Summer is unarguably the best time of the year! It’s the season of sunscreen, watermelon, and beach days. If your local beach is too far to reach, or maybe a summer storm is raging outside, or maybe you prefer to enjoy the summer by vegging out at home with the solace of your A/C blasting, these beach movies put you in the summer state of mind without stepping foot outside.
Whether you prefer a romance, a comedy, or a thriller, there’s a beach scene for everyone, like these 19 beach movies to watch this summer.
19. Our Lips Are Sealed
After experiencing the Eiffel Tower in Passport to Paris but before finding smuggled artifacts in Holiday in the Sun, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen went down under in Our Lips are Sealed. It was a long trip to Sydney, as the FBI tried to relocate the Parker family just about everywhere using the Witness Protection Program thanks to the twins’ inability to keep their mouths shut about their secret. Naturally, the bad guys find them in Australia, but first, they manage to have some fun on the beach, and at an empty amusement park, with two Aussie cuties.
Jaws is one of those beach movies that actually makes you want to stay far, far away from the beach. Until Star Wars was released two years later in 1977, Jaws was the highest grossing film in the U.S., and it’s still iconic more than four decades later. Bodies keep turning up on the shores of Amity Island, aka Martha’s Vineyard, but the mayor doesn’t want to close the beach and lose tourists, so he denies the threat posed by any type of killer shark until the problem is too big to ignore and a team is dispatched to try to catch the beast. The scariest part of the movie, of course, is the theme music. Gets us every time.
The most recent Disney princess movie takes place on the Polynesian Islands, where, even though by definition it’s a beach surrounded by water, the inhabitants aren’t allowed to go into the water. This is a problem because the island is facing a food shortage, but the demonic version of the goddess Te Fiti doesn’t allow the islanders to venture any farther than the reef to fish. Fortunately, Moana, daughter of the island chief, is a badass teenager and she sets off to fix the situation anyway, with no one but a chicken of questionable intelligence to help her. That is until she’s joined by Maui, the dude who caused Te Fiti to turn evil in the first place, and this time he helps Moana set it right.
16. Fool’s Gold
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days isn’t the only movie that allows us the privilege of watching Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey as on-screen lovers. Because there always seems to be some sort of game between those two, in Fool’s Gold, they’re after a rumored historical treasure that sunk in The Bahamas. They start the movie an estranged couple who is recently divorced, but thanks to the thrill of the chase — them chasing after the treasure, and a gangster chasing after them — their romance is rekindled, and they find what they’re looking for.
15. Lilo & Stitch
Lilo & Stitch starts in outer space, but Stitch soon arrives in Hawaii, to be found by Lilo and her big sister and caretaker Nani. Although Stitch is a complicated creature with a mind of his own, Lilo loves him and raises him not only as a pet but as part of their family, teaching him the ways of the island, including how to surf. The legal council of the intergalactic federation Stitch escaped from eventually comes to the island to try to take him away and sentence him to prison, but Lilo and Nani won’t let him go. As Lilo teaches him, “Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” *CRIES*
14. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
One of those rare movies that still makes you laugh at loud even though you’ve seen it five times before, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a gem (movies starring both Jason Segel and Paul Rudd are like that). Poor Peter Bretter takes off on a solo vacation to Hawaii after his long-term girlfriend breaks his heart, only to find that she’s at the same resort… with a new boyfriend. Bretter makes friends with the hotel staff, including a beautiful receptionist whom he develops romantic feelings for, and has a few complicated experiences with the ocean. Plus, there’s a Dracula musical.
13. Free Willy
This movie is 25 years old this year. Anyone else feel old now? Although the Pacific Northwest might not feature the sunny beaches of warmer climates, the water plays a prominent role in this movie. Free Willy stars a “bad boy” of our preteen dreams, dealing with a broken family life and playing a tween in trouble with the authorities for petty theft and vandalism. Jesse gets sent to live with a foster family, and he forms a bond with an orca whale that was brought into captivity at the very theme park where he was caught enacting vandalism. In this touching tale, Jesse can return Willy to his natural habitat, even though it means they’ll no longer be together. FREE THE ORCAS, amiright?
Before he was a hobbit, Elijah Wood was a boy with an attitude sent to spend the summer with his uncle in a seaside town. Sandy and his uncle and his uncle’s friends find a beached dolphin suffering from an unknown sickness, and while they nurse him back to health, they discover that he was poisoned by toxic waste. This turns out to be waste dumped by a big game fisherman, and the motley crew is able to use Flipper’s echolocation abilities to find evidence to take him down. Along with saving the environment, Flipper is a hero for saving Sandy from a shark attack.
11. Weekend At Bernie’s
You know who doesn’t enjoy the beach? Dead people. Except in Weekend at Bernie’s, when Bernie seems to have a pretty good time. When two of his low-level employees discover his insurance fraud scam, Bernie wants his mob partner to take ‘em out, but instead, the mobster kills him. When those employees arrive at Bernie’s beach house in the Hamptons and discover that the rest of the party guests are having such a good time, they don’t even realize their host is dead and they roll with it. Hence hijinx with a dead body posing as a real one and becoming a target of the very mobster who was originally going to spare them.
10. Friends With Benefits
Jamie and Dylan are more than just BFFs; they’re best friends who also enjoy casual sex with one another. After a while, Jamie wants to focus on dating again, so the two put their physical activities on hold — until they go to Dylan’s family’s house on the beach in LA, where Jamie is enamored with Dylan’s sister, nephew, and father, and when they hook up again they realize their physical bond might be more emotional than they thought. Naturally, Dylan screws it up, because, you know, he’s a guy, but there’s a good beach moment in there.
9. Johnny Tsunami
This Disney Channel Original Movie (aka the best movies from adolescence) features the story of a young boy who gets removed from his idyllic beach town in Hawaii and moves to a snowy city in Vermont with his parents, leaving his love of surfing and his surf legend grandfather behind. To adapt to his new environment, Johnny takes up snowboarding as a replacement for surfing, only to clash with the skiing clique in town. It’s one of a few DCOMs that’ll make this list.
8. Teen Beach Movie
… Told ya so! Disney Channel Original Movies still exist, and Teen Beach Movie is one of them (so is Teen Beach 2). In the movie, two teenagers are surfing when they enter an alternate reality in which they are part of a fictional movie, “Wet Side Story,” which is a take on West Side Story except instead of a gang war between the Jets and the Sharks, it’s a clash between surfers and bikers. How could we not include this one with a name like that? But the DCOMs are still coming!
7. The 13Th Year
Another Disney Channel Original Movie about a boy who lives on a beach… except he’s not so much a boy as he is a merman. Cody is just your average preteen: star of the swim team, dating a cute girl, and receiving tutoring in biology. When he turns 13, he begins to notice odd symptoms — and not the usual teenager stuff like pimples and voice changes, but things like growing scales and zapping objects with electricity. Turns out, Cody’s birth mother is actually a mermaid who left him on a boat while trying to evade a sailor’s capture. TBH, it’s one of the best DCOMs ever made.
6. Nights In Rodanthe
Only Nicholas Sparks would make a beach movie so sad. Unlike most Nicholas Sparks movies, the romance in Nights in Rodanthe is between two characters in a much more mature phase of their lives. Like most Nicholas Sparks movies, one of them dies. After uniting at a bed and breakfast on the beach in North Carolina, the new lovers must separate when the man realizes, thanks to his new profound emotional connection, that he must make amends with his estranged son in South America. Before he can be reunited with the recently discovered love of his life, he’s killed by a mudslide. Sorry, *spoiler alert*, but you knew it was coming with this author. Thankfully, his female love interest has wild horses on the beach to comfort her. But that’s just the “Sparks” notes.
5. Top Gun
It might be far from the most important scene, but the game of beach volleyball is also far from unforgettable. For one thing, it’s a bunch of young, fit Navy pilots playing volleyball half-naked in the sun. We’ll take it. Another thing… well, that’s pretty much it. Although it is very confusing that: a) Maverick plays volleyball in jeans, which seems wildly uncomfortable; then b) he shows up late a date he tried very hard to get, with his superior nonetheless, due to a lousy game of beach volleyball; and c) he has the audacity to ask to shower at her place due to the sweat he worked up while playing said lousy game of beach volleyball. Not great first date behavior, dude!
4. Something’s Gotta Give
Can we all just agree that ending up dating a man that your daughter dated first is a little creepy? Sure, all’s fair in love and war and age is just a number and love is blind and yadda yadda yadda, but… that situation is a little extreme. The old dude literally suffers a heart attack while hooking up with the daughter, but the mother still hooks up with him later — and even later, dates the doctor who treated the old dude for his heart attack. Anyway if you’re into all that drama and creepiness, this movie takes place at a Hamptons beach house, so enjoy!
3. Sex & The City
Carrie Bradshaw says a lot of really ridiculous things. Samantha Jones is often Carrie’s voice of reason, and the self-assured, independent PR woman was her own voice of reason when she reasoned, “I eat so I don’t cheat.” Samantha Jones lived in a gorgeous beach house in LA with a gorgeous man, yet she still didn’t feel fulfilled in her day to day life. While overlooking the Pacific ocean and basking in the California sun, she witnessed a lifestyle she missed (her neighbor screwing a bunch of randos) and she realized that she missed her true calling: single life.
2. Charlie St. Cloud
Zac Efron is always hot. He’s hot when he’s singing about choosing between musical theater and basketball, he’s hot when he’s grilling out at a frat party much to the chagrin of his neighbors, and he’s hot when he’s winning sailing competitions on the beach, like in Charlie St. Cloud. He’s even hot when he’s mourning the loss of his younger brother. Sorry, but it’s true. You get all that and more in this flick.
1. Blue Crush
Did anyone else wish they had two different colored eyes after watching Kate Bosworth in this movie? That, and learn how to surf, obviously. Anne Marie lives in Hawaii, watching over her younger sister and working as a maid at a hotel with her friends while she tries to get her groove back — her groove being surfing, which she used to be amazing at. She had her sights set on going pro until a bad wipeout incident scared her. While training for the Pipeline competition, Anne Marie meets a professional football player and gets distracted from her sport a bit, but she eventually gets back on track.