What wetsuit is best for surfing?

Take it from someone that is always cold. Surfing in the UK or Ireland is possible, but only with a quality wetsuit. All wetsuits are made from neoprene; the lower the temperatures, the thicker the wetsuit material has to be to keep you warm.


Wetsuit thickness is impacting on two main factors when you surf:

  1. How warm you feel
  2. How flexible you are in the water

There is a large range of different wetsuits and thicknesses on offer, which can be confusing. Below is a top line table providing average water temperatures and recommended wetsuit thickness. (Please take this as guidelines only and try your wetsuits on for best fit)

Water Temperature C Water Temperature F Wetsuit Type
 5°C 40°F 6/5/4 Sealed
 9°C 48°F 5/4/3 Sealed
 11.5°C 52°F 4/3 Sealed
 13.5°C 56°F 4/3 Sealed
 15°C 60°F 3/2 Sealed
 18.5°C 65°F 3/2 Flatlock
 22°C 72°F Springsuit
 26+°C (Obv not the UK!!!) 80+°F Rashguard

Winter Wetsuits for UK Waters

A single full body wetsuit can have varying degrees of thickness. This is to ensure that you are kept warm, without compromising on flexibility. A common winter wetsuit for the UK and the Nordics is a 5/4/3. This is generally used in sea temperatures between 8 and 12 degrees Celcius. In the colder northern countries, these wetsuits can be worn even in summer.

5/4/3 means that the wetsuit’s core thickness around the body is 5mm thick. Other areas such as arms and knees, etc. that need more flexibility have thinner layers.

When it comes to seams and stitches, it is recommended to pay the extra for glued and blindstitched (GBS) suits. With this method, the needle never fully penetrates the neoprene, which in turn decreases the amount of cold water entering the suit.

Summer Wetsuits for UK Waters

For the UK, full body wetsuits are always advisable with sea temperatures going up to 16/17 degrees Celcius. The summer full-length wetsuit is referred to as the 3/2 with 3mm of neoprene around your core and 2mm around your arms and legs.

Flatlock stitches are ok for UK summer wetsuits. They are generally cheaper and more comfortable to wear.

Where to buy your wetsuit?

Best brands for wetsuits are Billabong, Hurley, O’Neill, Quiksilver, Rip Curl, and Roxy.

There are plenty of online stores as well that offer a large range of different styles and brands. Try surfdome.com, wetsuitoutlet.co.uk or boardshop.co.uk.


Surfing in … Newquay, Cornwall

My first time surfing. If you are a complete beginner, Newquay is the perfect destination. The beaches are within walking distance to the city centre, and there are plenty of surf schools and beach shops.

If you are looking for an Australian British surf experience, don’t look any further. The Goldilocks hair do ratio is impressive, and I haven’t come across that many skateboards in a while. All in all, it makes for a relaxed seaside town with some of the most impressive waves and beautiful beaches.

My husband and I drove down on a Sunday morning from London. It took about 4 and half hours to get there, without any major breaks. It can be quite packed in summer, so try and book well in advance. We stayed in the Sunnyside Hotel, a basic, but friendly and cheerful hotel at the seafront.

If you can, get some coffee and pastries at one of the stores close by and have breakfast at Towan Beach early on in the morning.

To surf, go to Fistral Beach. It is a bit less central than the other beaches, but the waves and unspoiled beach and sea views are breathtaking, in particular on an early morning, when it is not yet that busy.



We booked lessons with Fistral Beach Surf School. The staff and instructor were super friendly and the wetsuits and boards were off good quality. A two-hour intensive class should teach you enough to manage to stand on your board and enjoy the thrill of making it to shore without swallowing half of the ocean. Don’t get me wrong, you WILL swallow water. A lot. But it will be worth it.

Surfing has been an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to get back on a board.


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