Surf Movies To Give a Watch

By Cameron Christian

When I think about the best surf movies that I have ever seen, I think about chasing mavericks, soul surfer, surfs up, and the endless summer. 

For me chasing mavericks was every bit a thriller. I was looking around in the movie theater thinking, why aren’t these other people as scared as I am right now. I decided no one was as scared as me because they don’t know what big waves are like. They couldn’t relate at the same level as I could. I am a surfer who enjoys pushing myself into bigger waves. So when I watched the hollywood portrayal of Jay Moriarty paddling in on big sets at Mavs my palms were sweating.

The same sort of feeling came over me watching Soul Surfer, the movie about Bethany Hamilton and her life in surfing this far. It’s no spoiler to say Bethany loses her arm to a shark attack in the film. This was eery to watch portrayed on the big screen but it was more of a one and done, whereas the more relatable yet still distant big wave surfing from Chasing Mavericks shook me.

Bethany’s drive to surf well is incredibly inspiring. It really impresses me how she surfs so well with one arm. The film was fun to watch and it made the short list of surf related movies that do a good job portraying surfing and the surf lifestyle. Most surf related movies and shows are very cringe for regular surfers to watch, these movies ooze inaccuracies and portray a fugazi surf scene conjured to please those who have never ridden a wave. There is another movie title Unstoppable that may be more accurate.


Surf’s Up, a 2007 animated film is perhaps the best recreation of the essence surf life and the competitive side of surfing. Undoubtedly, the reason why this film portrayed surfing well was because the cast was full of world class surfers. Rob Machado, Kelly Slater, and Selema Masekela were all part of this masterpiece, giving it the surfers stamp of approval. 

It was also refreshing to have the movie be entirely animated because oftentimes in surf movies the actual surfing of waves is somehow falsified or augmented. Yes, much of the surfing you have seen in hollywood movies is completely fake and edited. For anyone who knows what surfing looks like, this fake surfing is always hard to watch. In Surf’s Up, all the surfing was animated, it was wicked and fun to watch. A must see for any surfer.


Lastly we have the classic surf film, The Endless Summer, a 1966 documentary style surf film by Bruce Brown. In the film Michael Hynson and Robert August are shown surfing the, “Endless Summer” which they create themselves by chasing the summer sun around the globe, travelling and discovering new surf spots all in search of the perfect wave. By all means this film is an incredible showcase of surfing and surf travel in the sport’s adolescence.

While this film is an absolute classic, some aspects of the film are a bit rough, especially in todays day and age. I enjoyed Roger Egberts take on Brown’s narration, claiming, “His attitude toward the nations he travels through is essentially that of a wide-eyed fraternity boy.” and as a well traveled individual who also spent a few years associated with a fraternity, I can claim this is very accurate. While the surfing captivated me, the lack of any other details was a big off putting. The film is still a must watch. I had the chance to meet one of the stars Robert August down in Costa Rica, interesting dude. 

The logical progression from surf movies, if you surf, is surf edits. Look out for the blog about my favorite surf edits soon!