Whether you are picturing the warm sands of a tropical beach or a sweet childhood memory of Coney Island, we all love songs about islands.
For this list, we assembled a number of songs to transport you to the Caribbean, New Zealand, Ireland, and even more islands.
Let's dive in!
“Island Song” By Zac Brown Band
Song Year: 2012
We wanted to start our list with a song that captures the classic reggae feel of a tropical island song. What track could do that better than Zac Brown Band's 2012 “Island Song”?
This song is a departure from Zac Brown's more common country sound but don't that mislead you. This song uses a simple melody and chill lyrics to evoke the laid-back island living many of us fantasize about.
“Island in the Sun” By Harry Belafonte
Song Year: 1957
Harry “King of Calypso” Belafonte wrote and performed this song in the 1957 film of the same name, where he starred opposite Joan Fontaine.
Over 40 artists have done covers of this track, including Belafonte himself, who performed an updated version in 2017 with new lyrics written by his son, David.
The song captured the idyllic simplicity of everyday life in the Caribbean and was a massive hit for Belafonte.
“To the Island” By Crowded House
Song Year: 2021
Better known for their iconic 80's hit, “Don't Dream It's Over,” Crowded House in 2021 with this delightfully dark call to escape the world and return to the island.
While the island in question is seemingly imaginary, one could speculate that the Australian band is singing of their homeland when they sing about the island being just the right one for them.
This song has a harmonious indie-pop sound at odds with the ominous lyrics, but that contrast only makes it all the more enjoyable.
“Kokomo” By The Beach Boys
Song Year: 1988
Director Roger Donaldson hired the Beach Boys to pen and perform a song for his 1988 Tom Cruise-led movie, Cocktail. The legendary band came up with this legendary island song.
While there is a small Caribbean resort named Kokomo, music producer Terry Melcher claims the song title was made up and intended to capture all the ideas people have about tropical islands and escaping to paradise.
Regardless, “Kokomo” is a terrific song, perfect for any relaxing day on the beach.
“My Island Home” By Christine Anu
Song Year: 1994
In 1994, Christine Anu released this cover of the Warumpi Band's 1987 original. The song has become an unofficial anthem of Australia and is all about being homesick for one's home.
Anu's version is sweet and longing, with a steady drum beat that keeps the song grounded even as the singer's ethereal voice rises and falls.
If you are looking for an island song that captures nostalgic memories, “My Island Home” is the tune for you.
“Rock Island” By Jethro Tull
Song Year: 1989
Jethro Tull released this title song on their 17th album of the same name. The entire Rock Island album is terrific, but this song, in particular, evokes imagery in a way that only Jethro Tull can.
The lyrics are metaphorical, using the rock island as an examination of themes of loneliness.
This song is a fantastic example of the band's move towards heavier rock influences and features a couple of great guitar and flute interplays.
“All We Need Is an Island” By Sammy Hagar
Song Year: 2013
Most well-known as the frontman for Van Halen, Sammy Hagar released a solo album, Sammy Hagar & Friends, in 2013, which featured many other musicians. For this tropical island song, Hagar sang alongside Heart's Nancy Wilson.
With this song, Hagar and Wilson sing an anthem for giving up on all the “work, work, work” and finding a warm, salty beach instead. Sometimes when the stress of life is stacking up, all we really need is an island.
“Mele Kalikimaka” By Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters
Song Year: 1950
Bing Crosby's “Mele Kalikimaka” is one of our favorite Christmas songs, but it is also an excellent choice for an island-themed tune. The Hawaiian phrase “Mele Kalikimaka” translates to “Merry Christmas” in English.
Bing Crosby recorded and then performed this song with the Andrews Sisters for the White Christmas album and the movie of the same name.
Christmas and a warm island might not be the usual combination of images you imagine during the winter holiday season, but Crosby's dulcet tones sell the song beautifully.
“San Tropez” By Pink Floyd
Song Year: 1971
The incomparable Pink Floyd wrote and recorded this 1971 song after vacationing with their families on San Tropez island.
This island song is quite different from the band's more well-known hits, such as “Another Brick in the Wall” or “Comfortably Numb,” but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
“San Tropez” is a peaceful, relaxed tune perfect for days spent on the sand and water.
“Paradise Is You” By La Roux
Song Year: 2014
Most island imagery uses the location as a destination we should long for, but in this 2014 hit, La Roux's Elly Jackson has a different idea. Jackson is already on a tropical island in this song, but she finds that the palm trees aren't much fun since she had to leave her lover behind to get there.
The song's upbeat pop style creates an interesting juxtaposition with the lyrics, which focus on how inconsequential an island paradise is if your true paradise is being with the ones you love.
“Always” By Leihoku
Song Year: 2014
Oahu-born singer/songwriter Leihoku released this sweet tropical track in 2014 as part of her debut album Trouble With You Gone.
The song is the artist's attempt to get her man to return home with her and always live a simple island life.
This song, and the music video, capture the sunny days and picturesque views of Hawaii. Listen to this tune, and don't be surprised if you want to start planning your next vacation for Oahu.
“Coney Island” By Taylor Swift ft. The National
Song Year: 2020
There's nowhere else on Earth quite like New York City, and that's why we think Taylor Swift's “Coney Island” is one of the best songs about New York and a fantastic island song as well.
With this song, which features the band, The National, T-Swift uses the eponymous amusement park as a metaphor for regrets she feels about past relationships.
Fans of the indie-folk revival genre will want to give this one a listen.
“Barbados” By Typically Tropical
Song Year: 1975
This song's the perfect example of an escapist fantasy. It tells the story of a London bus driver who escapes the crowded city for the beautiful island of Barbados.
Typically Tropical does a fantastic job of delivering reggae vibes even though the duo, Jeffrey Calvert and Max West, are originally from Wales.
If you like this one, check out The Vengaboys' 1999 re-worked version titled “We're Going To Ibiza!”.
“Christmas Island” By Train
Song Year: 2015
Pop rock group Train released “Christmas Island” as one of three original songs on their 2015 Christmas album, Christmas in Tahoe. Film buffs will also be interested in checking out Hallmark's 2021 Christmas in Tahoe movie, inspired by the album.
In “Christmas Island,” Train's lead singer Pat Manahan sings about getting away from the sleigh bells and snow, opting to spend Christmas on a tropical island among the coconut trees.
“Cracker Island” By Gorillaz ft. Thundercat
Song Year: 2022
Gorillaz has always been a little different, and their song “Cracker Island” is no exception. This song is about a mysterious cult that lures unsuspecting followers to move to an island paradise that turns out to be much different than advertised.
This song is fast-paced and upbeat. It's the sort of track that gets you up and moving before you even realize what the story is about.
“Island in the Sun” By Weezer
Song Year: 2001
Further up this list, we discussed Harry Belafonte's “Island in the Sun,” but many people are likely more familiar with this 2001 cover version from Weezer.
Despite not seeing much success on the radio when first released, this song has become Weezer's most licensed track.
It's a great song; simple, fun, and melodic. Keep this one in your playlist for those days when you're on your way to the beach.
“Canvey Island” By British Sea Power
Song Year: 2008
Canvey Island is a small mass of land located in the Thames Estuary in England. The island is below sea land and prone to flooding. In 1953, one such flood occurred, which led to the deaths of 58 residents.
British Sea Power's lead singer, Yan, learned about this story and was instantly fascinated after seeing a BBC documentary.
This song's lyrics retell the sad tale over the swelling music of crass rock guitar and driving drum beats. Even though it's a dark song, it's well-performed and a perfect choice for rock music fans.
“Thunder Island” By Jay Ferguson
Song Year: 1978
Former Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne frontman Jay Ferguson released his second solo album, Thunder Island, in 1978. The song “Thunder Island” would become Ferguson's biggest hit as a solo artist.
This track can also boast that Joe Walsh of the Eagles, and Jay Ferguson's personal friend, played the slide guitar part for the song.
In this song, Ferguson sings about spending the summer days of his youth chasing love on Thunder Island. It's a fun, upbeat song with a decidedly 70's flavor.
“I Wanna Take a Trip to the Islands” By The Surfaris
Song Year: 1964
The Surfaris are best known for the frenetic 1963 classic “Wipe Out,” but this legendary surfer band also had a tremendous island-themed song titled “I Wanna Take a Trip to the Islands.”
No other song captures the thrills of grabbing your longboard and escaping to the “islands” for days of surf and sun.
If you are a fan of island songs or surf rock, check out this band's entire discography, which is packed full of recognizable rock classics such as “Misirlou,” “Point Panic,” and a version of “Little Deuce Coupe.”
“Tobacco Island” By Flogging Molly
Song Year: 2004
This island-themed song by Irish punk band Flogging Molly definitely isn't a tropical-themed island tune.
“Tobacco Island” tells the story of the real-world events of the mid-17th century when Oliver Cromwell and the English parliament oversaw the deportation of about 100,000 Irish Catholics to the British colony of Barbados.
The song features Molly's trademark mix of punk rock and traditional Irish instruments. The pace is non-stop, the rhythm is powerful, and the lyrics are as poignant as always.
“Hawaiian Sunset” By Elvis Presley
Song Year: 1961
For many diehard fans, Elvis Presley's time in Hawaii is the best portion of his incredible career. While perhaps not the best known of Elvis' Hawaii-themed songs, “Hawaiian Sunset” is still a famous track that captures the picturesque islands' unique allure.
Elvis recorded “Hawaiian Sunset” on March 21, 1961, along with “Ku-u-i-po,” “No More,” and “Slicin' Sand.”
The following day, Elvis Presley would go on to record “Blue Hawaii,” “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” “Island Of Love,” and more.
Regardless of your favorite Elvis track, you'll enjoy this tropical lullaby. In this song, Elvis sings about the sun wishing a sweet aloha to Hawaii as the islands fall asleep and await tomorrow's sunrise.
It's a beautiful song and the perfect track to end our list of songs about islands.
Best Songs About Islands, Final Thoughts
That's it for this top list of songs about islands. We hope you had as much fun reading through this list as we did creating it.
Whether this list of songs was entirely new to you or reminded you of a few of your old classics, we hope you get to enjoy a few of these songs the next time you're on your favorite island.