Surfing is such a chill sport that it makes a perfect topic for a documentary. There is nothing better than sitting back and enjoying a good documentary about surfing, and luckily there are loads of great options out there. We've rounded up what we think are the best surfing documentaries to watch, let's get into it:
This is a film that celebrates the surfing abilities of professional surfer Stephanie Gilmore, but that also has some dark moments. It shows how Stephanie went from winning a world title at the young age of 17, to experiencing a tragedy that stopped her in her tracks. But luckily, it also shows how Stephanie managed to move past that tragedy. It's an inspiring and touching documentary, we highly recommend it.
This is another documentary that doesn't necessarily have surfing right at the heart of it, but does reflect the unique community attached to the sport. Basically, a group of surfers from Southern California decide to create their own church called 'the Brotherhood of Eternal Love', and start supplying psychedelic drugs. Yes, it is as crazy as it sounds.
This is a documentary about Frank James Solomon, one of the best pro surfers in the world and a real enigmatic character. The documentary has a unique and quirky style and is really fun to watch.
This is a seriously interesting and somewhat controversial surfing documentary, which is why we've left it until last. It shows a side of the surfing community that you don't often see. The language is strong and there is some violence so be ready for a rollercoaster!
This is a documentary from Stacy Peralta that pays tribute to the brave and crazy surfers who ride the world's biggest waves. The documentary includes interviews with some surfing superstars and is essentially a breakdown of surf culture since the 50s. If you're looking for the ultimate surfing documentary, this is a great film to check out.
Andy Irons won the surfing world championship 3 times but also suffered from bipolar disorder and opioid addiction. This documentary is a look into his incredible life - it shows how he managed to balance these 2 worlds, and where they cross over. It's quite amazing that someone so talented could have so many demons, and although he passed away in 2010 his legacy lives on.
This documentary follows a small group of charismatic surfers who seek out crazy challenges, but who also live in a world fueled by drug smuggling and risk. It's a really interesting documentary that almost has a cult, underground status among many. Some regard it as one of the best surf documentaries ever made, we'd definitely agree.
This surfing documentary is well-known for being the first surfing documentary to be shot in 4k, giving some incredible visuals and memorable footage. The documentary follows John Florence, who is often described as the world's most dynamic surfer. There isn't much depth to this documentary in terms of story, as it is essentially just footage of John and his friends surfing awesome waves. But sometimes, that is all you want to watch. You can stream this documentary via Kanopy at the moment
Laird Hamilton is probably one of the first names you think of when you think of surfing, so it is probably no surprise to see that we've included a documentary about him in this list. This documentary is about his life and career, and not only includes lots of fantastic surfing footage but also some touching behind-the-scenes footage of Laird in his normal life. Even if you're not a fan of surfing, it is hard to deny that this documentary isn't really exciting and thrilling to watch. You can currently stream this documentary via Hulu.
If you're from a colder part of the world and if you find it hard to relate with the beach bodies and big waves featured in most of these surfing documentaries, then The Seawolf is the documentary for you. Filmed in parts of the world that you wouldn't typically associate with surfing (such as Norway, Scotland, and Iceland), this really fun and interesting movie shows a side of surfing that doesn't often get shown. Currently, you can find The Seawolf streaming via Echoboom Sports, a service you can try free via Prime Video.
This documentary is from Jack McCoy, the legendary surf filmmaker behind movies such as Storm Riders. This film delves into the history of surfing, showing what the first surfers used to ride waves and demonstrating how far the sport has come in many ways, and how in other ways the sport has remained much the same for years. If you're interested in learning more about the history of surfing then definitely check this movie out.
Hopefully, you enjoyed that list,
If you're looking for more movies related to the sea, check out our list of the best movies about dolphins.