Movies at Sea: 9 Great Boating Movies Everyone Should Watch

A movie image of Robert Redford in All is Lost, best boating movies list.

Watching movies is always fun, even when the flick is painfully bad. 

However, films are even more enjoyable when they feature our favorite hobby – boating! Below are the Boat-Ed team's choices for our favorite nautical-themed movies. 

Then, after you've watched these boating movies, make sure you've passed your boat safety course before hitting the water this season!

1. Steamboat Willie

Screenshot of Mickey Mouse at the helm of the boat in Steamboat Willie, boating movies concept.
Image credit: The Walt Disney Company

Steamboat Willie isn't just a classic — it's one of the first cartoons! This short animated film introduces us to the iconic Mickey Mouse, who pilots a river steamboat, woos Minnie Mouse, and "plays" animals like musical instruments.

This movie is short, doesn't involve any of the latest CGI technology, and is black and white – making it a classic and a must-see for anyone who enjoys being on a boat! 

2. The Perfect Storm

A movie still from The Perfect Storm, boating movies concept.
Image credit: Warner Bros.

This pick tells the real-life story of a fishing boat crew caught in a "perfect storm" after ignoring warnings to avoid a building hurricane. Arguably one of the best boating movies ever, The Perfect Storm is a cautionary tale for all boaters to put safety first.

Had the boat's captain and crew heeded the warnings and responded as a safety-certified boater, tragedy could have been avoided. 

3. Overboard

A movie still from the movie Overboard, best boating movies concept.
Image credit: MGM Pictures

This move is another Boat-Ed team favorite! While not much of the story takes place on a boat, a significant boat event sets the stage for the story that unfolds. 

We're talking about the 1987 version of the film starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Overboard tells of a spoiled heiress who falls overboard and gets amnesia. Russell, the carpenter she fired while on board and whom she previously treated poorly, seeks revenge by convincing her that she's his wife. 

If you think about it too much, the plot could be creepy, but still, hilarity ensues.

4. Jaws

Movie image from Jaws, movies about boats concept.
Image credit: Universal Pictures

You can't have a list of boat movies without including this Steven Spielberg classic. Not only is it a classic monster tale, but it's also chock full of examples of what not to do on a boat if you want to stay safe. 

In the film, a giant, great white shark wreaks havoc on a small resort town. The police chief, a marine biologist, and a professional shark hunter must kill the shark and save the town from its man-eating reign of terror.

This film is a classic must-see for boaters and non-boaters alike – unless you have a fear of sharks attacking while on the water. 

5. Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips, best boating movies concept.
Image credit: Sony Pictures

This movie stars Tom Hanks playing Captain Phillips, a real captain who was taken hostage after Somali pirates hijacked his ship. 

Captain Phillips, released in 2013, received critical acclaim and was a box-office success. In other words, it's a must-see!

6. All Is Lost

Robert Redford in the All is Lost movie poster, best boat movies concept.
Image credit: Lionsgate

All Is Lost is a boating movie that will make even an avid boater think twice about losing sight of the shore. In the drama, a man fights to survive while lost at sea. 

What makes this movie unique is its sole cast member (Robert Redford), who speaks only a few words throughout the intense film. 

As you watch, you may notice the use of a few safety measures and pieces of equipment you will learn about in a Boat-Ed course, so keep your eyes open! 

7. Life of Pi

life of pi
Image credit: 20th Century Fox

The team pegged Life of Pi as one of their favorite boating movies for this list, and with good reason. The stunning film tells the story of Pi Patel, a 16-year-old who survives a shipwreck that kills his entire family. 

Stranded in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, Pi must find a way to survive on his own. Pi's boat contains almost no safety equipment, and we doubt he took a boating safety course before embarking on his journey. However, he manages to defy the odds on an incredible journey at sea. 

8. Master and Commander

Russell Crowe in Master and Commander, best boating movies concept.
Image credit: 20th Century Fox

This boating movie choice stars Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey, who commands the "Surprise" during the Napoleonic Wars. 

After Napoleon chooses Britain as his next target, Captain Aubrey is ordered to track and destroy the "Acheron," a French privateer.

While the ships in the movie have almost no modern-day safety equipment, this is an epic film for anyone who loves boats or being at sea.

9. Finding Nemo

Movie poster for Finding Nemo, best boat movie concept.
Image credit: Disney/Pixar

This movie is set under the sea rather than on it, but it's still a great, family-friendly movie worth mentioning! 

Finding Nemo follows Marlin, an overprotective clownfish father who loses his only surviving son, Nemo, and sets out to, as the title suggests, find him. Watch this movie with your little ones and get them excited about boating! They may even spot a few "Nemos" themselves while out on the water.

Inspired to Get Out on a Boat? Take Your Boat Safety Course First!

Which one is your favorite? We know there are many boating movies to choose from, but this list highlights some of our favorites and some classics every boat enthusiast should see. 

Watch these films as you gear up for boat season. Before taking a boat out onto the water this season, make sure you've passed your boat safety course. Our online boat course is easy to take and convenient, and the information you'll learn could help you avoid some of the situations you'll see in the movies on our list. 

Find the course for your state and start learning! 


Originally published July 30, 2015. Content updated March 28, 2024.