Johnny Tsunami

Last Updated on: January 20th, 2024

Johnny Tsunami (Disney Channel Original Movie)

“Johnny Tsunami” is a Disney Channel Original Movie that premiered in 1999. It is a coming-of-age sports drama film directed by Steve Boyum. The movie tells the story of a young Hawaiian surfer named Johnny Kapahala, played by Brandon Baker, who moves to Vermont with his family and faces the challenges of adapting to a completely different lifestyle.

In Hawaii, Johnny is known for his exceptional surfing skills and is nicknamed “Johnny Tsunami” by his friends. However, his life takes a turn when his father gets a job offer in Vermont, and they have to leave the warm beaches of Hawaii for the snowy mountains of Vermont. Johnny is initially hesitant about the move and struggles to fit in with his new environment.

Once in Vermont, Johnny finds it difficult to adjust to the local culture and the lack of waves for surfing. He also faces bullying from the local snowboarders, led by Brett, played by Zach Bostrom. However, he discovers a new passion for snowboarding and becomes friends with a young snowboarder named Sam, played by Lee Thompson Young.

As Johnny becomes more involved in snowboarding, he finds himself torn between his love for surfing and his newfound passion for snowboarding. He must navigate the challenges of balancing both worlds and learn to embrace his unique identity.

Throughout the movie, Johnny learns valuable lessons about acceptance, friendship, and being true to oneself. He bridges the gap between the two groups of athletes and teaches them to appreciate and respect each other’s sports and cultures.

“Johnny Tsunami” was well-received by audiences and critics for its positive messages and cultural representation. It highlighted the importance of diversity and friendship and celebrated the Hawaiian and Vermont cultures. The film’s portrayal of snowboarding and surfing also inspired young viewers to take up these sports and appreciate their significance.

The success of “Johnny Tsunami” led to a sequel titled “Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board,” where Johnny returns to Hawaii to visit his grandfather and gets involved in a new adventure. Both films became iconic in the Disney Channel Original Movie lineup and have remained popular among audiences, showcasing the power of determination, friendship, and embracing one’s unique passions.

Additional Details

  • Movie Studio:
  • Year Released: 1999
  • Type of Movie: Live Action
  • Movie Platform: Disney Channel Original Movie
  • IMDB Link


  • Brandon Baker: Johnny “Pono” Kapahala
  • Yuji Okumoto: Pete Kapahala
  • Mary Page Keller: Melanie Kapahala
  • Lee Thompson Young: Sam Sterling
  • Kirsten Storms: Emily Pritchard
  • Zachary Bostrom: Brett
  • Gregory Itzin: Headmaster Pritchard
  • Cylk Cozart: Sergeant Sterling
  • Steve Van Wormer: Randy / Ronnie
  • Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa: Grandpa Johnny “Tsunami” Kapahala
  • Gabriel Luque: Matt
  • Taylor Moore: Jake
  • Anthony DiFranco: Eddie
  • Noah Bastian: Aaron
  • Anne Sward: Miss Arthur
  • Kevin Clifford: Garbage Man


  • Director: Steve Boyum
  • Producer: Gerald T. Olson

Movie Trailer:

About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other sites include DMR and