The Endless Summer — The Milestone for many of a Generation

Phil Plumley
3 min readAug 23, 2021

If you have never heard of the movie The Endless Summer, you most likelu have seen the poster ad within a tv series or a movie. Three guys at sunset on a beach holding their boards.

It depicted a generation and its state of mind. Surfing was almost a vehicle, or a leitmotiv. The movie marked its time.

In essence, the movie is a story based on the notion that if a surfer had cash and time, he could be chasing the perfect wave around the world and enjoying every moment of a long and Endless Summer… eternal.

This movie marked a culture.

Right from the start, it opens with the notion of how summer means sun and fun. Recreation. A break from the rest of the year where one, if in sunny California, can look forward to go surfing.

The adventure starts when once decided that they would be traveling the world in search of waves, they decide to embark on a life changing experience, where they start their tour in west Africa.

They share their feelings of the places they visit, and find surf spots. They also meet people who take them to new surf spots, such as St Francis in South Africa. It is the spirit of adventure and of traiblazing in this movie that very much represents what we know as the California state of mind.

While it may seem like something ordinary nowdays, back then this was adventure and the movie offered a crossroads for many people, where they realised after seing this movie that they could change their lives, set out elsewhere in the world. A sense of freedom. (Keep in mind that easy travel was not a thing like it has been in the last few decades).

They do come back to California. They do share a lot of their philosophy throughout the movie, surfing is the vehicle that tells the story.

By today’s standards, to criticise the movie would be like criticising a Jeep, in the sense that there are a lot of hard core fans out there who would not take any criticism kindly.

That said, it set the style of a narrator to image, of which Bruce Brown is now legendary famous for. He set the standard. He also exported the California spirit around the world with the movie.

In fact, if anyone else tried to speak like him, or copied his style, he would have failed. Bruce Brown was right in the culture that we see today as the surf culture. From skateboards, to dirt bikes, to hobie cats. All those people knew who Bruce Brown was, and Bruce knew most of them back. These were groups and sports that today are global, but back then were very local to California.

If you still have not seen this movie, make a point to do so. You will enjoy it. You will notice how the world was different then and how much it has changed. The world of surfing certainly has. Nobody uses such long boards anymore. There are a lot more surfers. It is more crowded. There are a lot of rules…

Phil Plumley

Environmentalist / Ocean Matters podcast / SDGs