23 Popular Hawaiian Ukulele Songs 2021, Chords Included

When it comes to the ukulele, it’s hard not to think of Hawaii. And of course, Hawaii has birthed a lot of great talent and music.

If you want to capture the essence of the instrument, then you’ve got to add a few Hawaiian songs to your repertoire.

In this guide, we’ll look at some of the best popular Hawaiian ukulele songs (along with a few extras).

“Aloha Oe” by Queen Liliuokalani

Chords in this song: C, D7, F, F7, G, G7

Kicking off this list is Queen Liliuokalani’s “Aloha Oe,” whose chorus you are likely familiar with already, as it instantly evokes images of the beautiful and tropical Hawaii.

This song sounds best with a gentle groove that complements the ocean and relaxed atmosphere of the islands.

“Aloha Oe,” when translated to English, means “Farewell to Thee,” and the song certainly carries with it a hint of sadness.

Overall the song is a bit of a Hawaiian cultural symbol and is therefore essential learning. So, get those chords under your fingers. You can do it!

Ukulele Tab: UkuTabs

“Island Style” by John Cruz

Chords in this song: C, G7, F, C7

“Island Style” is the perfect starting place for beginners. Most of the song can be played with just three chords, and the C7 is basically just for flavor.

This song, like many other Hawaiian numbers, captures the essence of the culture and relaxed atmosphere of the islands.

If you’re ready to “do it island style,” give this song a go!

Ukulele Tab: Live Ukulele

“Ku’u Home O Kahalu’u” by Olomana

Chords in this song: C, F, C7, G7

“Ku’u Home O Kahalu’u” is another Hawaiian classic that’s easy for beginners to pick up. The song’s hook is in “Hawaiian,” but the rest of the song is in English, making it a traditional-contemporary hybrid.

Note that the original was in E/Eb, while slack key players tend to prefer playing it in D.

The included tab is a simple arrangement in the key of C. If you’re a total beginner, this is the best place to start. But if it’s too easy, you can always try other versions and arrangements.

Overall, a great ukulele song for beginners to try out.

Ukulele Tab: Live Ukulele

“Hi’ilawe” by Sam Li’a

Chords in this song: F, Bb, C7

“Hi’ilawe” is Sam Li’a’s signature tune that tells the story of love and gossip in the Waipi’o valley. It’s an absolute essential for local Hula dancers.

The original had an astonishing 13 verses(!). When it’s performed today, most musicians abbreviate to six or seven.

Although it’s just three chords, the song is a little more challenging than you might think! Take your time, because the tempo is quite fast, and the timing of the strumming is a little weird.

Ukulele Tab: Live Ukulele

“Home In The Islands” by The Brothers Cazimero

Chords in this song: F, Bb, C

“Home In The Islands” tells the story of a gypsy musician who’s missing his significant other.

With just three chords, a moderate tempo, and a distinctive strumming pattern, this is a great song for beginners to give the old college try.

If you’re more advanced, see if you can figure out some of the licks that occur between verses.

Ukulele Tab: Ultimate-Guitar.com

“Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby

Chords in this song: A7, Ab, B7, Bb7, C7, D, D7, E7, Em, Eb, Eb7, F7, Fm, G

You might know Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” as a Hawaiian Christmas themed song.

Now, 14 chords might seem excessive. But for the most part, the song follows the same structure throughout, just that it modulates a few times.

It could be a little challenging for a beginner, but intermediate players should be able to take hold of this one.

Ukulele Tab: UkuTabs

“Lava” by Kuana Torres Kahele, James Ford Murphy & Nāpua Greig

Chords in this song: A, C, F, G7

You might recognize this song from Disney’s 2014 musical short film Lava. And in this song, the ukulele plays a central role.

“Lava” is about a lonely man watching couples and wishing he could meet someone special.

Although the song’s tempo is moderate, and the chord changes aren’t too hard, there are tempo changes throughout, so watch out for those.

Ukulele Tab: UkuTabs

“Over The Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Chords in this song: Am, C, D, Dm7, E7, Em, F, G

Possibly the most well know Hawaiian ukulele song on this list.

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole is a Hawaiian ukulele legend, and he is most known for his jaunty, touching rendition of “Over The Rainbow.” So, you could say that this is required learning for all uke players!

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to come easy. There are eight chords in this song, and that’s several more than are in a typical pop song. It is worth the effort, though!

Have fun with this one.

Ukulele Tab: UkuTabs

“Maori Brown Eyes” by Palolo

Chords in this song: C#, D, Dm, Em, G, C, Am, A

“Maori Brown Eyes” has got a bit of a bluesy vibe and is the perfect song for the intermediate player to jam along to.

If you know how to play blues licks on your instrument, you’ll have a lot of fun riffing over this one. Otherwise, don’t worry about trying to play the guitar licks and just focus on the strumming.

Ukulele Tab: ChordU

“E Huli Mākou” by David Chung

Chorus in this song: F, G7, C7

“E Huli Mākou” is the perfect starting place for ukulele players and hula dancers alike.

Although the tempo is moderate to fast, the chords are straightforward, and basically follow a repeating pattern throughout.

It’s okay to start slow and build up to faster tempos though!

Ukulele Tab: Live Ukulele

“Blue Hawaii” by Elvis Presley

Chords in this song: G#, C#, A#, D#

Who wouldn’t want to learn Elvis Presley’s “Blue Hawaii?”

Well, you can play just the basic structure of the song (without embellishment) using just four chords. That said, you might find it easier to play in a non # or b key, like G.

Intermediate and advanced players should aspire to listen for and play through all the chord changes as you hear them.

Ukulele Tab: Ukulele Tabs and Chords

“E Ku’u Morning Dew” by Eddie Kamae

Chords in this song: Am, D7, G

The legendary Eddie Kamae wrote “E Ku’u Morning Dew.” It features a repeating ii – V – I style progression, which is standard in jazz.

This might sound a little complicated, but in this case, it just translates to Am, D7, and G, which is quite simple.

If you know how to play melodies or leads, this is an especially fun piece to jam over. Depending on the version, it might feature some modulation. If you’re intermediate to advanced, it might be fun to incorporate key changes.

Ukulele Tab: Live Ukulele

“Pearly Shells” by Burl Ives

Chords in this song: G, G7, A, C, cm, D, D7

From the opening notes, “Pearly Shells” seems to epitomize Hawaii. At its core, it’s a simple ukulele song about being in love.

Some of the chord changes are a little trickier than others (D7, for example). Slow it down, take your time, and you should eventually be able to play along to “Pearly Shells” without issue.

Ukulele Tab: Jim’s Ukulele Songbook

“Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” by Mark Keali’I Ho’omalu

Chords in this song: Bb, Bbm, C, Cm, Dm, F

You might recognize “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” from the 2002 animated Disney film, Lilo & Stitch.

Although the song begins with an a cappella section, before long, the music kicks in.

The main riff from the song is basically a I – IV – vi – V progression, which should strike you as familiar.

I don’t hear any ukulele in the original, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with your own rendition!

Ukulele Tab: UkuTabs

“Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai” by Hapa

Chords in this song: D7, G, C, Gmaj7

Here’s another Hawaiian ukulele song. Most of “Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai” can be played with just three chords – G, C, and D7. The Gmaj7 is mostly just for color at the end of the song.

This is an upbeat tune, though, so if you’re strumming along, make sure to keep up!

In the video version, there are a couple of great licks for you to learn as well. But if you’re just getting started, focus on the chords and the strumming first and foremost.

Ukulele Tab: Ultimate-Guitar.com

“Kauanoeanuhea” by Keali’I Reichel

Island songs for ukulele

Chords in this song: G, C, Cm, D/F#, D7

“Kauanoeanuhea,” at its core, is a ballad. Its timing is straightforward, and most chord changes last for a bar or two, making it easy to follow for adults or kids.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of strumming along to it, it might be worth trying picking along to it too. That can easily broaden your rhythmic playing options.

Ukulele Tab: Island Music Network

“Island In The Sun” by Weezer

Chords in this song: Em, Am, D, G, C

This one is mostly just in here for kicks. Weezer’s “Island In The Sun” is not strictly a Hawaiian song, but it was obviously inspired by destination vacations.

Throughout most of the song, the band repeats the same Em, A, D, G chord progression. That makes it relatively easy to play.

Just make sure to watch out for the bridge, where the song briefly changes to a separate chord progression.

This song is a true crowd pleaser. Not a bad one to add to your repertoire!

Ukulele Tab: Ukulele Tabs and Chords

“Hele On To Kaua’i” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Chords in this song: A, D, E7, A7, G7, C, C7, F

IZ’s voice and playing are front and center in “Hele On To Kaua’i.”

This song is basically a tribute to island life, and if you listen carefully, you’ll notice that it’s got a bit of a country flavor to it.

The main reason there are so many chords in the song is because there’s a key change towards the end. For the most part, it’s kind of a three-chord wonder, but the key change is a good challenge for the beginner.

Ukulele Tab: Ultimate-Guitar.com

“About You” by Cecilio & Kapono

Chords in this song: G, Bm, Em, Am, D, C, A, E

The opening to “About You” has got a 70s pop and rock vibe to it.

But its relaxed vibe certainly makes it a fun song for the ukulele. Just watch out for all the chord changes and try to place them correctly!

If you’re intermediate to advanced, then also see if you can come up with some licks to play over this tune.

Ukulele Tab: Ukulele chords and tabs

“Fish & Poi” by Sean Na’auao

Chords in this song: C, Am, F, G7

“Fish & Poi,” for the most part, follows a typical I – vi – IV – V chord progression. There are a few licks and interesting chord changes though, so if you’re intermediate and above, try to figure those out too.

This fun song is basically about craving Hawaiian food, and it’s got a fun, reggae vibe to it.

This is a great song for the consummate foodie.

Ukulele Tab: Ultimate-Guitar.com

“He Mele No Lilo” by Mark Keali’I Ho’omatu & Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus

Chords in this song: G, C, D, G#, C#, D#, A, E, A#, F#

This song, of course, is also from Lilo & Stitch.

After an a cappella intro, this song starts to pick up. Instruments gradually join in, creating a fuller sound.

Strictly speaking there is no ukulele in this song, but there’s certainly no reason why you can’t add to it.

All those chords make it look a little crazy, but we’ve seen this before. This is basically a three-chord wonder with key changes in it. That can make it a little challenging for the beginner, but you should be able to pick it up with a bit of practice.

Ukulele Tab: Ukulele Tabs and Chords

“Love And Honesty” By Hawaiian Style Band

Chords in this song: G, Bm, C, Am, D

“Love And Honesty” is a relaxing sounding song about being in love.

This is an excellent song for a beginner to pick up, as the rhythm is quite straightforward, and the tempo is moderate. Bm might present a slight challenge, but I promise it’s worth learning.

For all those sentimental moments, it’s a song worth adding to your repertoire.

Ukulele Tab: Ukulele Tabs and Chords

“You Don’t Write” by Ka’au Crater Boys

Chords in this song: G, Bm, C, Am, D, D7

“You Don’t Write” is an excellent song for all ukulele players to learn. It’s got a great upbeat groove, along with a catchy chord progression and melody.

The verse follows a G – Bm – C – C pattern, which is quite easy for a beginner to pick up.

The best part of the song, though, is probably the solo. If you’re intermediate and above, give it a try!

Ukulele Tab: Ukulele Tabs and Chords

Best Hawaiian Ukulele Songs, Final Thoughts

There’s lots of great Hawaiian ukulele songs here, and it should keep you busy for a while. If you find any of it challenging, then remember – Rome was not built in a day! You’ve got to keep working on your craft daily to get to the point where you can play anything.

But most importantly, remember to enjoy the process. Ukulele and sadness don’t go together. Ukulele players always look happy!

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