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For most people, Hawaii evokes images of long sandy beaches and crystal blue waters. But did you know that on top of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano you can spend the morning sunbathing at the base and playing in the snow during the afternoon?
With its deep history and rich cultural legacy, the 50th state has a lot to offer to visitors. In this article, we’ve made a list of 11 songs about Hawaii to help you better understand the true rhythm of this island paradise.
11 Songs About Hawaii
1. “Blue Hawaii” by Elvis Presley
“Dreams come true
In blue Hawaii
And mine could all come true
This magic night of nights with you”
The title track of a 1961 musical movie, the song shows the islands as the perfect backdrop for fulfilling your dreams and enjoying the sweet delights of true love. The moonlight illuminating the blue seas describes the magic nights of Hawaii where anything seems possible when you wish upon a star upon the clear Hawaiian skies.
2. “White Sandy Beach” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
“The sound of the ocean
Soothes my restless soul
The sound of the ocean
Rocks me all night long”
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, one of Hawaii’s most well-known artists, released this song back in 1993. A charming track about friendship and love, it captures the charming nature of the islands, with their dreamy landscapes and dazzling natural beauty.
The lyrics describe the calm and unhurried pace of life on the island which can ease your mind and allow you to relax as you walk along the vast and pristine beaches of Hawaii.
3. “Bubbly Toes” by Jack Johnson
“When you move like a jellyfish
Rhythm don’t mean nothing
You go with the flow
You don’t stop”
Hawaiian-born Jack Johnson has always been interested in environmental issues and preserving the world’s oceans. His music is heavily influenced by images of his native land, and the track “Bubbly Toes” is no exception. Dedicated to Johnson’s wife, it’s a song about marching to the beat of your own drum as you navigate the murky waters of life. It’s easy to let yourself be swept away by the current, but great things happen when you dare to embark on a great adventure with the right person beside you.
4. “Home in the Islands” by The Brothers Cazimero
“There’s no other place
That I’d rather be
Than home in the island
In the middle of the sea”
A lovely tune about the happiness of knowing where you belong, this song describes how the warm sun can also illuminate your soul, making you appreciate the little things. Spending time with your friends and family as the warm summer breeze soothes your soul will make you realize that there’s no problem a little bit of sun and sand can’t fix.
5. “Island Style” by John Cruz
“On the Island, we do it Island style
From the mountain to the ocean, from the windward to the leeward side
On the Island, we do it Island style
From the mountain to the ocean, from the windward to the leeward side”
“Island Style” is a celebration of the “aloha spirit” present in every aspect of Hawaiian life. It means treating others with warmth and kindness, knowing that when you do good, good things come back to you. It also means treating nature with the respect it deserves by cherishing its many gifts and breathtaking beauty.
6. “My Little Grass Shack” by Don Ho
“I’m just a little Hawaiian and a homeside Island boy
I want to go back to my fish and poi
I want to go back to my little grass shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii”
Written in 1933 to celebrate Hawaii’s Kona district’s Independence Day, the song has been re-recorded many times over the years. By mentioning specific places such as Kealakekua and Kona, the lyrics bring home the hospitality and friendliness of the islands. Just like the narrator, the listeners sense that going to Hawaii feels like coming home.
7. “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
“Somewhere over the rainbow
And the dreams that you dream of
Dreams really do come true-ooh-ooh
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney tops that’s where
You’ll find me, oh”
First sung by Judy Garland in “Wizard of Oz,” Kamakawiwo’ole’s classic rendition of “Over the Rainbow” catapulted him to worldwide fame. The hopeful melody and words encourage you to believe that bad times won’t last forever and that there is indeed a place where dreams come true. For a lot of people, this place where bluebirds fly freely and everything’s right is exactly Hawaii. From its scenic landscapes to its rich legacy, it’s hard not to believe that the islands are a slice of tropic paradise on Earth.
8. “Honolulu City Lights” by The Carpenters
“Each time Honolulu city lights stir up memories in me.
Each night Honolulu city lights bring me back again.
You are my island sunset; you are my island dream.”
“Honolulu City Lights” tells the story of a man who, forced to leave Honolulu once again, thinks back on his memories of the city. It shows how precious a place can become when you create strong ties through wonderful experiences. Because of its bittersweet tone, the song has become a staple of Christmas playlists across many Hawaiian radio stations.
9. “Fish and Poi” by Sean Na’auao
“I’m flashing back all over again
I know you feel what I’m feeling within
And every local boy would agree
That it’s just the Hawaiian in me.”
This popular song is all about local Hawaiian food. One of the most unique and important parts of any culture is its food because food is often connected to a strong cultural experience. The singer mentions many traditional dishes, including poi, lomi salmon, pipikaula, and lau. Play it a few times, and it will surely give you an idea of what to order the next time you find yourself in a quaint Hawaiian restaurant.
10. “Hi’Ilawe” by Gabby Pahinui
“Kumaka ka `ikena ia Hi`ilawe
Ka papa lohi mai a`o Maukele.”
Entirely in Hawaiian, this beloved song chronicles the relationship between two lovers who face public disapproval. Their relationship begins at the Hi’ilawe waterfall. As the community spreads rumors and gossips about the lovers, the two pay it no mind and are determined to make their love last. Over the years it has become a traditional dancing song on the islands.
11. “I Miss You, My Hawaii” by Na Leo Pilimehana
“I catch the glimmer of your face across the sky
I watch the setting sun and I begin to cry
Because I miss you, my Hawaii
I rest my head upon the sands of Waikiki
I close my eyes and I hear you calling me”
We’ll finish the list with another song describing how difficult it is to leave Hawaii once you’ve experienced its wonders. The narrator is far away from Hawaii but carries it everywhere in their heart. Every amazing thing in nature, such as the night sky or pristine beach sands, is just another reminder of how dazzling Hawaii is.
Final Thoughts on Songs About Hawaii
If you’ve been thinking about booking a holiday to Hawaii to experience the great weather and relaxed lifestyle, we hope these 11 songs have given you a taste of the “aloha spirit” and Hawaiian atmosphere. The best way to learn more about a place is through music, so make sure to check out the links to the songs we mentioned to experience the full magic of Hawaii.