surfing movies

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By Webdesk

Whether you grew up near the ocean or not, the allure of surfing is undeniable. Even if you don’t surf yourself, being on a beach or watching surfing videos on YouTube can captivate anyone. The mesmerizing rhythm of the sea and the impressive athleticism of surfers are truly beautiful to witness. Filmmakers, too, have been fascinated by this sport for decades. From documentaries about big-wave surfing to thrilling movies featuring surf-inspired bank heists, surfing has become a global phenomenon, making its way into the hearts of many. Here are 15 fantastic ways to experience the thrill of surfing through film.


1. The Endless Summer (1966)

  • Genre: Documentary/Sport
  • Star Cast: Michael Hynson, Robert August, Lord James Blears, Bruce Brown, Chip Fitzwater, Chuck Gardner.
  • Director: Bruce Brown
  • Writer: Bruce Brown
  • Run time: 1h 32m
  • Year of release: 1966
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.6/10

Could there be a better surf documentary than Bruce Brown’s iconic one? It takes young West Coast surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August on a global quest for the perfect wave. They discover it at a previously unknown break off Cape St. Francis in South Africa, now famous worldwide for surfing. Brown’s narration is fun-loving and witty, capturing the adventure, camaraderie, and sheer joy of the sport. But be warned, it may not always align with today’s PC standards. With this film and an amazing theme song by the Sandals, we can experience the endless summer vibe anytime, even if we can’t travel the world ourselves.


2. Riding Giants (2004)

  • Genre: Documentary/Sport
  • Star Cast: Jeff Clark, Pat Curren, Darrick Doerner, Sarah Gerhardt.
  • Director: Stacy Peralta
  • Writer: Stacy Peralta
  • Run time: 1h 41m
  • Year of release: 2004
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.8/10

Three years after Dogtown and Z-Boys, Stacy Peralta returned with another amazing documentary about the history of big-wave surfing. The film covers the sport’s origins in Hawaii and takes us through the decades, featuring thrilling tube rides and wipeouts that show the thrill of riding massive waves. Peralta brings viewers as close as possible to the experience, making it accessible even if they can’t actually try it themselves.


3. Surfwise (2007)

  • Genre: Documentary/Sport
  • Star Cast: Juliette Paskowitz, David Paskowitz, Jonathan Paskowitz, Abraham Paskowitz, Israel Paskowitz, Moses Paskowitz, Adam Paskowitz, Salvador Paskowitz.
  • Director: Doug Pray
  • Writer: Doug Pray
  • Run time: 1h 33m
  • Year of release: 2007
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.1/10

This captivating documentary follows Doc Paskowitz, an educated man who, with his young wife, chose an unconventional life, raising their nine children in a camper while chasing the best surf spots. His parenting methods were questionable, and his surfing obsession seemed self-centered, but it raises the question: Is it truly crazy to raise a close-knit family focused on physical health and spiritual fulfillment rather than traditional success?



4. North of the Sun [Nordfor Sola] (2012)

  • Genre: Documentary/Sport
  • Star Cast: Jørn Nyseth Ranum, Inge Wegge.
  • Director: Inge Wegge, Jørn Nyseth Ranum
  • Writer: Inge Wegge, Jørn Nyseth Ranum
  • Run time: 46 mins
  • Year of release: 2012
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 8/10

In 2012, two Norwegian friends, Inge Wegge and Jørn Ranum, who loved surfing, embarked on an amazing adventure. They searched for perfect waves in a freezing, secret location for nine long months, enduring almost constant darkness as they were above the Arctic Circle. While riding waves, they also did something incredible – they cleaned up the beach by collecting over 30 tons of trash that washed ashore. Using this collected trash, they built a house to live in and used it for everything they needed to survive, except for surfing. Their deep love for the ocean and their strong friendship shine through in their footage, which is both touching and funny.


5. Five Summer Stories (1972)

  • Genre: Documentary/Sport
  • Star Cast: Eddie Aikau, Dru Harrison, Sam Hawk, Randy Johnson.
  • Director: Greg MacGillivray
  • Writer: Greg MacGillivray
  • Run time: 1h 34m
  • Year of release: 1972
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 8.4/10

This famous documentary showcases top surfers of its time, including amazing footage of Gerry Lopez riding the waves. The soundtrack by Honk perfectly complements the surfing scenes, with a touch of politics. Jim Freeman and Greg MacGillivray, renowned filmmakers, created some of the best surfing films, and this one is their final and most advanced production. The movie is filled with captivating waves throughout, not just action shots, presenting a slow-motion tribute to the greatest surfers and their best waves.


6. Soul Surfer (2011)

  • Genre: Drama/Family film
  • Star Cast: AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Carrie Underwood, Kevin Sorbo
  • Director: Sean McNamara
  • Writer: Sean McNamara
  • Run time: 1h 52m
  • Year of release: 2011
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7/10

In 2003, brave teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton endured a tragic shark bite, losing an arm. But she didn’t shed a tear and got back on her board as soon as she healed. AnnaSophia Robb plays the role effortlessly, and the movie tells the story with honesty, humor, and respect for Bethany’s family and faith. Hollywood could have made it overly sentimental, but this version is sincere and easy to relate to.


7. Step Into Liquid (2003)

  • Genre: Documentary/Sport
  • Star Cast: Robert August, Rochelle Ballard, Shawn Barron, Layne Beachley, Jesse Brad Billauer, Bruce Brown, Dana Brown, Taj Burrow.
  • Director: Dana Brown
  • Writer: Dana Brown
  • Run time: 1h 28m
  • Year of release: 2003
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.4/10

Dana Brown, son of famous surfer and filmmaker Bruce Brown (known for The Endless Summer), made his first solo project. It’s inspired by his father’s work but with improved technical quality thanks to advancements in camera technology over the years. Step Into Liquid has a friendly and enjoyable vibe. Being a Brown comes with high expectations, and Dana didn’t disappoint. His film is now the fifth highest-grossing sports documentary ever.


8. Morning of the Earth (1972)

  • Genre: Documentary/Sport
  • Star Cast: Chris Brock, Stephen Cooney, Terry Fitzgerald, Barry Kanaiaupuni.
  • Director: Alby Falzon, David Elfick
  • Writer: Alby Falzon, David Elfick
  • Run time: 1h 19m
  • Year of release: 1972
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.4/10

Albert Falzon’s first and most famous film romanticized the “back-to-nature” lifestyle of bearded, barefoot, and homeless surfers. It inspires both experienced surfers and beginners to leave their jobs, abandon material possessions, and live on a secluded beach. Moreover, the film showcased Indonesia’s incredible, world-class waves, which were mostly unknown before its release.



9. North Shore (1987)

  • Genre: Adventure/Sport
  • Star Cast: Matt Adler, Gregory Harrison, Nia Peeples, John Philbin, Gerry Lopez, Laird Hamilton, Robbie Page, Mark Occhilupo.
  • Director: William Phelps
  • Writer: William Phelps
  • Run time: 1h 36m
  • Year of release: 1987
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 6.5/10

In this fun ’80s surf movie, Arizona surfer Rick Kane heads to the North Shore of O’ahu to go pro. He ends up annoying the seasoned surfers but falls for a local girl and makes new friends who show him the joy and spiritual side of surfing. The jokes are cheesy but enjoyable, and the North Shore lifestyle is accurately portrayed, with parties, strip clubs, and shaving ice. It’s entertaining to watch Laird Hamilton play the role of the antagonist, pro-bro Lance Burkhart.


10. The September Sessions (2002)

  • Genre: Documentary/Short
  • Star Cast: Shane Dorian, Luke Egan, Brad Gerlach, Jack Johnson, Rob Machado.
  • Director: Jack Johnson
  • Writer: Jack Johnson
  • Run time: 1 hour
  • Year of release: 2002
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.8/10

Creating an amazing surf documentary becomes easier when you’ve gathered top athletes like Slater, Machado, and Dorian, riding epic waves off Sumatra’s Indonesian coast. Jack Johnson seems to have known that this was his final venture before fully embracing music. He wisely chose to shoot on 16mm and score the film personally, resulting in a laid-back and nostalgic tribute to the beautiful aspects of surfing.


11. Surf’s Up (2007)

  • Genre: Family/Adventure
  • Star Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, Jon Heder, Jeff Bridges, James Woods
  • Director: Ash Brannon, Chris Buck
  • Writer: Ash Brannon, Chris Buck
  • Run time: 1h 25m
  • Year of release: 2007
  • OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
  • IMDb rating: 6.7/10

This animated mockumentary is about a rockhopper penguin who dreams of riding big waves. It’s funny, heartwarming, and has awesome surf scenes. Perfect for kids and families alike, with jokes everyone can enjoy. Plus, it features Kelly Slater and Rob Machado making cameos as penguins.


12. Big Wednesday (1978)

  • Genre: Drama/Drama
  • Star Cast: Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt, Gary Busey, Patti D’Arbanville, Lee Purcell, Sam Melville, Darrell Fetty, Gerry Lopez.
  • Director: John Milius
  • Writer: John Milius
  • Run time: 2 hours
  • Year of release: 1978
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.1/10

Big Wednesday, once a box-office flop, has now gained a cult following over the years. It’s a coming-of-age story about friends dealing with life and the Vietnam War. The movie stars Gary Busey, who later stars in Point Break (ranking #13 on our list), along with William Katt and Jan-Michael Vincent. They form a close trio, but life takes them on different paths through surf sessions, parties, marriage, and finally, war. Can surfing bring them back together? Spoiler alert: Yes, it certainly can.


13. Point Break (1991)

  • Genre: Action/Crime
  • Star Cast: Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Gary Busey, Lori Petty, John C. McGinley
  • Director: Kathryn Bigelow
  • Writer: Kathryn Bigelow
  • Run time: 2h 2m
  • Year of release: 1991
  • OTT Platform: NA
  • IMDb rating: 7.2/10

Kathryn Bigelow’s action classic wouldn’t have the same impact if the bank-robbing gang were into skateboarding instead of surfing. It’s hard to picture Keanu Reeves falling for Lori Petty or Patrick Swayze while trying to do kickflips. Also, Bodhi’s philosophical talks wouldn’t be as convincing with skateboarding.

But you don’t watch Point Break for seriousness. You watch it for the thrilling big-wave-riding, skydiving, pitbull-tossing, and intense homoerotic love triangle. And let’s not forget that epic ending, which has left fans wanting a sequel where Bodhi really paddles to New Zealand.


14. Blue Crush (2002)

  • Genre: Romance/Drama
  • Star Cast: Kate Bosworth, Matthew Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Sanoe Lake, Mika Boorem, Chris Taloa, Kala Alexander, Ruben Tejada.
  • Director: John Stockwell
  • Writer: John Stockwell
  • Run time: 1h 45m
  • Year of release: 2002
  • OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
  • IMDb rating: 5.7/10

Blue Crush is a rare surf flick made for teen girls. It might lack standout dialogue or award-worthy acting, but it wins with its heartfelt story. Anne Marie, played by Kate Bosworth, is a young surfer dealing with personal and family issues while preparing for a surf competition in Hawaii. There’s also a love story with a handsome quarterback, making it a typical teen movie. However, the film’s energy and breathtaking wave-riding scenes make it truly enjoyable.


15. Gidget (1959)

  • Genre: Romance/Teen
  • Star Cast: Sandra Dee, James Darren, Cliff Robertson
  • Director: Paul Wendkos
  • Writer: Paul Wendkos
  • Run time: 1h 35m
  • Year of release: 1959
  • OTT Platform: Amazon Prime
  • IMDb rating: 6.6/10

Gidget was a surfer’s nightmare when it came out. Especially for those at Malibu beach, as it suddenly got overcrowded. Purists blamed Gidget for bringing in the masses and taking over their waves. But despite the cheesy love triangle and unrealistic surf scenes, Gidget made surfing popular among everyday Americans. It also told a heartwarming and enjoyable coming-of-age story.

Also read: Shonda Rhimes’ Best TV Shows Ranked Best to Worst

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