The 11 Best Swimsuit Cover-Ups of 2021

Frequent travelers share their top picks for style and versatility

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Nativa Sleeveless Puebla Mini Dress at madewell.com

"These are equally easy to wear as a swimsuit cover-up and as a dress."

Best Budget: Back From Bali Sarong at Amazon

"You can wear this affordable pick as a cover-up, sit on it at the beach, or even dry off with it."

Best Splurge: Julia Clancey Lady Joy Set at wolfandbadger.com

"This comfy caftan in a vibrant rainbow print is festival-ready and photo-ready and totally worth the splurge."

Best Jumpsuit: TERRY Il Pareo Jumpsuit at revolve.com

"This versatile pick can be layered with a denim jacket and or worn with sneakers or sandals for a comfortable travel day outfit."

Best Maxi Dress: Asa Kaftans JUNGLE Drawstring at asasoltan.com

"This maxi dress comes in one size that fits small to XL."

Best Tunic: SwimZip Half Zip Swim Dress Cover Up at swimzip.com

"This chic tunic has UPF 50+ protection and is super comfortable and flattering."

Best Sarong: MIKOH Toyama Sarong at shopbop.com

"This lightweight maxi-length sarong has a low-key elegance, perfect for dressing up or down."

Best Hooded: La Blanca Slouchy Hooded Sweater Cover-Up Tunic at nordstrom.com

"This pick is ideal for breezy conditions when you slide some jeans over your swimsuit as day turns to evening."

Best Button-Down: J. Crew Button-Up Beach Cover-Up at jcrew.com

" The button styling makes it feel pulled together—and even professional for a business trip."

Best Night Time: Journelle Polka Dot Kimono Robe at elselingerie.com

"Made from 100 percent silk, this kimono robe is ideal for covering up after a night swim, beach stroll, or romantic hot tub dip."

Flip-flops: check. Sunnies: check. Swimsuit: check. And don’t forget a great cover-up (or two) among your packing essentials for a beach trip! Swimsuit cover-ups come in a huge range of styles and silhouettes to suit every occasion and flatter every body type. Think tunics, maxi dresses, jumpsuits, kaftans, rompers, and wide-leg pants. From breezy casual to downright dressy, these options take you from the beach to dinner in flawless style. Our ultimate shopping guide includes feedback from a wide range of stylish bloggers and frequent travelers to help you find the best option for you.

Here, the best swimsuit cover-ups for your next beach getaway.

Best Overall: Nativa Mexican Embroidered Puebla Mini Dress - Sleeveless

Nativa Sleeveless Puebla Mini Dress

Courtesy of Madewell

What We Like
  • Hand embroidered

  • Lightweight

  • Can be used as streetwear

  • Machine-washable

What We Don't Like
  • Air dry only

This peasant dress is equally easy to wear as a swimsuit cover-up and as a dress. They are lightweight for comfort under the sun and have a cheerful look that always gets noticed. This fair-trade, cotton version is made by artisans in Mexico.

Best Budget: Back From Bali Sarong Swimsuit Bikini Cover Up Wrap And Clip Peacock Best Seller Pareo

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Comes in various colors

  • Machine-washable

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note sometimes fabric comes flawed

A sarong is one of the most versatile packing essentials ever. You can wear it as a cover-up, sit on it at the beach, or even dry off with it. "It doesn't get much better than a sarong for a beach cover-up," says Cierra Loflin, digital nomad and chief marketing officer at Zodiac Guides, who recommends this budget-friendly, generously sized option that comes in a full 20 colors and prints. "I love to use them as a dress, skirt, or even a beach blanket."

Best Splurge: Julia Clancey Lady Joy Set

Lady Joy Set

Courtesy of Julia Clancey

What We Like
  • One size fits all

  • Machine-washable

  • Made from upcycled fabrics

What We Don't Like
  • Only comes in one color/pattern option

Julia Clancey’s posh caftans won’t fit into every budget—but they’re the creme de la creme and a worthy splurge if you can swing it. This comfy caftan in a vibrant rainbow print is festival-ready, photo-ready—and guaranteed to get noticed. Plus, it comes with a matching turban!

Best Jumpsuit: TERRY Il Pareo Jumpsuit

Terry Belted Romper

Courtesy of Revolve

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Machine-washable

  • Has pockets

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

“What I love about this style is that it is super versatile,” says travel and lifestyle blogger Alicia Tenise. “I wear it as a cover-up when I'm at the beach or pool, and I also love to layer a denim jacket over it and wear it with sneakers or sandals for a comfortable travel day outfit."

Best Maxi Dress: Asa Kaftans JUNGLE Drawstring

Jungle Drawstring Kaftan

Courtesy of Asa Kaftans

What We Like
  • Comes in various colors and styles

  • One size fits all

  • Machine-washable

What We Don't Like
  • Air dry only

It would not be an overstatement to say we're obsessed with Venice-based Asa Kaftans. Their styles range from short and sassy to long and wow-worthy. This tiger-print piece is guaranteed to get compliments at the beach or resort every single time, and one size fits small to XL.

Best Tunic: SwimZip Women's Half Zip Swim Dress Cover Up

Half Zip Swim Dress Cover Up

Courtesy of Swim Zip

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Has UPF protection

  • Comes in various colors

What We Don't Like
  • Not recommended if looking for looser fit

Trae Bodge, a smart shopping expert at Truetrae.com who regularly travels for work and leisure, calls this wardrobe staple her "favorite" cover-up. "It's UPF 50+, super comfortable, and flattering—all priorities for me in a cover-up," she says. "I bring mine with me on any trip where there will be water and have done so for years now. They are available in several colors, including solids and pretty patterns. They are the perfect length for the pool or a beachside cafe and also great for paddle-boarding in!"

Best Sarong: MIKOH Toyama Sarong Wrap

Mikoh Toyama Sarong

Courtesy of Shopbop

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Versatile

  • Machine-washable

What We Don't Like
  • Air dry only

This lightweight maxi-length sarong in basic black or white has a low-key elegance, perfect for dressing up or down. The non-stretch gauze piece is 100 percent cotton with raw edges.

Best Hooded: La Blanca Slouchy Hooded Sweater Cover-Up Tunic

La Blanca Slouchy Hooded Cover-Up Tunic

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Comes in various colors

  • Affordable

  • Can be used as streetwear

What We Don't Like
  • Not machine-washable

Think of this cool cover-up as a hoodie for the beach. The black-and-white-striped knitted pullover has a drawstring hood attached—ideal for breezy conditions when you slide some jeans over your swimsuit as day turns to evening.

Best Button-Down: J. Crew Button-Up Beach Cover-Up in Linen-Cotton

J. Crew Beach Cover-up

Courtesy of J. Crew

What We Like
  • Comes in various colors

  • Great for work trips

  • Machine-washable

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly sheer

This linen-cotton button-down style cover-up is a favorite among reviewers. It’s slightly sheer, so it shows a little skin and bikini top underneath. But the button styling makes it feel pulled together—and even professional for a business trip. It comes in 10 patterns and solids.

Best Night Time: Journelle Polka Dot Kimono Robe

Polka Dot Kimono Robe

Courtesy of Journelle

What We Like
  • 100 percent silk

  • Easy to put on

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Honeymooner? This kimono robe is ideal for covering up after a night swim, beach stroll, or romantic hot tub dip. The waist-tie open-front robe is 100 percent silk, which gives it a luxurious feel (and splurge-worthy price point). The all-over polka-dot print takes it from elegant to playful.

Best for the Beach: Tina Turk Sunrise Stripe Caftan

Sunrise Stripe Caftan

Courtesy of Trina Turk

What We Like
  • One size fits all

  • Versatile

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Not machine-washable

Trina Turk’s whole vibe is the essence of vacation: the bright colors, the lively patterns, the Palm Springs aesthetic. This oversized caftan-style cover-up features a neckline you can wear three different ways: V-neck style, boatneck, or off the shoulders.

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Nativa Mexican Embroidered Puebla Mini Dress (view at Madewell) for its simple but colorful design and lightweight feel. It's perfect for lounging by the waves or wearing every day. However, if you want a more statement-making piece, you can't go wrong with Asa Kaftans JUNGLE Drawstring (view at Asasoltan). It's comfortable and even value-priced considering the enormously wow-worthy look.

What to Look for in a Swimsuit Cover-Up

Material

While some luxury cover-ups are delicate and require careful handwashing (think silk), most shoppers look for a cover-up made from material that is durable, breathable, fast-drying, and lightweight—such as polyester or cotton. "When I look for swimsuit cover-ups, I try to find items in breathable fabrics that are versatile," Tenise says. "I usually don't opt for anything too sheer so that I can wear the same cover-up on travel days or if I'm running errands around town."

Fit

Many cover-ups are made in loose-fitting styles, such as kaftans and flowing dresses—and that appeals for comfort and breathability. Some styles (such as Asa Kaftan) even offer one-size-fits-all pieces that are easy to buy online and share with friends. But consider a more form-fitted silhouette if you’re going for a dressier look or more body-conscious style.

Packability

If you’re traveling to a beach or resort destination, choose a cover-up that’s lightweight, wrinkle-resistant, and easily compressible within your luggage. "Having multipurpose items is ideal while traveling to save space in your luggage," says Loflin. "Sarongs fold up small and barely take up any room but have so many uses!"

FAQs

What’s the best cover-up when traveling?

When considering swimsuit cover-ups for travel, look for something lightweight and versatile. A sarong easily earns its real estate in a suitcase: It’s lightweight and can also be used as a head wrap, beach blanket, and skirt. A maxi dress in a solid shade is also great for dressing up for dinner.

What are the best ways to wear a sarong as a cover-up?

There are tons of ways to wear a sarong as a cover-up. Tie it around your waist like a skirt. Twist it into halter straps for a dress. Tie and tuck under the bust for a strapless look. However you wear it, "I recommend finding a color and pattern that matches your eyes and skin color, so you look truly radiant," Loflin says.

Can I wear a swimsuit cover-up as street clothes?

Absolutely, travel influencers say. And choosing a cover-up that doubles as street wardrobe is a great way to save space while packing and travel light. “When looking for cover-ups, I always shop for pieces that can double as streetwear to help reduce space in my suitcase,” says Whimsy Soul’s Harms.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Alesandra Dubin is a frequent traveler to beaches, pools, and resort environments. As a travel and lifestyle writer for work and leisure, she's experimented with many cover-up styles and silhouettes for occasions from ultra-casual to even work-appropriate.

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