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The Kona Kai & other coolness in Wildwood, NJ (pictures!)

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First I have to thank Tiki Godess for inspiring me to finally post this stuff on Wildwood with her latest post on going there. I went there over a month ago, but was to lazy to post my comments and all the pictures I took. So now, befittingly at the end of the summer (booo!), now that it's starting to get a little cool here in the Apple, is my post on Wildwood.

Wildwood is definitely a great example of mid-century resort hotels. Almost all of them had really campy, interesting marquees, and at night it's even cooler when all of them are lit up. The other major campy element of all of these hotels is that most of them also sport totally fake palm trees around their pools. Pretty funny. But in the middle of the summer when the temperature is in the 90s, you hardly question their authenticity.

The boardwalk of course is also a blast with tons of rides, a midway, and alot of drunk people. Despite the slightly seedy element it still comes off as 100% family entertainment. My fave rides on the boardwalk were 'Dante's Inferno'', a haunted house type ride that featured a real guy that comes out and scares you by saying 'boo!' real loud towards the end, and another ride called 'Jersey Junkyard', also a haunted house type ride.

We stayed one night at the much talked about Kona Kai. Pretty heavy on the TiPSY factor, with tikis in the main office, and tiki masks in the rooms. It's family owned and operated. I thought it was cool, if not a bit run-down and 'skanked-out' as some summer resort places tend to be, but not totally gross either. Like we didn't put our bags down and say 'let's get the hell outta here'. There were a couple of other Hawaiian themed hotels, but Kona Kai definitely met the criteria that I'm sure all TC'ers would want to ensconce themselves in.

Other than the hotel exteriors having the heavy mid century flavor, there wasn't much else in the way of unearthing any campy treasures. I went into the gift shop at the Waikiki hotel to see if they had any tiki mugs or any type of retro souvenirs but came up nil. Everything in there was mostly gaudy beach type jewelery and stuff. Reminded me of a one of the lamer gift shops found on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale.

Didn't find any tiki bars either. Was hoping to run into one at some point and come back with a report on another uniquie Mai Tai experience. We did, however go to a restaurant called Shellenger's that was more nautical than tiki. The exterior was designed like an old fisherman's boat, and the inside was also decorated in the nautical theme. Not tiki, but almost as fun. And they did have a drink there called 'The Captain's Special' which was a very tasty, medium strength sorta drink AND they let you keep the glass which was decorated with the trademark Shellenger's captain at the wheel. COOL!!

Also saw the Hawaiian Pancake and golf place. Very cool. Almost overloaded with tikis, if that is actually possible!

I also have to mention how booked all of these hotels were, and I'm talking about during the week and not the weekend!! Even in this lame economy, those places were totally booming!! I couldn't help thinking that perhaps the owners of the Kona Kai, who I think live on the premises during the season, are probably making a killing. But then again looks can be deceiving. In any case, if you have some money to invest, and you don't mind the hassle of the hotel/motel biz get a nice hotel in Wildwood and open it next summer!!! Right ? Looks like good business.

As I said the marquees were so cool, that I spent about an hour or so one of the nights (and a few in the daytime) taking pictures of them. There's alot here, but this is only half of what I got! Enjoy....
Mahalo :drink:

[ Edited by: donhonyc on 2003-09-09 09:57 ]

DonhoNYC, thanks for the photos! Im glad you enjoyed Wildwood as much as I did! This past weekend I stayed at the new Starlux motel in Wildwood, which is designed like a modern version of 50's retro. The rooms are nice and they have double tiered lamp shades and lava lamps. The hotel's astro lounge has mid century modern furniture and it is stocked with reference books on design, and the loudspeaker plays oldies out by the kidney shaped pool.
The Starlux also rents out 2 old silver airstream trailers. They have been remodeled and are very nice inside. My husband and I reserved one for a 4 day stint. However, upon arrival in town we learned it was Harley Davidson bike rally weekend, and about 5,000 bikers had arrived. The noise was unreal and we only lasted one nite in the airstream. It was like sleeping in a paper shell, no noise buffer at all. I felt like I slept on the back of a Harley. It was like being on the set of The Wild One or The Wild Angels. So I was forced to abandon a retro dream and go into a regular Starlux room. It was nice but it just wasnt the same, because the airstream had fiestaware dishes and a turquoise sofa.

Sabina posted on Tue, Sep 9, 2003 8:29 PM

On 2003-09-09 20:11, TikiGoddess wrote:
The Starlux also rents out 2 old silver airstream trailers.

Now you've done it!

Mike and I had been planning a small trip out to Wildwood, and all these posts have got me itching to go! I'd been eyeing the Starlux (and about a half dozen others!)

Someday, we need to throw an 'eastern seaboard' Tikis at the shore event! Soon. Sooner than soon!

On 2003-09-09 20:29, Sabina wrote:

Now you've done it!

... and all these posts have got me itching to go!

me too! i think tiki emi & i are gonna try to go down there for a day this weekend or next.

suggested itineraries?

In all seriousness, if you are going to Wildwood this month, ask the motel people if there are any noisy events taking place during your stay. I found out too late about biker weekend, and I do know there is a monster truck weekend coming up and the lady at the Stalux told me its louder than Harley week. You will end up praying to the tiki gods for silence.

When in Wildwood, check out the "Castaway's bar" at Sunset Bay in North Wildwood...lots of palm trees, hand carved tikis, torches , etc. Another great stop is the Thunderbird Inn at 23rd & Surf...great hawaiian atmosphere, pool side tiki bar.


I have heard that the Wildwood motels are great. I hope I can go there before they are all gone!! :(

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