Summer is the best time of the year and Hollywood knows it. Big award shows happen in the colder months since once the weather gets warm, celebrities spend their days soaking up the sun on their Hollywood yachts. TV shows go on hiatuses knowing that you, too, are busy playing beach volleyball and having bonfires.
But sometimes, perhaps because the trip to the beach is longer than just a short drive or because mother nature's decided your region needs a little bit of rain, you're stuck inside living vicariously through movie characters. These beachy summer flicks are perfect for a movie night in with your girls to get you pumped for your next summer vacation getaway.
Disney Channel/Francisco Roman
If High School Musical is more your scene, check out Disney Channel's Gen-Z take on the Zac Efron classic. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina dreamboat Ross Lynch steps into Zac's dancing shoes as a regular high school student who gets transported into a 1950s beach party film alongside his BFF and longtime crush, played by The Fosters's Maia Mitchell. Ross and Maia's chemistry is so palpable that people thought they were actually dating at the time, and the retro tunes will even get summer skeptics tapping their toes.
Where To Watch: Disney Now, Amazon Prime ($2.99)
20th Century Fox
Aquamarine is a veritable '00s time capsule, starring teen pop star JoJo, Emma Roberts from her Unfabulous days, and actual mermaid Sara Paxton in a cacophony of tween troubles, oversized sunglasses, and love-at-first-sight fun. Sara plays a mermaid named Aquamarine who needs to prove to her father that true love is real so she can be with a lifeguard she's literally never met before, played by Greek's Jake McDorman. JoJo and Emma's characters, best friends Claire and Hailey, get caught up in her scheme in the hopes that Aquamarine will grant them one wish — to make sure Hailey's family doesn't move away to Australia.
Where To Watch: HBO Now, Amazon Prime ($3.99)
Speaking of Zac Efron, our forever crush is at his prime in this take on the iconic Baywatch franchise. Zac plays hotheaded former Olympian Matt Brody who gets assigned to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's elite team of lifeguards after his hard-partying lands him in some hot water. Matt needs to learn how to work together alongside a team of scantily clad pseudo-beach cops to stop Priyanka Chopra from destroying the shoreline with her flourishing drug trade. It's a funny, raunchy romp perfect for a girls' night in.
Where To Watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime ($2.99)
Fox Searchlight Pictures
This 2013 indie film is severely underrated. A star-studded cast surrounds Liam James as shy teenager Duncan in a coming-of-age tale set in the East Coast seaside mecca of Cape Cod. When Duncan's evil stepfather, played by Steve Carell brings his family to the Cape for the summer season, a job at flailing Water Wizz waterpark under the leadership of Sam Rockwell's Owen shows Duncan what it really means to be part of a family. Word to the wise: bring tissues.
Where To Watch: Amazon Prime ($3.99), YouTube ($3.99)
Blake Lively, America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, and Amber Tambyln's real-life friendship is enough to make Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants a historically significant film, but the chick flick that launched a thousand girls' trips to Santorini is so much more than your typical feel-good summer film. Best friends Tibby, Lena, Bridget, and Carmen spend their first summer apart and discover more about themselves than they ever thought possible. Bridget's trip to a soccer camp in Mexico leads to a crush on her older counselor, Carmen's journey home introduces her to a family she never knew (or wanted), Lena finds love on the Grecian coastline, and Tibby's friendship with a dying girl in her dreary hometown will unlock emotions you didn't even know you had.
Where To Watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime ($3.99)
For a lighter change of pace, check out Jason Segel's hilarious Hawaiian comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Jason's character runs away to a tropical resort after being brutally dumped by the titular Sarah Marshall, played by Kristen Bell. Unfortunately for him, Sarah and her new boyfriend, Russell Brand's rockstar alter-ego Aldous Snow, had the same idea. Hopefully hot hotel receptionist Mila Kunis can help Jason get his groove back while he perfects his Dracula puppet rock opera, A Taste For Love.
Where To Watch: Cinemax, Amazon Prime ($3.99)
We never took Adam Sandler for a romantic lead, but in 50 First Dates (well, and The Wedding Singer), he proves that he can do anything with Drew Barrymore by his side. Set on the island of Oahu, Adam plays a womanizing veterinarian who falls for a woman with short-term memory loss. She wakes up every morning thinking it's her birthday in October, and her family is more than happy to keep up the ruse to protect her from the reality of her life-altering car accident. 50 First Dates proves that love conquers all, even Adam Sandler's penchant for puerile humor.
Warner Home Video
It's nearly impossible to find this Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen classic on streaming services, but we're still including Holiday in the Sun on this list because it is the absolute GOAT of throwback summer films. Mary-Kate and Ashley face off against Megan Fox in a battle for love while they casually thwart an international smuggling ring on the side in this movie about friendship, healthy materialism, and the spirit of sisterhood set at the Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas.
Where To Watch: iTunes ($14.99), DVD
Zac Efron is the undisputed king of seaside comedies. In this based-on-a-true-story tale of two hard-partying brothers, Zac and Adam Devine meet their matches in Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick as a pair of stoner best friends who answer their Craigslist ad for wedding dates to an all-expenses-paid Hawaiian wedding. Aubrey and Anna trick the brothers into thinking they're the perfect girls to take home to your mother with an elaborate scheme, but chaos ensues as their true colors begin to shine through.
Global Road Entertainment
Yung Smurf can act, y'all. Bella Thorne stars alongside Patrick Swarzenegger in what is essentially A Walk To Remember with boats. Bella's character Katie can't go into the sun because of a rare disease, but somehow still manages to meet a hot guy that wants to exclusively date her, proving that this movie is not rooted in reality. Katie tries to hide her condition to protect the fledgling romance, but all bets are off when her condition takes a turn for the worse.
Where To Watch: Showtime, Amazon Prime ($3.99)
How Stella Got Her Groove Back introduced the world to Broadway actor Taye Diggs, which makes it required viewing. Golden Globe winner Angela Basset, EGOT Whoopi Goldberg, and Regina King (who's one Tony away from an EGOT, too) round out the cast of heavy-hitting actors who apparently decided 1998 was the year to take a break from awards bait and do a romantic comedy. Angela Basset's Stella takes a much-deserved vacation to Jamaica where she falls for a man 20 years her junior that forces the businesswoman and single mother to take a second look at her all-work, no-play lifestyle. It's like Eat, Pray, Love, but neither corny nor appropriative.
Maybe Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle isn't your typical beach movie. It does start in a snowy Russian bar, after all. But this spy thriller also spends a good amount of time in Hermosa Beach prepping for Luke Wilson's high school reunion, and it wouldn't be a Charlie's Angels film without a few boat chases and tons of excuses to put its leads in bikinis. You don't need to watch the first film to understand this sequel that dives deeper into one of the Angels' dark pasts, but they're both a girl-powered good time, so you might as well make it a double feature.
Where To Watch: Cinemax, Amazon Prime ($2.99)
Based on the novel of the same name, Something Borrowed features some stunning views of The Hamptons as Ginnifer Goodwin's Rachel accidentally steals her best friend's fiancé, much to the chagrin of her low-key love-struck confidante, played by John Krasinski. The film splits its action between the beach and New York City to remind you why New Yorkers flee to Long Island at every opportunity during the humid summer months. The leads' morals might exist in a foggy grey area, but the ocean is blue and crystal clear.
Where To Watch: Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99)
Mamma Mia 2: Mamma's Revenge might have been the biggest movie of summer '18 because of Lily James's scene stealing performance and an appearence by boss b*tch Cher, but we're partial to the movie musical that started it all. Amanda Seyfried causes trouble in her single mother's life when she invites three men that might be her father to her big fat Grecian wedding. Because it wouldn't be a musical without daddy issues Pierce Brosnan an ill advised scheme.
Considering we've given The Goon Docks beach in Astoria, Oregan multiple shoutouts in our Best Beaches in the U.S. and Vacation Spots From Your Favorite Movies articles, it's only natural we give a shoutout to the cult classic as one of the best beach movies of all time. A group of kids try to find a pirate's buried treasure before a family of criminals beats them to it. Who needs Stranger Things when you have an *actual* 80s tween adventure to watch?
No list of the best beach movies would be complete without Blue Crush, the surf-centric romance that introduced Kate Bosworth to an unsuspecting world. In the film, Kate's character, Anne Marie, is on her way to becoming a surf legend, but certified hottie Matt Toleman might be getting in her way. Kate has to choose between her love for Matt and her love for the waves before the Rip Masters surf competition makes or breaks her career. Watch if you're a fan of sports films, romcoms, and beach views that will make you want to buy a one-way plane ticket to Hawaii.
Where To Watch: Starz, Amazon Prime ($3.99)
If Baywatch, 21 Jump Street, and Blue Crush had a baby, it would be Kathryn Bigalow's buddy cop movie Point Break. Keanu Reeves plays an undercover cop who goes in a little too deep when investigating a group of high-profile bank robbers. Naturally, these criminals are just adreline junky surfers chasing an even bigger high, regardless of the consequences. Rolling Stone called Point Break "the greatest female-gaze action movie ever,” which sounds like all we’ve ever wanted.
Walt Disney Pictures
While Moana was a strong contender for the title of Best Disney Summer Film, we had to go with the throwback classic Lilo & Stitch. Set in a small Hawaiian town, Lilo and her older sister Nani are trying to navigate life without their parents when Lilo adopts a weird blue dog who sings Elvis and ends up being an alien on the run from intergalactic special agents. Lilo & Stitch teaches us the true meaning of "ohana" and the power of second chances.
Where To Watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime ($2.99)