I hate when lists say the best. So these maybe aren’t the best books for your surf trip – after all, who am I to know what kind of books you like? Also, I haven’t read every book. That’s what makes reading so great – there are always more books to read, and if not, you can go write one.
However, I have read a lot of books, and I’ve read more than a few while on surf trips. You’ll find that they usually aren’t actually about surfing. I tend to save those for when I’m not surfing (although some classic surfing books are included). However, they usually have something to do with living a life around the ocean – sailing, fishing, maybe disappearing to some island in the South Pacific (there are a few of those).
When I’m staring at the horizon, surfed out and blissful, half awake and laying in a hammock while I rest up for my next session, a book about surfing might not be what I need, but one that takes me adrift, slowly island-hopping across the South Pacific or a tale of human survival on the seas, that might really do the trick.
If this list is missing what you need, be sure to check out our complete list of travel book reviews and recommendations. Here you’ll find some less swarthy, but equally trip-worthy reads.
Some Great Surf Trip Books
South Sea Vagabonds – J.W. Wray
South Sea Vagabonds is a true travel tale as well as a glimpse into the world before we all came to expect instant gratification. Need a sailboat? Build it.
This is my all-time favorite travel book.
South Sea Vagabonds – J.W. Wray | Amazon
The Happy Isles of Oceana – Paul Theroux
The Voyage of the Cormorant – Christian Beamish
Bad Karma – Paul Wilson
Bad Karma: The True Story of a Mexico Trip From Hell
Cosmic Banditos – Allan Weisbecker
In Search of Captain Zero – Allan Weisbecker
In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer’s Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road – Allan Weisbecker
Kon Tiki – Thor Heyerdahl
Sex Lives of Cannibals – J. Maarten Troost
Laugh out loud funny writing that will have you reading lines to whoever happens to be sitting next to you. Yes, you will be that highly entertained, giggling idiot on the airplane. The Sex Lives of Cannibals will have you either plotting your next trip to the Pacific islands, or promising yourself to abandon those dreams of giving up society for the beachcombing life on some uncharted atoll.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals – J. Maarten Troost | Amazon
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life – William Finnegan
Motorcycle Diaries – Ernesto Che Guevara
Year of the Monkey – Patti Smith
In this modern-day On The Road, the legend Patti Smith takes us on an American road trip that will leave you wondering which part is real and which isn’t.
Year of the Monkey – Patti Smith | Amazon
The Short Stories – Ernest Hemingway
The Rum Diary – Hunter S. Thompson
Without Maps – Graham Greene
438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea – Jonathan Franklin
The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across The Last Untamed Frontier – Ian Urbina
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