25 Fascinating Books about Surfing

Are you looking for a good book to read about surfing? There are many great titles to choose from, and we've selected 25 of our favorites. 

If you're interested in learning more about the sport, these memoirs and reads about its history will give you a unique perspective. 

From epic waves to personal struggles, these books have it all. 

Surfing Books

1. The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean

The Wave

Written by: Susan Casey

Published: 2010

Pages: 326

Some waves are gentle, some waves are ferocious, but all waves have the potential to inspire awe. In The Wave, Susan Casey takes readers on a journey to pursue the biggest, baddest waves on Earth. Casey profiles the most impressive and terrifying oceanic phenomena, from giant rogue waves that can swallow ships whole to massive breakers that travel thousands of miles.

Casey brings these extreme waves to life with her characteristic blend of scientific curiosity and journalistic bravado. She also looks at climate change and what that means not just to surfers but to each one of us as tsunamis affect people on the ground. The result is an exhilarating exploration of the power and beauty of nature at its most extreme.

2. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

Written by: William Finnegan

Published: 2015

Pages: 447

If you're a fan of the ocean, then you're sure to love this beautifully written memoir tells the story of Finnegan's lifelong passion for surfing and his never-ending quest to find the perfect wave. Whether he's braving dangerous waves in Hawaii or dodging sharks in Australia, Finnegan is always eager to take on the next challenge.

However, the book is so much more than just searching for the wave. He goes into how he was part of a whites-only gang, experimenting with drugs, and the politics between surfers and the world. These issues could come off as brutal and seem like they are the wrong place for these issues, but he uses his humor to make it all meld together perfectly. This book won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in the Autobiography category.

3. In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer's Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road

In Search of Captain Zero

Written by: Allan C. Weisbecker

Published: 2001

Pages: 352

Allan Weisbecker's buddy, Patrick, had gone missing down south of the border, and no one had any idea what happened to him. So, Allan decided to sell basically all his possessions, including his home and put his surfboards and dogs into his truck to try and find him. This memoir is hilarious and scary at times, as he cruises down the way that you never know what will happen next in it.

The beauty of this book is that it has something for everyone: Finding new friends along the way, meeting up with bandits (he used to smuggle dope), and of course, the remarkable surfing stories. If you love adventure and crazy true-to-life stories, you'll want to check out this nutty one.

4. Surf For Your Life: Mick Fanning

Surf For Your Life: Mick Fanning

Written by: Tim Baker

Published: 2009

Pages: 344

Mick Fanning, professional surfer, and three-time world surfing champion faced one of the scariest moments in his career when competing in South Africa. As he was shredding the waves, a huge shark approached him from behind and attacked his board. Fortunately for Mick, he could swim away and was not injured. This experience led Mick to consider retiring from the sport because it scared him so much.

In this book, readers gain insight into the mind of one of surfing's most significant competitors and his insane story. This includes all the highs, from winning a world title to the lows, such as losing his brother. Through stories and interviews with friends and family, Tim provides a well-rounded view of Mick's life on and off the waves. You will get a feeling of what it is like to ride the wave of this man’s incredible life.

5. The Paddle Board Bible: The Complete Guide to Stand-Up Paddleboarding

The Paddle Board Bible

Written by: Dave Price

Published: 2021

Pages: 256

Although this is a page about surfing, many people are also interested in the sport of paddleboarding. So, whether you're a beginner or an experienced paddleboarder, The Paddle Board Bible is the perfect guide for you.

Written by veteran stand-up paddleboarder Dave Price, this comprehensive book contains everything you need to know about paddle boarding. This includes choosing the right board and gear to master the basics of paddling and steering.

You'll also find detailed instructions on how to navigate coastal waters and surf breaks, as well as information on safety and etiquette. So, whether you're looking to explore new horizons or simply want to improve your skills, The Paddle Board Bible has everything you need.

6. Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell: A True Story of Violence, Corruption, and the Soul of Surfing

Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell

Written by: Chas Smith

Published: 2013

Pages: 247

As you can guess from the title, this is not about how surfing "saved my life" or "made me realize that there is so much more out there" type of book. Written about the 2012 Pipeline Masters tournament on Hawaii's North shore, you are given a peek into the underbelly of this beautiful sport.

Smith writes much as Hunter S. Thompson did and went into the characters that make this sport so fun and weird. Instead of just being the Beach Boys and calm waves, you will discover how this all came about and continues to happen when people gather in the area. This includes the racism that accompanies these events towards and from the locals and more.



Written by: Mami Wata, Selema Masekela foreword

Published: 2021

Pages: 320

When they imagine this wonderful sport, most people think of people surfing around Hawaii, Australia's Gold Coast, or Southern California. However, Africa has a long history regarding surfing, and Mami Wata's Masekela brings it to life in this magical book. She focuses on eighteen countries in Africa, ranging from Morocco to Somalia to Mozambique and others, to give a wide range of views.

We genuinely love this book because it is so different from most on this list, and it includes essays, photographs, poems, illustrations, and even recipes! This book truly brings to life the way of surfing in Africa and all the people involved with it. And a bonus of buying this book is that the proceeds go towards one of two African surf therapy organizations.

8. Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea

Saltwater Buddha

Written by: Jaimal Yogis

Published: 2009

Pages: 256

Saltwater Buddha is the story of Jaimal Yogis's journey from an aimless young man to a seeker of enlightenment through surfing. After his first encounter with the ocean, Yogis is hooked on the feeling of being one with the waves and sets out to find fulfillment through surfing. With only $800 to his name, he decided to head off to Hawaii to find out what was missing in his life.

Along the way, he learns that chasing perfect waves can never bring lasting happiness and instead turns to Zen Buddhism to find peace within himself. This illuminating book provides a unique perspective on surfing and spiritual growth that will be appreciated by anyone who has ever felt drawn to the sea.

9. Nat's Nat and That's That

Nat's Nat and That's That

Written by: Nat Young

Published: 1998

Pages: 457

Nat Young knows a thing or two about surfing the most extraordinary places and the best waves. In his latest work, he shares stories from a lifetime spent chasing the perfect wave, offering readers an insider's perspective on what it means to be a professional surfer.

Whether recounting tales of incredible triumphs or describing the seemingly endless stream of wipeouts that come with the territory, Young proves himself to be an engaging and entertaining storyteller.

Nat proves you can get knocked down again and again, but as long as you keep getting back up, you're always in the game. So, if you're looking for some vicarious thrills or simply want to learn more about what makes these athletes tick, pick up a copy of this fun and goofy book. You won't regret it!

10. Bob McTavish Stoked!

Bob McTavish Stoked!

Written by: Bob McTavish

Published: 2013

Pages: 368

This is a great read for anyone who wants to learn more about how surfing evolved in Australia during the 1960s and 1970s. You will also get a great primer into the evolution of surfboards simultaneously. However, this isn't some dry and dull book just dedicated to facts; it is full of fun stories and depictions of the insanity that went along during the early days of this sport.

McTavish shares never-before-told stories about his life as a surfer, from traveling the world searching for the perfect wave to raising a family and starting a business. With stunning photographs and personal insights, this book is sure to inspire anyone who loves the ocean and a good adventure.

11. Surf Is Where You Find It

Surf Is Where You Find It

Written by: Gerry Lopez

Published: 2008

Pages: 246

Another one of the originals, Gerry Lopez, was there when it all started back in the day. His description of his life is full of courage, wisdom, and incredible feats of athletic prowess. However, what makes this book so enthralling is that instead of patting himself on his back, he gives props to so many others that have made the sport so famous and so beloved around the world.

Instead of just resting on that, he goes into more about how to surf, how to catch waves, the best way to duck dive, and even why specific boards should be used in different areas. He was one of the first to use the shortboards, so he has an in-depth knowledge of pretty much every style of surfing and makes them all come to life and jump off the pages of this book.

12. Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board ILLUSTRATIONS

Soul Surfer

Written by: Bethany Hamilton

Published: 2011 (2004)

Pages: 250

At the young age of just thirteen years old, Bethany Hamilton was viciously attacked by a tiger shark while surfing with friends off the coast of Kauai. The attack left her right arm severely mauled and her chances of survival slim. But Bethany refused to give up and made a remarkable recovery, returning to the water just one year later.

Soul Surfer is the incredible true story of Bethany's fight back to championship form and her inspiring journey as a Christian athlete. Hamilton's faith has been a central part of her life since she was very young and has helped her overcome tremendous obstacles both in and out of the water. This touching memoir is perfect for any fan of inspirational sports stories or uplifting memoirs.

13. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

Let My People Go Surfing

Written by: Yvon Chouinard

Published: 2005

Pages: 260

Chouinard is an outdoor enthusiast for those who don't know, but he never planned to start a business. In his book, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, Yvon Chouinard writes about how he founded Black Diamond Equipment, Patagonia, and Ventura Sportswear. He also reflects on his lessons over the years regarding business and life.

However, he eventually realized that there was potential in creating high-quality outdoor gear and clothing that would also help the environment and the Earth. In his book, Chouinard provides insightful advice on topics such as marketing, hiring employees, and staying true to one's values. Anyone interested in starting their own business will find value in this read.

14. In Waves

In Waves

Written by: A.J. Dungo

Published: 2019

Pages: 376

Unlike the others on this list, this is a graphic novel with some of the most beautiful illustrations you'll find anywhere and on any list. Even though this is definitely about surfing, it is about much more than that. You find out very quickly that his love, Kristen, has cancer and how they decide to live their life because of that. There is also some history of surfing, specifically about Tom Blake and Duke Kahanamoku.

The artwork is very different in that the memories about Kristen and their life are done in a beautiful turquoise, while the historical parts are down in a burnt color. It allows you to wander back and forth without getting lost or confused due to the time frames and subjects. And, in the end, you'll be shedding a few tears as Dungo completes his deathbed promise to Kristen and does tell their story to the world.

15. Slow is Fast: On the Road at Home

Slow is Fast: On the Road at Home

Written by: Dan Malloy

Published: 2014

Pages: 120

This is a super quick read for those that just want to have a bit of an adventure down the California coast during 2012. Three friends decide to cycle down southward while stopping into surf, see some friends, and just enjoy nature.

During the trip, they met interesting people and saw exciting parts of the area.

And instead of just documenting it as a novel, there are loads of photos so you can see what they were doing, the people they met, and even more impressive how they were able to cycle down the coast with surfboards tied to the bikes!

16. Eddie Would Go: The Story of Eddie Aikau, Hawaiian Hero and Pioneer of Big Wave Surfing

Eddie Would Go

Written by: Stuart Holmes Coleman

Published: 2002

Pages: 271

If you've ever seen an "Eddie Would Go" bumper sticker, then you will have to read this book to understand why his name means so much to the surfing world. Edie Aikau was a Hawaiian surfing legend. However, this wasn't only because he was one of the best; it was because he cared about his fellow humans and would do anything to help anyone.

Examples of this include when he was a lifeguard at Waimea Bay and saved hundreds of lives when people were in danger. He did this with little regard for himself or his safety as he felt it was part of him and his culture. Sadly, he died as he lived, trying to save his teammates. It is an inspiring book dedicated to a truly remarkable man who made the world a better place for everyone.

17. Surfing: 1778-Today

Surfing: 1778-Today

Written by: Jim Heimann

Published: 2016

Pages: 592

You may think you know everything about surfing or have seen it all, but this book is going to blow your mind. This book starts in the late 1700s when Europeans first had contact with native people and learned about surfing. It then tracks the changes in the sport up until today’s world when it was published.

This book uses photographs, illustrations, documents, and more throughout these times to give you a complete understanding of the sport. At almost six hundred pages, you will be sure to impress your surfing buddies with all the information at your disposal. It is truly an homage to surfing and everyone and everything associated with it.

18. Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave


Written by: Peter Heller

Published: 2010

Pages: 336

This isn't about some youngster who falls in love with surfing and becomes a hero; this is about a guy in his mid-forties having a mid-life crisis. He heads out to Southern California to hang (ten) with a friend and falls in love with surfing and the way of life. However, instead of staying there, he gets his soon-to-be wife and heads down to Baja, Mexico.

His passion and joy come through as he learns more about who he is and the best he wants to be. Because Heller has seen how the beaches and the environment around them have changed, he informs the reader about what is wrong and how to fix it. It isn't preachy, but it will enlighten you on the damage people are doing in these areas.

19. Ghost Wave: The True Story of the Biggest Wave on Earth and the Men Who Challenged It

Ghost Wave

Written by: Chris Dixon

Published: 2011

Pages: 272

This list has some books about big wave riders, but nothing quite like this one and the Cortes Bank. This is an area where the waves can hit over 80 feet, breaking right near the shoreline. In other words, only the best surfers, and possibly the somewhat insane ones, will even attempt to surf here. An example of this is that the waves could kick them out at around 50 miles per hour once their ride was over.

The joy of this book is that it isn't just about surfing; it is about discovering this area, the psyche of big wave riders that attempt it, and the sometimes confrontations about whose wave is whose. It is a wild collection of some of the most interesting people. There is even a bit about a group of surfers who thought they could make the waves larger by sinking a ship on top of the Cortes Bank. Luckily, no one has done that…yet.

20. The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing

The World in the Curl

Written by: Peter Westwick, Peter Neushul

Published: 2013

Pages: 416

Two surfers, who were both professors, decided to teach a class about its history at U.C. Santa Barbara. Little did they know that they'd be inundated by surfers and non-surfers alike. Both professors were incredibly knowledgeable and excellent writers, so this history of the sport is unlike any other book out there. It is a beautifully written text with fantastic descriptions that make you feel as if you are right there.

This book goes into the history, starting with how it was the sport of the Hawaiians, but the sport was almost destroyed by diseases from Europeans who visited the islands. However, it was soon revived, and many of the most famous people, including the writer Jack London, helped bring it back to life and into popular culture. Lastly, they face some problems with surfing's culture, such as sexism, racism, and more. It is a very unbiased and deeply loving book about their sport.

21. BAD KARMA: The True Story of a Mexico Trip from Hell


Written by: Paul Wilson

Published: 2019

Pages: 250

This is definitely a "truth is stranger than fiction" book since you will hardly be able to believe what happens during it. The year is 1978, and a young Paul Wilson decides to go south of the border with two of his buddies. Just a regular trip to hit the beaches and do some surfing. And, with that thought and amount of planning, pretty much everything else goes horribly wrong.

Here's just a quick summary of a small part of his travails: He ends up running out of money and has to rob a supermarket. They end up in the middle of a drug cartel's area, and he also finds out that one of his travel buddies is a convicted killer. And that is just a tiny bit of what you'll find out. Some photographs will give you an inside look into the insanity of this trip, and you'll be amazed that Wilson lived to write about it at all.

22. Surf Survival: The Surfer's Health Handbook

Surf Survival

Written by: Andrew Nathanson, Clayton Everline, Mark Renneker

Published: 2011

Pages: 288

If you're a surfer, you know the importance of being prepared for anything that comes your way while catching waves. From sharks to riptides, there are many dangers that surfers face daily. That's why it's so important to have the right supplies and knowledge to keep yourself safe out in the water.

Andrew Nathanson provides everything you need to know about staying safe while surfing. Including information on first aid kits, treating injuries, and encountering dangerous creatures, this book is a must-read for any surfer looking to stay safe out in the waves. So, whatever your next surf adventure may be, be sure to pack this essential guide along with you!

23. Making Mavericks: The Memoir of a Surfing Legend

Making Mavericks

Written by: Frosty Hesson

Published:  2012

Pages: 320

Frosty Hesson is a legend in the sport of Surfing. Surfing Mavericks and surviving it also is legendary. He did both. This book is based in two sections: One is about his mentorship of Jay Moriarty, who also became a legendary surfer. The second is how his view of humanity, and what is the meaning of life, means to him and his surfing.

Frosty has a great sense of humor while also looking at these important questions, making this book very touching. It isn't a superficial look at a person's personality but a deep dive into how he lived it and how it influenced Jay. In fact, Frosty and Jay became almost like a father-son combo and the term "Live like Jay" has now become popular because of how he helped him grow.

24. Hound of the Sea: Wild Man. Wild Waves. Wild Wisdom.

Hound of the Sea: Wild Man. Wild Waves. Wild Wisdom.

Written by: Garrett McNamara and Karen Karbo

Published: 2016

Pages: 304

Simply stated: Garrett McNamara was the first person to ride a one-hundred-foot wave. That alone makes this book worth reading. However, it starts with his upbringing in a commune and how that affected him. He then describes what it was like being in Hawaii during the 70s and 80s and the surf culture. When you read about some of his choices, you’ll be amazed that he survived long enough to be able to do these incredible waves.

This book is different from the others because it also goes into weather patterns, how the waves are built, and more about the ocean. He shows a profound respect for the sea and the people who ride it. After reading this book, you will never look at a wave again, even if it is just a tiny one, let alone one over 100 feet tall!

25. All for a Few Perfect Waves: The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora

All for a Few Perfect Waves

Written by: David Rensin

Published: 2008

Pages: 496

Miki Dora was a legend in the sport before he died in 2002. However, the term legend can be a negative or a positive, depending on who you ask about him. He was known as an incredible surfer, but many couldn't stand him as a person. Miki was also known to be a scammer, a thief, and pretty much a jerk for most of his life. One of the reasons that make his character worthy of a biography is that these two conditions rarely appear in the same person in this beautiful sport.

The book is primarily bits and pieces of history from many of the other surfers that knew him, and one could think that it is just a few bitter people, but the stories are similar. Whether you liked him or not, Miki stood out. And, for that matter, Miki probably didn't care if you liked him or not as he probably didn't like you.

This seems like a weird person to write a biography about, but it is worth reading because he was such a strange person and unlike anyone else on this list.