We’ve scoured the internet (so you don’t have to) to bring you this mega list of the most famous surfers on the planet - male and female.

Fame is measured in more ways than just instagram followers, which is why this list incorporates not just social media metrics, but more importantly their impact to the sport as a whole. 

Keep reading to discover the icons of surfing, the people that have put our sport on the map, the celebrated athletes that have influenced generations - and continue to do so...


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MEGA LIST: WORLDS MOST FAMOUS SURFERS 

1. KELLY SLATER

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: FEBRUARY 11, 1972
  • NATIONALITY: AMERICAN

Kelly Slater is without doubt the most famous male surfer on the planet. 

In his long career - spanning three decades - Kelly has won everything there has to be won, including:

  • 11 World Titles
  • 8 Pipe Masters Events (plus 3 Volcom Pipe Pro's)
  • 5 Gold Coast Pro Events
  • 5 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Events
  • 6 Quicksilver Pro (France) Events

Just to mention a few. 

Kelly is also famous for his relationships with celebrities Pamela Anderson and Gisele Bündchen, alongside his role in the worldwide hit show "Baywatch" in the 90's.

Kelly holds the record for both the youngest, and the oldest ever world champion, and is still competing to this day at age 51. 

He is the legend of our sport, the absolute GOAT above all GOAT's, and his achievements and impact dwarf the rest of the famous surfers on this list. 

FOLLOW: @kellyslater


2. STEPHANIE GILMORE

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: JANUARY 29, 1988
  • NATIONALITY: AUSTRALIAN

Stephanie Gilmore, from the small town of Murwillumbah in New South Wales has arguably had a bigger impact on women's surfing than any other surfer in the world. 

An eight time world champion, she is the most successful female surfer ever on the planet. 

But her fame and notoriety don't just come from her competitive success, far from it, it's her style and grace on a wave that has thrust her image onto the walls of young surfers around the planet. 

Steph's influence on women's surfing cannot be underestimated, helping push the sport into the limelight and inspire a whole generation of young female frothers.


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3. JOHN JOHN FLORENCE

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: OCTOBER 18, 1992
  • NATIONALITY: HAWAIIAN

John John's influence on the sport of surfing has been huge, and it's been done without being brash, without shouting and shameless self promotion - instead with integrity, honest, and raw talent. 

Growing up on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, John's home break was Pipeline, and he was regularly seen charging huge waves from the early age of 8. 

And nothing seems to have stopped since then. 

In his competitive career he as amassed two World Titles and a bunch of other WCT victories too, with many years compromised with injury along the way. 

Regardless of his competitive accolades it's his free surfing that he is most famous for, whether that's charging huge waves at Pipeline, or launching monster airs at Backdoor - it's here that his biggest impact can be felt. 

A generational talent, and a surfing icon that will go down in history as one of the top male surfers of all time.


4. LISA ANDERSON

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: MARCH 22, 1969
  • NATIONALITY: AMERICAN

Lisa Anderson's impact on women's surfing cannot be understated, she literally changed the way the sport was perceived. 

Before Lisa hit the scene women's surfing was seen as butch, masculine, and a sport reserved just for men. 

After Lisa Anderson though, that all changed. 

Her effortless, feminine style, power, grace and flow inspired a whole new generation of young girls to get in the surf. 

But she wasn't just famous for her surfing style, she backed it up with a ridiculously competitive career too, with four World Titles to her name, and a boatload of WCT wins. 

Lisa Anderson is a total legend of our sport, who's impact is felt far and wide. 


5. ANDY IRONS

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: JULY 24, 1978 
  • NATIONALITY: HAWAIIAN

Andy Irons was one of the most fierce competitors our sport has ever known. 

Famous for his rivalry with Kelly Slater, they went back and forth in some of the biggest competitive battles surfing has ever seen. 

He was also famous for is aggressive approach to waves, manhandling huge waves and surfing them like they were tiny, paving the way for surfers like John John Florence today. 

Sadly though, Andy died on November 2, 2010, shocking the surfing world in the process. 

A three time World Champion, Andy's surfing and personality have left their mark on the surfing world, and will never be forgotten. 


6. LAIRD HAMILTON

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: MARCH 2, 1964
  • NATIONALITY: AMERICAN

Laird Hamilton is less famous for his competitive achievements, and more so for his pioneering approaches to surfing big waves. 

Laird famously discovered big wave surf spot Jaws (or Peahi), and caught what's known as the 'Millennium Wave' at Teahupo - quite possibly the most famous image in surfing. 

Alongside that, Laird pioneered tow surfing, being the first to do it at Jaws, opening up a spectrum of waves that had previously been perceived as un-surfable. 

Nowadays Laird is well known for his contributions to health and fitness, running elite retreats from his home in Malibu, USA.


7. BETHANY HAMILTON

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: FEBRUARY 8, 1990
  • NATIONALITY: AMERICAN

Bethany Hamilton frickin rips. 

She was one of the most highly touted young prospects to come out of Hawaii as a junior winning multiple NSSA titles, alongside a boat-load of other accolades. 

That all came to an end however after a nearly fatal shark attack in her home of Kauai.

This crazy story took the world by storm, broadcast the world over.

Since the shark incident Bethany has gone on to share her story across the globe, releasing a best selling book, appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and even having a movie (Surfer Girl) made about her story. 

And, regardless of the setback of now having just the one arm, Bethany continues to compete at the highest level, surfing some of the biggest waves on the planet. 

A true inspiration.


8. TOM CURREN

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: JULY 3, 1964
  • NATIONALITY: AMERICAN

If you grew up in the early 80's chances are your favourite surfer is Tom Curren. 

Famous for his silky smooth style, and his unique approach to surfing a wave, his surfing inspired a generation. 

But it wasn't all about the style, he backed it up with an illustrious competitive career too, winning three World Titles and numerous WCT wins along the way.

Not to mention his celebrated rivalry with Mark Occhilupo (Occy), showcasing some of the most eagerly anticipated heats in history.

Tom Curren is one of surfing's most iconic figures, and his legacy continues to inspire even to this day.


9. GABRIEL MEDINA

BIO

  • STANCE: GOOFY
  • DATE OF BIRTH: DECEMBER 22, 1993
  • NATIONALITY: BRAZILIAN

If Instagram followers are anything to go by Gabriel Medina could be considered the most famous surfer on the planet, by a long way!

With 11.1 Million followers his impact is huge. 

But don't let that confuse you into thinking he's all about selfies, and self promotion - he's not. 

He is an absolute beast, and one of, if not the most gifted surfers to ever step foot on a board (according to Joel Parkinson he is at least).

With two world titles already under his belt and undoubtably many more to come, Gabriel Medina spearheaded (alongside Adriano De Souza) the now infamous 'Brazilian Storm'.

A changing of the guard if you will, from Australia & the USA, to Brazil, their dominance in recent years has been off the charts.


10. MICK FANNING

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: JUNE 13, 1981 
  • NATIONALITY: AUSTRALIAN

Mick Fanning is know as the hardest working surfer on the planet, and is currently the only surfer in the world to be making over a million dollars per year - whilst being retired from competitive surfing!

Well done Mick if you ask me. 

But you only get deals like that when you have something to back it up, and Mick definitely has that. 

Being amongst an elite group of the worlds best to ever achieve the accolade of three World Titles - he's fully cemented his legacy in the sport. 

However, arguably Mick's most famous worldwide not for his surfing, but for his shark attack by a Great White on live TV during the Billabong Pro Event in Jeffries Bay in 2015.

Literally on live TV Mick had to fend off the attack of a Great White Shark, and thankfully lived to tell the tale - what a legend that guy is.

FOLLOW: @mfanno


11. LAYNE BEACHLEY

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: MAY 24, 1972
  • NATIONALITY: AUSTRALIAN

Layne Beachley came to fame in the early 90's as a staunch competitor to Lisa Anderson. 

Her raw competitive drive and natural talent saw her burst onto the scene and ruffle a few feathers in the process. 

She went on to dominate the sport for nearly a decade, picking up seven world titles in total, with six of those coming back to back. 

No surfer, male or female, has ever matched that feat.


12. MARK RICHARDS

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: MARCH 7, 1957 
  • NATIONALITY: AUSTRALIAN

Mark Richards, aka 'The Wounded Gull' or MR, is one of Australia's most successful surfers of all time, winning three World Titles in total. 

But that's not even what he's most famous for...

Instead, it's his revolutionary Twin-Fin board design that he's most renowned for. 

Prior to the Twin Fin, surfers would exclusively ride surfboards with just a single fin, but MR changed all that. 

Riding his patented Twin Fins in competition and completely shifting the paradigm of what was possible at the time. 


13. CARISSA MOORE

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: AUGUST 27, 1992
  • NATIONALITY: HAWAIIAN

Carissa Moore has been one of the few surfers to challenge Stephanie Gilmore's dominance over the past decade, racking up a massive five World Titles in the process - with likely many more to come. 

Her surfing is some of the most powerful and progressive the women's sport has ever seen, and she's long been touted as a potential prospect to eclipse Steph's current records. 

A joy to watch, and a competitive animal in the water, Carissa is amongst surfings elite that's for sure.

FOLLOW: @rissmoore10


14. ROB MACHADO

BIO

  • STANCE: GOOFY
  • DATE OF BIRTH:  OCTOBER 16, 1973
  • NATIONALITY: AMERICAN

Rob Machado is one of the OG's, spearheading the 'Momentum Generation' alongside Kelly Slater. 

Going against the grain of your clean cut, traditional competitive surfer, Rob instead went a different way, ditching the competitive arena and focusing on free-surfing instead. 

Rob's eternal style, and relaxed approached paved the way for a new type of surfer - the free surfer - a career in the industry outside of competition.

Countless surfers to this day owe their carreers to the path paved by Rob in the 90's and early 2000's.

FOLLOW: @rob_machado


15. JAMIE OBRIEN

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: JUNE 9, 1983 
  • NATIONALITY: HAWAIIAN

Jamie Obrien is the worlds most famous surfer on YouTube with over 800k Subscribers. 

Couple that with his 1.1M Instagram followers and you have a juggernaut in the industry, with an enormous audience. 

But don't let that fool you into thinking this guy is all about pranks, and gimmicks, he's not. 

In fact he's arguably the best surfer at Pipeline there has ever been. 

Unlike some, his fame out of the water is backed up by insane talent in it - which is a welcome change if you ask me.

FOLLOW: @whoisjob


16. MARK OCCHILUPO

BIO

  • STANCE: GOOFY
  • DATE OF BIRTH: AUGUST 16, 1966 
  • NATIONALITY: AUSTRALIAN

Mark Occhilupo, aka 'Occy' or the 'Raging Bull' is the most famous Goofy footer ever (at least in legacy terms that is).

A one of a kind, Occy rose to fame in the 80's thrust into the limelight for his unique power-based approached, coupled with his well documented rivalry with Tom Curran too. 

Widely regarded by many of his peers to possess the best backhand attack in the world (if you need proof, check out this), they don't come any more iconic that the 'Oc'.


17. GERRY LOPEZ

BIO

  • STANCE: GOOFY
  • DATE OF BIRTH: NOVEMBER 7, 1948
  • NATIONALITY: HAWAIIAN

Gerry Lopez is known as 'Mr Pipeline'.

Why?

Well, when everyone else was getting bounced around doing cutbacks at Sunset Beach, Gerry Lopez was getting spat out of tubes at Pipeline - literally revolutionising the way the wave was surfed. 

His legacy at Pipe is unrivalled, and the stories of his tenure at the top of the pecking order in the infamous Pipeline hierarchy the stuff of legend. 

Gerry Lopez is one of, if not the most famous surfers from the 70's.

If you haven't watched it already, do yourself a favour and go watch 'The Yin & Yang Of Gerry Lopez' Movie here for free.


18. DANE REYNOLDS

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: SEPTEMBER 7, 1985
  • NATIONALITY: AMERICAN

Every now and then a surfer pops out of the woodwork and changes things completely. 

Dane Reynolds is one of these.

Blasting onto the scene in the early 2000's Dane's unique approach took the surfing world by storm.

Never before had we seen such power, such aggression, or high performance surfing. 

But what made Dane different was the way he went about it.

Unlike other surfers at the time who's image was controlled by their sponsors, Dane took things into his own hands with his now infamous Marine Layer Productions videos - short form, raw surfing content filmed from is hometown of Ventura. 

Might not seem like much today, but Dane set the foundations for surfers to take ownership of their image, and control their own destiny's in the sport. 

Oh, and just so you know, he was basically the best surfer we'd ever seen at the time too.

#welovedane

FOLLOW: @sealtooth/


19. FRIEDA ZAMBA

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: NOVEMBER 5, 1964
  • NATIONALITY: AMERICAN

Frieda Zamba is OG of women's surfing, setting the stage and pathways for future generations to follow.

Born in Florida, USA, Frieda went on to dominate the sport in the 80's winning four World Titles in total. 

Without legends of the sport like Frieda, women's surfing would never be where it is now.

Thanks Frieda 🙌


20. TOM CAROLL

BIO

  • STANCE: GOOFY
  • DATE OF BIRTH: NOVEMBER 26, 1961
  • NATIONALITY: AUSTRALIAN

Tom Carroll will go down in history as one of the best ever Goofy footers on the planet.

Competing on the scene in the 80's Tom went on to win multiple World Titles in '83 & '84 and is one of Australias most decorated surfers. 

Tom is famous too for is mid-face carving stall at maxed out Pipe (ref image above) that redefined what was possible in waves of this size, inspiring a new generation of surfers in the process.


21. WENDY BOTHA

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: DECEMBER 17, 1965
  • NATIONALITY: SOUTH AFRICAN

Wendy Botha is the only South African female to ever win a World Title (two in fact) to this day. 

Winning back to back titles in '87 and '89 and going on to win a crazy four in total, Wendy's approach was before her time, and she'll forever be known for her powerful carves and fearless approach to big waves.

A true OG legend of the sport.

FOLLOW: @wendy_botha


22. SUNNY GARCIA

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: JANUARY 14, 1970
  • NATIONALITY: HAWAIIAN

World renowned as one of the gnarliest locals in Hawaii in the early 90's & 2000's, Sunny Garcia was a force to be reckoned with. 

One of the most powerful humans to ever step foot on a surfboard, Sunny could through buckets of spray on even the smallest of waves. 

Still to this day, Sunny holds the record for most Hawaiian Triple Crowns ever, six, not to mention him backing this up with a World Title of his own too.

A true icon of Hawaiian surfing. 

FOLLOW: @sunnygarcia


23. EDDIE AIKAU

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: MAY 4, 1946
  • NATIONALITY: HAWAIIAN

Eddie Aikau will be remembered as one of the greatest waterman of all time. 

A fearless, proud Hawaiian, Eddie redefined what was possible in big waves. 

Famous for his no-fear attitude at the mecca of big wave surfing 'Wiamea Bay' in the 60's, Eddie sadly passed away at the young age of 31 in a rescue trying to seek help for a stranded canoe.

In his name we now celebrate the 'Eddie Aikau Invitational Big Wave Event' at Wiamea in his honour, with the best big wave surfers in the world flying in from all over to compete. 

"Eddie Would Go!"


24. SIMON ANDERSON

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: JULY 7, 1954
  • NATIONALITY: AUSTRALIAN

Simon Anderson famously pioneered the three fin thruster surfboard at the Rip Curl Bells Beach event in 1981. 

Surfing is own, self-shaped surfboard, and revolutionary new fin setup he went onto win the event surfing in a way that was unseen up until that point. 

This fin setup is the default of choice by the worlds best right up until this day.


25. TYLER WRIGHT

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: MARCH 31, 1994 
  • NATIONALITY: AUSTRALIAN

Tyler is the youngest surfer on this whole list! Go Tyler.

Coming from a lineage of insane surfers (her brothers Owen and Mikey both competing on the WSL), it seemed almost predestined that Tyler would reach surfing greatness. 

And two World Titles are testament to just that. 

Blasting onto the scenes at the young age of 14, Tyler took it to the worlds best beating them all to win the Layne Beachley Classic in Sydney - still to this day the youngest ever to win a WCT event. 

FOLLOW: @tylerwright


26. JOEL PARKINSON

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: APRIL 10, 1981
  • NATIONALITY: AUSTRALIAN

Joel Parkinson, one of the original 'Coolie Kids" alongside Mick Fanning and Dean Morrison has had an immeasurable influence on our sport. 

Growing up on the sand bottom points of Coolangatta, Aus, Parko's style is what he's most famous for. 

In a generation of cookie-cutter, over-coached lookalike surfers, Parko stands apart with a style unique to his own.

Long, powerful drawn out carves, clean lines, and crazy tube rides - a beauty to watch that's for sure. 

FOLLOW: @joelparko


27. BRUCE IRONS

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: NOVEMBER 16, 1979
  • NATIONALITY: HAWAIIAN

Bruce Irons, Andy Irons' little brother, rose to fame in his own right in the early 2000's. 

Whereas Andy chose the competitive route, Bruce took to the free-surfing approach, scouring the world for the biggest tubes, and the biggest ramps. 

For a while there (much to his brothers annoyance I'm sure), Bruce was the hottest surfing property on the planet, knocking off none other than Kelly Slater from the end section of the famous end sections in Taylor Steels movie. 

FOLLOW: @bruceirons


28. WAYNE BARTHOLOMEW

BIO

  • STANCE: REGULAR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: MAY 13, 1954 
  • NATIONALITY: AUSTRALIAN

Wayne, aka 'Rabbit' rose to fame in the '70's during the golden era of surfing, going on to win two World Titles.

But arguably his biggest legacy comes not from his surfing in the water, but his impact on competitive surfing from without, famously spearheading the ASP's direction at the time away from crappy beach break waves, to the best waves on the planet.

The Dream Tour was born.

Still to this day this transition away from populated urban beaches to the best waves instead lives on.


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CONCLUSION

Like I said at the start this list takes into account more than just Instagram followers, and instead focuses on legacy and impact too. 

This list of the Worlds Most Famous Surfers is accurate for all the right reasons, and if it wasn't for these athletes, we wouldn't all be where we are today. 

Is there anyone I've missed (I'm sure there is) that absolutely has to be on this list?

If so, chuck 'em in the comments below:

ROWAN CLIFFORD

Rowan is the technical nerd behind the scenes. A lover of everything entrepreneurial, and living a minimal, simple life.

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