When you call yourself a surfer, not just someone who surfs, when you’re not surfing, you’re thinking about surfing. If I’m not surfing or even thinking about surfing, you’ll find me actively searching for new places to travel and surf (like I do with da Surf Engine app), chilling and watching other people’s surf trips/adventures, watching surf movies, or watching the surfing pros compete around the world in the World Surf League.
I don’t watch much TV (unless I get hooked on a great Netflix series) but I do spend a lot of time looking for surf videos/movies on YouTube (and not surf porn, straight up surfing with music and no dialogue/backstory). Surf porn is cool for background viewing, but sometimes you want to be fully engaged in a story that revolves around surfing.
So here are some surf documentaries, realty type shows, and movies that add a story to surfing (whether true, based on reality or pure fictional entertainment) and will keep your surf stoke going until the next swell comes in or until your next surf trip for all you inlanders!
The original hands down classic surf documentary that fueled the world to get out there and travel and explore to find perfect and empty waves. The narration and story-telling against the backdrop of surfing was a true innovation for his time and the movie is the type you can watch over and over again – the ultimate classic from Bruce Brown which has fueled everyone’s surf exploration stoke!
I actually liked this even more than the original. This movie films some other surf locations around the world and also includes the likes of the young Kelly Slater! Both Endless Summer films have a ton of amazing quotes that could fill a whole blog article!
I actually watched this film before I watched any of the Endless Summer movies, when I lived in Chicago and was dreaming about moving to San Diego. I watched it on the big screen there and it is truly one of my fave surf documentaries with how it tells the stories of the extremes and unique ways people around the world are committed to finding their surf. This was actually directed by Dana Brown, son of Bruce Brown of the Endless Summer films!
The best film to truly understand how the world of competitive surfing came to be!
From the band Switchfoot, this is great integration of music & surfing featuring one of their best albums I’ve listened to and their surf sessions they were able to sneak in while touring the world.
Surf Doc’s unique take on life – kind of like the SloMo of San Diego, but with surfing and taking his entire family with him on their adventures with the van/RV life – true surfing nomads!
This film is Laird Hamilton’s bio featuring some amazing footage of this trail blazing big wave surfing. It had some funny humorous moments too, my key quote from the film, if you take every wave, you’re bound to get a good one! That’s a definite opposite approach with the formal competitive surfing events he’s notoriously been able to avoid while still making a living as a professional, non-competitive surfer.
CLASSIC SURF MOVIES – THROUGH THE 1990s
The original surfer girl character and movie that started the surf craze in the USA. There was also a follow up movie about the inspiration behind and the true life story of the making of the Gidget movie called The Real Gidget, Accidental Icon.
One of the rare surf comedies out there (although I don’t think it was meant to be a comedy) that has grown to be quite a classic with a cult following which is quoted often in the surfing communities
OK, not exactly a surf movie but had to include it here as this movie’s Spicolli character became the mascot for the stereotypical surfer dude which still somewhat exists today!
The Original – Another classic and full of action and great quotes to remember. No need to bother with the sequel/remake.
MODERN NEWER SURF MOVIE CLASSICS
I think this movie does a great job in telling the story of a competitive surfer living in Hawaii, great footage and really sets the feel for living on the North Shore! It’s great to have a film with a strong lead surfer girl character too – and I hear a TV version of this movie is in the works! The follow up Blue Crush 2 is ok, but the originals usually rule which is still true here!
Based on a true story, it’s about a surfer and his quest for travel and discovering his own perfect wave and eventually regaining his faith. I have my own story I need to tell about this surf film. I discovered this movie one night when I was searching for any kind of surf movie with a story that wasn’t just surf porn and think I found it on Amazon! It’s funny as I had no idea who the main character, played by Scott Eastwood, was when I watched the movie.
A few months later, I found out he was homies with one of my favorite bands, Iration, and we have several mutual acquaintances. After hearing this I did some Googling about him and read how he’s a firm believer in good story telling, which is exactly what I was looking for when I watched that movie.
Later on I actually met him backstage at an Iration show. I so wanted to show him my da Surf Engine app, as it’s about finding your own Perfect Waves, ya know, since he was in a movie called The Perfect Wave, but ya know, it still wasn’t finished at that point. Funny thing is how big this earth is but it still is small world after all!
Based on the true story of the shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton, inspirational indeed!
Based on the true story of teen surfer Jay Moriarity (and his mentor Frosty Hessonho) who dared to take on the Mavericks waves at a young age!
Not a surf film per se, but it does an amazing job of showcasing why surfing can mean so much to some of us devoted surfers, it can be a sport, a lifestyle, and a definite escape. It also does a really good job of accurately depicting the well-known harsh localism around the surf break of Palos Verdes and the locals that think they own the place!
Cute little cartoon movie about a penguin surfer.
SURFING REALITY SHOWS
This is the best surfing “reality” show I think I’ve seen. Granted it was quite a few years back when I was just visiting San Diego and dreaming of moving here when I first saw a few of the episodes while visiting a friend that lives here, but I think it does a great job of showcasing the life of a competitive surfer on the North Shore in the winter competition time. It’s kind of like the real life version of Blue Crush for me! You can catch a few of the episodes on this YouTube channel, however I wish they would upload the rest of the episodes somewhere – it’s a classic for me!
This isn’t a “reality” show but it is filmed to appear like one and is more of a teen drama, but it does weave surfing in throughout it and it’s the cheesy type of guilty pleasure when you’re in the mood, so had to list it here!
OTHER SURF MOVIE RESOURCES
If you’ve watched all the above and still can’t get enough surf movies/TV, The Surf Network is a great place to go for over 700+ other Surf Movies/TV shows to check out. This is a great place where you can hone in on exactly the surf content you want to watch vs. endless YouTube searches. They’ve organized it by the following
- Strictly Surf Action/Music (aka surf porn)
- Popular Surfing Documentaries
- By Genre (Arts & Culture, Big Wave, Boat Trip, Body Boarding, Body Surfing, Classics, Competitive, Documentaries, Environment, Event Coverage, Fitness, Instructional, Longboarding, Music, Repair, Shaping, Shortboarding, Skateboarding, Skimboarding, Standup Paddle, Surf Porn, Surf Punk, Swimsuit, Tow-In, Travel, Wind Surfing, Women’s Surfing, Yoga)
- Raw Conversations with World Champions – Talk Story!
- Popular Episodes
- By Genre (Big Wave, Classics, Competitive, Documentaries, Environment, Event Coverage, Longboarding, Shortboarding, Travel, Women’s Surfing)
You can either rent or buy a show/movie or try their premium subscription for $9.99/mo for unlimited viewing of all their content (which they keep adding to as well). Here on Amazon is a link to a free 7 day trial.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in