As the final weeks approach for summer 2023, there’s still time to hit the beaches for sand and surf. But whether you’re staying home to avoid the crowds because of Covid and Monkey Pox, or just relaxing after a day of fun in the sun, it’s always good to add a few viewings from the top 10 best summer beach movies of all time.
My rules for this list are fairly simple — I wanted movies that are set at and around beaches, with plenty of beach-centric activity, and that take place during summer or generally summer-like conditions, so they feel like a movie you can watch during summer time even if they weren’t technically made or released during summer.
I wanted films that provide a variety of experiences, from different eras and perspectives, and which all entertain and remind us of why the beach is so popular and can even provide transcendent experiences. And I wanted to be sure it includes movies for all different tastes and ages, from drama to action, from horror to musical, from adult fare to all-ages entertainment.
I know I left off a few titles that are likely to be popular with some audiences, but hopefully I included others pictures those viewers haven’t seen yet but will enjoy.
So here they are, dear readers, in no particular order (except the first one is definitely the best) — my picks for the best beach movies to watch as we pass the final weeks of another summer!
- Jaws — The ultimate summer beach movie is also perhaps the ultimate anti-beach movie, depending on who you ask. Especially if you ask Chief Brody. Or Alex Kitner.
- Point Break — Next up, the ultimate surfing movie captures everything you want in a summer beach movie, plus everything you want in an action-crime-heist story.
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall — Rom-com with beach fun that turns out not to be so much fun after all, but wait then maybe it really was fun, and anyway we sure enjoy it.
- Whale Rider — Did I mention some of the movies provide transcendent experiences? Because, spoiler alert, this is what I was talking about, right here.
- Cast Away — Okay not exactly the ideal beach experience, but it’s a testament to “life is what you make it,” and also “wait, don’t throw that out, I’m saving it for later!”
- Blue Crush — The only film that can rival Point Break as a surfing flick, with admittedly better surfing scenes but slightly less skydiving without parachutes.
- Lords of Dogtown — The blend of summer beach culture and skating culture makes for excellent historic storytelling, not to mention lots of amazing action shots.
- Moana — What can I say except “you’re welcome” for this animated inclusion on the list, because the beach party always has room for families and singing along.
- The Descendants — This one is really about the beach, but it’s also about everything else and the beach is a metaphor. But also seriously a really gorgeous beach.
- Back to the Beach — I had to include one classic throwback to the original beach movies, and frankly (pun intended, but ouch) this is the best of the bunch.
And here are five honorable mentions that feel in the general spirit of the list, but not quite “beach” enough to qualify as true “summer beach movies” for my list…
- What About Bob?
- Corvette Summer
- South Pacific
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High
- Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
So there you have it, dear readers, my picks for the top 10 best movies to watch for your summer beach entertainment.
I hope you find a few to watch before we reach the end of summer this year, and that you are safe and healthy if you choose to go visit any actual beaches — remember to mask up and socially distance, not just for your own protection but also the protection of others who might be at higher risk.