellent if you like the freedom of a bikini but want a little more coverage, Speedo’s new-season, super-versatile, chlorine-resistant tankini is designed to work both as swimwear and for yoga and working out, so while it might not be cheap you’ll get a lot of wear out of it if you’re a gym bunny. The high cut of the neck isn’t the most flattering on bigger boobs, though. It ticks the eco-friendly box, as it’s made from recycled polymers.
10. Zoggs Navajo Starback Swimsuit: £29, SimplySwim
Sick of the sea of boring blue and black sporty swimsuits on show in the gym pool? Add a pop of colour to your workout with this bright, Aztec-inspired design from Zoggs at SimplySwim. The light, chlorine-resistant fabric hugs your body but doesn’t feel restrictive, and it doesn’t sag with regular use. The suit comes at a palatable price, and looks great on bigger busts, too.
11. Speedo Endurance Plus Medalist Swimsuit: £17, SimplySwim
Re-enact Baywatch in this simple, effective suit, our best in test if you’re 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 we recommend getting the next one up. Available in lots of colours – we like this bright apple red. Offers SPF 50+ UV protection.
The Verdict: Active swimsuits
Pick Finisterre’s flattering, well-designed Marea for sea swimming and travel. Surfers and SUP-ers should combine a rash vest like O’Neill’s with Protest’s brilliant surf leggings for more coverage, while gym bunnies will love the Speedo H2O tankini and the Speedo Endurance suit. Searching for a sporty bikini? Protest’s mix and match tops and bottoms mean you can find the perfect combination for your body shape.
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