Here, a perfect lineup of water women work the look—in tropical prints, neoprene, racerbacks, and mesh—on the gorgeous beaches of Kauai.
By Clarissa Cruz
The Miracle Comeback
Undeterred by a shark attack that severed her left arm when she was 13, Bethany Hamilton, now 22, continues to compete successfully in pro surfing contests. "The ocean is where I'm happiest," she says. "I'm usually pretty simple with clothes, but I loved this dressy jumpsuit—it's a funky, high-fashion twist on beachwear."
Shot on location at the St. Regis Princeville Resort in Kauai, Hawaii.
Riding on a surfboard since she was 15 months old, Talia Gangini is known for her stand-up-paddling prowess. "The cool thing about paddling is you can do it anywhere there's water, not just the ocean," says Gangini, 19, who in 2007 became the youngest female team member to paddle the 32-mile Molokai-2-Oahu race. Her precociousness doesn't end there: She launched a jewelry line, Pashey Designz, at 12; her swimwear line, Manini Gangini Bikinis, followed in 2008.
Surfer's Style Tip
Gangini fills a spray bottle with salt water and mists her hair, scrunches it through, and lets it dry naturally for a headful of beachy waves.
A pro surfer since age 16, Keala Kennelly became the first woman to surf Teahupoo, in Tahiti—the most extreme wave in the world—in 2005. And she's been conquering even bigger waves ever since. As for surf fashion, she couldn't be more pleased about its moment in the sun. "It makes me really happy that my everyday attire is going to be in vogue," says Kennelly, 33. "I won't feel like such a beach bum when I stop at the grocery store after a surf."
A soccer player most of her life, Mariko Strickland, 25, now focuses on stand-up paddle surfing. "Growing up in a surfing family in Kauai, you pretty much know everyone," says Strickland of her friendship with Hamilton and pro surfer Alana Blanchard. "It's always a good time surfing with those two rippers!" Another thing she approves of? Her low-key look here: "Women have a natural beauty that makeup should enhance, not cloud."
Kassia Meador won the Roxy Wahine Classic in 1997 at age 15. Now 30, she still competes in women's longboarding while designing wet suits for Roxy (she also surfs for the brand) and a watch for Swatch, and indulging her passion for photography and art. "It's interesting to see how designers translate the surfing vibe," she says. "My wet suits take women's curves into consideration—they make you feel beautiful, which is empowering."
Surfer's Style Tip Sexy doesn't always mean showing skin, says Meador. "I like tight black jeans more than supershort skirts."
The New Wave
The niece of Quiksilver USA cofounder Jeff Hakman, Jasmine Jones, 33, has surfing in her blood. "Growing up in Hawaii, I was always on some sort of board," she says. But Jones forgoes competitions ("I surf for fun and to gain physical benefits") to work for a program that screens newborns for hearing loss. "I'd like to someday start a nonprofit to provide devices that help children with developmental disabilities communicate."
Surfer's Style Tip To balance muscular shoulders, Jones often plays up her legs.
Raised in the Virgin Islands and now living in Kauai and Malibu, Gabrielle Reece, 42—fitness guru, former model and beach volleyball champion—is all about surf and sand. "Being in the water is such an important part of life for people here," says Reece, who is married to pro surfer Laird Hamilton and has two children, Reece, 8 (left), and Brody, 4. "For others, the fashion is about trying to get a piece of blue sky or the ocean or coconut trees for themselves."
"What's cool about Alana, Kassia, all these girls, is their ability to get wet, get gunky, and have a great time," says former beach volleyball champ and model Gabrielle Reece. "It's not about your bag matching your shoes."