Over the years, there have been some amazing surf books published, from professional surfing autobiographies to fascinating surf travel tales. There’s no shortage of excellent surf literature, and if, like me, you love nothing more than escaping into the world of surfing whenever you’re out of the water, you’ll love this list of the best surf books ever written.
Table of Contents
The Best Surf Books of All Time
Barbarian Days is one of the best surf books ever written. The book is Californian surfer William Finnegan’s life story of chasing waves all around the globe. The 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel takes you on a fascinating journey through William’s life, from growing up between California and Hawaii to chasing waves through Australia, Fiji, South Africa, Indonesia, and Madeira. A unique story and one of my favorite surf books out there.
My favorite part of the book is Finnegans’ account of what it was like to discover the perfect waves of Restaurants on Tavarua Island, Fiji. Where Finnegan and a buddy slept on the sand, ate coconuts, and dodged snakes while surfing the best waves in the world with no one out! Buy Barbarian Days here.
Mick Fanning: Surf For Your Life
3 x World Champion Mick Fanning gives you amazing insights into what it takes to become a professional surfer. The biography takes you through Mick’s life, from how he became a professional surfer, how he dealt with his brother’s passing, and the remarkable story of coming back from serious injury. If you’re looking to improve your surfing and embody a world-champion surfing mindset, I’d highly recommend Mick Fanning: Surf For Your Life.
In Search of Captain Zero
In Search of Captain Zero, by Allan Weisbecker, is the author’s journey through Mexico and Central America. He goes off looking for his friend, who disappeared deep in the Costa Rican jungle. On the way, he surfs some of the best waves in the region, from the world-class points of El Salvador to a secret slab in Costa Rica. This is one of the best surf books ever and an essential reading for any surf travel enthusiast.
Pipe Dreams, by Kelly Slater, is a must-read for any surfer of any ability. Describing the early career of a young Kelly Slater, Pipe Dreams shows you what growing up in Florida was like, his early career, and how he became such a prolific surfer. The book also focuses on Hawaii’s North Shore and how Kelly learned to excel in waves of consequence.
Another core surf travel Book, Bad Karma, is Paul Wilson’s fascinating surf jaunt south of the border into Mexico. After robbing a supermarket in California and smuggling his friend (a fugitive avoiding Jail), three friends head deep into Mexico in search of a mystical right point break. On their way, they break down in their old VW bus, encounter narcos, get caught in a hurricane, and are almost washed away by a flash flood. For an immersive “can’t put it down” surf travel story, look no further.
Welcome to Paradise, Now go to Hell
The North Shore of Hawaii is the most notorious stretch of the coast and is infamous for its tales of beatings in and out of the water. From heavy locals, the black shorts, heavy waves, drugs, and parties. Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell, by Chas Smith, is an insight into the North Shore underworld. A fantastic read!
Cocaine & Surfing
Cocaine and Surfing is a super interesting read looking into, yep, you guessed it, the relationship between surfing and cocaine. The book looks at how cocaine and surfing have been interlinked from the early days of surfing and how the biggest surf companies began from conspicuous cocaine trafficking by surf travelers.
Hound of the Sea
Garrett McNamara is one of the best big wave surfers around; from Pioneering Nazare and being a prominent presence in some of the world’s best big waves for decades, Hound of the Sea is an insight into Garret’s life.
Eddie Would Go
Bethany Hamilton’s story is one of the most famous in surfing. And while you may have seen the blockbuster film Soul Surfer, the book takes you on a deeper dive into Bethany’s life, the shark attack, and her recovery and rise as one of the most influential female surfers ever.
The Best Surfing Coffee-table Books
If you’re after a great surf book to stick on the living room table and flick through over a cuppa Joe, these are the best surfing coffee table books out there. We’re talking beautiful images of waves from around the world to gawk at and dream about.
Best Surf Books - Summarised
There are some fascinating surf books out there; whether you’re after a thrilling surf tale you can’t put down on a surf trip or just a good old coffee table flick-through, there are some sick books out there. I love reading, and although Kindles are great, I do love the feeling of getting a new book and holding the paper!