One of my greatest goals for the Independent Surfer is to inspire you to pursue your dreams, both in surfing and in life. When I need some extra inspiration, these are my favorite women’s surf movies to turn to. From getting stoked while getting ready for a dawn patrol session to feeling inspired to make a difference in the world, there is one for every mood.
My Favorite Women's Surf Movies and Shows
This is my all-time favorite women’s surf movie. It is 20 minutes of actual surfing! Okay, there are a few lifestyle clips introducing each surfer, but they keep the pump up music playing throughout and there is no documentary style discussion. Leave a Message is my favorite movie to play while getting ready for a dawn patrol or to get up the courage to paddle out on a bigger day.
This is also a great movie to watch with a focus on the little mechanics of the turns the girls do. Since there can be differences between the way men and women move, I find it especially useful to watch women’s surfing to help improve my own. It was released in 2011 and features the pro’s whose names are still big, including Malia Manuel, Coco Ho, Monyca Bryne-Wickey, Lakey Peterson, Laura Enever, and Carissa Moore.
So, this is not actually a women’s surf movie. Most of the movie is actual male surfers. But, the parts that feature Steph Gilmore’s surfing are just phenomenal. This is not your typical competition surfing, it is so much more than that. I would liken the surfing in Proximity to something magical. The focus is on flow and feeling – the scene of Steph and Rasta sharing a wave is mesmerizing. I think this is a great night time movie to give you some artistic dreams.
This is a short film following the up and coming Erin Brooks and Bethany Hamilton as her mentor. Basically, you get to see Erin Brooks, at like age 13, doing airs most grown men wouldn’t even dream of doing. This short surf movie is a glimpse into the future of women’s surfing. Overall, I think this is a must watch to get familiar with Erin Brooks since she will be a big name in the future. I also dare to dream of doing airs someday, so I love the inspiration.
RISS came out in 2020 and is a look at Carissa Moore’s life and the road to another victory. My favorite thing about RISS is the look behind the scenes at what her day-to-day life is like. Throughout the short movie, Carissa keeps it real by being both funny and awkward, reminding us that pro-surfers are still just like us. Overall, I would say this is a great movie to watch if you want some tropical Hawaii vibes and are interested in seeing behind the scenes of pro-surfing life, or if you’re like me and just can’t get enough of Carissa Moore.
This documentary style women’s surf movie was released by the WSL in 2020 as part of their “Transformed” series. It focuses around one of India’s first female surfers and touches on big topics beyond surfing, such as women’s rights, poverty, etc. For me, this movie really reminded me of how lucky I am to live in an environment and time where women’s surfing is not only accepted, but also celebrated. The movie also features Lauren Hill, a well-known freesurfer.
This is another documentary style women’s surf movie released by the WSL in 2020 as part of the “Transformed” series. If you loved India’s First Female Surfer, you’ll love this one as well. It follows the first women to surf in the town of Dakar, Senegal. This movie also focuses on big topics such as women’s rights and poverty, and also addresses the lack of representation of black women in the surf community. After watching this, also be sure to check out Black Girls Surf on social media and give them a follow!
Basically, in this surf movie, Laura Enever trains for and surfs massive waves, like Shipstern Bluff. I really like Laura Enever and her determination, commitment, and will are undeniable. I was at the edge of my seat half for half of this movie. Either from the anticipation of watching her charge massive waves, or from the anticipation of watching the mishaps that happen along the way.
That’s Caroline just came out in April 2021. It follows the life and rise of Caroline Marks, the suddenly superstar surfer. Since Caroline is so young and new to the CT (Championship Tour of the WSL), I didn’t know much about her. So, it was great to learn more about who she is and where she comes from. It is clear that we will see much more of her in the future.
This is basically a documentary about Lakey Peterson’s life and early career. I think it is nice and relaxing, which makes it a great weeknight watch. It is filmed by Aaron Leiber, a now renown surf videographer, so the shots are beautiful for its time (2013). Overall, this inspired me to dedicate myself to dawn patrols everyday for several weeks after watching.
I think Steph Gilmore is the most relaxing surfer to watch. As I mentioned about Proximity above, there is just something about the flow of her surfing clips that brings out a different side of surfing. This will leave you remembering that surfing is an art and there is so much more that can be done with it beyond just competitive surfing (which I also absolutely love watching).
If you aren’t already aware the Ho family is legendary in the Hawaii surf world. This surf movie gives you an insight into the impact of that legend on Coco Ho. I think this is a great movie to watch for a bit of surf history, combined with beautiful scenery of Hawaii and awesome women’s surfing.
This is a documentary about girls growing up in Phillips Island. While it might not be the best surf movie created, I found it really interesting to see what life is like in such a unique island. It was also cool to see the road to trying to get onto the pro surf tour. Overall, I feel like this painted the most realistic picture of what surf life is like for regular people around the world.
Okay, to be honest, I haven’t watched this one yet. I have, however, heard a lot about how great it is. My understanding is that it is about mothers who surf. Even though I haven’t watched this, I thought my list of great women’s surf movies wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include a movie on such an important, big topic in today’s surf world.
This surf movie will definitely leave you feeling emotional. It follows what life is like for young surfers living in relative poverty in Jamaica, as well as the hurdles they must overcome to pursue their dreams. My favorite part of this movie is how it paints surfing as a positive activity to keep individuals in high-risk environments focused on making good decisions in life. This is definitely one movie that makes me want to give back and make a difference in the world.
Okay, so this isn’t so much of a surf movie, but Sky does travel and surf in some pretty cool places! One of her most recent vlogs (March 2021) was of her surfing in Hawaii. I love her inspirational messages and positive energy, including her saying: “be brave, be kind, and do it because you love it.” Her vlogs and her song “Girl” are my absolute go-to’s when I need some extra encouragement…like to get out of my car at the skatepark when there are a million people there…
Lakey Peterson’s vlogs are really interesting to watch to see what life is like on tour. When I watch her vlogs, I can really appreciate the hard work, dedication, and focus it takes to surf at Lakey’s level. Usually, her vlogs focus about training for a particular WSL event or for lay days between events.
Alana Blanchard’s vlogs have changed dramatically over time. Watching her videos from her younger years through her videos as a mother, no longer on tour, has been really interesting to me. Her vlogs are a bit more focused on other aspects of life, outside of surfing – such as health and motherhood. But they also often include great clips of Alana Blanchard and Jack Freestone surfing. They also include vlogs about the travel Alana and Jack do while Jack in on tour.
My favorite thing about these vlogs is that they inspire me to eat healthier and live a healthier lifestyle, since they are always sharing healthy recipes and easy home workouts.
Let us know what you think about these movies or what your favorite surf movie is below!