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La Isla Bonita

by

Madonna



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

"La Isla Bonita" means "The Beautiful Island" in Spanish. In the song, Madonna sings about the beautiful island of San Pedro, where she longs to be. San Pedro is not a real island. In a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, Madonna said, "I don't know where that came from. I don't know where San Pedro is. At that point, I wasn't a person who went on holidays to beautiful islands. I may have been on the way to the studio and seen an exit ramp for San Pedro." (for a similar story, check out "China Grove")
This song provided yet another look and sound for Madonna, as it had a Spanish theme. In an interview with the New York Times, she called the song, "A tribute to the beauty and mystery of Latin American people."
Songwriter and producer Patrick Leonard wrote this for Michael Jackson, but Jackson claimed he didn't like the title and turned down the song. Leonard then offered it to Madonna, who rewrote some of the lyrics in her style. Leonard worked with Madonna on many of her other hits including: "Live To Tell," "Who's That Girl," "The Look Of Love," "Like A Prayer," "Cherish," "Oh Father," "Frozen" and "Nothing Really Matters." (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 3)
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Comments (33):

When the song was first released, I thought it was sung by Gloria Estefan.
- Adrian, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
I am from Belize and there is indeed a island Sanpedro. I live there and its the heart and soul of tourism in Belize and it very beautiful n fill with the friendliest Belizean people.
- tephany, Sanpedro , Belize
Nice song with best symphony and good vidio
- swastik, Dharan, Nepal
[...i love this song because i live in an island named san pedro and it has alot in common with the lyrics and it is located on belize, i grew up here and for me it's paradise walking on the white sand and ridding in golf carts etc...
- Ivy, San Pedro, Belize
Marilyn, why do you not think the song was co-written by Patrick Leonard. He's told you so? Because if not then you have no leg to stand on. Heard of defamation? Libel anyone? "True Blue" was the first of her albums that Madonna released any songs co-written with Patrick Leonard not the "last" as you seem to think. So it's quite possible that he wrote the song either as intended for Michael Jackson or later he thought it would be suitable for him. Whether Michael Jackson turned down the song or Madonna came across it and added her touch and requested to record it doesn't matter - Madonna did record it. And as for your interpretation of the lyrics ... pfft. The "girl" can quite easily be Madonna - don't know if you've actually read much literature or listened to much music but it's quite common to describe oneself in the third person. It varies the perspective and adds dimension. As for San Pedro and La Isla Bonita being real places, what does it matter? As people have already stated, they can have literal translations: la isla bonita could be ANY island. And San Pedro could have been picked out of the ether simply because it fitted. And why should Madonna comment on the song? She doesn't have to explain herself, actions, art, music ... to anyone - if she does then that's an added gift.
- Keith, London, United Kingdom
Madonna performs this song in many of her concerts, it's quite beautiful.
- Theresa, Murfreesboro, TN
Ambergris Caye used to be a peninsula until the Maya Indians dug a channel out about 1000 years ago. It is indeed an island as it is surronded completely by water. Madonna visited sometime around 1982. San Pedo is the town on the island. The people there have eyes like the desert, like my wife Rhiannon. It is still very quiet, but has built up considerably since Madonna's visit. We do drive golf carts as it is a very small place and the golf carts work. It is actually a nice touch. Look it up and you will see.
- Logan, San Pedro, Belize
Ironic though....So many [more intelligent?] hahaha not an argue, people are way more "Ahead": than the majority or better said flat out IGONRANT people. Thank you, one from Amsterdam, Netherlands. YES, we are Dutch. Strongly tied with the USA. If I could be Even Clearer [hhhhhhhh] Madonna "never really commented on This Song. She "CALLED" it: A tribute to the "latin" community. Now, voor wat mij betreft denken of vinden sommige LAtijnse : read "Spanish" islands/latin [community] people dat het idee, SORRY, forgive me. Now I'm speaking dutch. That is just the thing with Aruba, we speak at least four languages. Now what was my point again??? Nee hoor,..dan zou ik het maar op m'n Space gaan bekijken...
AS In : Stupid people, go to www.myspace.com/marilyn_lugay...well you Might discover a thing or two there, if you had wished. It would've been great if someone Else felt the need to lay down a comment here. If it makes sense, ok. If it makes no freaking sense, well...its up to you. Not only me,...obviously. More like Me and MADONNA have been sick of the conveniently or better said ignorantly placed comments. Now if you'll excuse me,.. I'm cheking out for today.
- Marilyn, Oranjestad, Aruba., Other
Daniel,.: I agree, almost totally. But that is just how this world is; al about competition, who is the best; and now it seems, more "holy" or better put: Closer to God/heaven.
A funny fact is that the island in reference isn't even quit close to a "Latin" island; yet it is of course much more strongly dedicated to the "Latin" as in Caribbean/Spanish/Portuguese/Brazillian...anyway.So true. I've been to Puerto Rico: two times. I know,...the video 'seems' much like this country. Yet, what many people dont know [i guess much more than this]...is that the island in reference as in the "boy"/culture/community sense is STRONGLY a reference to The Dominican Republic. Yet also Portuguese...a mix. I guess the song must be much more about one island. Let me say this FLAT OUT. The island is [obviously] ARUBA. If that is yet not clear i wouldn't know what is. I could refer to all the clues, "San Pedro"= Saint of Justice. The Confessions Tour video to not say straight out shows images of "this island" /another great "evidence" are the fire works at the end...Well you could have asked ME why. HAha, really, I guess the song must have been about a concrete:[read, LIVING Boy and GIRL. And this is the point where I become CYNICAL. Forgive me, I am an American. Maybe that fact might make some things clear...Enough WITH THIS. what about Ray of light or frozen? EVER HEARD THE SONG "MER GIRL" Excuse my "sympathy".
- Marilyn, Oranjestad, Aruba., Other
C'mon.
Obviously THERE IS a real "San Pedro"
and Obviously², the song IS NOT about that island!
Since it's a latin-themed song about an island, Patrick Leonard just picked a nice name in Spanish (even more accurate choice of picking a name with Catholic reference, a direct link to Latin America's catholic heritage and tradition.

It's about PRETTY MUCH ANY Caribbean/Latin Am. island, not just the particular one in Belize! If you'd ask me, I think he had more Puerto Rico in mind than Belize, he just didn't want to make it that obvious.
- Daniel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
im purto rican and i feel the song reprsents puerto rico now thats just me and in the video there dancing salsa and that im sure is not common in san pedro and in fact i have been to other site wich claim the dancer were infact puerto rican now if you narrow it down there only a couple of islands that are know for the origins of salsa one major is cuba and puerto rico but its a shame that my latin community cant just accept it as its a song to all latin islands. were the same were all hispanic and if you feel the song is for your island i think thats awesome . just lets embrace it as a tribute to the latin communty and stop arguing with or latin brothers and sister over specifics
- justin, kissimmee, FL
San Pedro is an island! I'm from Belize, I've been there many times. We have over two hundred islands. If it streches out from a mainland, which mainland? It's not connected to anything else.
- Mary, Belize City, United States
Take a peek at www.islabonita.com
San Pedro is situated in San Andres y Sauces.

Frankly, San Pedro island is nice, but not really special, San Miguel de la Palma(as it is officially called), certainly is.
- Roberto, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hereby I would like to make clear that the opening sentence of my first comment was much more geared towards making a point OTHER than some kind of negative convincing on Mr. Patrick Leonard (whom I don't even personally know..) or his role in this song or any of all the other songs...I believe for him what I mostly have is respect [and intrigue]. This is neither a reaction to anyone in particular and/or anyone who would've felt the need to twist the sound of my first statement but to clarify... as there seems to be so much yet in need of clarification My argue is neither whether there really exists such geographic location that would've conveniently/commercially gotten the name of "San Pedro"...?(I don't know) Or is it pure coincidence. I just thought it was the right time to wake some people up. 'Help Madonna' with the message she's been going DECADES proclaiming. I am not even going to comment though on "Ray of Light" and "Frozen". Let alone "Like a Prayer".
- Marilyn, Oranjestad, Aruba., Other
*between those brackets I wrote "I'm going to tell you a secret"...I don't know why it didn't appear...anyway
- Marilyn, Oranjestad, Aruba., Other
"La Isla Bonita"...might leave some people wondering about the meaning/importance of the island or the girl. Well, it was certainly not the last time Madonna sang about "the girl". See "Ray of Light", "Frozen", "Live to Tell", "Lucky Star" for example...and, has anyone seen <>? I say it will all come down to that. And watch the Confessions tour, especially "Live to Tell" and "Future Lovers"...,
Mer.
- Marilyn, Oranjestad, Aruba., Other
Driving golf carts on sandy streets?? In what time are these people living..?Hahaha Mosquitos? Damn I can't stand those. But I guess for some paradise is hard to find...
- Marilyn, Oranjestad, Aruba., Other
Madonna has never really commented on this song...Ghee, I wonder why.
- Marilyn, Oranjestad, Aruba., Other
As if I felt I would have to persist, "Liquid Len" (and countless others): I have never been to any UFO island, could clearly figure out the power of Madonna having grown up in the 90's and new millenium (and not the 80's) just by reading the illusion she created for the "poor place" (actually, I have been to Belize, but hell no "San Pedro".)
Maybe the video of La Isla Bonita, Confessions Tour might offer some insightful details about the Beautiful Island...
- Marilyn, Oranjestad, Aruba., Other
Liquid Len - "Standard 80s Caribbean flavoured pop"? What do you mean by that? I don't remember many other Carribean-inspired pop songs of that era!
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
La isla Bonita is obviously about a beautiful island and it is about ambergrise caye which is located in belize. Sanpedro is not a "peninsula", it is an Island off the cost of Belize and it DOES exist. This is where "temptation island" was filmed too. I know all this Because i was raised in sanepdro for 13 years. So for all of you who said it doesnt exist, get your geography straight!!!!
- Rhiannon, seminole, FL
I have actually been to La Isla Bonita! It is indeed Ambergris Caye, off Belize. People do drive the sandy streets in golf carts. (Ours broke down and we had to take refuge from the mosquito hordes at a nearby resort.) I definitely believe that this lovely island, with its white sand beaches and azure waters, inspired the lyrics of the song.
- Guy, Woodinville, WA
I believe "La Isla Bonita" meant "The Pretty Island". Same meaning though.
- Vickie, Sydney, Australia
Not a bad song overall, nothing special either. Standard 80s Caribbean flavoured pop. Marilyn, if you're very insulted because you don't want to believe the song was written by the people it's credited to, I can offer you sympathy but not much else.
- Liquid Len, Ottawa, Canada
I really do not believe that this song would originally be written by Patrick Leonard; who has worked with Madonna for ages. And that he would want to sell out this song to Michael Jackson....or was La Isla Bonita then the last song of which Madonna collaborated with Patrick Leonard??
La isla Bonita is Spanish for: The beautiful island. That is the true translation American people. It is true: unlike the fanfare I now find out about, San Pedro means Saint Peter (the saint of justice) and is much rather a symbollic reference to the island. Madonna sings about the girl (again): "Last night I dreamed of San Pedro. Just like I'd never gone, I knew the song... young girl with eyes like the desert..."
She humbally expresses her love for an island she had never been to: "Just like I'd never gone, I knew the song." It is truly insulting when certain ignorant people offer their marvelously foolish explanations,....truly.

Marilyn Lugay, 21, Aruba, Dutch Caribbean.
- Marilyn, Oranjestad, Aruba., Other
La Isla Bonita is the pet name for "San Pedro" also known as Ambergris Caye located in Belize, Central America. It's is not in fact an island, but a peninsula that stretches out far from the main land.
Yes it exists, a friend of mine vacationed there 2 years ago.
To give you an idea, people drive in golf carts on sand streets. San Pedro has a small population and it's main industry is tourism in terms of fishing and scubadiving. As proof look up Ambergris Caye in Google and you will find it does in fact exist.

As to Madonna's purpose in describing why she longs to be there, I think it's clear. She had a wonderful experience there.
- James, Gatineau, Canada
Rap diva Deetah sampled this on her 1999 hit "El Paradiso Rico"
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
Beautiful song this one, one of the few Madonna songs I like. So joyous and uplifting, so summery, and yet so poignant and pensive at the same time... The line in the bridge of the song that goes "Where a girl loves a boy and a boy, a boy loves a girl" - could that line have perhaps been a tongue-in-cheek remark summing her dissatisfaction with her two high-profile but ill-fated celebrity romances up to that point?
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
After just having returned from San Pedro- I gotta tell you it is in fact a real place- and just as beautiful as she describes! And yes "beautiful island" is the translation, not good island :)
- Sharifa, Toronto, OH
Last night I dreamed of some bagels....yes I thought the line in the song was this........
- Donna, Rutherford, NJ
"San Pedro is not a real island." Don't tell the people of Belize this! They believe that their island of San Pedro (off the coast of Belize City) exists!!!! ...they even offer ferry rides out there. I never saw it, so I'm on the fence about the matter...kinda like UFOs...
- Curtis, Cornwall on Hudson , NY
It's "beautiful little island".
- Ekristheh, Halath, United States
Actually LA ISLA BONITA, means BEAUTIFUL ISLAND. It has nothing to do with GOOD ISLAND.
Talita, Lima, Peru
- sunset, London, United States
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