The tropical heatwave of summer is officially here, and one of the best ways to cope with the heat is cooling off with a tropical drink. Thankfully the Tampa – St. Pete area is full of tropical hideaway bars, many with tiki-inspired vibes and sunset views. Although there are countless beach bars, only a select few can be dubbed a tiki bar, or tropical bar. Here are my picks for the best tropically-inspired and tiki bars in Tampa Bay and St. Pete.
Tiki-Inspired and Authentic Tiki Bars in Tampa Bay
800 2nd Ave NE 5th Floor, St. Pete
Located on the rooftop of the new St. Pete Pier, Pier Teaki has garnered significant buzz since opening and rightfully so. This tiki bar offers a modern spin on classic tiki fare and cocktails, further enhanced by the breathtaking rooftop views of the water and St. Pete skyline. As you might imagine, this spot is in high demand on the weekends. Important note, this bar is 21+ only after 8pm.
265 Central Ave, St. Pete
If you relish themed environments, you must visit Saigon Blonde (pictured in feature image). There are multiple spaces in this venue, not all of them exclusively tiki or tropical themed, but the exotic nature of it all is intoxicating. Captivating lighting and art make this space special. The eclectic cocktail menu is full of color. Check out happy hour every weekday from 3-7pm.
10708 Palmetto St, Riverview and 3769 50th Ave S, St. Pete
Tiki Docks has two locations, one in Riverview and the other in the Skyway area of St. Pete. Both locations are prime examples of a tiki-inspired tropical bar. While not true tiki bars, they take inspiration from tiki culture and blend it beautifully with the modern, tropical feel of a laid-back beach bar. The menu is packed with beachside favorites like fish tacos and fish spread. While the cocktails aren't authentic tiki drinks, they are perfect on a hot summer day.
1101 1st Ave. S, St. Pete
This new, authentic tiki bar comes from the awesome folks at Datz Foodie Restaurant Group. True tiki bars have exotic music and décor inspired by the tiki movement that started in the 1940's and reached its peak in the early 1960's. Burnt Ends Tiki Bar does a lovely job of igniting such torch flames, bringing authentic tiki drinks and food to the St. Pete area in a modern way. Not only are the drinks strong and delicious, but the food is delectable. And it's hard to top the fun, tiki atmosphere. With its proximity to The Trop, be aware it can get very busy on game days.
340 Corey Avenue, St. Pete Beach
Tiki lovers will love Twisted Tiki, even though its décor is a bit more Hawaiian beach party than authentic tiki bar. The drink menu is approachable and affordable, with souvenir tiki mugs available, of course. Every day of the week you'll find live music or other live entertainment. Sticky Ribs and Hawaiian Pizza Flatbread are some of the highlights of the food menu. Every weekend a tropical brunch is served with $5 mimosas including a pineapple flavor. Hang ten!
4675 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
Tiki culture fans are still mourning the loss of The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale, which was Florida's longest operating tiki bar and restaurant. However, Bahi Hut carries the torch of historic tiki establishments. Having opened in 1954, this charming authentic tiki bar in Tampa Bay is experiencing a rebirth. The attention to detail and homage to its history make for a romantic, nostalgic atmosphere. This incredible tiki bar is part of the Golden Host Resort hotel on North Tamiami Trail; consider making a staycation out of it! You'll have a hard time leaving anyway, thanks to the strong tiki cocktails poured here. Don't miss the daily happy hour from 3-6pm.
Tropical Bars and Beach Bars in Tampa Bay
610 2nd Ave NE., St. Pete
The newest addition to Doc Ford's collection of tropical eateries has arrived at the St. Pete Pier. The exterior itself is modern and doesn't immediately evoke a tropical feeling. But, the menu and extensive list of rum drinks will immediately whisk you away. Live music is offered every night starting at 6:30pm. Reservations are recommended.
2060 Central Ave, St. Pete
If the two of you love seafood, you've got to put Trophy Fish on your list. The culinary team here is fully dedicated to providing the freshest fish. The cocktails here are creative and classic. Tiki staples like the Dark and Stormy are available, while other drinks have creative twists, like the Pistachio Mai Tai. Besides being a great place for a summertime date, consider setting a reminder to come back during the holidays when they add lots of festive drinks and quirky tropical holiday décor.
937 Central Ave, St. Pete
This tropical bar in St. Pete is the perfect example of bringing tiki and tropical culture up-to-date. Inspired by roadside tropical motels, No Vacancy ushers in a new era of tropical-inspired bars in an urban space. The food menu is full of seafood and classy bar bites, with tongue-in-cheek names. And there are boozy cocktails galore, including fish bowls for two and punch bowls for groups.
5250 Gulf Blvd, St. Pete Beach
Located at the Bellweather Beach Resort, Bongos is a beach bar with lots of tropical twists. The majority of the tables at Bongo's are on the sand, so wear flip flops so you can get your feet nice and sandy. The flatbreads and Mango Glazed Scallops are just some of the highlights. Get an early start with happy hour, every day from 2-4pm.
809 Gulf Way, St Pete Beach
Hurricane Seafood Restaurant is a historic building full of tropical charm. There are two rooftop bars that are absolutely perfect for watching the sunset (get there early). Even if you can't grab a spot at the rooftop bars, there is outdoor dining and a bar on the first floor, and a charming dining room on the second floor. The menu varies a little depending on where you dine, but you can't go wrong with either option.
14705 Gulf Blvd. Madeira Beach
Bright and cheery, it is hard to pass up The Reef on Maderia Beach. You can start the day with breakfast. Or, unwind in the afternoon or evening with one of the bar's many tropical drinks. The Key Lime Pie drink and the Ooh Mau Mau are just a few highlights from the drink menu.
5 Bayfront Dr., Sarasota
Wanna start your day in a tropical way? Oleary's is open for breakfast, as well as lunch and dinner. Wiggle your toes in the sand as you sit at one of the many picnic-style tables. Palm trees and multiple thatched roof bars make O'leary's feel like an island village. There is nothing authentically tiki about Oleary's, but it serves up serious tropical vibes. Live entertainment is offered daily.
Tips for Visiting Tropical and Tiki Bars in the Tampa Bay Area
Plan ahead. Summer is a very busy season, especially for vacationers. Many tropical bars fill up fast. Between parking and seats, it can be tough getting a spot. Getting to the bar right when it opens helps, but if you'd rather save sipping on your libations for later in the day, or into the evening, double check parking and reservation options. If you're able, using a ride share or taxi service can help with parking, and help make sure you get home safely. If you get to your destination and it is tough to find a seat, see if you can grab a drink to go and stroll around together. With such relaxing tropical vibes, it's easy to just go with the flow.
Feature image credit: Saigon Blonde