Aruba, Jamaica…who doesn’t get the desire to listen to a steel drum and feel an ocean breeze when they hear that classic Beach Boys song “Kokomo” start to play? Check out a little history of the song and getaways to visit at each of the Caribbean islands it features.
Though it may sound like a song from the Beach Boys’ heyday of the 1960’s, “Kokomo” was actually written for the 1988 Tom Cruise movie, Cocktail. Now, it’s hard to determine the inspiration for the name of the song. As far as we can tell, there were no actual islands—off the Florida Keys or elsewhere—in 1988 that were named Kokomo. There is a Kokomo, Indiana and there’s also a Kokomo “island” in Florida, but it is a tiki bar named for the song, so it came after.
It seems that Kokomo is more a state of mind than a real place. But don’t worry! We found all the actual Caribbean getaways featured in the song and rounded them up in a quick list.
But first, the easter egg.
We included this video of “Kokomo” because it shows the Beach Boys at their beachiest—harmonizing in concert, beautiful location shots (it was filmed at the then-brand-new Grand Floridian Disney World Resort in Florida) and clips of Tom Cruise flipping bottles at the tropical bar from Cocktail. However, something more amazing was uncovered in this video.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is John Stamos on drums. Why wouldn’t Uncle Jesse be the one who comes in on the steel drums that take you to a tropical paradise at the beginning of Kokomo?
Off the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Kokomo
That’s where you want to go to get away from it all
Put a tiny umbrella in your drink and read on to find out “where you want to go to get away from it all.”
It’s hard to think of the name of the first island in the song without starting the chorus in your head! Aruba is a small island 15 miles north of Venezuela, governed by the Netherlands. You can see the Dutch influence in the names of locations, food and culture, and it makes for a totally unique getaway option.
Bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand
We’ll be falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band
Down in Kokomo
There are plenty of steel drums to be found in Jamaica. No guarantee you’ll find John Stamos, but apparently, you never know where he’ll pop up!
Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go
Jamaica actually gets two shout-outs in the chorus! When they sing “Montego”, they’re referring to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The tropical location scenes in Cocktail were all filmed on the island so maybe they were biased. Sandals Resorts used to have a Kokomo Resort named for the song in Montego Bay, but they have since changed the name to Sandals Cay.
Fun Fact: Bermuda is not in the Caribbean as many think. Partly because of its inclusion in this song, it seems Bermuda sometimes gets lumped into the Caribbean Sea. It’s actually in the North Atlantic Ocean, 750 miles east of North Carolina.
The Bahamas is comprised of 700 islands scattered throughout over 100,000 miles of ocean. It’s believed that the name Bahamas comes from the Spanish phrase baha mar meaning shallow water or low tide. If there is a secret island called Kokomo hidden away somewhere, this would be the place! It also starts off the Florida Keys, just like the song says….who knows?