We just had a week of 90-degree weather up here in Michigan (followed shortly by a week of 30-degree weather, but still…), which means that summer is approaching!
Up here, one of our greatest pastimes is to get out on a boat, whether it be on one of our many rivers, bays, or lakes.
While enjoying the waves and rays, we need some jams to enhance our time, right?
Enter this list of the best boat songs to help you enjoy the water even more!
I’ll go into detail on my top 20 picks and then offer dozens of more ideas past that.
Table of Contents
#1 “Sailing” by Christopher Cross (Pop)
“Sailing” by Christopher Cross is a timeless pop classic that captures the spirit of adventure and longing for freedom. Released in 1980, this Grammy-winning hit showcases Cross’s smooth vocals and melodic guitar riffs, creating a soothing and dreamy atmosphere. The heartfelt lyrics evoke images of sailing on open waters, seeking solace and escape from the challenges of life. With its catchy chorus and memorable melodies, “Sailing” remains a beloved anthem that continues to inspire listeners to set sail on their own personal journeys.
#2 “Come Sail Away” by Styx (Rock)
“Come Sail Away” by Styx is an iconic rock anthem that tells the story of a protagonist’s longing for escape and adventure. With its epic guitar riffs, soaring vocal harmonies, and powerful piano-driven melody, the song takes listeners on a musical journey. The lyrics evoke a sense of wanderlust and a yearning for freedom as the protagonist dreams of setting sail to unknown destinations. “Come Sail Away” is a timeless rock classic that continues to captivate audiences with its emotive storytelling and majestic musicality.
#3 “The Boat That I Row” by Lulu (Pop)
“The Boat That I Row” is a pop song by Scottish singer Lulu. Released in 1967, it features an upbeat melody and Lulu’s soulful vocals. The lyrics depict a confident and determined protagonist who navigates through life with independence and self-assurance, comparing her journey to rowing a boat. The song’s catchy chorus and Lulu’s powerful performance make it an enduring and iconic pop hit, showcasing her talent as a dynamic and charismatic vocalist. “The Boat That I Row” remains a beloved classic that continues to captivate audiences with its catchy melody and empowering message.
#4 “Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (R&B/Soul)
“Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding is a timeless R&B/Soul classic that was released posthumously in 1968. It features Redding’s soulful vocals and a laid-back groove with memorable whistling melodies. The song reflects on longing and loneliness, with lyrics that capture the bittersweet emotions of watching the tide roll away while waiting for something that may never come. With its unforgettable hooks and emotive performance, “Dock of the Bay” remains a beloved song that has stood the test of time and continues to captivate audiences with its soulful sound.
#5 “I’m On a Boat” by The Lonely Island feat. T-Pain (Comedy Rap)
“I’m On a Boat” by The Lonely Island feat. T-Pain is a comedic rap song that humorously celebrates the joy of being on a boat. With catchy beats, clever wordplay, and exaggerated braggadocio, the song pokes fun at rap tropes while reveling in the absurdity of the situation. T-Pain’s auto-tuned vocals add to the comedic effect, making it a hilarious and memorable song that’s perfect for a lighthearted, comedic mood. It quickly became a viral hit and continues to be a favorite among comedy rap enthusiasts for its playful and entertaining lyrics.
#6 “Boat Drinks” by Jimmy Buffett (Country/Pop)
“Boat Drinks” by Jimmy Buffett is a catchy country/pop song that captures the carefree spirit of life by the water. With its laid-back vibes, playful lyrics, and infectious melody, the song is a quintessential anthem for those who love to unwind on a boat with their favorite drink in hand. Buffett’s signature blend of country, pop, and tropical influences creates a feel-good atmosphere that makes you want to kick back, relax, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life on the water. “Boat Drinks” is a classic Jimmy Buffett track that transports listeners to a sunny, beachy paradise with its breezy melodies and toe-tapping rhythm.
#7 “Orinoco Flow” by Enya (New Age/Pop)
“Orinoco Flow” by Enya is a captivating blend of New Age and Pop music that transports listeners on a soothing musical journey. With its dreamy melodies, ethereal vocals, and lush instrumentation, the song evokes a sense of tranquility and adventure. Enya’s enchanting voice floats effortlessly over the mesmerizing music, creating a sense of serenity and escape. “Orinoco Flow” is a timeless and evocative composition that has captivated audiences with its mystical and otherworldly allure, making it a beloved classic in the genre of New Age and Pop music.
#8 “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot (Folk)
“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot is a haunting folk ballad that tells the tragic story of the 1975 shipwreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior. With its mournful melodies and poignant lyrics, the song paints a vivid picture of the perilous journey and the crew’s fateful fate. The most memorable quote from the song, “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down,” has become iconic, capturing the enduring impact and legacy of this tragic event. Lightfoot’s emotive vocals and masterful storytelling make “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” a timeless and unforgettable folk masterpiece.
#9 “Sloop John B” by The Beach Boys (Pop/Rock)
“Sloop John B” by The Beach Boys is a catchy and upbeat Pop/Rock tune that showcases the band’s signature harmonies and vocal prowess. Inspired by a traditional folk song, the track’s most memorable quote, “This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on,” reflects the song’s narrative about a troubled sailing trip. With its infectious melodies and tight vocal harmonies, “Sloop John B” has become a timeless classic that captures the carefree spirit of the beach and the joy of singing along to a catchy tune.
#10 “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin (Pop)
“Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin is a timeless Pop classic that has been performed in various venues around the world. Originally released in 1959, the song has since been covered by numerous artists and featured in films, TV shows, and commercials. It has been performed in iconic venues such as the Copacabana nightclub in New York City, the Moulin Rouge in Paris, and the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas. Darin’s smooth vocals and the song’s lively big band arrangement create a nostalgic and romantic atmosphere, transporting listeners to a bygone era of glamorous performances in renowned venues across the globe.
#11 “Boat on the River” by Styx (Rock)
“Boat on the River” by Styx is a soulful and introspective Rock ballad that has been performed in various places, showcasing the band’s versatility. The song’s acoustic guitar-driven melody and emotive vocals tell a poignant story of self-reflection and contemplation. Styx has performed “Boat on the River” in numerous venues, from sold-out arenas to intimate acoustic sets, showcasing the song’s timeless appeal. Its heartfelt lyrics and melodic hooks resonate with audiences, making it a beloved track in Styx’s discography and a cherished gem in the realm of Rock music.
#12 “Boats and Birds” by Gregory and the Hawk (Indie Folk)
“Boats and Birds” by Gregory and the Hawk is a tender Indie Folk song with poetic lyrics and delicate acoustic instrumentation. It has been performed in intimate settings like coffeehouses, small venues, and open mic nights, captivating audiences with haunting vocals and intricate guitar work. The emotive and evocative nature of the song has made it a favorite among Indie Folk enthusiasts worldwide.
#13 “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” (Children’s Song)
“Row, Row, Row Your Boat” is a beloved children’s song that has been passed down through generations. Its simple yet catchy melody and playful lyrics encourage kids to sing and engage in imaginative play. The song’s timeless charm and repetitive structure make it a favorite among young children, who delight in singing along and mimicking rowing motions.
#14 “Boatman” by Levellers (Folk/Rock)
“Boatman” by Levellers is a Folk/Rock anthem that combines energetic instrumentals with powerful vocals and thought-provoking lyrics. The song’s rousing chorus and driving rhythm create an infectious and uplifting vibe, making it a favorite among fans of folk and rock music alike. “Boatman” is a spirited and memorable tune that captures the essence of Levellers’ unique blend of folk and rock influences.
#15 “Boat to Nowhere” by David Crosby (Folk/Rock)
“Boat to Nowhere” by David Crosby is a Folk/Rock gem that showcases his soulful voice and poignant songwriting. The introspective lyrics and melodic guitar work paint a vivid picture of a journey without a clear destination. Crosby’s emotive performance and heartfelt storytelling make “Boat to Nowhere” a captivating and timeless addition to the Folk/Rock genre.
#16 “The Riverboat Song” by Ocean Colour Scene (Britpop/Rock)
“The Riverboat Song” by Ocean Colour Scene is a high-energy Britpop/Rock anthem that oozes with swagger and attitude. With its infectious guitar riffs, driving rhythm, and powerful vocals, the song exudes a sense of rebelliousness and adventure. It’s a timeless and electrifying track that has become a staple in the Britpop genre, capturing the essence of the era with its raw energy and catchy hooks.
#17 “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (Rock)
“Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival is a timeless Rock classic that features an infectious rhythm, powerful vocals, and memorable guitar riffs. The song’s energetic and soulful vibe, along with its iconic “Rollin’ on the river” chorus, has made it a beloved anthem that continues to captivate listeners with its irresistible groove and catchy melodies.
#18 “Boat Trip” by Ziggy Marley (Reggae)
“Boat Trip” by Ziggy Marley is a vibrant Reggae tune that brings the laid-back vibes of the Caribbean to life. With its catchy rhythms, infectious melodies, and Ziggy Marley’s smooth vocals, the song creates a feel-good atmosphere that’s perfect for cruising on the waves or dancing along to the reggae beats.
#19 “Boat Drinks” by Alan Jackson (Country)
“Boat Drinks” by Alan Jackson is a laid-back Country tune that captures the carefree spirit of the beach and the joys of escaping to the water. With its catchy melody, twangy guitars, and Jackson’s smooth vocals, the song is a perfect soundtrack for kicking back, sipping drinks, and enjoying the sun-kissed vibes of a coastal getaway.
#20 “Boat Leaks” by Beastie Boys (Hip-Hop)
“Boat Leaks” by Beastie Boys is a high-energy Hip-Hop track from their album “The Mix-Up.” With its funky grooves, catchy samples, and clever wordplay, the song showcases the Beastie Boys’ unique style and wit. It’s a standout track that embodies their innovative approach to blending genres and pushing the boundaries of Hip-Hop music.
30 More Examples Of The Best Boat Songs
- #21 “Boat to Sail” by Loggins and Messina (Rock)
- #22 “Boat Behind” by Kings of Convenience (Indie Folk)
- #23 “The Boat That I Built” by Tom Chapin (Children’s Song)
- #24 “Boat on the Ocean” by John Butler Trio (Folk Rock)
- #25 “My Boat” by Little Joy (Indie Pop/Rock)
- #26 “Boats on the Water” by Gregory Page (Folk)
- #27 “Boat Drinks” by Zac Brown Band (Country)
- #28 “Boat of Love” by The B-52’s (Pop/Rock)
- #29 “Boat Song” by Woodkid (Indie/Pop)
- #30 “Boat on the River” by Baba Shrimps (Indie Folk)
- #31 “Yellow Boat” by Julia Holter (Indie Pop/Experimental)
- #32 “Boat Dance” by The Black Lillies (Americana)
- #33 “Boats Against the Current” by Eric Carmen (Pop)
- #34 “Boat Club” by Blood Orange (R&B/Pop)
- #35 “Rock the Boat” by Aaliyah (R&B/Pop)
- #36 “Boat to Nowhere” by Johnny Reid (Country)
- #37 “Boat” by Minus the Bear (Indie Rock)
- #38 “Boats and Trains” by George Michael (Pop/R&B)
- #39 “Boat” by Yusuf/Cat Stevens (Folk Rock)
- #40 “Boat Behind” by Lykke Li (Indie Pop)
- #41 “Boats on the Shore” by Adam Cohen (Folk Rock)
- #42 “Farewell to Tarwathie” by Judy Collins (Folk)
- #43 “The Boat is in the Barn” by Built to Spill (Indie Rock)
- #44 “Boats on the River” by Moon Taxi (Alternative/Indie)
- #45 “Shrimp Boats” by Jo Stafford (Jazz/Pop)
- #46 “Boat to Liverpool” by Nathan Carter (Country)
- #47 “Boats” by Kenny Chesney (Country)
- #48 “Boatman’s Call” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Alternative Rock)
- #49 “Boats on a River” by Peter Gabriel (Progressive Rock)
- #50 “Boat to Nowhere” by Randy Travis (Country)