This list of the 20 best surf movies will make you rush to the beach and practice the sport yourself! We have here the masterpiece from different periods and genres. So, we are sure that reading this post will be worthwhile.
Surfing is a sport that requires thorough practice. It is not something that people can master overnight. For beginners interested in this challenging sport, it is best to watch these movies to better represent what surfing is.
1. Soul Surfer (2011)
English 1h 52m IMDb
Director: Sean McNamara
Stars: AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt
Soul surfer is a family drama film that revolves around the inspirational story of the great surfer Bethany Hamilton. At a young age, a shark attacked Bethany, which caused her to lose not only her arm but also the lifestyle she once had.
This film shows the importance of perseverance, hope, and acceptance. It emphasizes the value of having a solid system of family and friends.
Here’s a little trivia for you: they filmed the shark attack scene in the movie on the beach where the real one happened. Bethany Hamilton also doubled most of the surf scenes.
2. Gidget (1959)
English 1h 35m IMDb
Director: Paul Wendkos
Stars: Sandra Dee, James Darren, Cliff Robertson
Gidget is a six-part film series, and the one included in our list is the first among them. Gidget, The Little Girl with Big Dreams, written by Frederick Kohner, is the basis for creating this masterpiece. All the “Gidget” film series are based on his writings.
Gidget is a refreshing teenage movie showing a simple girl falling in love with surfing and a surfer. However, some scenes may trigger people because the main character’s love interest is older.
Nevertheless, this film will help people widen their perspective on surfing and love.
3. North Shore (1987)
English 1h 36m IMDb
Director: William Phelps
Stars: Matt Adler, Nia Peeples, Gregory Harrison
If you ask for surfing movie recommendations, many will mention North Shore! This film is definitely one of the favorite surfing movies.
North Shore is an action drama film featuring Hawaii beach’s beauty. It is about the life story of a man who moved from a different place to establish his career as a professional surfer.
North Shore is a classic movie that everyone should pay attention to. This film shows the difference between real soul surfers and those who only do it for fame and money.
4. The ultimate wave Tahiti (2010)
English 45m IMDb
Director: Stephen Low
Stars: Michael Hanrahan, Kalani Miller, Kelly Slater
The next movie on this list is a 45-minute documentary film starring the professional surfer Kelly Slater together with his friends. The documentary aims to feature the best surfing sites in Teahupo’o– a village in Tahiti known for glassy and heavy beach waves.
Prepare yourself when you watch this because this film has astounding visuals. You don’t have to be fascinated with surfing to appreciate The Ultimate Wave Tahiti. This film is refreshing to the mind.
5. Drift (2013)
English 1h 53m IMDb
Director: Ben Nott, Morgan O’Neill
Stars: Myles Pollard, Xavier Samuel, Sam Worthington
Here is another biographical film that helped promote surfing as a sport. Drift is an actual story movie based on the life of two Australian brothers that runs surfing equipment and surfwear business. Hence, the film is focused on how the surfing industry grew in the 1970s in Western Australia.
Roger Ebert–an American film critic, said that Drift has magnificent surfing scenes. Acting-wise, it is natural and fresh for the viewers. If you want to know more about the historical origins of surfing, this film is a must-watch.
6. Ride your Wave (2019)
Japanese 1h 35m IMDb
Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Stars: Ryôta Katayose(voice), Rina Kawaei(voice), Honoka Matsumoto(voice)
Ride Your Wave is the winner of the 2019 Satoshi Kon Award at the Fantasia Film Festival and the Best Animation Film award at the Shanghai International Film Festival. What a great way to tell how great this animated film is!
Basically, Ride your wave is a romantic-fantasy film about Hinako– a lost surf-lover. Hinako’s boyfriend had a tragic death at sea, which caused her to stop surfing due to trauma. Will she be able to pass through the phase? That’s for you to know!
7. Breath (2017)
English (Australia) 1h 55m IMDb
Director: Simon Baker
Stars: Samson Coulter, Ben Spence, Simon Baker
Another binge-worthy film is next! Breath has 22 nominations and bagged nine awards among these.
This film has many recognitions from the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) alone– received nine nominations, two of which they aced– the Best Supporting Actor and Best Sound Award. These achievements imply that Breath is one of the best surf movies of all time.
Breath will take your breath away because of its excellent cinematography and simplicity. It is a film that people should not waste.
8. Morning of the Earth (1972)
English 1h 19m IMDb
Director: Albert Falzon
Stars: Chris Brock, Stephen Cooney, Terry Fitzgerald
This 1972 documentary tackles the life of surfers who adopted a harmonious life with nature. They travel throughout different places such as Hawaii, Bali, and the Northeastern part of Australia to find the perfect beach wave. They build their surfboards and houses to make their journey successful.
Morning Of the Earth is considered one of the finest surfing documentaries ever created. It is a brilliant classic film that will leave an impact on its viewers’ souls and hearts. If you watch this, you’ll learn how being one with nature lets you become truly free and alive.
9. Newcastle (2008)
English 1h 47m IMDb
Director: Dan Castle
Stars: Lachlan Buchanan, Xavier Samuel, Reshad Strik
Newcastle is a coming-of-age romantic drama tale that revolves around the story of three brothers and their friends. A tragedy happened while they were having the best time of their life. If you want to know how the disaster affects their lives, watch it.
Numerous teenage issues are present in Newcastle. Among those are resentment among siblings and sexual confusion. This surfing movie won the Best Cinematography Award in the FilmOut Festival Award in the US (2010).
10. Isolated (2013)
English 1h 25m IMDb
Director: Justin Le Pera
Stars: Ryan Phillippe, Travis Potter, Jenny Useldinger
Are you looking for a surfing film that has an adventure and thrilling vibe? If so, then this one is perfect for you!
Isolated is a documentary that turned out to be life-changing. It is about the five renowned surfers that traveled to the isolated zone of New Guinea. During the trip, they found disturbing truths that most people are unaware of, like cannibalism.
You’ll learn not only about surfing, but also it will expand your perspective of the world if you watch this masterpiece.
11. Surf’s Up (2007)
English 1h 25m IMDb
Director: Ash Brannon, Chris Buck
Stars: Shia LaBeouf(voice), Zooey Deschanel(voice), Jon Heder(voice)
Surf’s Up is an animated surfing film that is suitable for all ages, especially kids. The storyline revolves around Cody Maverick, a penguin who aspires to be respected and admired. Hence, he left his hometown to join the annual Penguin Surfing World Championship.
This film received numerous nominations by different award-winning bodies, including the 2008 OSCAR Best Animated Feature Film of the Year. It also has two wins from the ANNIE Awards for the Best Animated Effects and Best Animation Production Artist.
Based on how the audiences received it, we are sure that this is an entertaining film.
12. The Endless Summer 2 (1994)
English 1h 49m IMDb
Director: Bruce Brown
Stars: Patrick O’Connell, Robert ‘Wingnut’ Weaver, Robert August
This film is a sports documentary directed by the famous Bruce Brown, who pioneered the release of surfing movies. The Endless Summer II is a continuation of Brown’s other film of the same name.
The film showcases different locations from other parts of the world. In the movie, you will also see various surfing styles, such as bodyboarding and windsurfing. Generally, The Endless Summer series are legendary. The camera shots are astonishing and beautiful.
13. Teen Beach Movie (2013)
English 1h 50m IMDb
Director: Jeffrey Hornaday
Stars: Ross Lynch, Maia Mitchell, Gracie Gillam
The next on our list is a teen musical film about the two young surfers that, unluckily, got swept by the wave. As they find a way to return to their homes, struggles yet new experiences come along the way. Will they be able to go back to their supposed life? That’s for you to figure out!
Teen Beach Movie is not only for teens! Even adults will enjoy this film. It is a fun movie, although, for some, it appeared corny. Nevertheless, trying this out won’t hurt you.
14. Step into Liquid (2003)
English 1h 28m IMDb
Director: Dana Brown
Stars: Laird Hamilton, Layne Beachley, Dan Malloy
Are you up for another sports documentary film? Well, Step into Liquid will give you that. This movie features the different and undiscovered spots in the world where surfers can go. It is beautifully written and directed by Dana Brown.
According to rotten tomatoes critics, Step into Liquid offers breathtaking visuals and scenes. It is about sights which are good because they help promote the surfing industry. Another says that this is not like other surfing films.
You better watch this documentary film and the others included in this list.
15. Local Boys (2002)
English 1h 42m IMDb
Director: Ron Moler
Stars: Mark Harmon, Eric Christian Olsen, Stacy Edwards
Local boys emphasize the importance of family and forgiveness. It is a film that would teach its viewers much about life. This movie is a touching drama that everyone should see. Audiences say that filmmakers must produce more movies like this.
Local boys tell the story of two brothers and a surfing legend that soon become entangled with each other. They have personal struggles they need to heal to move forward with their lives. It is a classic surfing film that somehow depicts the sad reality of life.
16. Big Wednesday (1978)
English 2h IMDb
Director: John Milius
Stars: Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt, Gary Busey
Here is another surfing movie classic that people who watched it loved!
Big Wednesday is about the friendship of three boys in California. Initially, they are just a bunch of carefree boys whose life goals are to have fun. However, they came to a realization that their lives were changing and evolving.
The term big Wednesday is coined in the film following the myth saying a most transcendent and cleanest wave will come on this day. The characters wonder if they will get to see and experience such a special event.
17. Chasing Mavericks (2012)
English 1h 56m IMDb
Director: Michael Apted, Curtis Hanson
Stars: Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue
Chasing Mavericks is a real-life story film of Jay Moriarty– a surfer. Jay is an accomplished surfer after he chased the tremendous and wild waves of Half-moon bay, California. He said the experience was a life-changing and fulfilling event for him and his coach.
In the review aggregator IMDb, Chasing Mavericks garnered a total of 7.1 out of 10; a relatively high rating score. Chasing Mavericks is a powerful and excellent film. Surfers will love watching this film. But, if you are not a surfer yet, we are sure you will get inspiration from this movie too.
18. Riding Giants (2004)
English 1h 45m IMDb
Director: Stacy Peralta
Stars: Laird Hamilton, Darrick Doerner, Dave Kalama
One of the films in this list that gained a 7.8 rating score on IMDb, Riding Giants, is indeed one of the best. The rating score says it all! It is another documentary film that tells the history and origin of surfing. Unsurprisingly, Riding Giants received so much support; this film has helpful information.
Riding Giants has received two nominations and one win for the Best Edited Documentary Film in Eddie Awards.
19. Rip Tide (2017)
English 1h 25m IMDb
Director: Rhiannon Bannenberg
Stars: Debby Ryan, Genevieve Hegney, Andrew Creer
Rip Tide brings new life to the usual surfing movie that most people have watched or maybe you have watched. It is a 2017 family drama film that revolves around the story of an American model after tainting his career with a scandal.
There, she recollected herself and lived her childhood dreams. The plot is the design of stylish clothes she wears when she surfs. Rip Tide is an inspiring and refreshing surfing film. Don’t get swayed by nasty comments; give this movie a chance!
20. Pe’ahi (2022)
English 1h 40m IMDb
Director: Etienne Aurelius
Stars: Kai Lenny, Alex Mortensen, Dustin Satz
Last but not least, and the most recent surfing movie on this list is Pe’ahi. Since this is a new release, there are not enough reviews yet. Nevertheless, we are sure that the storyline and cinematography alone are hooking.
It is a documentary film about the willingness of a 12-year-old boy named Dustin Satz to surf the big waves in Jaws. Kai Lenny discovered this kid and helped him achieve his dream. Watch this and tell us your thoughts!
Let us conclude the category of these 20 best surf movies we gave you.
We have documentaries like Pe’ahi, Riding Giants, Step into liquid, The endless summer II, Isolated, Morning of the earth, and The ultimate wave Tahiti. In biographical films, there are Soul Surfer, Chasing Mavericks, and Drift. The rest are fictional stories that can give you truthful life lessons.
Indeed, these are the best of each genre and timeline. Remember, you only get to see these if you give these movies a chance!