Here are 8 surf movies on Netflix that you can dig into right now.

It’s been a minute since we wrote a blog post about our favourite Netflix picks, but what with — oh yenno — the whole ‘global pandemic and enforced quarantine’ thing, we thought it was about the right time to squeeze into your screens with some recommendations.

Surf movies on Netflix are fairly few and far between, and when they arrive they don’t often stay for very long (I was sad to see that two surfing movies I would have loved to include on this list — Given and Under the Arctic Sky — are no longer available on Netflix).

So with that in mind, I decided to trawl through the listings and pick out the best of the current offerings.

Grab yourself a cold one and a plate of nachos, lads; and relax. If the absolute cluster*ck that is the year 2020 has you feeling a little on the low side, I suspect these 8 surf movies on Netflix are just the thing to elevate your mood.

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Surf movies on Netflix in 2020

Fishpeople

Presented by Patagonia and directed by surf legend Keith Malloy, Fishpeople tells the stories of a smorgasbord of characters who have dedicated their lives to exploring the ocean, in one form or another.

Surfing is in the mix, as is spearfishing, coral mining, and long-distance swimming; all connected through the commonality of finding meaning in life through a deep resonance with the water.

Stunning cinematography, skilful storytelling, and the recognisably stylish Malloy direction are all swirled into this delightful 50-minute documentary.

Psst: if you want to check out more of surfer Keith Malloy and his brothers, make sure to watch this beautiful short about their surf travels.

Resurface

Resurface is a Netflix Original short documentary about a suicidal war veteran who found healing through surfing and the redemptive power of the ocean. The documentary follows his involvement in Operation Surf, a program set up to help other veterans dealing with the same kind of trauma.

The documentarists dive into what it means to have a traumatic brain injury, to be suicidal, and to then somehow find reason to go on living after catching your first wave. As someone who knows all too well the crippling effects of PTSD, watching this brought actual real deal tears to my eyes.

Featuring some inspiring stories of survivors of PTSD, depression, multi-limb amputations, this is an unbelievably heartfelt surf movie. Getcha’ right in the feels. 

Dogtown and Z-Boys

If you haven’t ticked Dogtown and Z-Boys off your old surfing movie bucket list, you’re in for a treat. This classic surf film recounts the quintessential moment when California’s skateboarding scene became infused with surf culture, culminating in the formation of the Zephyr skateboarding team.

Set in the ’70s, the movie is all shaggy ‘fros and the beat-up converse that defined the boardsports subculture of the times. Add that to the sun-drenched, skate-filled afternoons and pre-dawn surf sessions on the Southern Cali coastline, and it’s easy to see why this surf movie went down in history.

And to add an extra layer of watchable-ness, it’s also narrated by Sean Penn. 

Head to the Netflix archives now and get stuck in. YOU. ARE. WELCOME.

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Radical: The Controversial Saga of Dadá Figueiredo

Described as an “anti-hero” of Brazilian surf culture, Radical portrays the story of accomplished surfer Dada Figueiredo. His meteoric rise from the poor suburbs of his hometown to fame surfing the waves of Rio de Janeiro saw him at once celebrated and tarred with the brush of controversy.

He may very well be one of Brazil’s most celebrated surfers, but this movie shows what happened when the spotlight of stardom firmly focused on Figueiredo and his turbulent personal life began to derail his achievements.

Radical snagged the title of Best Foreign Film at the Long Beach International Film Festival in 2014.

Magnetic

This documentary just got added to Netflix recently, and my gosh — WHAT a show. At 1 hour 50, this is one for when you want to get stuck into the stoke for a good long cocooning session.

A caveat: this isn’t just a surf documentary. Magnetic is about extreme sports people from a bunch of disciplines (speed riding, kiteboarding, skiing and snowboarding to name a few) who travel the world in search of the ultimate conditions to do what they love.

It’s basically the entire Extreme Nomads ethos distilled into a doc — and a beautifully produced one, at that.

Magnetic takes the viewer from the snow-capped peaks of the French Alps to the wave-battered shores of Tahiti, all the while interviewing some of the most extreme athletes in the world on the poetry of a life lived chasing the elements. Some of the interview subjects are wonderfully articulate and their unadulterated passion for their sports, nature, and the world itself is something to marvel at.

A brilliant watch on so many levels.

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Unstoppable recounts the equal parts harrowing and uplifting story of a teenage Bethany who infamously lost her arm in a shark attack while surfing.

To everyone’s great surprise, the monumental injury left Bethany far from bereft, as she returned to the water with her surfboard just four weeks after the attack and set herself off on the path to competitive surfing.

The story goes on to show Bethany later in life as a professional surfer and, eventually, a mother.

A tale of adaptability, willpower, and sheer passion for the ocean, Unstoppable is a dead inspiring surf movie no matter where you fall on the Bethany fan club spectrum.

The movie was amongst the winning lineup at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, and the LA Film Festival in 2018/19.

Rip Tide

When you’re looking for a loosely surf-related movie to mentally check out with, Rip Tide is one place to start. Starring Debby Ryan, the story follows that of a New York model and socialite who falls from grace — literally — with a viral video of her catapulting herself down a set of stairs in high heels.

She heads to the seaside in search of some time away from it all and finds herself connecting with the sea, surfing, and falling (yes, again) in love with Tom — the local grom who is outrageously ripped and inexplicably never wears a shirt.

A shamelessly ooey-gooey chick flick if there ever was one.

Solo

Solo, one of the latest surf movies that Netflix has added to the roster, tells the uncomfortable tale of a surfer who slips off the face of a high sandy bank on his way to the surf beach and tumbles to his peril below.

The plot recounts his ensuing fight for survival as the tides roll in and he battles to stay above water, whilst experiencing flashbacks to his life’s most important moments. 

The oh-Jesus-what’s-this-all-leading up-to-ness is reminiscent of 127 Hours or that thing Blake Lively was in where she pulled a mini Bethany Hamilton and spent most of the following scenes with her boobs spilling out of her wetsuit. Ahem. Unlike that movie, Solo is based on true events and picked up awards at the Malaga Film festival upon its debut.

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Any more surf movies on Netflix that we should add to the list? Drop us a comment below and tell us about it!

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Categories: Surfing

Grace Austin

Hi! I'm Grace -- freelance writer & content creator for the outdoor travel industry. I spent the past few years living in China, Vietnam, and Thailand working as a blogger, TV presenter, and documentarist. These days you can find me Europe side scouting out the best outdoor adventures Ireland has to offer -- and drinking ALL the wine. Obviously.

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