Decades after the song was written, people are still searching for the famous Kokomo island.
If you have ears and understand English, there’s no doubt you’ve heard the Beach Boys’ hit song before. Released in 1988, it topped the charts in the United States, Japan, and Australia for about two months. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television.
Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama…
Simply titled “Kokomo”, the song describes two lovers taking a trip to an island somewhere in the Caribbean, near the Florida Keys. It mentions a few other islands, like Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, and the Bahamas— those we know. But what about Kokomo? Where is this mysterious island located?
Hundreds of people have scoured maps of the Florida coast and the Caribbean. Others have typed the elusive island’s name into online search engines, hoping for answers. There are even over 100,000 hashtags on Instagram that mention “kokomo”.
However, the unfortunate truth is that this fairytale paradise island is just that– a fairytale. A google search will inform you that there are indeed several locations called Kokomo– Kokomo, Indiana, Kokomo, Arkansas and Kokomo, Hawaii. But the beloved Beach Boys tune isn’t talking about those places.
The inspiration behind the music
Unfortunately, there isn’t a wild and crazy story about where the name “Kokomo” came from.
“Kokomo was a name that originated with John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas,” Mike Love of the Beach Boys told KeysWeekly.com. “Phillips wrote the melody and the verse, and I wrote the chorus, and our friend Terry Melcher produced the record, and he came up with the ‘Oooh I want to take you …’ and it was a true collaboration.”
The song was commissioned for the movie Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Shue. In the film, Cruise’s character moves from New York to Jamaica, where he falls in love with an artist named Jordan (Elisabeth Shue).
We suspect the name was chosen simply because it sounds like a good name for an exotic island. Or, maybe it’s just because it’s an easy word to rhyme with the rest of the lyrics!
Searching for Kokomo
One interesting result of people’s curiosity about this elusive island is that it has prompted several Florida businesses to change the names of their establishments. The Postcard Inn Beach Resort and Marina, formerly called the Holiday Isle Resort, once had a poolside bar called Kokomo. The owner apparently got the idea for the name from guests who asked if the Beach Boys song was inspired by a real island.
In addition, Casa Marina Resort in Key West renamed their private beach after the song. They even created a cocktail called “The Kokomo” for guests to enjoy at the beach. However, the name has since been changed to Casa Marina Beach. Nevertheless, you may still hear visitors refer to it as Kokomo beach on occasion.
Kokomo may not be a real place, but the song will always remind us that the Caribbean is the perfect place to “get away from it all”.
Main image source: Grenadine weddings
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