What is better than experiencing the feeling of being gently rocked to and fro by waves while out on a wispy Sunday afternoon boat ride? Listening to some good boating songs while on such an adventure, of course. Music goes well with almost every activity imaginable. Over time, an increasing catalog of songs have been created about and for the sea life, some of which have become quite popular, even among people who stay away from the open waters.
And while boating season usually winds down after September, boating songs can be enjoyed right throughout the year. What is your favorite boating song? The following list consists of some of the most celebrated boating songs from around the world.
1. “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” – Alan Jackson feat. Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Buffett has penned or contributed to some of the most well-known songs dedicated to sea life. This Alan Jackson-led song, the title of which is a tagline associated with the popular Margaritaville brand backed by Buffett, happens to be among the most notable.
2. “A Pirate Looks at 40” – Jimmy Buffett
As you would have noticed, the name Jimmy Buffett features prominently on this list, and for good reason. This second song, which also features the Coral Reefer Band (appropriately), is about a modern day pirate looking back at his time on Earth.
3. “Boats” – Kenny Chesney
This song by Chesney encapsulates the feeling of freedom many people feel when out on a boat.
4. “Come Sail Away” – Styx
Who doesn’t think of getting away from it all from time to time? This 1970s track is about dreaming of sailing away from troubles and remaining positive.
5. “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” – Harry Belafonte
An absolute classic that has achieved pop culture status, Harry Belafonte’s ode to workers at the dock is one of the most famous songs about life at sea.
6. “(Sittin’ on) The Dock Of The Bay” – Otis Redding
This isn’t exactly about being on a boat but Otis Redding's hit song (although emotional and sad) perfectly captures the vibe of just doing nothing.
7. “Waves” – Mr. Probz
“Wave after wave…slowly drifting…” are lyrics from this song that provide an apt description of what it feels like to be on a boat. The laidback aura of the song also helps.
8. “Pontoon” – Little Big Town
A genuine modern day boating song, this hit by Little Big Town goes out to all the pleasure-sailing folks who know how to have a good time.
9. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” – Gordon Lightfoot
For those who like history lessons told through music, this song is a good example. A sad but insightful listen, the track recounts the demise of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald freighter, a large ship which sank during a storm in November 1975.
10. “Rock The Boat” – The Hues Corporation
If you believe relationships are somewhat like being on a boat, you will love this 1974 classic (which happens to also have the envious record of being among the first disco songs to hit number 1 on the Billboard Top 100).
Side note: In case you're interested, there is another song with this title by Aaliyah that has a more risqué meaning, but could possibly fit in on a boating songs playlist.
11. “Knee Deep” – Zac Brown Band featuring Jimmy Buffett
Also offering a modern take on boating songs, this track speaks to wanting to be far away from life’s troubles and, instead, being ‘knee deep’ somewhere enjoying a tropical paradise. Oh, and it also features Jimmy Buffett.
12. “Sailing” – Rod Stewart
This track is actually a sad song with religious undertones. But who said boat songs all had to be happy-go-lucky?
13. “Soak Up The Sun” – Sheryl Crow
Because taking a pleasure boat ride in the summer is all about soaking up as much sun as possible before the weather changes…and having a whale of a time while you’re at it, right?
14. “Surfin’ U.S.A.” – Beach Boys
The Beach Boys (appropriately named) have crafted a slew of defining hits that have stood the test of time. This 1960s hit (written by Chuck Berry) is among those that have survived as a legitimate summer anthem over the years.
15. “The Downeaster ‘Alexa’” – Billy Joel
Written about a Long Island fisherman who finds the going tough, fisherfolk everywhere are likely to relate to this Billy Joel song.
16. “Kokomo” – Beach Boys
No boating song list can be complete without this entry by the Beach Boys. The tune captures the vibe of vacationing on a boat somewhere in the Caribbean.