12 Best Beach Movies to Get You Pumped for Summer
No matter what the weather, a piña colada and a cinematic trip will transport you straight to the tropics.
Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
The most famous of the “beach party” films of the 1960s stars Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello as be-boppers on the sand. These beach movies are all about how fun it is to be a teenager, especially if you’re wearing a bikini and involved in a flash mob dance-off on the beach. Sunny, silly, and sappy! You might find yourself laughing at the plot of Beach Blanket Bingo, filled with romantic hijinks, but this nostalgic trifle is sure to boost your mood.
Six Days, Seven Nights (1998)
Anne Heche plays a minx unhappily engaged to David Schwimmer in Six Days, Seven Nights. On a tropical vacation, she finds herself on a charter plane piloted by a very grouchy Harrison Ford. Of course, they hate each other! Which gets even more annoying once they two find themselves marooned on a desert island. Soon they’re fighting off the elements and some pirates. What better setting to fall in love? Don’t miss more of the most romantic movies of all time.
The Blue Lagoon (1980)
Brooke Shields was only 14 when she starred in this coming-of-age romp about shipwrecked kids on a remote tropical island. When you land there with teen magazine cover boy Christopher Atkins, you know there’ll be kissing! But since this is Victorian times, the teenagers are totally confused. The Blue Lagoon was demolished by critics, but it has a watchable silliness and is set in an even lusher paradise than most beach movies. Good times!
Teen Beach Movie (2013)
The Disney Channel revamped the beach party genre in 2013 and brought us a new series of teens-dancing-on-the-beach movies. This redux features Disney heartthrob Ross Lynch as a kid suddenly thrust into an actual teen beach movie by a magic wave! Time to dress up fifties-style and sing tunes like “Surf Crazy” and “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin.” By the end of Teen Beach Movie, the kids return to the real world. The sequel brings the movie characters back to real life. Sudsy, sunny, fun abounds! These are the movies to watch if you love happy endings.
Blue Hawaii (1961)
The first of Elvis Presley’s trilogy of Hawaiian beach movies plops him into a tropical setting as an army man who returns home for some surfing and romance. Make yourself the signature cocktail of the same name and settle in for some sunny rebellion. Mom Angela Landsbury wants Presley to get a real job, but he’s all about playing his ukulele and touring the island in Blue Hawaii. Relax, Mom. Time for some wholesome partying!
Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)
Bad taste and cringe-worthy moments are just what The Hamptons need in this black comedy starring Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman. They play two low-tier business guys who carry around their dead boss’s body all weekend—trying to pass him off as alive and well—all because they don’t want to miss out on a luxury weekend at the shore. The speedboat scene in Weekend at Bernie’s takes the cake in this madcap adventure about sun, surf, and beach vacations gone awry. Check out these rad ’80s movies that will help you relive the decade.
Steven Spielberg invented the blockbuster with his cinematic ode to beaches and the terror beneath the surface. Jaws is a horror movie, but it’s also rollicking and suspenseful—a true masterpiece. The beach scenes feature stunning visual style and unwavering tension. Roy Scheider is great as Chief Brody, the killjoy police officer who tries to keep everyone out of the water. After Jaws strikes, Richard Dreyfuss comes aboard as a shark expert determined to take the big one down. They’re gonna need a bigger boat.
The Descendants (2011)
Tragedy meets comedy in this drama set in Hawaii. George Clooney stars as a man who loses his wife in a tragic water accident in The Descendants. Shailene Woodley plays his angsty oldest daughter. She has a younger sister, and the family of three reconnect as they figure out what their comatose mom was up to before the accident. Island beaches serve as the backdrop for a movie about redemption, forgiveness, and secrets, which is hilarious and tear-jerking within the same moment. Here are more tear-jerkers to watch when you need a good cry.
Blue Crush (2002)
Kate Bosworth and Michelle Rodriguez play beach besties training for a surf competition. Bosworth’s got some trauma to work through after an ocean accident, so training for the competition is all about and healing and courage in Blue Crush. Bikinis prevail, but the film is also about girls banding together and using their strength to overcome obstacles. The wave cinematography provides an epic look at surfing as a sport.
The Shallows (2016)
Blake Lively is almost as gorgeous as the exotic white sand beach The Shallows is set on. She plays a med student enjoying a little beach R&R after her mom’s passing. She surfs some epic waves before a vindictive shark appears and traps her on a tiny reef in the shallows. The two play a game of wits that’ll keep you spellbound and nervous. Don’t miss these horror movies inspired by true events.
Cast Away (2000)
Cast Away is the film that made the beach volleyball character Wilson a household name. The soccer ball becomes Tom Hanks’ BFF in this film about survival, loneliness, and never losing hope. Tom Hanks dropped a bunch of weight to play the tanned muscle man who lives for years alone on a desert island after he survives a plane crash. The tropics are gorgeous, but life alone can be rough. Good thing Hanks has a bunch of FedEx packages wash to shore to help him survive.
Point Break (1991)
Keanu Reeves is at his deadpan best as Johnny Utah, the ex-footballer turned FBI agent on the hunt for bank robbers who are also surf rats. Patrick Swayze is amazing as Bodhi, the “adrenaline junkie” robber baron who wants to avoid capture just long enough to surf the most epic wave of all time. As in all great beach movies, the best scene of Point Break takes place on stormy shores. You know the adventurous Bodhi could never handle life in a cage! So Keanu gives him one final ride on a gnarly wave. Bodhi lives! Now that these films have got you longing for your own beach getaway, start planning your vacation to one of the 12 best beaches in America.