Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

Moana has nearly convinced herself that she can live happily for the rest of her life on Motonui but fate has a different plan for this chief’s daughter. One day, as Moana is going about helping the people, a group comes up to show her a basket of rotten coconuts. No problem, Moana instructs them to start gathering from a different grove and to remove the diseased trees. But then the fishermen come up and show their empty baskets: there are no fish in the lagoon, nor are there any to be found in any of the other usual fishing spots that Moana suggests they try instead. While her father gets into a heated discussion with the fishermen, Moana is struck by a brilliant idea: why don’t they go beyond the reef to fish? I believe that she is making a sincere suggestion that might help the island (and not just because she wants to go explore herself) but her father does not see it that way at all. He rejects her flatly and insists they will find another way because “no one sails beyond the reef.”

Disheartened (again), Moana remains on the beach and ponders her seemingly unending desire to explore the ocean. This is the setting of “How Far I’ll Go.” There’s a version of this song in almost every animated Disney song that I can think of:

And those are just to name a few! But despite this type of song showing up in so many films, it doesn’t change the fact that I love this song! It resonates with me because I too struggle with wanting to do things that people close to me do not always understand.


I’ve been staring at the edge of the water
Long as I can remember
Never really knowing why
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water
No matter how hard I try

Every turn I take, every trail I track
Every path I make, every road leads back
To the place I know where I cannot go
Where I long to be


See the line where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
And no one knows
How far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea
Stays behind me
One day, I’ll know
If I go, there’s just no telling how far I’ll go

I know everybody on this island
Seems so happy on this island
Everything is by design
I know everybody on this island
Has a role on this island
So maybe I can roll with mine

Moana’s argument does make sense: everybody else is perfectly happy with their roles on the island, so why shouldn’t she be content with her role as a chief’s daughter (and future chief in her own right)? She doesn’t understand why she’s drawn back time and time again to the ocean, in fact she wonders if there’s something wrong with her!


I can lead with pride
I can make us strong
I’ll be satisfied if I play along
But the voice inside
Sings a different song
What is wrong with me?

All of Moana’s doubts are swept away every time she stares back at the ocean. Deep down, nothing else matters if she can just get out there and explore. That’s why, despite just hearing her father say no one can go beyond the reef, Moana runs back to the beach, grabs a boat and begins paddling out into the lagoon (despite not knowing the first thing about sailing!!)

See the light as it shines on the sea
It’s blinding
But no one knows
How deep it goes
And it seems like it’s calling out to me
So come find me
And let me know
What’s beyond that line?
Will I cross that line?
See the line where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
And no one knows
How far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea
Stays behind me
One day, I’ll know
How far I’ll go

The song ends on a high note but almost immediately turns into disaster when Moana’s boat is capsized and she nearly drowns with her foot stuck in the coral reef. This scene subverted a fairly common Disney trope where the hero/heroine gets caught doing something they shouldn’t by the stern authority figure/parent. I fully expected Moana to get caught by her father and get another tongue-lashing, but instead the only one who catches her is her beloved grandmother Tala (who doesn’t mind at all that Moana loves the ocean).

“How Far I’ll Go” was composed and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame) and remains one of my favorite Disney songs almost two years after the film came out in theaters. What do you think of “How Far I’ll Go?” Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Moana “Where You Are” (2016)

Moana “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” (2016)

Moana “We Know the Way” (2016)

Moana “You’re Welcome” (2016)

Moana “Shiny” (2016)

Moana “I am Moana” (2016)

Moana “Know Who You Are” (2016)

Disney Soundtracks A-Z

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8 thoughts on “Moana “How Far I’ll Go” (2016)

  1. Pingback: Moana “Where You Are” (2016) | Film Music Central

  2. Pingback: Moana “How Far I’ll Go (reprise)” (2016) | Film Music Central

  3. Pingback: Moana “We Know the Way” (2016) | Film Music Central

  4. Pingback: Moana “You’re Welcome” (2016) | Film Music Central

  5. Pingback: Moana “Shiny” (2016) | Film Music Central

  6. Pingback: Moana “I am Moana” (2016) | Film Music Central

  7. Pingback: Moana “Know Who You Are” (2016) | Film Music Central

  8. Pingback: The Little Mermaid “Part of Your World” (1989) | Film Music Central

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