Tiki bars are fun spots that you can’t miss. I have always loved a Tiki Bar, and not just those that are called ‘tiki bar’ just because it is close to the beach and has some ‘tiki’ decoration, I still enjoy those a lot, but not here to talk about them. It’s more than that and lately we try to visit a Tiki Bar if we find one in the city we’re in.
But what’s a Tiki Bar? It is a place where they offer themed drinks, especially mixed cocktails with rum, as well as the most famous: Mai Tai and Zombie. Those bars have a “tiki” culture decor, more or less based on tropical cultures such as the Polynesian Islands, but which is really an invented culture that began in the USA in the mid-20th century. One of the first known Tiki Bars was Don The Beachcomber in 1933 in Los Angeles.
Here in Florida we have tried to visit some, I think we are still missing few, but on this post, I will show you the ones we know about…
In this beautiful city there is a lot to see and explore. But at night you cannot miss visiting the oldest Tiki in Florida: Bahi Hut Tiki Cocktail Lounge.
Located inside a Motel, also very retro, and it has delicious cocktails that you have to try. Did I mention that this is the oldest Tiki Bar in Florida? Depending on the day you can find live music or other activities.
We first tried the Volcano Bowl, for 2 people, it’s not only delicious but also fun since it comes with leis and the ‘volcano is active’ (or something like that)😆, if you go with your partner, it is a good option to start the party with. Then, for me, I usually go with a Mai Tai or a Blue Hawaii, both were very tasty. With the Mai Tai there are different options, this time I tried a Bahi Hut Mai Tai.
If you visit like we did, from Orlando (the south) driving north on I75, you don’t have to get in to the city of Jacksonville. It was a day trip to check this tiki bar out.
Secret Tiki Temple is located in the back of a Chinese restaurant. If you want to visit, you have to make a reservation as this is the only way to receive a passcode to enter the place. Yep, you need a secret word or phrase to be able to enter the tiki. To make the reservation you can visit their web site.
The place is small, but very well decorated. We tried some drinks, although they seemed small to me (compared to other tikis and bars), but they were very tasty.
I only managed to try one dish since I also thought it was very slow and besides, exactly when we were visiting, the heating was not working and it was very, very cold inside. We practically wanted to leave earlier. I hope this is not the experience normally and it was just that day.
Suffering Bastard is our favorite without a doubt. The atmosphere is great, the drinks are not only delicious, but also made with the best rums (including from Venezuela😆) and super creative. And the staff is always very friendly.
To get here you have to go inside Tuffy’s bottle Shop & Lounge and you will find a door to this tiki. It’s small so I recommend making a reservation as it fills up fast.
The food menu has changed several times since we visited, they have a small kitchen, but all the dishes we have eaten are delicious. Pork sliders are our favorite, so I hope they never stop making them.
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When we started going to this one, since it was so close to home it was easy, I took a photo of the menu so we could scratch (in a way) the drinks we’ve tried. There are many options! But I think that some of our favorites are: Joe’s Suffering Bastard, Lava Flow, Tiger Shark, Painkiller, Hurricane… okay… so several that are very good and we repeat constantly.
Walt Disney World
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is located in the Polynesian Resort, obviously what better place to have a tiki bar.
To get there the best option is to park at the Magic Kingdom and take the monorail or walk to the resort, unless you have a restaurant reservation at the Polynesian or other resorts that connect to the monorail like the Grand Floridian or Contemporary.
Now, to be able to enter the bar you cannot make reservations, and sometimes the wait can be hours. The tiki opens at 3pm every day, but the waitlist can start at 1pm by the gate, so I recommend getting there early and be ready to wait. You can sign up and then just take a walk around the resort or sit at the terrace of that same bar (main photo of this post) which is also very nice, there are nights that they have live music and at the time of the fireworks of Magic Kingdom, you can see them from there (from the terrace).
The tiki inside is amazing. Not only does it have spectacular decor and delicious drinks, but it also depends on which cocktail you order, it probably comes with some presentation and entertainment from the place and the bartenders. I mean, it’s Disney, obviously it’s going to be a show and a lot of fun to visit. Also pay attention to some frames on the walls such as volcanoes as they can be activated at any time.
In Downtown Orlando there are 2 tikis to visit.
Aloha Beautiful is considered to be a karaoke bar. It is a very spacious space, with a small stage in front of some swings, several spots where you can sit with your group or you can even rent a private room for karaoke. Don’t forget to check their web site to see upcoming events or make a reservation.
The decor isn’t crowded like Suffering Bastard or Trader Sams, but nice enough. The menu is small, my favorite is the Kiwi Mojito and sometimes with the very skilled bartenders they can make a tiki classic that isn’t on the menu. They also have some beers.
The other tiki in this area is Aku Aku. It sits right next to Lake Eola, so an afternoon stroll around this area and then a visit to the tiki isn’t a bad idea. It has the classics like the Mai Tai and on our visit we tried a Planters Punch and the cocktail with the name of the bar, Aku Aku. Both were good.
The atmosphere is nice like any other tiki, although we didn’t become big fans as we found it a bit disorganized (by the staff) even though there weren’t many people in the place. I hope that it was only that day that we visited and that it is not constant, perhaps we should return to try again.
Adding this new Tiki Bar in Central Florida. The name is Permanent Vacation, It’s amazing and it’s located a couple of minutes north of downtown Orlando in the town of Maitland.
The Tiki Bar is inside another bar, which is also very cool, so don’t get confused when you get there because you won’t see any sign outside about Permanent Vacation…well, just a very large tiki. The main bar is The Copper Rocket, once inside, the door to the tiki is on the right.
You have to have a reservation to get in, it took us a long time to find a reservation. Once you make the reservation, you won’t be able to change it, so double check for the correct amount and correct time.
The tiki is great. I’d say it’s a mix of the amazing decor of Suffering Bastard with the ambience and entertainment of Trader Sam’s. The drinks we ordered were delicious. We didn’t order food this time, but what we saw being served looked very tasty.
The place is dark, but they give you some mini flashlights so you can see your menu. We loved it since we had to sit in ‘the cave’.
Those are the ones we’ve visited in Florida, so far. Check this post from time to time because we know there are more around the state, including in the south, but we have them on our list to visit soon.
We also visited one in St. Petersburg, in the Downtown area, called Burnt Ends Tiki Bar but the place closed in December 2022. And we are waiting for the reopening of Mai-Kai Restaurant & Polynesian Show, hopefully soon.
Any other we should know??