From timeless sea shanties to modern-day pop songs, the best songs about the sea capture the beauty and power of the open ocean.
They also use the sea as a metaphor for deep feelings and emotions that explore love and relationships in exciting new ways.
Continue reading for a complete playlist of the best sea-themed songs you can listen to, regardless of your personal taste in music.
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The 23 Best Songs About The Sea & Ocean
The topic of seas and oceans has been explored in many great songs, from rock and roll hits from the 1950s to contemporary pop and indie music.
We’ve dug through music history to make sure this playlist includes something for all tastes, representing the best music has to offer.
Here’s our playlist of the 23 best songs about the sea and ocean:
23. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” – Otis Redding
If you’re looking for more laid-back songs about the sea, look no further than “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” by legendary singer Otis Redding.
Released in 1968, it’s a classic song that many will remember for the whistling melody that guitarist Sam Taylor performs at the end of the track.
“(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” is also widely considered one of the best songs about time you can listen to.
22. “Cape Cod” – Anders Osborne
A lesser-known song that Reddings classic is “Cape Cod” by Anders Osborne, another mellow and atmospheric song about the sea,
The lyrics explore a summer afternoon on the shore, with Osborne’s guitar playing, resembling a breeze coming in from the ocean.
It was released on Anders Osborne’s 2016 album Spacedust and Ocean Views, which also featured the great song “Life Don’t Last That Long.”
21. “Seaside” – The Kooks
One of the more upbeat and catchy songs about the sea is “Seaside” by the Kooks, which focuses on the best place you can view the sea from.
It’s one of those sea songs that use the open water as a metaphor for love, with the narrative exploring a man finding love on the beach.
The Kooks released “Seaside” on their first studio album, Inside In/Out, which was released in 2006 and proved to be a huge hit among fans.
20. “Lost Sailor” – The Grateful Dead
The sea can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be a powerful force that humans contend with at their own risk.
The danger of the sea is the topic of the Grateful Dead song “Lost Sailor,” which uses sea imagery to tackle some of life’s unanswerable questions.
The Grateful Dead wrote many deep and meaningful songs, including one of the best songs about light, “Turn on Your Love Light.”
19. “Orinoco Flow” – Enya
The music of Enya often captures something more transient and ethereal than most singers can accomplish, and “Orinoco Flow” is no exception.
With the instantly recognizable lyrics “sail away, sail away, sail away,” it’s a sea song that takes its name from a river that also means “the place to swim.”
It was released with an excellent music video that is full of life and color and proved to be Enya’s most popular and enduring release.
18. “Some Beach” – Blake Shelton
Country singer-songwriter Blake Shelton avoids specifics with his song “Some Beach,” which is guaranteed to raise a smile among listeners.
The lyrics paint a clear picture, with Shelton singing, “Palm trees are growin’ and warm breezes blowin’, I picture myself right there on some beach.”
Released in 2004. Blake Shelton’s song “Some Beach” was also featured on his country music album, Blake Shelton’s Bar & Grill.
17. “Soak Up The Sun” – Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow brings her inimitable country music rasping vocals to one of the best songs about the sea, “Soak Up the Sun.”
A soulful pop-country blend, “Soak Up the Sun” is a warm and welcoming song with a beautiful music video that was filmed in Hawaii.
Sheryl Crow released many popular songs, including four top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts over the course of her career.
16. “Margaritaville” – Jimmy Buffett
For many people, the sea is where we go for our vacation, and nothing comes close to a cool glass of Margarita when lazing on the beach.
“Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett captures the essence of the feeling of watching the world go by from the comfort of the shore as waves lap onto the beach.
Buffett’s effortless country music style was used for one of the best songs about magic, “Bring Back the Magic.”
15. “Ocean Drive” – Duke Dumont
Released in 2015, “Ocean Drive” by Duke Dumont topped the charts and set everyone up for a long coastal drive in the summer.
Featuring a smattering of naughty lyrics, it’s a great pop song that blends elements of electronic music to keep the tempo running high.
It was a big hit for Dumont, who is also well known for his hit singles “Need U,” “I Got U,” and “Won’t Look Back.”
14. “To The Sea” – Jack Johnson
We’re sticking close to the ocean for the next song about the sea, with the Jack Johnson ballad “To The Sea.”
The song explores a range of topics, each of which is deeply connected to the underlying theme of the ocean and sea life.
It’s a beautiful, soft-spoken ballad from Jack Johnson that was released as part of the sea-themed album, To The Sea in 2010.
13. “Cake By The Ocean” – DNCE
While some people think about drinking a cool cocktail by the sea, DNCE opted for something a little more unusual with their song “Cake By the Ocean.”
Many listeners have interpreted “Cake By the Ocean” as a metaphor for a cocktail, although the music video uses actual cakes in abundance,
DNCE released “Cake By the Ocean” in 2015, with the song becoming a huge hit and one of the most popular songs of that decade.
12. “Tenerife Sea” – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran’s song from 2014, “Tenerife Sea,” was written after the singer-songwriter failed to win a Grammy Award the year before.
It’s a love song as much as a song about the sea, with Sheeran comparing his lover’s eyes to the blue of the Tenerife sea.
Ed Sheeran has enjoyed many chart-topping hits over the years, including one of the best songs about change, “Everything Has Changed,” which featured Taylor Swift.
11. “Binary Sea” – Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie’s addition to great songs about the sea has a rather unusual title and explores the subject through the prism of history.
“Binary Sea” tells a story commonly used in sea shanties revolving around the mythical Atlas and the god Titan.
The music also explores how the sea of information we have at our fingertips through smartphones risks us all becoming disconnected from one another.
10. “Only The Ocean” – Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson returns once again to this playlist of the best songs about the sea with another song, “Only the Ocean.”
“To go to the water for reason,” the gorgeous lyrics sing, continuing, “It’s only the ocean and you.”
It’s another song from the great album To The Sea, which was nominated for a Billboard Music Award for Top Rock Album.
9. “Yellow Submarine” – The Beatles
The Beatles are renowned for their singable songs and have produced some of the best karaoke songs of all time, including “Hey Jude.”
“Yellow Submarine” is another hugely catchy and memorable song from one of the biggest bands of all time, well known to this day.
It was released along with the movie of the same name, a gorgeously-animated adventure into the heart of the ocean with trippy visuals.
8. “Dead Sea” – The Lumineers
While the title “Dead Sea” might be a little on the gloomy side, this song from the Lumineers is actually a rather sweet and endearing tune.
“You told me I was like the Dead Sea,” the lyrics go, continuing with, “You’ll never sink when you are with me.”
Alternative indie rock band the Lumineers released “Dead Sea” in 2012 as part of their self-titled debut studio album.
7. “Into The Mystic” – Van Morrison
Seas and oceans suggest a world of mystery, which is the angle Van Morrison took with his popular song “Into the Mystic.”
One of the most striking of all of Van Morrison’s songs, “Into the Mystic,” used a tenor saxophone to represent a fog horn in the music.
Full of deep and meaningful symbolism and themes of exploration and spiritual renewal, it’s a great Van Morrison song about the sea.
6. “Captain Kennedy” – Neil Young
Another musician with a familiarity with the sea they shared with fans in music is Neil Young, who wrote the song “Captain Kennedy” in 1980.
Young takes his inspiration from Captain Louis Kennedy, an American naval submariner whose ship was sunk by a German U-boat in World War 2.
One of the most successful singers of all time, Neil Young, has won two Grammy Awards, in addition to many other nominations.
5. “Sail On Sailor” – The Beach Boys
It’s not a surprise to hear that the Beach Boys have written many sea songs over the years, but our money is on “Sail On Sailor” as one of their best.
It features complex lyrics that are open to interpretation and was written in collaboration with Van Dyke Parks and Brian Wilson.
The Beach Boys wrote one of the best songs of all time, “Good Vibrations,” and were among the biggest rock bands in America during the 1960s and 70s.
4. “Ocean Eyes” – Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes” blends a range of pop styles to use the ocean as an analogy for an unhealthy relationship.
“Ocean Eyes,” which was produced by her brother Finneas O’Connell, was released when Billie was just fourteen years old.
The song rose through the charts and became a popular track, despite the fact it was originally composed for Eilish’s dancing teacher and not meant for the public.
3. “Under The Sea” – “The Little Mermaid” A Disney Production
A list of the best songs about the sea wouldn’t be complete without this catchy number from the Disney movie The Little Mermaid.
“Under the Sea” was a huge hit when the movie came out and remains one of the most enduring songs to have ever come from a Disney movie.
While the original movie is considered to be old these days, the recent live-action remake will have reignited interest in this much-loved classic.
2. “Beyond The Sea” – Bobby Darin
A much older song about the sea than “Under the Sea” is the Bobby Darin rock classic “Beyond the Sea,” which was released way back in the 1950s.
It’s an English version of the song “La Mer” released by Charles Trenet, and a classic song from a long-forgotten generation of singer-songwriters.
The song “Beyond the Sea” was featured more recently in a 1994 episode of The X-Files and was played as a tribute to Scully’s father.
1. “Across The Sea” – Weezer
“Across the Sea” is one of the biggest hits released by the band Weezer, written by Rivers Cuomo and featured on their album Pinkerton.
It’s a personal song that reflects the torment Cuomo felt while growing up in high school and features some potent visual imagery in the lyrics.
Weezer fans have voted “Across the Sea” as their favorite song by the band on many occasions, making it an enduring indie rock classic about the sea.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this playlist exploring the best songs about the sea and how the ocean can be viewed as a metaphor for many deeper human emotions.
It’s a topic that singers and bands have been exploring for hundreds of years, ever since the first sea shanty was sung and continuing to this day.
With the sea taking on different meanings for everyone who visits it, more songs exploring this enduring topic will continue to be made in the future.
What songs best capture the power and beauty of the sea? Leave a comment below.
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