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Top 10 Surfing Movies

top 10 surfing movies

Table of Contents


  1. The Endless Summer
  2. Riding Giants
  3. Surfwise
  4. North of The Sun
  5. Five Summer Stories
  6. Soul Surfer
  7. Step Into Liquid
  8. Morning of The Earth
  9. North Shore
  10. The September Sessions

1. The Endless Summer

Warning: (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

The Endless Summer movie was released in 1966 and embodies what surfing is all about. Filmmaker Bruce Brown follows around two surfers named Mike Hynson and Robert August who embark on a surfing journey around the world. The group travels to the coasts of New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, Sengal, Ghana, Nigeria, Australia and South Africa. During this journey the men are looking to introduce surfing to those who do not know much or anything about the sport and to find new surf spots. This movie leaves the idea that with enough money and time to travel, summer could be endless to those who follow it around the world. The happiness that appears in this movie from the men feels liberating to viewers. Summer embodies joy and a sense of freedom to most, and with the combination of surfing this movie leaves an enlightened feeling within those watching.

2. Riding Giants

Warning: (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

Riding Giants is a 2004 documentary directed and narrated by Stacy Peralta, a known surfer, and produced by Agi Orsi. The documentary focuses on the origins of surfing and the trend and start of big wave surfing. Featured famous surfers within the movie are Greg Noll, Laird Hamilton, Jeff Clark, and Mickey Munoz. The scene is set in Hawaii where surfing was born and focused on the dangers that surfers deal with whenever dealing with a big wave or big wave surfing. Big wave surfing is classified by a wave that can reach up to 70 feet. This movie provides more than enough background information about surfing. Viewers love how in depth the origin of surfing is discussed and how it has developed over the decades. This film also does a great job of making viewers feel that they are actually surfing along with the camera crew and other surfers involved in the film. Riding Giants also does a great job of going in depth with specific things surfers featured in the film had discovered and brought into the world of surfing.

3. Surfwise

Warning: (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

Surfwise is another documentary that was shot in 2007 that tells the stories of Doc Paskowitz who was a Stanford University graduate who raised his nine children with his wife while surfing around the continent. Although Paskowitz parenting methods are questionable, viewers tend to love the way surfing is portrayed in this movie and how passionate he and his whole family are about the sport. Also viewers find it very interesting that the family has more unconventional measures of success than the typical family would. For example riding a big wave or perfectly performing a surf trick is praised more than getting a great grade on a test. The documentary also shows how surfing can unite such a large family together which is difficult to do because in typical family fashion everyone is living in their very own world.

4. North of The Sun

Warning: (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

North of The Sun or Nordfor Sola, is a 2012 documentary created by two Norwegian friends and surfers who spend 9 months in the search for perfect yet freezing waves. The two men went over 9 months without the sun on an isolated beach north of the Arctic Circle, and the men also collect trash on the shore after every wave they ride. In total the friends collected over 30 tons of trash while living their dreams of surfing for the perfect waves. The Noweigan pals also end up building a house to live in from the 30 tons of trash that they collected over the years in order to survive while surfing in the Arctic. The love that these men have for the ocean and surfing runs deep and it is extremely obvious to viewers through this documentary. The documentary feels like you are watching a home video a viewer could have created on their own with their friends, which is why it is so alluring to those who are fans of surfing and not.

5. Five Summer Stories

Warning: (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

Five Summer Stories is a legendary surfing documentary that was created in 1972 and is known for featuring some of the best surfers of the 70s. The filmmakers Jim Freeman and Greg Macgillivray have made some of the best surfing films in the world. The amount of waves featured in this movie are insane and huge, and the surfers featured are able to handle them so easily they make it look like anyone could do it. The surfers featured in this movie are David Nuuhiwa, Eddie Aikau, Gerry Lopez, and Sam Hawk. The soundtrack in this movie is also known for being extremely iconic. The VHS of this film did not come out until 1994 but was eventually released as a DVD because of its popularity with viewers. Fans of this film appreciate the in-depth look at surfing they get while watching this movie and the raw emotions some of the best surfers show during it.

6. Soul Surfer

Warning: (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

Soul Surfer is a gut wrenching and overall emotional biographical film about the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a teenage surfer who lost her arm in a tragic shark attack. In 2003, Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a shark but never let it stop her from chasing her dreams.This film shows her amazing recovery and tells the inspirational story of how nothing should stop you from doing what you love. Bethanny was an amazing surfer before the attack, but what she does with her life and her passion of surfing afterwards is what makes her truly incredible. AnnaSophia Robb's portrayal of Bethany is amazing and helps viewers have an inside look into what her life was like during and after the tragic attack. The passion for surfing that viewers witness while watching this movie is not only inspiring but exciting for those who love the sport.

7. Step Into Liquid

Warning: (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

Step Into Liquid was legendary director Dana Brown's first solo project, and viewers expected nothing less than greatness from the son of famed filmmaker and surfer Bruce Brown. Step Into Liquid has the same amazing feeling that The Endless Summer gave to viewers, along with the feeling of euphoria and joy. However, because this movie came out in 2003 the camera angles, quality, and ability immensely changed the overall quality of this film making it that much better. The bar was set extremely high for Brown because of his father's standing in the film and surfing world, but Brown manages to pull it off. Viewers love Step Into Liquid because of the incredible footage it captured of some of the world's largest waves in the world along with footage of the world famous Pipeline that is loved by many surfers.

8. Morning of The Earth

Warning: (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

The best way to describe Morning of the Earth is that it is a raw film about surfing back in the 70s. This film encapsulates the lives of generally homeless and nature living surfers who lived the "back-to-nature" lifestyle which was extremely romanticized and praised by Albert Falzon in his first film. Morning of the Earth has a certain aura around it that makes people who have never surfed before want to quit their day jobs and leave everything behind and just start surfing. The main thing about this film that resonates with viewers is the spiritual aspect of the movie that makes fans of surfing feel connected with nature. This film also shows the extremely organic aspect of surfing such as making their own boards and homes as they fight to find "the perfect wave." However the movie makes note that the perfect wave may never be achievable because true surfers are always searching for more within their lives and their passion for surfing will always be changing and growing.

9. North Shore

Warning: (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

The North Shore is a 1987 film about Arizona wave surfer Rick Kane who pushes his luck as a professional surfer on the North Shore in Hawaii. During this movie Kane angers the professional surfers who have already established themselves in the surfing world. Eventually Kane finds his way and the "true" meaning of surfing along with the more spiritual aspect that some surfers find during their time out in the ocean. Viewers love this movie because what some of the tropes within the movie reign true about the North Shore surfers along with the humor that is integrated into the movie. This film is lighthearted but also has the ability to inspire viewers alike because of the passion behind the main character Rick Kane. The message behind the film is that even though you may not be the best and people will try to bring you down, you should not let that deter you from your passion in life no matter what that is.

10. The September Sessions

Warning: (Possible Spoilers Ahead)

The September Sessions is a 2002 surfing documentary which features some of the world's top surfing athletes including Rob Machado and Shane Dorian who surf incredible waves along the coast of Indonesia. This documentary provides amazing visuals for viewers at home along with the inspiring story of Kelly Slater going through his retirement from the ASP circuit. The film was shot by Jack Johnson who made the decision to shoot on a 16mm and made the score relaxing and personal which perfectly encapsulates the background music to the world of surfing. The surfers in this film try and go back to what they once loved about surfing, meaning the more spiritual side of it, before they started competing and became professionals. Kelly describes himself as feeling reborn during the film and the rebirth is obvious to viewers watching. Fans of surfing appreciate the raw and authentic feeling this documentary produces.



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