7 Best Surfing Books

The first surfing book, titled “The Surf Riders of Hawaii,” was released in 1914. After that came a great number of other surf-related books of different kinds to satisfy the growing population of surfing enthusiasts. There are publications for history, culture, lifestyles, memoirs, women, kids, competitions, performance and gear tips, health and safety advice, fiction, wave science, etc.

This guide is a compilation of a detailed list of the best surfing books that were carefully selected after extensive research. The objectives were to discover the common categories that the works fell under and curate the best books under each classification.

You should be able to find at least one good read on the list. But if not, then check the alternatives mentioned at the end of each description. Other pieces of information that you'll see include the authors and years of original publication

Relevance of Surf Books to Surfing Enthusiasts

The necessity of books about surfing to its aficionados or surfers can’t be overstated, as seen in the outline below.

  1. Surfers of all backgrounds, genders, levels, and ages will find books of diverse categories that are suitable for their individual preferences and goals.
  1. Some works give proper introductions to surfing as a lifestyle, culture, and/or sport.
  1. Many of the publications describe the rich history of surfing, which every true fan or fanatic should have some knowledge of.
  1. You can get to know the surfing world’s beloved heroes and legends from their perspectives or the research of biographers.
  1. You can learn about how surf competitions work in some books.
  1. Photographs and illustrations are usually featured in the publications, and they serve as visual aids for self-educating readers.

Top Seven Surfing Books of Different Categories

The best surf books under a variety of classifications have been briefly described in this section. Dive into the list—starting with the first-ever surf-related piece, as highlighted in the introduction.

1. The Surf Riders of Hawaii

Source: blogspot.com

Author: Alfred Richard Gurrey Jr.

Original Year of Publication: 1914

Category: Best for Collectors


This self-published work is a compilation of impressive early photographs of surfing, which makes it worth a book or photograph collector’s attention. Only six original handmade copies of this book are speculated to be available in the entire world. They are a very limited edition that was produced with photographic prints that feature silver emulsion.

Gurrey Jr. was the first photographer to capture surfers and is regarded as a pioneer in water photography. A couple of his rare books have been sold at auctions in recent years.

Alternative Best for Collectors: LeRoy Grannis. Surf Photography of the 1960s and 1970s

2. The Encyclopedia of Surfing

Source: surfer.com

Author: Matt Warshaw

Original Year of Publication: 2003

Category: Best for Introduction to Surfing


Matt Warshaw’s “The Encyclopedia of Surfing" is a voluminous and in-depth review that is of great significance to the world of surfing. It has more than 500 pages, 1,500 entries, and 300 illustrations covering many areas of surfing, from its history to the equipment used.

Alternative Best for Introduction to Surfing: The Surfin'ary: A Dictionary of Surfing Terms and Surfspeak by Trevor Cralle

3. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

Source: jake.news

Author: William Finnegan

Original Year of Publication: 2015

Category: Best for Surf Legend Memoir Lovers


This here is a multi-award winning book, including for the coveted Pulitzer Prize. It’s about Finnegan’s journey from childhood to adulthood as a man of the waves. You’ll read about how he traveled the world to follow his passion for surfing by visiting many notable surf spots—Hawaii included.

Alternative Best for Surf Legend Memoir Lovers: Surf Is Where You Find It by Gerry Lopez

4. The History of Surfing

Source: surfthegreats.org

Author: Matt Warshaw

Original Year of Publication: 2010

Category: Best for Surf History


“The History of Surfing” takes you as far back as 1778 and ushers you into the 21st century with almost 500 pages of content. You’ll have over 250,000 words and 250 rare photos to consume! Get ready to read about the evolution of global surfing, culture, subcultures, technology, legends, and the impact of surf's rich history.

Alternative Best for Surf History: The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing by Peter Westwick & Peter Neushul

5. All for a Few Perfect Waves

Source: pangobooks.com

Author: David Rensin

Original Year of Publication: 2008

Category: Best for Surf Legend Biography Lovers


This biography about rebel surfer Miki Dora has been said to be the greatest story ever told about surfing. The book looks extensively into Dora’s life and surfing career with the aid of interviews with his lovers, haters, fellow surfers, family members, and friends.

Alternative Best for Surf Legend Biography Lovers: Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku by David Davis

6. The World Stormrider Surf Guide

Source: lowpressure.co.uk

Author: Bruce Sutherland

Original Year of Publication: 2018

Category: Best for Descriptions of Surf Locations


Planning on touring the world to experience as many special waves as possible? What you need might just be Sutherland's book which has been referred to as the most comprehensive guide for surf spots. There are many maps, descriptions, photographs, and data on the best locations for surfing globally.

Alternative Best for Descriptions of Surf Locations: Epic Surf Breaks of the World by Lonely Planet

7. Surfing the Manual: Advanced

Source: abebooks.com

Author: Jim Kempton

Original Year of Publication: 2008

Category: Best for Learning How to Surf


Jim Kempton shows his wealth of experience as a surfer in this surf training guide that teaches a wide range of topics. For example, surfing techniques, surfboard selection, oceanography, weather, etc. Whether you’re a rookie or a professional, this step-by-step illustrated learners’ manual will upgrade your wave-riding skills.

Alternative Best for Learning How to Surf: Fit to Surf: The Surfer’s Guide to Strength and Conditioning by Rocky Snyder


Do you know one of the things that makes surfing feel better after riding the waves or experiencing a surf competition? It's having so much knowledge about the activity that you’re able to discuss it at length with others like a wiz. And reading the above-featured surfing books can help you reach that level of enlightenment.

James Davis

Written by James Davis

I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recommended posts

May 29, 2024
How To Qualify for Olympic Surfing 2024

Mark your calendars for July 27, 2024! A wild storm of surfers is headed towards Tahiti to conquer the Teahupoo waves. Due to its distinct location, this is going to be the most-watched surfing event in history. With the qualifying events finally over, these champions are more than ever determined to showcase their skills to […]

Read More
February 19, 2024
Maine Surf Guide

While there are several wave fields still undiscovered, Maine can still offer some of the best conditions for visiting tourists to catch that perfect wave. In this article, we’ll take a look at why you might want to visit Maine, the best times to surf, and the best places to check out on your next […]

Read More
February 14, 2024
How To Choose the Best Surf Camp in 8 Steps

Surf camps have a certain appeal. They’re ideal places to learn surfing, especially for solo travelers who want to meet people and socialize in a friendly environment. However, surf camps are springing up in every nook and cranny. You’ll find plenty with an ocean at almost every corner of the planet. The increased numbers make […]

Read More
February 12, 2024
Alaska Surf Guide 

If you’re a fan of the outdoors in general and dislike crowds, Alaska might be your go-to place to surf. But with the various hazards and difficulties getting there, it can be a somewhat tedious trip. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn all about the wonders and potential dangers of surfing in Alaska.  With its […]

Read More
January 30, 2024
Are Surf Camps Worth It? The Pros and Cons

Surfing is a popular sport, especially with many health fanatics who consider it a great way to keep in shape. If you’re a beginner and want to hone this skill, you might consider joining a surf camp. But, is it worth it? This article will take a deep dive into the essentials of surfing camps […]

Read More
January 30, 2024
Georgia Surf Guide 

If you’re living along the East Coast, it could be a bit difficult to travel across the country to Hawaii or California for that perfect surfing spot. Georgia might not be your first choice when it comes to surfing, but with the warmer waters, beautiful surrounding islands, and stunning wildlife, there are quite a few […]

Read More
January 20, 2024
How Waves Are Formed

Waves, especially ocean waves, are often so common that we never usually think about where they come from or how they’re formed. In this article, you’ll be diving into the specifics of the formation of waves, including the various types of waves and where you may find them.  Depending on the type of wave, there […]

Read More
January 19, 2024
9 Things You Should Know Before Learning How to Surf

Watching surfers riding huge waves certainly inspires us to learn the sport as quickly as possible to impress others, just as we were fascinated. It’s a sport like no other, and the best part is that it gives us a chance to master the ocean, which scares even the best of us. However, remember that […]

Read More
January 15, 2024
7 Weirdest Waves That’ll Blow Your Mind

One of the best things about ocean surfing is that you’ll never know what you’re going to get. It's unpredictable and sometimes too fast or too big for you. Nevertheless, other waves are so wacky and weird that they will level up your excitement in a different way. From massive wipeouts underwater to being thrown […]

Read More
1 2 3 14
Find your ideal surfing destination with Surf Spots. Connect with the waves and brace yourself for an experience of a lifetime.



Contact Us


All rights reserved by Surf Spots