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Catch A Wave With The Best Documentaries About Surfing

The greatest surfing documentaries can be enjoyed by people who avoid water just as much as those who can't wait to catch their next wave. That's because they're about more than surfing. The top examples are psychological portraits of surfers and the mindset that makes them become obsessed with the sport despite its inherent risks. You can get absorbed in a good surfing documentary on that level alone. Throw in some amazing cinematography and you're completely hooked on these surf documentary movies. From Australia to California, these surfing documentaries are filmed all over the world.

Some the best documentaries about surfing include Endless Summer, Riding Giants, and Momentum Generation. You also find some Jack McCoy and Bruce Brown films on this list as well. Use the list below to see if your favorites have made it near the top of the list or use it to find the next surf doc you're going to watch.

Vote up the best surfing docs below. If you have a favorite that's not included, add it to the list of surf documentaries and then check back to see how other users are ranking it, then be sure to check out the best surf movies.

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  • 1

    Momentum Generation

    Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist
    30
    3

    ActorsKelly Slater, Shane Dorian, Kalani Robb

    Released2018

    Momentum Generation is a 2018 American surfing documentary film directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist. A group of teenagers in Hawaii, including Kelly Slater, Shane Dorian and Kalani Robb, enter the  ...more
  • 2

    The Endless Summer

    Bruce Brown
    16
    2

    ActorsBruce Brown, Miki Dora, Robert August, Michael Hynson, Wayne Miyata

    Released1966

    Runtime92

    PremieredJune 15, 1966

    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  ...more
  • 3

    Step into Liquid

    Dana Brown
    10
    1

    ActorsLaird Hamilton, Layne Beachley, Dan Malloy

    Released2003

    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  ...more
  • 4

    Riding Giants

    Stacy Peralta
    10
    2

    ActorsGreg Noll, Laird Hamilton, Jeff Clark

    Released2004

    Riding Giants is a 2004 documentary film directed and narrated by Stacy Peralta, a famous skater/surfer. The movie traces the origins of surfing and specifically focuses on the art of big wave  ...more
  • 5
    Brent Storm added

    White Rhino

    Brent Storm
    4
    0

    ActorsBruce Irons, Nathan Fletcher, Mark Healey, Kalani Chapman, Dave Wassel

    ReleasedAugust 2019

    White Rhino is a 2019 American sports documentary film directed by Brent Storm. A professional surf photographer chases down the largest surf ever seen in hopes of capturing a once in a lifetime  ...more
  • 6

    Bustin' Down the Door

    Jeremy Gosch
    4
    1

    ActorsEdward Norton, Kelly Slater, Shaun Tomson, Ian Cairns

    Released2008

    Bustin' Down The Door is a 2008 documentary film chronicling the rise of professional surfing in the early 1970s. The film follows a group of young surfers from Australia and South Africa, including  ...more
  • 7

    One California Day

    Jason Baffa, Mark Jeremias
    5
    3

    ActorsJeff Johnson, Keith Malloy, Greg Noll, Skip Frye, Tom Curren

    Released2008

    One California Day is a 2007 documentary film about surfing shot in six coastal regions in California. Directed by Mark Jeremias and Jason Baffa, the film looks at the experience of California  ...more
  • 8

    The Endless Summer II

    Bruce Brown
    4
    2

    ActorsRobert August, T.J. Barron, Jeff Booth, Bruce Brown, Todd Chesser

    Released1994

    Runtime107

    AdvisoriesAdult Language, Brief Nudity

    PremieredJune 3, 1994

    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  ...more
  • 9

    Under An Arctic Sky

    Chris Burkard
    6
    4

    ActorsChris Burkard, Sam Hammer, Steve Hawk

    Released2017

    Under an Arctic Sky is a 2017 American sports documentary film directed by Chris Burkard. Six surfers set sail along the frozen shores of Iceland as the worst storm in twenty-five years is about to  ...more
  • 10

    Gaza Surf Club

    Philip Gnadt, Mickey Yamine
    4
    3

    ActorsIbrahim N. Arafat, Mohammed Abu Jayab, Sabah Abu Ghanem

    Released2016

    Gaza Surf Club is a 2016 German sports documentary film directed by Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine. In a country locked between Egypt and Israel, Gaza's youth are drawn to their beaches seeking  ...more
  • 11

    Surfwise

    Doug Pray
    4
    3

    Released2007

    Surfwise is a 2007 American documentary film about the 11-member Doc Paskowitz family, which was directed by Doug Pray. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on 11 September 2007 and had  ...more
  • 12

    Bra Boys

    Macario De Souza, Sunny Abberton
    4
    3

    ActorsEvan Faulks, Richie Vaculik, Kelly Slater

    Released2011

    Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe makes his feature directorial debut with this surf drama that follows rough-and-tumble wave riders Sunny, Koby, and Jai Abberton as they spark an underground  ...more
  • 13

    Highwater

    Dana Brown
    2
    1

    ActorsMonique Marrier

    Released2009

    Highwater is a 2008 documentary film centered on surfing's Triple Crown competitions, the professional surfing tour's final three competitions held each year on the North Shore of Oahu. The film is  ...more
  • 14

    Morning of the Earth

    David Elfick, Alby Falzon
    3
    3

    ActorsMichael Peterson, Stephen Cooney, Nat Young

    Released1972

    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  ...more
  • 15

    Surf Crazy

    Bruce Brown
    3
    3

    ActorsBruce Brown, Donald Takayama

    Released1959

    Surf Crazy was the second surf movie by Bruce Brown. Filmed in 1959, it follows surfers to Mexico, Hawaii and California. Among the locations filmed was Velzyland in Hawaii, named for Brown's  ...more
  • 16

    Liquid Time

    Monty Webber
    1
    1

    ActorsMonty Webber, Greg Webber

    Released2002

    Liquid Time is a 2002 avant-garde surf film that focuses solely on the fluid forms of tubing waves. Brothers Monty Webber and Greg Webber revived a childhood passion for perfectly formed tiny waves  ...more
  • 17

    The Living Curl

    Jamie Budge
    1
    1

    ActorsJamie Budge, Corky Carroll, Lance Carson

    Released1965

    Surfing In California in the early '60's.  ...more
  • 18

    Out of Place

    Darrin McDonald, Scott Ditzenberger
    1
    1

    ActorsVince Labbe, Eric Becker, Neal Luoma

    Released2009

    Out of Place is a surfing documentary directed by Scott Ditzenberger and Darrin McDonald that follows the lives of several lake surfers in Cleveland, Ohio. While Lake Erie does not offer the quality  ...more
  • 19

    Uncharted Waters

    Craig Griffin
    1
    1

    ActorsWayne Lynch

    Released2013

    Uncharted Waters is a 2013 biographical sport document written and directed by Craig Griffin .
  • 20

    Resurface

    Joshua Izenberg, Wynn Padula
    1
    1

    ActorsBobby Lane, Van Curaza, Martin Pollock

    Released2017

    Resurface is a 2017 documentary film directed by Joshua Izenberg and Wynn Padula. After years of nightmares, depression, and seizures, Iraq war veteran Bobby Lane meets big wave surfer Van Curaza,  ...more
  • 21

    Bunker77

    Takuji Masuda
    1
    1

    ActorsBunker Spreckels, Johnny Knoxville, Laird Hamilton

    Released2016

    Bunker77 is a 2016 American biographical documentary film directed by Takuji Masuda. A chronicle of the wild and brief life of the 1970s' most controversial surf star and international playboy from  ...more
  • 22

    Scratching the Surface

    Matt Beauchesne
    1
    1

    ActorsJulian Wilson, Dusty Payne, Mick Fanning

    Released2010

    Scratching the Surface is a 2010 American surfing documentary film directed by Matt Beauchesne. The adventures of budding surf star Julian Wilson, along with friends and fellow professionals Dane  ...more
  • 23

    Modern Collective

    Kai Neville
    1
    1

    ActorsDion Agius, Mitch Coleborn, Dusty Payne

    Released2009

    Modern Collective is a 2009 American sports documentary film directed by Kai Neville. A collective of six surfers set out on a voyage to alter one's perception of modern day surfing.  ...more
  • 24

    View from a Blue Moon

    Blake Kueny
    1
    1

    ActorsGreyson Fletcher, Alex Florence, John Florence

    Released2015

    View from a Blue Moon is a 2015 American sports documentary film directed by Blake Kueny. The world's most dynamic surfer John Florence and his closest friends travel from his home on the North Shore  ...more
  • 25

    Andy Irons: Kissed by God

    Steve Jones, Todd Jones
    1
    1

    ActorsAndy Irons, Lyndie Irons, Kelly Slater

    Released2018

    Andy Irons: Kiss by God is a 2018 American sports documentary directed by Steve and Todd Jones. Bipolar disorder and addiction as seen through the life of three-time world champion surfer Andy Irons  ...more