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Tiki Central / General Tiki

San Diego

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I'm going to San Diego this week for a conference. I looked around the Tiki Bar Review Page and other sites and noted places such as the Tiki House, the Bali Hai, and The Islands. (I will also probably go to the Tio Leo lounge too, no Tiki there but I understand that I'll find some pretty good rockabilly.)

Any other "must see" places down there? I'm trying to make the most of the 5 day visit.


You've already got a good list going. When you're at the Bali Hai be sure to visit Trader Mort's liquor store also on Shelter Island.

I'm Sure Al, of the Al and Shelly duo, can make a couple of suggestions. We were there this weekend and had a great time. Nice weather also.

have fun!

I'll be down in SD the first weekend of August on business. I've been to the Bali Hai (and plan on returning. How are the other places?


The Islands Room is a must see. Avoid the boring bar and drink in the restaurant. Make sure you see the pool and the other rooms of the restaurant. Shelter Island is the Tiki District of San Diego. Humphreys, the Bali Hai, Trader Morts Liquor and others are all within a few blocks. It's right by the Airport. If you have a chance to walk around it's really cool. Sven gave a lecture at the Bali Hai once, he walked a crowd of us around the Bali Hai over to the Half Moon Bay's pool. There are many Tikis on Shelter Island. Hit the Bali Hai at dusk, it's a great veiw of the city and a good place to see the sunset. Watch this short documentary of Bosko the carver, towards the end they feature shelter island.
It will give you an idea of what's down there.
Mahalo, A tribe called Tiki

Humphey's Half Moon Bay.

The pool at Humphreys, worth a look.


thank you! I'm off to the airport in two hours. I'll turn in my report upon my arrival.
Thanks again.

Speaking of Bali Hai
If you do go there, beware of their "world famous Mai Tai" - it's extremely strong, to the point of giving me shivers when I sipped it (I wasn't the only customer that found them way too strong). Apart from that everything was great and it was nice to see the rejuvenated figure at the entrance.

Have Fun

Wow, I never imagined that the words "mai tai" and "way too strong" could exist in the same sentence. I personally have never experienced a mai tai that was too strong (not even my own deadly mix). I need to try this one!


San Diego is the lamest big city (semi-big city, really) I've ever been to. That said, there are more Tikis to be found in San Diego, Leucadia, Oceanside and Carlsbad, than anyhere else I know in the U.S. While there are still some Tiki Meccas that resemble their original glory, for some strange reason, Surfers remain very much enamoured with the Tiki hunt (not restaurants, but carvings).

The Tiki Surfah image lingers on in San Diego. There are a ton of great carvers there... guys just in their own back yard, nothing commercial. Many front and back lawns have Tikis (you see these just driving through neighborhoods), but beware if you are one of them. I have a friend that had a Tiki stolen from his yard. You hear stories like that all the time coming from the Surf cultutre.

These Surfers, for the most part, are not people of great consciousness. The Surf culture is much different now than it was in the '40s and '50s. But some of the bohemain nature remains and Tikis can be found in the small shacks of Surfers.

San Diego is way too conservative for my taste; every store has that plain mauve color to it (you won't believe how many times you hear "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" while you are there... Elton John is the most overrated Pop artist ever, in my opinion).

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