If you call yourself a surfer or just love to watch Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton take on giant waves, check out this list of the best, most epic surfing films ever made.
Kate Bosworth stars in this Surf drama, and gained 15 pounds of muscle to play the orphaned Anne-Marie Chadwick, a traumatized big-wave surfer. Anne-Marie struggles to care for her rebellious younger sister, while simultaneously battling flashbacks of a surfing accident.
When she receives an invite to compete at North Shore’s famous Pipeline competition, she’s suddenly confronted with fears of drowning beneath one of the heaviest waves in the world (apparently surfers cant be afraid of that stuff).
But everything changes for her when she meets a famous football quarterback, who makes her see she just needs to “be that girl he met on the beach”, and go for the gold.
While the plot is fairly predictable, Blue Crush does offer some dope shots of kooks dropping in on each other, and no one can deny Kate Bosworth makes a pretty amazing surfer babe.
This 2012 Hollywood biopic is based on the life of famous Santa Cruz, California-native surfer, Jay Moriarity.
In 1987, 8-year-old Moriarity is saved from drowning by his surfer-neighbor Frosty Hesson, played by “Phantom of the Opera” actor, Gerard Butler.
He soon becomes interested in the sport, and Frosty becomes his teacher. Moriarity watches Frosty surf at Mavericks beach in Half Moon Bay, California. In reality, waves at Mavericks break between 8-18 metres in height, making the break home to some of the biggest waves in the world.
Before Frosty lets young Moriarity take on Mavericks, he puts him through a series of brutal tasks. For example, Moriarity must paddling 58 kilometres across the ocean from Santa Cruz to Monterey Bay. He also makes him tread water for 40 minutes, and hold his breath for a solid four minutes.
The biopic is a wonderful way to memorialize Jay Moriarity, who the surfing community remember as an incredibly talented surfer. Moriarity died at age 22 while free-diving in the Maldives. So keep his memory alive by grabbing some popcorn and sitting down to enjoy this one.
Andy Irons- Kissed by God
Kissed By God earned a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is an absolute must-see. This documentary is an intimate look at the late Andy Irons life, and the struggles he faced, all while being the poster boy of surf.
With his brother Bruce by his side, the two take the surfing world by storm. They become sponsored at 16 and 17, and Andy Irons was making over $ 120,000 a year by that time. He and Bruce started a journey fueled by passion surfing all around the world.
Without parental supervision and little structure at such young ages, the boys partied often, used drugs, and slowly spiraled out of control. But Andy also battles with bipolar disorder, which often made life harder for him. Yet Irons was still able to become a 3x world champion surfer, beating out one of the best surfers in the world, Kelly Slater.
This film is an emotional and inspirational look into the raw reality of a pro surfer the world will miss dearly.
Take Every Wave
“Take Every Wave” is a 2017 documentary about Laird Hamilton, known for surfing the absolute biggest waves in the world- and looking like a greek god while doing it.
The San Francisco-born son of a surf lady and absent father soon moved with his mother to Honolulu. He eventually met Bill Hamilton on the beach in Pupukea, who quickly became a surf teacher, companion and stand in father. Eventually Bill Hamilton married Laird’s mother. But Laird’s life is revealed as less than perfect- as he experienced violence both at home and at school.
In the 1970’s being a fair skinned, bleach blonde kid was made you an automatic outcast and target for bullies. So Laird turned to the ocean for refuge, and earned respect with his otherworldly surf skills and fearless big-wave charging.
Take Every Wave is a well-made documentary about one of best surfers the world will ever see- pay your respects to surfing god that is Laird and check it out!
While North Shore is a relatively ‘B’ grade film, it’s considered to be a classic with surf fans. The story is centered around Arizona surfer Rick Kane, played by Matt Adler (i t’s okay, we’ve never heard of him either). Rick wins an artificial-wave surf contest, and then flies to Hawaii with his prize money, thinking he’s about to be the next world-champion surfer.
Much to his dismay, he quickly finds out that his Arizona surfing skills don’t quite make the cut on the legendary North Shore. He’s lost on everything from surf technique to Hawaiian surf culture. After some humiliating experiences, He meets both his new surf mentor, Chandler, and the most beautiful babe on the island.
Apparently she is considered to be some kind of property however, and the locals don’t feel great about him stealing their prized local lady away.
What’s cool about this film is that is features real-life legendary surfers like Gerry Lopez, and Laird Hamilton, who plays the film’s antagonist, Lance Burkhart.
The film is slightly cheesy, but it’s a heart-warming, definite must-watch tale for anyone that calls themself a surfer.
No jokes to be made here- this 1966 documentary about surfing is the ultimate classic surf film – not to mention the iconic Endless Summer artwork inspiration for bedroom wall posters worldwide.
Filmmaker Bruce Brown introduces viewers to what it’s like to be a surf bum traveling the planet in search of perfect waves. Winter water temperatures in California are downright frigid. The film follows California-native surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August as they depart America for warmer conditions.
The two cross the Pacific Ocean to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, finding all the best surf spots along the way.
Endless Summer is the film that has inspired surfers everywhere to opt-out of day jobs, and into a life built around traveling to surf. Much to the disappointment of traditional parents everywhere, of course.
This early 90’s film stars Keanu Reeves in his breakthrough role as Johnny Utah, and Patrick Swayze as surfer Bodhi. As an FBI newbie, Reeves needs to learn how to surf in order to stake out a group of robbers that have been tearing up the banks in Los Angeles.
Keanu Reeves enlists the help of that annoying girl from Free Willy and pretty soon he’s surfing some radical waves (unrealistically bigger than would be appropriate for his skill level to be frank). Next thing you know, the king of the beach, Bodhi invites him to hang out with the other cool surfer kids for no apparent reason.
Eventually, Utah discovers these hooligans are the robbers he has been looking for all along, and things spiral out of control from there. Breakups ensue, shots are fired, and people flee the country.
Point Break is considered a classic, although most 90’s movies are pretty cringeworthy, and this is no exception. However, it’s one to put on the list of having had seen. Point Break does indeed have some epic surf shots, and frankly inspired an entire generation to take up surfing, so it’s worth a look.
Bethany Hamilton- Unstoppable
Unlike Soul Surfer, the Hollywood biopic about Bethany Hamilton, Unstoppable is a documentary which offers a much more intimate look at the surfer’s life. The now-famous Bethany Hamilton lost her arm when she was 13 to a 15-foot Tiger shark attack while surfing off the coast of Kauai.
The film follows Bethany’s life- from her beginnings as the daughter of two surfers. Her main focus was to surf competitively, and become a world champion. After the attack, she had to relearn how to surf, which proved to be only a matter of determination for her.
When the world got word of Bethany Hamilton’s courage, she became a media sensation. From a speaker to an actress, her focus slowly shifted from surfing to media and then to becoming a wife and mother.
But Bethany finds her way back to her first passion- surfing and reclaims her competitive goals for big wave surfing. Unstoppable is a touching, inspiring piece about the life and passions of Bethany Hamilton, and is definitely worth 1 hour 40 minutes of your time!
If Unstoppable was worth your time, The Shallows is probably worth a little less of it. However, it’s still a decent surf film, just don’t except too much. That is, unless you have a thing for Blake Lively, because in that case this is the film for you!
The ‘Gossip Girl’ actress plays Nancy (no last name), a medical student looking for a secret beach in Mexico in memory of her deceased mother. She commits all kinds of no-no’s when she goes surfing ALONE on a deserted beach well into the evening.
She predictably gets attacked by a great white shark which for no logical reason happens to be swimming in the breakwater. She has to fight to survive in her orange bikini with a shark bite wound and no one around to save her.
If nothing else, the movie is about how unattainably gorgeous Blake Lively is. At best, you’ll be inspired to do some sit-ups, and see a few nice surfing shots while you’re at it!