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KONA-KAI, Panama City Beach, Tikis located!

Pages: 1 19 replies

Street:10292 W. HWY 98
City:Panama City Beach

I'm still digging up info on this place with not much to go on. Looks awesome. Large moai out front and some big carved posts. Give me a couple of minutes and I'll get the pics on. Thanks

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2009-04-29 17:17 ]

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2009-04-29 17:29 ]

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2009-04-30 14:39 ]

I believe there is a sushi restaurant at the site now called Pompano's. I did a search for the Kona-Kai in Panama City in the threads and didn't see anything. May have flown under the radar.

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2009-04-29 17:44 ]

I edited this photo to show a little more detail

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2009-04-29 18:00 ]

Uncle Trav,

Great find and research. Never seen that postcard before.

Those tiki poles out front are huge!

Florida = hot bed of tiki.


I lived in Panama City in the late 1960's and again in the mid 70's. I do remember seeing that place. I remember the Moai's out front, I was always facinated by them, as I had never seen one before, except in National Geographic! I think the place was closed down by then. I believe the building was made over into a place called "The Spinnaker",and was a very popular spot later on. The memory is alittle hazy, as it has been along time.....


I did a couple of google searchs on this... and found that there is a book called Panama City by J.D. Weeks that references The Kona Kai on page 110...
It is now a restaurant called Pompanos... their website offers no external views of the restaurant... but the interior still has a tiki-ish feel... their website is http://discoverpompanos.com
Supposedly it's the same building... Don't know if any tikis are still there... I'll check it out the next time that I am over there...

The book talks about the Kona Kai advertising "dining on the shores of an enchanted lagoon," (Lake Flora) and also mentions a recipe for their Banana Tiki which was provided to the author on a cocktail napkin by a bartender back in the 60's...

Pompano's Restaurant is indeed the old Kona-Kai. Current address is 10292 Front Beach Rd. Next to super Walmart. Go figure. The building looks fairly intact. Here are a couple of pics from Pompanos website.
Current exterior shot

An image from the current dining room and another from the postcard.The unique support poles are still there.

Here is a shot from above showing the building jutting into the lagoon.

In the 70's it was located just outside an amusement park called Petticoat Junction. The park has since been razed but the building is there and operational. There are no tikis left. The posts look similar to some post that are outside one of the Alvin's Island stores in PCB. If they are the same ones, they have been painted with several shades of day-glow paint!

TikiG posted on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 1:57 PM

Wow! AlohaStation! Thanks for mentioning Petticoat Junction amusement park. This brought back bittersweet memories for me.

1973 - I'm ten years old and visiting Panama City Beach. Family. I love wooden roller coasters and when I found out Panama City Beach featured two operating wooden coasters (at that time) I freaked out, man! Dad really had no choice but to drive me to the beach area and check them out. Dad first drove me to Miracle Strip to ride the Starliner (which I did - front seat alone!)and then drove me further along the strip to Petticoat Junction to ride the Tornado. I was upset when we got to Petticoat Junction and dad wouldn't give me the fare to ride the coaster even once. Remember, stand alone, pay as you go roller-coasters were rare in 1973 (rarer today)and Dad totally refused to pay the one dollar fee. Strange because he loved amusement park rides himself. Why? I never was told the reason. Maybe the fact the coaster was billed as "the fastest in the nation"Gas prices were way below a dollar a gallon then! I remember the ticket booth entrance to the Tornado was outside the fenced-in park - you could walk up the ramp directly from the parking lot, buy a ticket, get on and ride. Each Tornado train I watched only had four-eight passengers out of twenty-four possible seats. Each one!

I was angry back then having traveled three thousand miles to discover a "new" coaster, standing literally at the threshold of the loading platform and not able to ride due to no allowance money.

Anyway, I got over my initial anger pretty fast because Panama City Beach was a kids paradise from an amusement park/themed structure standpoint. I know that today both Miracle Strip and Petticoat Junction amusement parks are long gone and that's shame. Its nice to read the Kona Kai building is still standing although revised. The location, the pilings over the water is pure ecstatica for me. I also remember a miniature golf course across the street from Miracle Strip that had a HUGE moai head at the entrance and a ski-lift type ride that went thru a huge concrete volcano. Heaven on Earth.

I'm positive now, looking at the postcards and photos of the KONA KAI: My aunt and uncle took me and my father to dinner there during our family visit in the summer of '73. A long forgotten episode that was shadowed by childhood disappointment.

KONA-KAI ARTIFACTS FOUND. Thanks to a tip from AlohaStation I did a bit more digging. Located out side of the Alvin's Island store. Check this out. These neon painted Tiki photos are from a post on TC by Aquarj.

shied and moai

The poles

A full view of one of the poles. I'm not sure if the tiki in the pic from the Kona-Kai or not as it is not in any of the older photos. It may have been on another part of the property or from another location altogether.

Another moai and shield.

All are still around even if they look like hell. They have survived.

"Anyone who has ever seen them is thereafter haunted as if by a feverish dream" Karl Woermann

[ Edited by: uncle trav 2009-04-30 15:59 ]

WOW, our man in Kalamazoo strikes again!

"Anyone who has ever seen them is thereafter haunted as if by a feverish dream" ...yup, but in a swine flu way, in this case!

It's Chipmunk Tiki style! :lol:

But great they survived, I do agree.


Hey Uncle Trav, Awesome post!! Great to see this whole find materialize!
Very cool to see the first old picture of the outside and then to see it still standing today!
Like you said, great to see the old Moai, shield, and poles even though they look horrible! At least they are still around and we now know the some history behind them.

Great job!!

Murph posted on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 4:19 PM

Wow! Petticoat Junction!
There's a dusty memory that came to the surface.
When we were kids my grandparents would take us there
when we visited them in Santa Rosa Beach.


Thanks for the kind words guys. The photos of the painted Tikis, poles and shields are a few years old. I wonder if they are still in front of Alvin's? They look to be in good shape and may have been protected by layers of paint. Do we have a Tiki Agent on the ground in that area who could do a drive-by?

They are still there! in all of their "glory". I grew up on the "Strip" in PCB through the late 70s and 80s. I still have family and friends in the area so I'm there once or twice a year.

The small dock located right next to it was the location of a former employer. In the mid/late-80s bunjee jumping became popular. I worked for a guy that set up a 100' crane and operated Bunjee Jumps from the dock. Take off from the dock and jump over the water! Fun job!!

TikG - the miniature golf course is also still there (I think its called Goofy Golf) with the Moia and funky monkey. The guy that built it and the Magic Mountain was featured in an early issue of Tiki Magazine. Miracle Strip amusement park was built across from the Magic Mountain (which is still there - also an Alvin's Island). As teenagers we used to "hang out" in the abandoned sky lift caves and climb all around the inside (superstructure) of the Mountain. We also had keg parties behind the old Tower which was also located right there. One of my best memories was when I was 13 and a local DJ was going to try to break the world record for riding a roller coaster non-stop. Everyone was invited to join him during his 3-day attempt. Me and a buddy rode the Starliner for 10 hours straight - it only cost me $2 (entry fee)!! Miracle Strip was a casualty of the recent Real Estate Bubble - they were going to build a huge condo complex and just got done razing the coaster when the bubble burst. Sad! MS also had the Abominal Snowman and Dante's Inferno rides - remember those?


When we were in PCB a couple years ago we drove past the old amusement park, it was run down and they were tearing down parts of it but much of it still stood... it was wild seeing the ruin of it.

TikG - the miniature golf course is also still there (I think its called Goofy Golf) with the Moia and funky monkey.

Holy Crap! There is still a Goofy Golf around and in operation??? AWESOME! HUGE mini golf fan! Do you have any pictures? I would love to see the volcano and monkey in particular. :) Man, that is a HISTORICAL mini golf!

What a coincidence. I just won this business card on ebay from the Kona Kai restaurant.

The back of the card. The proprietors were Sam and Evelyn Hudson.

Will post some better scans of the Tiki poles and sign when I receive the card.


Spotted this menu from the Panama City Kona Kai with hosts Evelyn and Sam.


Swizzle stick with the familiar Wreck Bar design.

Pages: 1 19 replies