One of the best things about summer is going to the beach. Nothing beats dipping your toes into the silky sand and admiring the scenic views of the ocean. Even if you don’t live near the water, you can still fill the void by watching the best beach movies from the comfort of your couch.
1. How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
Who’s in it: Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, Regina King, Whoopi Goldberg
Stella, an accomplished stockbroker, heads to Jamaica for a getaway. While there, she starts a fling with Winston, a gorgeous island boy who’s 20 years her junior. When it’s time to leave, she has second thoughts and realizes that she’s in love with Winston. (Fair warning, Whoopi Goldberg’s scenes will have you cackling nonstop.)
2. Guava Island (2004)
Who’s in it: Donald Glover, Rihanna, Nonso Anozie, Letitia Wright
Destination/Setting: Havana, Cuba
Donald Glover is Deni Maroon, a young Cuban musician who spearheads a special music festival to uplift his community. Guava Island features plenty of scenic beach scenes and sweet romantic moments, but it also examines quite a few powerful themes, like the drawbacks of capitalism and wealth inequality. Look out for Glover’s phenomenal performance of “Summertime Magic.”
3. The Way Way Back (2013)
Who’s in it: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb
Destination/Setting: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
In this heartwarming coming-of-age tale, 14-year-old Duncan joins his mother, her condescending boyfriend and his daughter for a summer trip. When Duncan is hired to work at an old park, he develops a bond with the manager, who doubles as the father figure he always needed.
4. Just Go With It (2011)
Who’s in it: Adam Sandler Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Nick Swardson
In this fun remake of the ’60s film, Cactus Flower, a plastic surgeon named Danny pretends to be unhappily married so he can date women with no commitment. However, this plan backfires when he falls for a woman who refuses to date a married man. Hoping to win her over, Danny enlists the help of his assistant, Katherine, to pretend to be his “soon-to-be ex-wife,” but it only creates more problems.
5. Baywatch (2017)
Who’s in it: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, David Hasselhoff
Mitch Buchannon, a seasoned lifeguard in Florida, must work with a new entitled recruit as they investigate a string of mysterious deaths at the beach. Expect plenty of eye candy and strong performances all around.
6. Soul Surfer (2011)
Who’s in it: AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid
The biographical drama details the inspiring life of Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who refused to give up on her dream after losing her left arm in a terrifying shark attack. After her recovery, she makes a brave comeback and sets out to make a difference, thanks to her Christian faith and her family's unwavering support.
7. Fool’s Gold (2008)
Who’s in it: Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Donald Sutherland, Kevin Hart
Destination/Setting: Key West, Florida
It's nothing like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, but the chemistry between Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson is still strong. In this comedy, the duo star as a divorced couple who rekindle their romance while searching for valuable treasure.
8. 50 First Dates (2004)
Who’s in it: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider, Sean Astin
Based on the real-life story of Michelle Philpots, this laugh-out-loud comedy follows Henry, a veterinarian who falls for a woman with short-term memory loss. After learning that her memory resets whenever she falls asleep, he goes above and beyond to remind her of their relationship daily.
9. The Shallows (2016)
Who’s in it: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen
If you like a good jump-scare, you’ll enjoy The Shallows, which tells the story of a medical student who’s mourning the loss of her mother. To cope, she heads to a secluded beach and goes surfing alone. Her adventure turns into a nightmare when a shark attack leaves her injured and stranded on a giant rock.
10. Mamma Mia! (2008)
Who’s in it: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth
Bride-to-be Sophie is excited to walk down the aisle, and she’s hoping to share that moment with her real father (even though she’s never met him). She secretly invites three of her mother’s past lovers to the ceremony, in hopes of discovering which one of them is her dad. Naturally, chaos (and hilarity) ensues.
11. The Last Song (2010)
Who’s in it: Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Bobby Coleman, Kelly Preston
Destination/Setting: North Carolina
Ronnie and her little brother, Jonah, are sent to stay with their father at his beach house during the summer, and she isn’t happy about it. Things take a turn for the better when she meets and falls for a beach volleyball player named Will.
12. The Blue Lagoon (1980)
Who’s in it: Brooke Shields, Christopher Atkins, Leo McKern, William Daniels
Destination/Setting: South Pacific
In this classic beach movie, Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins star as cousins who get stranded on an island after surviving a shipwreck. The two learn how to survive with the help of a fellow castaway named Paddy, but when he passes away, the adolescents must fend for themselves.
13. Teen Beach Movie (2013)
Who’s in it: Ross Lynch, Maia Mitchell, Grace Phipps, Garrett Clayton
While surfing a 40-foot wave at a beach in Waikiki, teens Brady and Mack are swept away into a movie musical called Wet Side Story. However, their presence leads to a big twist when the movie’s romantic leads start to fall for them instead of each other.
14. Blue Crush (2002)
Who’s in it: Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, Sanoe Lake
Destination/Setting: Maui, Hawaii
A skilled surfer girl named Anne Marie prepares for a major, surfing competition—one that could potentially get her and her friends out of poverty. But when Matt, a charming quarterback, comes along, she starts to lose her focus.
15. Paradise Beach (2019)
Who’s in it: Sami Bouajila, Tewfik Jallab, Mélanie Doutey, Hugo Becker
After pulling off the ultimate heist in Paris, a group of thieves head to Thailand to live their best lives. More than a decade later, an old partner is released from prison and tracks them down, demanding to get his long-awaited share of the loot.
16. Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
Who’s in it: Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Scott Glenn
Destination/Setting: North Carolina
Calling all Nicholas Sparks fans! In this adaptation of the namesake romance novel, Diane Lane stars as a woman who heads to Rodanthe, N.C. to escape her chaotic life. While there, she visits her friend's beachside bed-and-breakfast and falls in love with the only guest, Dr. Paul Flanner. Prepare to swoon.
17. On Chesil Beach (2018)
Who’s in it: Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff
Destination/Setting: Dorset, England
Set during the '60s, the British drama revolves around Edward and Florence, two college grads who fall in love despite their many differences. After tying the knot, they honeymoon at Chesil Beach, but their first attempt to consummate the marriage goes horribly wrong, leading to life-changing consequences for them both.
18. Year by the Sea (2017)
Who’s in it: Karen Allen, Yannick Bisson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Michael Cristofer
Destination/Setting: Cape Cod
Inspired by a true story, the comedy drama follows Joan Anderson, a wife and mother who travels to Cape Cod to rediscover herself. This beach movie is refreshing because it centers on a diverse group of older female characters. And of course, the seaside views are a great bonus.
19. Cast Away (2000)
Who’s in it: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy
When Chuck, a FedEx systems analyst, is summoned to resolve an issue in Malaysia, he doesn’t hesitate to board the plane. Due to a violent storm, the plane crashes into the ocean, leaving him stranded on a deserted island. With limited resources and no means of communicating with the outside world, Chuck must find a way to survive and, hopefully, return home.
20. Blue Hawaii (1961)
Who’s in it: Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman, Angela Lansbury, Nancy Walters
The King of Rock & Roll shines as Chadwick Gates, a young man who returns home to Hawaii after serving in the U.S. Army. Although his parents want him to join the family pineapple business, he instead opts for a role at his girlfriend’s agency. His first task, which involves a very flirtatious girl, proves to be a challenge.
21. Beaches (1988)
Who’s in it: Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey, Mayim Bialik, John Heard
Destination/Setting: Atlantic City, New Jersey
The tearjerker drama chronicles the lifelong friendship between Hillary, a successful lawyer, and Cecilia (or “CC”), a singer and actress. After meeting as kids during a vacation in New Jersey, the pair stick with each other through thick and thin as they mature into adulthood and pursue their dreams. The movie boasts a Grammy Award-winning soundtrack and stellar beach views.
22. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Who’s in it: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand
Destination/Setting: Oahu, Hawaii
Trying to avoid an ex can be challenging, and Peter, a budding musician, knows this all too well. After his famous girlfriend, Sarah Marshall, breaks up with him, Peter heads to Hawaii in hopes that he will finally move on. Unfortunately, he stays at the same hotel as Sarah and her new boyfriend. What could possibly go wrong?
23. Couples Retreat (2009)
Who’s in it: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love
Destination/Setting: Bora Bora, French Polynesia
A group of four couples—who are good friends—travel to a stunning resort on the island of Bora Bora for a much-needed getaway. However, their vacation takes an interesting turn when they learn that they must participate in mandatory couples therapy sessions.
24. Aquamarine (2006)
Who’s in it: Emma Roberts, Joanna "JoJo" Levesque, Sara Paxton
While on summer vacation, 13-year-old BFFs discover a friendly mermaid named Aquamarine. After learning that Aquamarine ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage, the girls help her navigate life above the sea while she looks for true love.
25. Flipper (1996)
Who’s in it: Paul Hogan, Elijah Wood, Chelsea Field
Elijah Wood is Sandy Ricks, a young boy who spends the summer on the Florida Gold Coast with his uncle. Initially, he has zero enthusiasm for the trip. But things start to look up when he meets and bonds with a dolphin named “Flipper.”
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