Garmin’s Instinct Solar 2S
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

Catch Waves, Track Waves: Garmin Instinct 2S Solar Drops ‘Surf Edition’ Watch

I am a huge water person. Surf. Swim. Standup paddle. You name it, I probably do it. Although I’ve never been a competitive water sports athlete, I do like to track my sessions in the water alongside my land workouts.

While there are a lot of smartwatches out there, there aren’t too many designed specifically for watersports.

I’m an avid runner, and Garmin has been my go-to watch for years. Although surfing became a huge part of my life after college, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered there are watches that can track your surfs. After looking at the different options out there, I decided to give the Garmin Instinct Solar 2S Surf Edition a go.

In addition to tracking workout stats in real time, Garmin’s surf-specific watch lets you log your waves and data for later. It’s fun to nerd out over the stats after each session and see how they compare day to day.

Garmin’s Instinct Solar 2S Review

Garmin’s Instinct Solar 2S (2)

The Nuts & Bolts

Engineered to last, the Instinct Solar features a fiber-reinforced polymer case, scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass, and water resistance up to 100 m. The watch includes a solar battery and a power manager, which allows you to see how various settings affect your watch’s battery life — the watch can last up to 54 days in smartwatch mode.

Designed specifically with surfers in mind, the watch offers tide data, tracks surf activity, and is compatible with Surfline Sessions. In addition to surfing, the watch can track other activities like kayaking, standup paddling, windsurfing, swimming, hiking, running, and more.

Other thoughtful features include a wrist-based heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, pulse ox to monitor oxygen absorption, and stress tracking. It also offers a body battery energy monitor, trackback routing, weather monitors, smart notifications, a dedicated calendar screen, and the ability to pair with other Garmin devices for satellite communication.

Testing the Garmin Solar 2S Surfing

surfing with garmin’s instinct solar 2s
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

There’s a lot to love about the Garmin Instinct Solar Surf Edition. The design is small and sleek, but the watch offers everything I could want in a smartwatch and more.

In regard to surfing, the watch records the number of waves surfed, maximum speed, and the distance traveled. Like most surf watches, the wave count wasn’t always spot on but for the most part, it was pretty accurate.

I also really enjoyed that the watch worked with Surfline Sessions, allowing me to hop on Surfline after my sessions and watch my waves. The tide feature lets you set a home beach or choose to check from your current location. While I really enjoyed the tide feature, it seemed to only work when I was near my phone — I’m hopeful that future designs will allow you to check tides even when away from your phone.

During my time with the watch, I was also able to test it out while swimming, running, hiking, kayaking, and standup paddling. For the land sports, the watch tracked distance traveled, pace, and elevation.

Figuring out how to use everything was straightforward and seemed accurate. After each activity, I’d sync my watch with the Garmin Connect app, which allowed me to keep track of all my data in one place and share it with friends.

paddleboarding the garmin’s instinct solar 2s
(Photo/Rebecca Parsons)

The watch also keeps track of my daily step count, calories burned, and sleep. As someone who struggles with sleep, I enjoyed the sleep feature. Data includes what time you fell asleep and awoke, as well as the amount of time you spent in REM, light, and deep sleep.

It’s hard to say how accurate it is, but it seemed pretty spot on and was a good way for me to figure out ways to improve my overall sleep.

Garmin’s Instinct Solar 2S: Conclusion

Overall, I’m a big fan of the Garmin Instinct Solar Surf Edition. I like that it’s geared toward water athletes while still offering the features I know and love in traditional smartwatches. (Because who wants to need two different watches for all their data tracking? No one.)

It’s easy to use, the battery lasts a long time, and it’s a fun way to keep track of all of my activities in one place. If it’s anything like the Garmin products I’ve had in the past, then I know it will accompany me on my adventures for years to come.

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Rebecca Parsons
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Rebecca was born and raised in Orange County, and she has spent countless hours exploring the California coastline. She loves surfing and standup paddling and recently relocated to Oahu, Hawaii to chase her childhood dream of being a professional beach bum. When she’s not in the ocean, you can find her running the local trails or sleeping under the stars alongside her adventure pup, Koa.