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Drifters Reef, , Wake Island (bar)

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Name:Drifters Reef
country:Wake Island

This place isn't strictly tiki but I can't resist posting this pre-tiki tropical bar. The first reference I've found to Drifters Reef was for 1949 but since it's in Spanish about all I got from it was the date. Next up are these images from 1955 that sucked me in.

The middle black velvet painting below was bought by the man who posted the photos, he paid a fair amount of money (255.00 or 300.00 plus? I'll have to find that site again) after a good night of poker, it's by Bill Erwin. Can't tell if those two guy's are wearing aloha shirts or cammo.

Next is a pic from 1962, I don't know if this is the original place or a second building, they seem to get destroyed by typhoons.

Another remembrance said that guys would drag stuff to to Drifters to add to the building to expand it.

In 1967 a typhoon hit the island wiping out Drifters but it rose again in 1970.

And again people dragged stuff from the beach to add the inside and outside of the new Drifters

The interior around 2000 is a let down compared to 1955 but they do have a tradition of taking the hat from anyone who enters wearing one, nailing it to the ceiling and making them buy a round of drinks.

In 2005 or 6 another typhoon hit Wake and damaged Drifters Reef closing it. I've seen no word of it reopening.
All week I've been waiting for any Airforce pilots to come to were I work to ask about it's current status but, for a change, not one showed up. Well there's always next week.

Going back, past the battle of Wake Island, to 1936 we find...

Pan am's China Clipper. From 1936 to the 1940's Flying boats used Wake as one of the landings on it's route from San Francisco to Hong Kong.

So long from Wake Island.

population approx. 300+ US military an contractors.

aloha, tikicoma

[ Edited by: tikicoma 2012-02-17 00:23 ]

Cool find. That place is not much bigger than its landing strip. Talk about living on the edge of a volcano. Wonder if it is affected by the rising of the ocean level.

Reminded me of this ole TC story:


...and then there is always this, of course:


[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2012-02-17 07:54 ]

Another day, another post. First Drifters Reef 1964...

It looks like more scrap was added to the left side of the building and that the sign is falling down.

Now more interesting, the later Reef, from the looks of the artifacts out front, an earlier shot than the one I posted a day ago...

zooming in...

Tiki at the Drifters Reef!

aloha, tikicoma


Without derailing the topic - Sea-level rise is only in the millimeters, so I don't think this little atoll is actually affected (something to do with the overall density of water based on temp and salinity, and that the oceans and shorelines are HUUUUGE!).

On to more important stuff -
My father used to tell me about flying into Wake - he was a Flight Engineer on Air Force C130's, C133's and C5's, from about 1955 to 1973. I imagine the turboprops couldn't carry enough fuel to make it across, so they'd refuel at Wake (or perhaps Guam - he regularly flew there too). He said taking off at night was surreal and unnerving - you couldn't see anything but darkness once you rotated.

It's really cool to see the inside pics - Dad's described the place many times (hey-he was old and had a stroke!). Apparently the ladies on the walls were taken down when a new commander took over MAC (Military Airlift Command - the transport wing of the Air Force)...guess he was a bit of a prude! I'm guessing this took place before 1968, since by then Dad was flying C5's. Also, he only ever saw the hut, so I guess he wasn't there after '65?

I have an earlier picture that Dad took of the hut - looks just like this hut pic. Very cool!

I was looking back at this thread and noticed I had missed something... there's another tiki on the right side of the post 70's Drifters Reef!

So I went looking around the web for a better image. I found a couple good pictures of the old Reef but similar to the ones shown, but then there was this...

And beside the door of the post 70's Reef?

A good shot of the other tiki.


Just thought I'd throw a couple photos up.
First one from 1985 showing the two tikis on either side of the building.

Next from 2009, though it was there at least by 2007, you will see a Ku tiki in the shadows on the far left next to what looks like a soda pop machine.


Photo of Drifters Reef that was dated November 1950... the site I found this at also said that it first opened November 1949.

Pages: 1 6 replies