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Catch A Wave With The Best Documentaries About Surfing

Updated October 2, 2019 188 votes 36 voters 1.9k views27 items

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
    22
    2

    Momentum Generation

    Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist

    ActorsJeannie Chesser, Thomas DeLonge, Shane Dorian

    Released2018

    Momentum is a documentary film directed by Zeinabu Irene Davis.
  • 2
    The Endless Summer
    11
    2

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

    Released1966

    The Endless Summer is a seminal 1966 surf movie. Filmmaker/narrator Bruce Brown follows two... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    Riding Giants
    6
    2

    Riding Giants

    Stacy Peralta

    Released2004

    Riding Giants is a 2004 documentary film directed and narrated by Stacy Peralta, a famous... more on Wikipedia
  • 4
    Surfwise
    8
    5

    Surfwise

    Doug Pray

    Released2007

    Surfwise is a 2007 American documentary film about the 11-member Doc Paskowitz family, which... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    The Fantastic Plastic Machine
    1
    5

    The Fantastic Plastic Machine

    Eric Blum, Lowell Blum

    Released1969

    The Fantastic Plastic Machine is a 1969 documentary film following a group of California... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    Morning of the Earth
    5
    5

    Morning of the Earth

    David Elfick, Alby Falzon

    Released1972

    Morning of the Earth is a 1971 classic surf film by Alby Falzon and David Elfick. The film's... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    Step into Liquid
    5
    0

    Released2003

    Step into Liquid is a documentary about surfing directed by Dana Brown, son of famed surfer... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    Surf Crazy
    0
    5

    Surf Crazy

    Bruce Brown

    ActorsBruce Brown, Donald Takayama

    Released1959

    Surf Crazy was the second surf movie by Bruce Brown. Filmed in 1959, it follows surfers to... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    The Endless Summer II

    ActorsKelly Slater, Laird Hamilton, Pat O'Connell, Robert Weaver

    Released1994

    The Endless Summer II is a 1994 film directed by Bruce Brown and is a sequel to his 1966 film... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Five Summer Stories
    0
    5

    Five Summer Stories

    Greg MacGillivray

    Released1972

    Five Summer Stories is a 1972 surf film by Jim Freeman and Greg MacGillivray, starring David... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Bustin' Down the Door
    8
    0

    Bustin' Down the Door

    Jeremy Gosch

    ActorsEdward Norton, Kelly Slater, Shaun Tomson, Ian Cairns

    Released2008

    Bustin' Down The Door is a 2008 documentary film chronicling the rise of professional surfing... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Blue Horizon
    2
    5

    Blue Horizon

    Jack McCoy

    Released2004

    Blue Horizon is a 2004 documentary film directed by Jack Mccoy.
  • 13
    Waveriders
    0
    5

    Waveriders

    Joel Conroy

    ActorsCillian Murphy

    Released2009

    Waveriders is a 2008 documentary film. The film was produced by Margo Harkin and directed by... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    Highwater
    2
    0

    Highwater

    Dana Brown

    ActorsMonique Marrier

    Released2009

    Highwater is a 2008 documentary film centered on surfing's Triple Crown competitions, the... more on Wikipedia
  • 15
    Keep Surfing
    2
    5

    Keep Surfing

    Björn Richie Lob

    ActorsDieter Deventer, Nick Carroll, Markus Knörringer, Gerhard Schlegel, Walter Strasser

    Released2009

    "This kinetic and fast-paced documentary will put you right on the Eisbach in the heart of...
  • 16
    One California Day
    2
    5

    One California Day

    Jason Baffa, Mark Jeremias

    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... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    Crystal Voyager
    0
    5

    Crystal Voyager

    David Elfick

    ActorsNat Young

    Released1973

    Crystal Voyager is a 1973 Australian surf film directed by David Elfick. It was filmed,... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Bra Boys
    2
    1

    Bra Boys

    Macario De Souza, Sunny Abberton

    Released2011

    Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe makes his feature directorial debut with this surf drama... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    God Went Surfing with the Devil
    0
    8

    God Went Surfing with the Devil

    Alexander Kleinn

    Released2010

    God Went Surfing with the Devil is a 2010 surfing documentary directed by Alexander Klein that... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Storm Riders
    Storm Riders is a 1982 film by David Lourie, Jack McCoy and Dick Hoole, featuring some of the... more on Wikipedia
  • 21
    White Wash
    0
    5

    White Wash

    Ted Woods

    Released2011

    White Wash is a documentary film directed by Ted Woods, and is a film exploring the complexity...
  • 22
    Storm Surfers 3D
  • 23
    Gaza Surf Club
    5
    2

    Gaza Surf Club

  • 24
    Under An Arctic Sky
    4
    5

    Under An Arctic Sky

  • 25
    Take Every Wave
    1
    4

    Take Every Wave