Where was Point Break filmed?
Malibu, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Cannon Beach, OR; Hawaii; Utah
Banks, Beach/Oceanview, American, NatureScapes, Diners/Coffee
Beachfront, Beach house, Helicopter, Office Building Style, Parking Lot
About Point Break
Ocean waves break when they hit the first piece of land jutting out into the ocean from along the coastline. It’s called a point break, and it’s also a fitting name for the 1991 action, crime, and thriller movie.
Spoiler alert: you’ll understand the gist of Point Break and the movie’s plot if you keep reading, although there are other scenes you’ll enjoy watching to fill in the gaps. Most fans prefer the 1991 version of the film even though there is a 2015 remake. Point Break has become a cult classic, with many watching and re-watching the movie, and repeating the quotes from their favorite scenes and characters.
A string of bank robberies is being committed in Los Angeles by a gang that calls themselves the Ex-Presidents. They go into the banks wearing the masks of former presidents Reagan, Nixon, Carter, and Johnson. Instead of robbing the vaults, they just take any cash in the teller drawers and leave. The FBI believes that the gang members might be surfers, and send a young, rookie agent to infiltrate the local surf scene and get to the bottom of the case.
That rookie agent is Johnny Utah, played by Keanu Reeves. He meets Bohdi, played by Patrick Swayze, who is actually the leader of the Ex-Presidents and Reagan during the bank robberies. But Johnny starts enjoying the surfer lifestyle, ad forms a romantic relationship with Tyler, a young woman who also surfs. From there, the groups' escapades really take off.
Point Break Locations
The filming budget was $24 million, and Point Break locations were throughout the West Coast, allowing the producers to capture the scenes needed for the movie. Primary locations were on the coast of California, Utah, and Oregon. The Ex-Presidents' lives center around the ocean and the banks they rob to sustain their lifestyle. In between, they’re also seen at the pier, in restaurants and cafés, and driving around Southern California. Each Point Break filming location helps add context to the scene and build depth in the characters we’re meeting.
Beach cafe scene in Point Break
Neptune’s Net Café, Malibu, CA
The first surfing attempt didn’t go well for Johnny, he almost drowned, but a pretty woman named Tyler saves him. He’s impressed and tries to introduce himself as she paddles back out into the surf, but she doesn’t care.
Johnny needs to learn how to surf, and he knows that Tyler can teach him. She’s not exactly thrilled to see him again though when he shows up at the café where she’s a waitress. Tyler begrudgingly puts his order in. She asks him why he can’t just stick to miniature golf, and he replies, “You don’t understand, I’m going to learn to surf or break my neck.”
The Point Break film scene is authentic because it’s a real restaurant, and we get the full effect, from the cloud of dust outside as Johnny drives up, to the background noise from the other patrons and the light streaming in through the windows as he and Tyler talk. The place has changed some since Point Break was filmed in 1991, but it’s still a popular place to visit and reminisce for the movie’s fans or just get a good meal before heading out for another adventure.
Neptune’s Net Café is located on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, so it’s easy to access using private transportation or ride-share service. Another option is bus line 534, which also travels along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
The “Back off, he’s with me,” scene in Point Break
Leo Carillo State Beach, Malibu, CA
Leo Carillo State Beach in Malibu was the location used for Johnny Utah’s fight scene with the local surfers, it’s considered one of the best scenes in Point Break. The scene opens with Johnny Utah using the outdoor shower after surfing in the Pacific Ocean. Someone turns off the water, he opens his eyes and realizes he’s surrounded by a group of local surfers.
Johnny tries to make a joke and diffuse the situation, but the local surfers are intent on beating him up. A fight starts and Johnny is holding his own for a few minutes, but he’s outnumbered. Soon, two are holding him and the others are punching him. Then, Bodhi shows up and says, “Back off, he’s with me,” and breaks up the fight.
But that’s not the end of it. Johnny punches the group leader in the face, and he and Bodhi end up fighting the group and winning.
“They don’t have any real understanding of the sea, so they’ll never get the spiritual side of it,” Bodhi tells Johnny Utah as they’re walking past the parked cars and away from the beach after winning the fight. Bodhi goes on to tell him, “So, you still haven’t figured out what riding waves is all about. It’s a state of mind. It’s a place where you lose yourself and you find yourself.
It’s easy to get to Leo Carillo State Beach. Line 434 of the Southern California Rapid Transit District runs by here, or you can use private transportation or a rideshare service.
The surfing scenes in Point Break
Waimea Bay Beach Park, Haleiwa, HI
Movie enthusiasts rave about the cinematography in Point Break, including the surf scenes and beaches. Many of these were shot at Waimea Bay Beach Park in Oahu, the big island of Hawaii. Basically, if they were on the beach, the shots were probably filmed at Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu, and the bigger waves we see them surfing are shot at Waimea Bay Beach Park.
This is on the North Shore, which is famous for its surfing. The specific beaches used in Point Break include Pipeline Beach and Sunset Bay. This is a surfer’s paradise and part of the reason that viewers love the cinematography, and the movie has a cult following. We see surf scenes throughout the movie.
Johnny Utah says, “You’re sayin’ the FBI’s gonna pay me to learn to surf?” early in the movie when he finds out about his new assignment. He falls hook, line, and surfboard for the sport and surfing, and it’s the waves, the adrenaline, and the beautiful views that draw him to the sport.
“Feel what the wave is doing, then accept its energy. Get in sync, then charge with it,” is one of the surfing instructions that Bodhi provides Johnny.
Accessing Waimea Bay Beach Park is on bus line 60. You can also use a rideshare service or private transportation options.
The bank robbery scene in Point Break
2444 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA
One of the bank robbery scenes in Point Break was filmed at 2444 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica. The nondescript white building has the perfect façade and interior for a bank location, with tall ceilings, an office space interior, and ample parking outside.
The Ex-Presidents rob a lot of banks and basically have it down to a science. First, they steal a car. They drive to the bank wearing their masks. They leave the running car on the curb, and each Ex-President has a role to play in the bank, with “Nixon” stealing the money from the tellers' drawers while Johnson is responsible for keeping time – they only stay about 60 seconds, and Reagan and Carter keep everyone down on the ground.
“I’m not a crook,” Roach says as they leave the scene of their latest bank robbery. He wears the Richard Nixon mask during the robberies, and there are a couple of meanings to that phrase! He says that as his hands are extended, he’s the last of the four to leave the bank. Then, he moons the people in the bank on his way back to the getaway car.
Mooning people end up being part of the Ex-Presidents' undoing. It’s one of the clues that help Johnny figure out that the guys he’s surfing with are the Ex-Presidents. He notices how close they all are to each other, and that Roach moons the other surfers while hanging around. The Ex-Presidents robbed over 30 banks in three years, they’re not sophisticated robbers, but they’re consistent, and things are about to heat up as Johnny closes in on the case.
Bus lines 2, 4, and 720 of the Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica travel on Wilshire Boulevard. Private transportation and ride-share services are other popular options for getting here.
The skydiving scene in Point Break
Lake Powell, UT
The first skydiving scene follows a shootout where Johnny and his partner had chased the Ex-Presidents. Johnny had a clear shot of Bodhi but shot the air instead. Then, the group is at a campfire when Tyler, Johnny’s girlfriend, discovers that he’s an FBI agent by finding his badge.
Bodhi then aggressively recruits Johnny to go skydiving with the group, and one assumes that Johnny says yes because he’s worried they will kill him if he doesn’t. Although it’s assumed that only Bodhi knows he’s an FBI agent at this point.
“Adios amigo,” Bodhi says as he falls from the plane and into the sky. Fun fact, that’s actually Patrick Swayze making that jump, as he was an experienced skydiver before filming Point Break and convinced the producers to let him make a jump himself, instead of the stunt double.
“Use your arms, fly like an eagle, baby,” Bodhi says to Johnny as they’re all trying to join hands and form a circle while skydiving. They end up floating down, and Bodhi pulls Johnny’s rip cord for him, and they all land in the lake.
Lake Powell can be accessed by bus service from all the major airports and cities, whether Denver (the closest), Salt Lake City, or Cheyenne. Private transportation and ride-share options are also popular choices for getting to Lake Powell.
The final wave scene in Point Break
Ecola State Park, Portland, OR
Johnny has been chasing Bodhi for a long time by the end of the movie. It’s been nine months since their last skydiving escapade. Point Break action scenes are filled with incredible waves, scenery, and fighting, and they saved the best for last. Johnny has chased Bodhi all the way to Bells Beach in Victoria, which was actually filmed at Ecola State Park in Oregon. Johnny is trying to bring Bodhi into custody, while Bodhi is trying to surf a wave in the “50-year storm.”
The two fight and Johnny manages to handcuff Bodhi, but Bodhi begs to be released and surf the wave. These are not the types of waves anyone can survive surfing. Ultimately, Johnny Utah lets Bodhi go, and says “Vaya con Dios,” or “Go with God,” before watching him head towards the wave, where he ultimately dies. Johnny throws his FBI badge into the ocean as he walks away.
You can get to Ecola State Park with private transportation or a rideshare option. There is also the Point bus service, and it takes about two hours to get to Ecola State Park from the Amtrak station in Portland.
In true action, crime, and thriller fashion, many of the characters in Point Break are dead by the end of the movie. Johnny had tried to slow Bodhi down and make him see what was happening, as did some of the other Ex-Presidents. But in the end, Johnny walks away, and all the Ex-Presidents are dead.
Point Break captured the allure and lifestyle of surfing while wrapping it up in with a crime and thriller story. While the storyline is intriguing, the real draw and continued popularity of this movie over the years is more easily attributed to the surfing lifestyle and the appeal that it holds. Point Break shows us that Southern California, its beaches, and surrounding locations are timeless and represent a lifestyle that most people dream of and want to escape to.