The future of music

25 Best Songs About Islands

June 7, 2023
songs about islands

Pour yourself a cold one, pop on your headphones, and get ready to sit back and relax with our 25 best songs about islands.

There is something intrinsically calming about the idea of a deserted island for a getaway.

Understandably, an idea so appealing makes its way into the music of just about every genre. 

We live busy lives and the thought of a little piece of paradise makes for a sought-after destination.

Even if it is only in your dreams.

Granted not all of the islands made mention of in music are idyllic.

So, let’s explore the ins and outs of tropical hideaways with their beauty and isolation as we take you through the best songs with island themes.

1. “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys 

There is no better way to kick off than with this chilled-out late 80s hit from The Beach Boys.

It was written for the Tom Cruise Movie “Cocktail” after the boy band had peaked and surf fever was on its way out.

But went on to be one of the most popular Beach Boys songs of all time reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

Those first few bars of “Kokomo” take us through some of the best island vacation destinations.

“Aruba, Jamaica, ooh, I wanna take ya

Bermuda, Bahama, come on, pretty mama

Key Largo, Montego, baby, why don’t we go? Jamaica

Off the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Kokomo”

It is like some sort of tropical travel bucket list accompanied by steel pans! 

2. “Islands In The Stream” by Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers 

“Islands In The Stream” takes its title from an Ernest Hemmingway novel.

Originally written and recorded by the BeeGees, it became an iconic duet for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.

Although the two sang many songs together, this was their most memorable and well-loved.

It is a romantic song that speaks of being able to rely on one another. The island is a metaphorical solitude. 

Like the track above this one also peaked at number one in the Hot 100 Billboard and Hot Country Songs charts.

3. “Island Of Love” by Elvis Presley 

With the 1961 motion picture, “Blue Hawaii” starring Elvis Presley came an entire soundtrack by the rock and roll king. 

A romantic storyline meant plenty of love songs, “Island of Love” being just one of many!

The movie takes place in Hawaii on the Kauai islands where the pair fall in love.

We all have that romanticized ideology of a holiday romance, and this song is the perfect soundtrack for the stereotypical trope.

4. “La Isla Bonita” by Madonna 

Back when popstar queen Madge still had eyebrows we were treated to this 80s hit with a Spanish edge. 

The title “La Isla Bonita” means the beautiful island and the music has Latin influences to go with it. 

Chock-full of Cuban percussion and Spanish guitar the song whisks you away with her.

This reflection on tropical life was first offered to Michael Jackson who turned the hit down. 

5. “Islands” by John Denver 

Speaking of being whisked away, let the smooth vocals of John Denver and this peaceful piece take you far from the bustle of life and its woes.

In the lyrics of this one, we are the islands in question but he reminds us we are so much more.

He describes humans as isolated islands in a great big sea in which our spirit is connected. 

“And the mighty blue ocean

Keeps rolling on every shore

Like the spirit that binds us together

We are so much more than islands”

It is a pretty deep take on the human condition if you listen past the dreaminess.

6. “Island Girl” by Elton John 

This next one is a little different.

It isn’t going to conjure up any longing for a trip.

The lyrical content is controversial and unlike a lot of Elton tracks.

Although it has his typical 70’s upbeat edge and is fun on the surface it tackles tougher subject matter.

The song speaks of an attractive woman from Jamaica that the protagonist wants to get with.

Catchy though it is, Elton hasn’t performed it for many years which confirms conjecture that the woman mentioned was a prostitute working for the “white man”.

7. “Message In A Bottle” by The Police 

The Police brought us this track back in 1979 and though it didn’t chart very highly at the time it became one of the group’s most popular and memorable tracks.

We are familiar with the “Message In A Bottle” concept.

This one tells the narrative of a lonely man on a desolate island sending one out to see.

He believes he is alone in his isolation (again a good commentary on the human condition).

In his desolation, he can’t believe his eyes when he wakes one morning to find billions of other messages in bottles.

Sometimes we can feel like “castaways” in need of rescue.

8. “Island In The Sun” by Harry Belafonte 

So you were probably expecting lots of beautiful songs about islands with lyrics about their golden sandy shores when you opened this.

Well, we don’t want to disappoint. 

For a song about the beauty of islands look no further than Harry Belafonte and the track written for the 1957 movie with the same title.

With a funky bassline that slides around in a carefree manner and a classic soca vibe, it is the epitomical soundtrack to a sunny holiday.

Belafonte sings about his homeland with such passion and pride.

The simple but beautiful lyrics were even turned into a wholesome children’s book.

9. “Island In The Sun” by Weezer 

This next one is not to be confused with the above. All they share is the title!

“Island In The Sun” almost didn’t make the cut for Weezer’s 2001 album.

But went on to become the band’s most-licensed track.

Cuomo suspects it is because the guitars are cleaner.

Many of Weezer’s tracks are a lot heavier than this inoffensive soft-rock song.

We are again familiar with the trope explored in the narrative of this one.

When we find someone we love, the idea of running away together to an island in the sun sounds like paradise.

When a relationship is full of tension perhaps a good holiday is all you need… and perhaps not?

10. “San Tropez” by Pink Floyd

An underrated Pink Floyd track steals a spot on our list. 

With a plodding rhythm and dreamy slide guitar solo, it is a relaxing track that makes for a great road trip track perfect for your vacation playlist.

“Breakin’ a stick with a brick on the sand

Ridin’ a wave in the wake of an old sedan

Sleepin’ alone in the drone of the darkness

Scratched by the sand that fell from my love”

Roger Water wrote this one after he and the rest of the band visited Saint Tropez in Southern France with their girlfriends.

It must have been a peaceful getaway as the tranquillity is reflected in the finished piece.

11. “All We Need Is An Island” by Sammy Hagar 

The island getaway dream is surely appealing, Sammy Hagar reminds us of that in his 2013 release “All We Need Is An Island”.

It is easy to daydream, to imagine a perfect world if we only had the perfect surroundings.

But in reality, we have to work!

If you want the ideal song about islands to daydream to when you feel exhausted after a long day at work then this is it.

The lyrics are bursting at the seams with stereotypical island vacation imagery;

“Big ol’ sandy beach

Palm tree for some shade sweet sugar cane

All we need is an island

(all we need is an island)

A hammock that swings

A tall cool one, a whole lotta sun

A belly full of rum”.

12. “Coney Island” by Taylor Swift ft. The National 

We forget that even the best holiday memories with a loved one can become sour if things don’t go to plan in a relationship.

“Coney Island” by Taylor Swift talks about such regrets. 

Not all songs about islands are idyllic and the heartbreak in the lyrics of this one is raw and penetrating.

“I’m on a bench in Coney Island wondering where did my baby go?

The fast times, the bright lights, the merry go

Sorry for not making you my centerfold”.

Swift pulled this folksy, indie-rock track off with the help of the American rock band The National.

It is a big departure from her typical stuff, with a waltzing beat.

13. “Island Song” by Zac Brown Band 

American country music Zac Brown Band released their album Uncaged in 2012.

The lyrics of this one are written with some room for interpretation but one thing is for sure…

The line “Then I might roll one up like my name is Bob and I am gonna party like I am Jamaican” clearly references Bob Marley.

The song itself has Jamaican musical influences too.

It is the perfect countrified song about islands.

Great on a playlist for anyone who wants to escape the city and enjoy some downtime with a beer in hand.

14. “Rock Island” by Jethro Tull 

“Doesn’t everyone have their own Rock Island? Their own little patch of sand?”

Jethro Tull uses the concept of Rock Island being everyone’s rock bottom.

A lonely desolate rock.

A dark unhealthy place you retreat to in your mind when it seems like the world is falling down.

Where the slow waves crawl and your angels fall and you find

You can hardly stand.”

If you are after a heavier song about islands rather than the dulcet tones of a Hawaiian guitar then this slow rock track should be on your radar.

15. “Cracker Island” by Gorillaz

This Island song’s entry is a little leftfield but then the Gorillaz are known for being a little quirkier.

The title track from their eighth studio albumin an upbeat Gem with dark lyrics discussing an occult tribe living on an island.

“On Cracker Island it was born

To the collective of the dawn

They were planting seeds at night

To grow a made-up paradise

Where the truth was auto-tuned (forever cult)

And it’s the sadness I consumed (forever cult)

Into my formats every day (forever cult)”

The neo-psychedelic electropop track might not stir up beautiful imagery of tropical islands like some but it will make you want to dance.

16. “Living In An Island” by The Boomtown Rats

We move from one odd song about islands to the next with this dark yet upbeat track by The Boomtown Rats. 

“Living In An Island” has some heavy lyrics exploring very heavy and sensitive themes. 

It featured on the group’s second album A Tonic for the Troops; an album which explored the juxtaposition of cheerful-sounding music with contrary themes.

The chipper pop-punk track has hard-hitting lyrics that discuss the death traps of an island.

A couple described in the narrative jump to their deaths from a cliff to the sea in a suicide pact.

“It could happen to you…And if it do then you’re a true blue Sui-

Side by side they walked into the tide, till it rose to their nose, and then

They kissed with their eyes “goodbye.”

They were seen to smile just before they dived, dead lovers don’t have much

Except for a certain desperate sense of style…”

17. “Shutter Island” by Jessie Reyez

Whilst we are on a darker dive into songs with island titles and themes we have to make mention of “Shutter Island”. 

R&B artist Reyes titled this one after the neo-noir Martin Scorcese film of the same name.

The film plot centers around an Us Marshall sent to investigate a mental hospital. 

Reyes compares this to her mental battles surrounding a breakup and the mental torture she endured before self-realization.

“The goodbyes are getting old

Next time you can go ahead and go

I’m tired of begging you to love me”

The music video portrays her trapped in a glass box and the music is as dark as her lyrics get.

18. “Island Of Lost Souls” by Blondie 

This next one also has a title inspired by a movie.

The lyrics follow the plot to an extent as well.

The music definitely has a Caribbean influence, in the instrumental choices and melody line.

Granted it isn’t your typical Blondie track but many will remember it from the band’s 1982 album The Hunter.

The narrative of the track is about a husband stranded on an island.

He meets another woman whilst his poor wife waits for him.

19. “Thunder Island” by Jay Ferguson 

The title track from Jay Ferguson’s 1978 album became his biggest hit.

It was Ferguson’s second solo album after breaking away from Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne.

The protagonist reminisces about his days on “Thunder Island”.

The lyrics tell the dramatic romantic tale of meeting a beautiful woman on a fictitious island. 

Victims of a dangerous storm the two held each other until it passed.

The two dried out in the sunshine and then things got a little steamy.

20. “On An Island” by David Gilmour ft. Crosby & Nash

This David Gilmour track is a throwback to that classic Pink Floyd sound, the only thing that lets you know that it’s not are the vocals of Crosby & Nash.

Their harmonies are haunting.

It was featured as the title track of his third solo album.

Musically tranquil it encompasses the calmness of an island away from everything.

There are vague lyrics that are up for interpretation but Gilmour has made commentary.

For him it is a song about memories and how we are remembered after death as though we were still alive. 

“Dreamers may leave, but they’re here ever after”.

21. “I Wanna Take A Trip To The Islands” by The Surfaris 

We began with “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys which was written well after the surf craze but this one written by The Surfaris was the soundtrack to a surfing summer.

“I Wanna Take A Trip To The Islands” was a hit in 1964 for the surf-rockers, while it was never as big as their instrumental “Wipeout” it has been licensed for tonnes.

It makes the perfect song for any vacation advertisement.

You only have to hear those opening bars and you want to pack a suitcase somewhere!

22. “Tobacco Island” by Flogging Molly

In the group’s typical adrenaline-fuelled, traditional-Irish-folk-music-goes-punk style Flogging Molly brings us the tale of “Tobacco Island”.

It is a 17th-century history lesson that talks about how hundreds of thousands of Catholics were shipped to Barbados by the English parliament.

“All to hell we must sail

For the Shores of sweet Barbados

Where the sugar cane grows taller

Then the god we once believed in”.

With the group’s distinct musical style, it is more fun than it might sound. If you have never heard the group they are well worth a listen.

23. “Lonely Island” by The Everly Brothers

Once again we see the recurring analogy of emotional solitude being tied to the imagery of a deserted island in this song.

It is a song about heartache after a breakup.

“I’m living on a lonely island

In a loveless ocean

Full of misery

I’ll die here on my lonely island

Unless you give your sweet love back to me”.

We can all relate to the emotions detailed in the lyrics of this island song. 

While it doesn’t inspire you to want to get away and soak up the sun it’s another great song about islands to include in today’s rundown.

24. “Island Lover” by Shaggy 

Though it was never as big of a breakthrough track as Shaggy’s title track from his Boombastic album it’s another great song with island in the title.

Like the rest of the album, it is an upbeat catchy reggae track.

The lyrics speak about how a man doesn’t know what he has until it is gone.

Warning that many men don’t treat their women as they deserve so they’ll look elsewhere.

The woman in the narrative is looking for an island lover to give her what she needs.

25. “Fire Island” by Fountains of Wayne

We are ending on a little-known soft-rock alternative track that talks about unsupervised sleepovers in your youth.

“Driving on the lawn

Sleeping on the roof

Drinking all the alcohol

All the kids from school

Will be naked in the pool

While our parents are on Fire Island”

It mentions a lot of shenanigans, some questionable but many a common right of passage for a wayward teen!

Songs About Islands – Final Thoughts

Unsurprisingly, islands feature heavily in song lyrics.

In a variety of biomes, they provide a landscape that can be paradise or a nightmare.

You could be enjoying the sights and taking in stunning surroundings.

Or stranded and left at the mercy of the elements trusting Mother Nature for your safety and nourishment.

For that reason, it becomes a great metaphorical tool and so we see it used frequently.

There are many great songs about islands.

You may also like: Songs About the Beach

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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