Dreaming of your next beach getaway?
You’re not alone! In fact, it’s the preferred type of holiday for Britons, beating out the countryside, the city, and even all-inclusive vacations.
To get you inspired for your next beach vacay, I’ve put together this list of the best tropical songs and island songs.
You’ll find everything you need for your beach music playlist, from classic rock and reggae to the hottest tropical music of today.
Ready to get started? Pour yourself a Mai Tai, slip on your sunglasses, and get ready to download these beach music songs to your holiday playlist.
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Classic Tropical Songs for Your Beach Playlist
1. Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet)
Ready to boil some shrimp, watch the sunset, and waste away again in Margaritaville? Whether you prefer your margarita frozen or on the rocks, maybe you’ll finally help Jimmy Buffet find his long-lost shaker of salt!
2. Kokomo (The Beach Boys)
Is it any wonder that one of the best beach songs ever recorded comes from a group called The Beach Boys?
This delightful tune pays homage to the Florida Keys, Jamaica, Aruba, and other famous tropical destinations — although Kokomo itself is just a fictitious locale!
3. Drift Away (Uncle Kracker)
Originally recorded by John Henry Kurtz and then Dobie Gray in the 1970s, Uncle Kracker’s version took over the radio in the early 2000s. Whichever version you love best, you can be sure that you’ll get lost in the rock n’ roll — and drift away.
4. La Isla Bonita (Madonna)
Madonna’s first Latin-inspired song remains one of her most popular, as well as one of the most beloved island songs ever written.
Featuring Spanish guitar, Cuban drums, and Colombian maracas, you’ll be transported to “the beautiful island” anytime you hear it.
5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy (Bobby McFerrin)
Part jazz, part reggae, and 100% tropical music, this fun song won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1988. You can’t help but snap your fingers or clap along to the upbeat yet laid-back tune.
6. Red Red Wine (UB40)
Country singer Neil Diamond recorded the first version of this song in 1968 as a sad, sentimental ballad.
In 1983, British reggae band UB40 re-recorded it using tropical instruments and the rest was history — it soared to the top of the music charts in both the US and the UK.
7. Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding)
Looking to add a little R&B to your beach music playlist? Don’t miss this oldie but goodie that celebrates the simple pleasure of sitting by the water, watching the tide, and wasting time.
8. Dancing in the Moonlight (King Harvest)
Ready to feel warm and bright as you enjoy a fine and natural sight? Queue up this classic feel-good tune and you’ll instantly be dancing on the beach (with or without the moonlight).
9. Cheeseburger in Paradise (Jimmy Buffet)
The story goes that Jimmy Buffet once got stuck at sea and lived off canned food while drifting around the Caribbean.
When he and his crew finally made it harbour, they devoured the first hamburgers they could find — and the inspiration for one of his greatest songs ever was born.
10. Over the Rainbow (Israel “Izzy” Kamakawiwoʻole)
Dozens of singers have recorded “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but no other version matches the delightfulness of Hawaiian singer Izzy’s version.
It includes a blend of lyrics from Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” set against the gentle strum of the ukelele — what more could you want?
11. Three Little Birds (Bob Marley)
Bob Marley is his own genre of tropical music, and perhaps none of his songs is more famous than Three Little Birds. Because when you rise up with the morning sun and hear birds singing, every little thing really is gonna be alright.
12. Buffalo Soldier (Bob Marley)
Another classic Marley tune that belongs on your beach playlist is Buffalo Soldier. Written about black soldiers during the settlement of the Americas, the song is not only an interesting chapter in history but also a mellow, hammock-worthy tune.
13. Under the Boardwalk (The Drifters)
This classic American R&B song celebrates everything we love about summertime — having fun at the beach, falling in love, and (of course) the taste of hot dogs and salty French fries. If there’s an actual boardwalk at your seaside destination, even better!
14. Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
The state of Alabama may only boast 60 miles (100 km) of shoreline, but it’s also home to one of the best beach songs ever. Like all great tropical songs, it’s all about blue skies and spending time with the people we love most.
15. In the Summertime (Shaggy and Rayvon)
“In the summertime when the weather is high you can stretch right up and touch the sky.” So begins one of the best reggae songs for your beach music playlist — guaranteed to have you smiling and singing along.
16. Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) (Harry Belafonte)
Another song that’s been re-recorded dozens of times, don’t miss the original Calypso version by Jamaican singer Harry Belafonte. Bonus points if you listen to it while enjoying a delicious banana daiquiri!
17. Could You Be Loved (Bob Marley)
It’s not possible to have too much reggae (or too many Bob Marley songs) on your beach playlist. Don’t miss one of his more upbeat tunes, Could You Be Loved, which is perfect for dancing in the sand with your significant other.
18. Santeria (Sublime)
Looking to add some alternative rock to your summer playlist? Queue up Sublime’s Santeria — with its catchy lyrics and upbeat tune, you won’t be able to resist setting down your drink and getting up to dance.
19. Brown-Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)
This classic rock song from the 1960s has the perfect chill vibe for a summer beach party. Whether you’re down in the hollow or slipping and sliding along the waterfall, you’ll be singing sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.
20. Jammin’ (Bob Marley)
Can you even have a jamming beach party without including this reggae hit on your list of tropical songs? For sure this jam is gonna last (and I hope you like jammin’ too).
21. Message in a Bottle (The Police)
Humans have placed messages in bottles since ancient times, and every once in a while, one will wash up on shore. Until you’re lucky enough to stumble across a floating note from the past, queue up this reggae rock song and send your S.O.S. to the world.
22. Take It Easy (The Eagles)
Island songs are all about taking it easy, so don’t forget to add this classic rock tune to your playlist. Lighten up while you still can and find a place to take your stand (or set up your lounge chair) and get ready to take it easy.
23. Hotel California (The Eagles)
Our list wouldn’t be complete without another classic Eagles song that’s guaranteed to mellow you out.
Even if you’re not actually driving down a dark desert highway with cool wind in your hair, you’ll swear you can hear the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.
24. Wouldn’t It Be Nice (The Beach Boys)
Like Bob Marley, the Beach Boys could easily take up your entire beach music playlist. Be sure this classic from 1966 makes it to your collection too so you’ll have the perfect song to dance to with your special someone (and no, you don’t have to wait ‘til you’re older).
25. The Joker (Steve Miller Band)
This classic rock hit from 1973 belongs on every happy music playlist! Pour a drink, strum a guitar, or watch the palms sway above your head as you ponder the deeper things of life — would you prefer to be called the space cowboy, the gangster of love, or Maurice?
Awesome New Tropical Music & Island Songs
Oldies are great, but what about adding some modern tropical songs to your beach music playlist? Sample some of these newer releases from the 2000s that are also really good songs for the beach!
26. Soak Up the Sun (Sheryl Crow)
What’s the number one reason to go to the beach? Soak up the sun and tell everyone to lighten up! Pop singer Sheryl Crow croons all about it in this smash hit from the early 2000s.
27. No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems (Kenny Chesney)
You’ve seen the signs, now it’s time to add this catchy tune to your summer beach playlist. It’s perfect for anyone dreaming of no boss, no clock, no stress, and no dress code!
28. It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere (Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet)
No one’s quite sure where the expression “It’s five o’clock somewhere” came from, but we can all agree on this — it makes for a great song! Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to quit your day job and pour yourself something tall and strong.
29. When the Sun Goes Down (Kenny Chesney)
Is there any summer holiday image more iconic than suntanned toes, a cold drink, and a beautiful sunset? Country artist Kenny Chesney sings about all that and more in this laid-back tropical song — with a little help from his buddy Uncle Kracker.
30. I Gotta Feeling (Black-Eyed Peas)
Do you have a feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good, good night? It’s guaranteed to be as long as you add this high-energy pop song to your playlist. We dare you not to get up and dance with your beach posse!
31. Some Beach (Blake Shelton)
Riding the “country beach” wave (pun intended), Blake Shelton put out this quirky song about a man stuck in traffic dreaming of a beach vacation.
The lyrics are sure to make you smile whether you’re sitting in traffic, under a palm tree, or anywhere in between.
32. Hips Don’t Lie (Shakira)
No, it’s not the newest release on our “new music” list, but it rightfully deserves a place on your summer beach playlist. There’s no way you can’t get up and dance when you hear the unmistakable beat of this Latin pop smash hit.
33. Toes (Zac Brown Band)
Yes, there’s an entire song about having your toes in the sand — along with no worries and a cold beer in your hand. In fact, this country song encompasses every tropical cliche you can possibly think of (in a good way)!
34. Come Away With Me (Norah Jones)
When you’re ready to slow down and enjoy the night stars, queue up this jazz ballad and relax into Norah Jones’ soft alto voice. It’s the perfect song for a slow dance with your significant other — or a soothing nightcap as you plan your next getaway.
35. Knee Deep (Zac Brown Band)
Yes, the same country band that sings an entire song about toes in the sand also sings a song about being knee-deep in warm tropical water. Put on this song and put the world away for a minute while you find your own kind of paradise.
36. Beyond (Leon Bridges)
How about some soul-searching neo-soul music for your summertime playlist? Check out this award-winning 2018 release from Leon Bridges that’s all about the mysterious thrill of falling in love.
37. Waves (Mr. Probz)
Add a bit of European flair to your playlist with this 2013 R&B hit from Dutch artist Mr Probz. It’s soft, it’s soothing, and it’s guaranteed to make you feel like you’re slowly drifting away…wave after wave…
38. Sun Goes Down (Robin Schulz)
Will you have a certain someone on your mind as you watch the sunset? The lyrics of this electronic dance song from Robin Schulz and Jasmine Thompson will resonate with you during your tropical holiday.
39. Calypso (Luis Fonsi)
Are you ready to bailando toda la noche (dance all night long)? Even if you don’t understand a word of Spanish, you’re sure to find your groove with this high-energy song that blends Latin pop with reggaeton beats.
40. Girl from Rio (Anitta)
With a nostalgic intro inspired by The Girl From Ipanema, Anitta’s newest single will transport you right to the beaches of Brazil. The upbeat lyrics celebrate love affairs, curvy girls, and tan lines — all while giving you a chance to practice your Portuguese.
The Best Beach Songs for Your Summer Playlist
Do you hear the gentle waves lapping against the shore? Can you feel that cold drink melting in your hand?
Put on this beach music playlist and you’ll be transported to tropical paradise in no time!
Now that you’ve got your tropical songs downloaded, what’s next? Plan your next getaway from this list of travel destinations with beautiful, crystal-clear water.