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The OLD MAN in the Keys - Part-4, It could be the TIKI BARS

Updated on May 26, 2018
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don is a Writer and a Storyteller. He has published over 7 books on varied subjects along with many articles and commentary on his blogs.

Florida Keys Tiki Bar

popular Tiki Bar in the Florida Keys.
popular Tiki Bar in the Florida Keys. | Source

What is a Tiki Bar?

The Old Man in the Keys - #4

March 10, 2017

I really don’t know the true origin of the name, but I think everyone, when they hear the words "TIKI BAR", has a vision of what they feel such an establishment should look like.

As to myself? Well, I’ve spent a lot of years looking for interesting Tiki Bars, but after finding and checking out hundreds of them, I have developed a picture in my head of what I feel “the perfect Tiki Bar” should be.

If you think about it, when you have actually seen a real Tiki Bar, in the past, it was most likely in the deep South, and even more of them will be found in South Florida and down into the Florida Keys. One reason for this is the climate and the fact that a real Tiki Bar has a roof made of logs and woven Palm tree leaves.

The construction of a Tiki Bar is quite simple.

You first put large logs into the ground, vertically, and then you place large spikes, or bolts through these and other tree logs, to frame up what is essentially a roof frame on stilts.

Once the frame is finished, the builder will use especially woven groups of dried Palm Tree leaves, and overlay them on the roof frame, and securing these against high winds with straps and pieces of wood, near the peak of the roof.

When you’re finished with this simple roof, you have a nice, cheap waterproof covered area that you can then customize to suit your needs usually with a bar, chairs dining tables and fans.

So, of course, building one of these simple designs in the colder climates of the North your customers would get colder than the beer they would be served.

A real Tiki Bar is open to the weather, and rightly so, as the design lets those nearby ocean breezes flow through the bar keeping the customers comfortable, even in the heat of the Tropics..

Tiki Bar definition by Wikipedia

Tiki bars are aesthetically defined by their tiki culture décor which is based upon a romanticized conception of tropical cultures, most commonly Polynesian.

Best locations for a Tiki Bar

These days, there are a lot of outdoor bars/restaurants in the Keys that pretend to be real Tiki Bars, but if you look closely at one, you can quickly tell if its construction is as simple and unique as what I mentioned.

Being made like a commercial building, with some Palm leaves hung on it, is OK I guess, but for some reason, when I’m sitting in one of the real and truly rustic ones, it just gives me a unique feeling as I sip on my cold beer under those hand-cut poles and hand-woven Palm leaves.

As unique as a real Tiki Bar’s design should be, the second most important thing about one, whether rustic or new, is its location.

And, in my opinion, the greatest Tiki Bars I have found, being open buildings anyway, are wisely situated on a piece of land that provides a fantastic view in multiple directions for the patrons.

And this means that when you’re sitting in a great Tiki Bar, you will be looking at such things as; Oceans or just the banks of river waters, plus boats, lots of boats, and the most important of all, fantastic Sunsets, beautiful Sunsets.

Necessary Tiki Bar foods and entertainment

The final and very important thing a great Tiki Bar must have is good food.

I’m not talking about gourmet foods, after all it is just a Tiki Bar.

But the foods they serve will be expected to be simple local foods such as;

  • fresh seafood served on sandwiches, Tacos, and in Wraps,
  • burgers, fresh beef burgers as well as burgers made of other popular meats,
  • Pork, good local barbecued pork, served on plats, buns and even in wraps.
  • and other simple but tasty dishes like Conch Fritters, Fried Shrimp, chicken tenders, chicken wings, all served with some good sides like fries, coleslaw, mac and cheese, to name just a few.

And of course a Tiki Bar isn't a Tiki Bar if it doesn't serve a good selection of tasty beers and tropical fruit drinks to sip om as you BS with your friends and enjoy the great food and view.

A Tiki Bar is something pretty much everyone I know, when visiting the Tropics, tends to enjoy frequenting as they roam around the Keys.

The dress code is always casual, their food products are cheap and tasty, they have cold Beer on tap along with a decent selection of Wines.

Then there is the required live entertainment, from Jimmy Buffet wanna-be's to small bands playing some good laid back Caribbean-style music.

Tiki Bars fit my Lifestyle

Add to this, the fact that so many of them are located where the patrons can enjoy watching a beautiful Sunset, and perhaps you can appreciate why I love finding new ones in my travels.

My wife and I are long past the point in our lives where we regularly get dressed up and go to fancy restaurants for a night out. Sure there are the rare occasions when we think this might be enjoyable, but more often, not.

We are past trying to impress anyone but ourselves with what worldly possessions we might or might not have. We have what we have and its enough for us to do what we want at our age. Honestly, we just try our best to enjoy our days together, one by one, and maybe if we’re lucky occasionally enjoy them with a friend or two that we meet along the way in our travels.

You should tell by now that I like Tiki Bars. They fit our casual lifestyle and we often meet other like ourselves, people just taking the some time from the regular rat-race to slow things down and relax.

And there should not be a surprise to you that we picked a campground, excuse me, an RV Resort, specifically Fiesta Key RV Resort that has its own Tiki Bar on the premises.

In our search over the years, for great campgrounds, one of the things that made the Fiesta Key RV Resort so enticing to us is the fact that it has a fantastic Tiki Bar, called the Lobster Crawl.

Once we made our minds up, we conveniently selected a campsite that is situated only about 500 feet from the Lobster Crawl, the swimming pool and the two very nice jacuzzi’s.

This combination of nearby amenities, made the campground enticing to us because together they provide us with all of the things I like in a top-end campground as well as the things I have already listed that make a Tiki Bar exceptional; the construction, the location, the food and of course the service.

This is what I recommend to everyone when they are looking at finding a place for an extended stay in the Keys.

Sure, find a nice place for your stay, whether you have an RV or not, but also, search the area for some very nice Tiki Bars that you can visit when you need to get out and really enjoy the Keys

Popular Tiki Bar Cocktails

© 2017 Don Bobbitt


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    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      4 months ago from Ruskin Florida

      John M McNally - Thanks so much for the kind words. I have written more, but I am also working on another project. I hope to add to this story soon.

      Meanwhile, thanks again.


    • profile image

      John M McNally 

      4 months ago

      Hi Don - that's a well written piece. Living in West Yorkshire England I've never visited a Tiki Bar but your article really brought it alive. Sun scenery good food and a beer - it doesn't get any better than that. I'll be reading your other work and sitting down to a cocktail or two in your company.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      14 months ago from Texas

      Would love to go to a Tiki Bar with friends just to hang out and relax. You have made it very enticing.

      Blessings my friend always.

    • profile image

      Tamara Moore 

      16 months ago

      Oh, Tiki Bars sound fun. Excellent post, and love the crystal clear photo of The Keys! The sky is amazingly blue! I wouldn't mind a fiesta, either. I could use one 'bout now, honestly ...



    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      16 months ago from Brazil

      I'm all for a casual lifestyle. Tiki bars sound ideal, although I'm not sure how they meld a Polynesian look with Mexican tacos.

      I agree the food has got to be good but not posh.


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