Digital eyes on the surf was predicted in 1987’s surf-spoof movie Back to the Beach (click here if you want to see that surf cam prophecy) but didn’t hit the real world until Feb 1996 when Sean Collins installed the world’s first surf cam at Huntington Beach.

As the years passed, more companies joined the surf cam game, making it a relatively open market. The increased competition meant better quality surf cams and more locations.

But the rise of surf cams has been a sword with two blades. Yeah, they’ve made it easier for surfers to check the conditions and plan their sessions. But, surf cams also mean crowded lineups and pissed off locals.

Here are 200 surf cam/surf report links to cover wherever you live in the world.


North America Surf Reports / Surf Cams

However you see the rise of the surf cam, good or evil, there whole biz was built on the shoulders of one man, the surf cam/surf report king Sean Collins.

But before the surf cam/surf report, Collins, who was born in Pasadena in 1952, surfed, loved trying to figure out how the lines on a meteorological map translated to the beach.

Unlike other surfers, Collins dived…deep…into the weather info that came from satellite photos, data from at-sea ships and NOAA millibar charts.

Pretty soon, Sean Colins had his own surf report biz. No surf cams yet but they’d come.

As described in the Encyclopedia of Surfing (and which you should subscribe to),

“Although Collins was a junior college dropout with no formal meteorological training, he had nonetheless earned a local reputation as a wave-predicting genius by 1984 when he joined Surfline, a new Huntington Beach pay-per-call phone service.

“Surfline launched in March 1985, utilizing the just-approved 976 customer toll numbers; for 55 cents, callers got a recorded description of the surf, updated twice daily, plus a 72-hour Collins-formulated wave forecast.

“Less than two years later Collins left Surfline and founded Wavetrak, a competing phone service. The two companies merged in 1991; together they received more than a million calls that year, and by 1993 Surfline-Wavetrak was covering 11 U.S. coastal states, Mexico, the Caribbean, and much of Central America. Surfline jumped to the internet in 1995; three years later Collins bought the entire Surfline-Wavetrak operation. In 2000 he sold the company to, but stayed on as Surfline’s president and Chief Weather Officer, overseeing 10 full-time employees.

“Not everybody was happy with Collins’s ever-more accurate wave predictions. Many of California’s surf breaks were already filled to capacity by the time Surfline launched, and Collins’s service had almost certainly made the crowds worse.

“‘If you live by the beach,’ as one surf magazine letter-writer put it in 1993, ‘you know what’s happening with the surf. If you live in Kookamonga or some inland valley, you don’t have a clue, unless some capitalistic scumbag sells the information to every wannabe this side of Bakersfield.’

“Collins admitted that Surfline and the rest of the forecasting services had not only put more bodies in the lineup on good days, but that the new science had reduced the sport’s mystique.

“‘Some of the magic is gone,’ he said in 1998, recalling a bygone era of the unannounced and seemingly miraculous arrival of good waves. But he also pointed out that surfers were no longer wasting time on fruitless wave hunts.”

In 2002, Surfer magazine named Sean Collins the eighth most powerful person in surfing. The surf cam/surf report a game-changer by any measure.

The king of the surf cam/surf reports died of a heart attack while playing tennis in 2011. Thousands of surfers paddled out to celebrate the life of the surf cam/surf report pioneer at Huntington Beach shortly after.