East Coast Wetsuit Guide: South East

East Coast Wetsuit Guide: South East

The East Coast of the United States is different from many other regions when it comes to surfing, so we created a year-round wetsuit guide based on each region to keep you out in the lineup. South swells will bring warmer weather, and North swells will bring chillier conditions. You won’t want to miss out on epic barrels or perfect ankle bitters any time of year. If you plan to surf throughout the year, you’ll want to get set up with the best wetsuit gear for any incoming swell.

We’ve created a three-part guide based on the region and season of the East Coast to help narrow down the best quiver for your surf year. Follow the links to learn about the North East Coast or Central East Coast.

East Coast Wetsuit Guide Pt. 1 The North East Coast

East Coast Wetsuit Guide Pt. 2 The Central East Coast

We suggest using the National Centers for Environmental Information to keep up to date with your region's air and water temperatures. Following those recommendations will help narrow down what gear will work best for you before paddling out. The temperatures referenced in this guide are based on Fahrenheit.

The South East Coast includes the following states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

*This guide is based on temperature estimates & personal experiences*

Clean swells rolling in along the pier on the South East coastline

What does the South East Coast Surfer Need?

The South East is known for warmer waters, high humidity, and storm-based swell. Sandbars shift throughout the year, creating punchy beach breaks in later months and soft waves during the summer. Surfers down south will need to be prepared for the hurricane season but won’t need as much gear on hand as a surfer in New England.

Air temperatures stay pretty mild year-round. Water temperatures can be in the upper 80s F in the heat of summer and won’t be much colder than 50 degrees F in the winter. Check out our suggestions below to get your gear dialed in for the upcoming season.

South East Cost Wetsuit Recommendations

Female surfer effortlessly gliding on her longboard


Spring in the southeast generally begins earlier than its Northern counterparts. You’ll start experiencing warmer air in mid-March, but cold fronts from up North are known to make an appearance every so often. Water temperatures in the Spring will fluctuate between 55-65 degrees F depending on how far North you are surfing.

For those surfing in the more southern states such as South Carolina and Florida, having a 2mm spring suit is the perfect option to have on hand. We highly recommend a 2mm suit with either long sleeves or full-length legs. While the air temperature is warming up, the water will take longer to get to a comfortable temperature.

Female shortboarder hitting the lip on a punchy breaking wave


The muggy summer heat starts around May and continues until early October. A surfer will experience water temperatures in the 80s and air temperatures as high as 95 degrees F combined with humidity.

Generally, the Southeast surfer will enjoy surfing in their boardies or bikini. However, sun and chafe protection is key to enjoying the small summer waves down south. Snagging a rash guard for summertime fun is a highly recommended idea.

You could even look at 1-2mm neoprene jackets or a light layer for the dawn patrol sessions. An extra layer, especially for a surfer in the NC area, will go a long way in your surf career. In my personal experience surfing in the south, there have been many mornings I wish I had more than a rash guard, but not an entire wetsuit.


Fall in the South East is a beautiful time of year. The humidity dies down, water temperatures begin to drop into the 70s, and surfers are on the hunt for hurricane swell. Technically, hurricane season starts in July and lasts until November, but most of the best swell will arrive towards the end of August. This time of year has the potential for “swell of the year,” so read further for the right gear to get out there.

At the beginning of Fall, that spring suit you purchased will get you by for the swell out of the south. As time goes on and temperatures drop, a 3/2mm full suit will be your best mate. In more southern states, you’ll be able to use that 3/2mm almost through the entire winter. Otherwise, late Fall is an excellent time to invest in a 4/3mm full suit.


Winter in the South East typically begins right after hurricane season ends, usually around November, and lasts until March. Nasty Noreasters will stir up winds, colder temperatures, and fun swell during that time. Water temperatures will fluctuate between 50-60 degrees F, so it would be a good time to whip out the 4/3mm and boots.

A 4/3mm full suit is great for surfers farther south because it will provide the warmth you need without the weight of a 5/4mm hooded wetsuit. Since water temperatures won’t be too low, you’ll be plenty comfortable in the 4/3mm. A popular suit for the South East surfer is the Hyperfreak Series by O’Neill. This wetsuit offers the most mobility of any 4/3mm by using the highly flexible Technobutter neoprene through the legs and torso and Technobutter 3x in the paddling zone.

Along with your 4/3mm, you’ll appreciate having those 3mm boots as well. As you travel farther north this time of year, you’ll want to invest in a few accessories such as boots and a hood (if you only have a full suit). The 3mm Rip Curl Flash Bomb boots are ideal for South East swell chasers because they’re the most flexible and hypersensitive boots on the market. These boots have the thinnest soles on the market, making them perfect for folks not used to wearing boots most of the year.

So, you’re the South East Coast Surfer. You’ll want to be prepared for any swell that may come your way any time of year. Here is our list of what the “Year-round” South East Coast Surfer might need in their wetsuit quiver.

Women’s and Men’s Hooded Rashguard or Neoprene Layer

Women’s and Men’s 2mm Springsuit

Women’s and Men’s 3/2mm Fullsuit

Women’s and Men’s 4/3mm Hooded or Fullsuit

3mm Boots

Detachable Hood

In Conclusion

The Atlantic Ocean brings all kinds of waves and weather to the South East shoreline. That means fluctuations in water and air temperature. With those changes, you’ll need the proper gear that fits any situation. Cleanline Surf is here to get you the right gear for any type of wave, weather, or budget.

Don’t hesitate to call our support team at 888 - 546 - 6176 or email us at support@clealinesurf.com.