Welcome to the list of the best surf movies of all time.
Surf movies are a sub-genre of sports and travel films. With well over 1,000 surf flicks since the 1950s, surf movies followed portrayed a common theme of exploring the world for new surf spots, riding the best waves, experiencing new cultures, and immersing oneself in the surfing lifestyle. These surf movies tap into our wonder and imagination.
All of the surf movies in this list of all time have a few things in common: the sense of freedom, blue and dreamy waves, surf trips, and endless moments of fun. In other words, surfers enjoy watching what pleases them aesthetically.
Everyday new surf movies are being made.
You can find a huge assortment and variety of surf movies on places like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. We've watched most of them and are sharing with you the best surf movies we've seen this year.
Making surf movies is no easy task. Surf photography and surf filmmaking is an art and sport entirely in it's own realm. Just thinking about what went into each shot as you watch a surf movie will make you appreciate the effort and skills of those creatives.
From cinematic shots to fun stories, we're sure you'll enjoy these surf movies.
Stab in the Dark
Stab in the Dark project Dane Reynolds, Jordy Smith, and Mick Fanning—premiering in one month’s time, we thought it made sense to release, once and for all, Mick Fanning’s 2018 epoxy surfboard examination to the world.
One of the only surf movies where you can watch the 3x Champ as he dissects a seemingly anonymous, eco-minded quiver in cyclonic Japanese surf, then selects his three favorites, eliminates one due to perceived biases, and chooses between the final two in quintessential east coast Australian surf.
Join the Dance
All the surf movies by Sterling Spencer makes is a must see.
Surfing demands self-involvement, far beyond the ego games man plays with himself with commercial images . It has awakened to the relationship of man to nature. The cognizance of unity with all things exists for those who strive to reach a deeper understanding of themselves in their place and time. Only through individual expression can it be done, and that us what makes surfing such a dynamic, experience.
The Endless Summer
In The Endless Summer, Documentary filmmaker Bruce Brown, himself a competition-level surfer, follows surfers Michael Hynson and Robert August on an around-the-world surfing adventure. With Brown's wry, sardonic narration and a twangy, guitar-driven instrumental soundtrack by The Sandals playing over the silent footage, Mike and Rob leave their California home to visit Hawaii, Australia, South Africa and other secluded surfing spots in a search for the surfer's holy grail that Brown dubs “The Perfect Wave.”
The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun
The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun is a film by George Greenough. Experience remote Australia and hidden California, as ridden by Bob McTavish, Ted Spencer, David “Baddy” Treloar, Chris Brock, Gary Keys, Russell Hughes and a brigade of the underground's best.
Morning of the Earth
Morning of the Earth is a 1971 classic surf film by Alby Falzon and David Elfick. The film's soundtrack was produced by G. Wayne Thomas and included music and songs by noted Australian music acts Tamam Shud, John J. Francis, Brian Cadd, Mike Rudd and G. Wayne Thomas.
Albert Falzon’s masterpiece, Morning of the Earth, is internationally renowned as being one of the greatest surf films of all time. The film’s audio visual tour de force redefined the cinematic experience and became an instant benchmark of avant-garde cinema.
A fantasy of surfers living in three unspoiled lands and playing in nature’s oceans, Morning of the Earth tells the story of a group of friends exploring the measures of all things beautiful as they live the simple life throughout Australia, Bali and Hawaii; shaping their own surfboards, building their own homes and living off the land in harmony with nature. With an original rock soundtrack, and spectacular surfing sequences featuring some of the world’s best, Morning of the Earth is a must-see and pre-requisite for any surfer and cinephile alike.
Five Summer Stories
A cult classic starring David Nuuhiwa, Eddie Aikau, Gerry Lopez, and Sam Hawk. The high-end production results in a colorful, action-packed surf flick. The soundtrack includes The Beach Boys and Honk. Directed by Jim Freeman and Greg MacGillivray.
The Forgotten Island of Santosha
It's a surf movie about the discovery of Tamarind Bay in Maritius. Same plot as every surf movie. Young guys search for the perfect wave in tropical paradise & find it.
A visual tribute to surfing, with the final segment filmed from the front of a surfboard, to the accompaniment of a Pink Floyd soundtrack.
Three California beach buddies begin to realize there is more to life than waxing down their surfboards as they ditch their alcoholic and unruly ways to go fight in the Vietnam War.
Beyond Blazing Boards
The original classic cinema surf flick, featuring Hawaii, Australia, California, Mexico and Exotic Isles. Captures the very essence of what riding waves is all about.
After learning how to surf by using the local wave tanks, Arizona resident Rick (Matt Adler) uses his winnings from a recent contest to fly to Hawaii and try to make a living for himself as a professional wave rider. He gets off to a rough start, as he finds riding the ocean a lot different than the simulated waves back home, but he soon finds a mentor in the aging surf guru Chandler (Gregory Harrison) and a friend in local girl Kiani (Nia Peeples).
One of the only surf movies based on a surf books.
After a string of bizarre bank robberies in Southern California, with the crooks donning masks of various former presidents, a federal agent, Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves), infiltrates the suspected gang. But this is no ordinary group of robbers. They're surfers — led by the charismatic Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) — who are addicted to the rush of thievery. But when Utah falls in love with a female surfer, Tyler (Lori Petty), who is close to the gang, it complicates his sense of duty.
The Green Iguana
By far one of the most creative surf movies ever made. The Green Iguana takes you on a spin around the islands with Occy, Peter King, Sunny Garcia, Munga Barry and Luke Egan.
The Endless Summer II
In this sequel to the seminal surfing movie, documentarian Bruce Brown again explores choice international surf destinations, this time visiting locations such as Alaska, Indonesia, Fiji, France and South Africa. Accompanying Brown are renowned pro surfers Robert “Wingnut” Weaver, an experienced longboarder, and Patrick O'Connell, who excels at shortboarding. In addition to these two styles of surfing, windsurfing and bodyboarding are also showcased.
Occy: The Occumentary
The life and times of Mark Occhilupo. This DVD is a celebration of a great surfer's life. Following Occy from Cronulla grommet to his amazing comeback, this is the “Surfer Magazine Video of the Year”.
Shot entirely in 16mm, the movie is a masterpiece about longboard waves.
The combination of excellent surfing footage shot on 16mm film, expertly edited with just the right amount of artistic flare that is pleasing and does not get in the way of the surfing. The soundtrack is soothing yet at the same time has an underlying drive that perfectly compliments the classic longboard style of surfing being displayed. A nice change from the heavy distortion and thrash that has accompanied so many surf videos over the years.
What I like best about this film is that the waves in it are very accessible and often similar to what the average surfer will encounter at his home break on any given day. You can take ideas from this film and go try them out at your local break. For that reason it is much more inspiring to me than watching Laird Hamilton at Jaws or Slater surfing some remote South Pacific reef pass.
If you are a longboarder and you don't have this one yet, buy it!
Thicker Than Water
Thicker Than Water is a 2000 documentary surf film directed by singer/songwriter Jack Johnson and his film school friend Chris Malloy. It shows surfing footage from different locations like Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, India, and Ireland in combination with a wide range of styles of guitar music. Surfers in the film include Kelly Slater and Shane Dorian.
Momentum: Under The Influence
Momentum Under the Influence is a surf movie distributed by Steelhouse Distribution and produced by Poor Specimen. It features all the best surfers in the world under 23 that surf places like Mentawai Islands, Australia, South Africa, France, Timor Island, Indonesia, Mexico, Hawaii and California.
The September Sessions
The September Sessions: The Tomorrowland Story Brought To Life In Brilliant 16mm Film is a 2002 documentary surf film directed by singer/songwriter Jack Johnson. Often called September Sessions, it is the second of The Moonshine Conspiracy film series. It was filmed in 16 mm.
Some of the biggest names in surfing, including Shawn Barron, Ken Bradshaw and Mike Parsons, are on the hunt for the biggest waves in the world. In their quest, they leave the coastline behind and travel to the heart of the ocean, where waves up to 100 feet in height have been recorded. Riding these gigantic waves can be fatal, but for these surfers the risk is worth it. Not only do they earn bragging rights if they can find and ride a 100-foot wave, but they'll also earn a $500,000 cash prize.
Singlefin Yellow tells the story of one surfboard's life as it travels the globe shared by a group of friends. This is a story about not only exotic travel and the adventure of riding waves, but also a reminder to all that happiness in life can be found in something as simple as sharing with your friends.
Step Into Liquid
Step into Liquid is a documentary about surfing directed by Dana Brown, son of famed surfer and filmmaker Bruce Brown. The film includes surfing footage from the famous Pipeline, the beaches of Vietnam, and some of the world's largest waves, at Cortes Bank. The film was Dana Brown's first solo project
The world's most renowned surfing cinematographer, Jack McCoy, spends two years following two of the world's greatest surfers: Andy Irons, a highly competetive and driven surfer, set on beating Kelly Slater and winning the world title, and Dave “Rasta” Rastovich, a free surfer who is more about the soul of surfing. The result: Blue Horizon, a documentary made to bring surf movies back to the big screen, where “they truly belong”
Riding Giants is a 2004 documentary film that traces the origins of surfing and specifically focuses on the art of big wave riding. Some of the featured surfers are Greg Noll, Laird Hamilton, and Jeff Clark, and surfing pioneers such as Mickey Munoz.
The film begins with a historical overview, starting at its Hawaiian beginnings, then moves on to focus on the dangerous lure of big-wave surfing (surfing waves that can reach up to 70 feet (21 meters)). The documentary chronicles the evolution of riding at Hawaii's Waimea Bay in the 1950s, the revolution of lighter boards, and tow-in surfing to allow for “riding giants“. Three surfers who are part of this multi-generational evolution are spotlighted: Greg Noll is shown as a fearless big wave rider during the 1950s and 1960s; Jeff Clark who discovered Mavericks in Northern California and surfed there alone for years; and Laird Hamilton, the contemporary surfer who brings tow-in riding to the limelight.
The Bra Boys are a gang centred on surf culture, founded and based in Maroubra, an eastern suburb of Sydney, New South Wales in the 1990s. The gang has gained notoriety through violence and alleged links to organised crime, as well as some community activism.
Castles in The Sky
Filmed in five countries over three years, the documentary delves into the heart of the locations while the surfers travel through them with a sense of open-minded awe. With never-before seen waves and some of the best surfers in the world contributing their art, passion and athleticism, this is as close to the experience of pioneering new coastlines as you can get without getting on a plane.
A Deeper Shade of Blue
Filmmaker Jack McCoy delves into surfing's deepest roots through ancient lore and the craft of surfboard building.
View From A Blue Moon
The first surf film shot entirely in 4K, View From a Blue Moon follows the world's most dynamic surfer John Florence and his closest friends from his home on the North Shore of Oahu to his favorite surfing destinations around the globe.