If Gilligan had any gumption he would’ve staked squatter’s rights on that island and built a tiki bar. Rescuers would have arrived before the Professor installed a neon ‘open’ sign made of fireflies.
Tiki bars lure us with the promise of escape from reality. They lull us into a mindset with the hula sway of thatched-roof huts, buckets full of rum and mellow music. Of course, the Mary Anns and Professors in the forgiving glow of tiki torches complete the scene.
Three top tiki bars in Palm Beach County tempt us whenever technology ticks us off or corporate life gets crummy. Kick off your shoes and throw on your cutoffs and come away…come away…
Tropical Tiki Bars to Try
The Square Grouper Tiki Bar and Castaways Marina
Latitude 26 degrees 56.766 N | Longitude 80 degrees 04.865 W
Aka: 1111 Love Street, Jupiter, Florida
Open Mon-Thu 12pm-12am, Sun 12pm-12am; Fri-Sat 12pm-1am
Parking: On site, or public lot off A1A
So what is a square grouper? It’s a drug smuggling term from the ’70s that refers to floating bales of marijuana or cocaine jettisoned from the boat or plane when the heat got hot. Hmmm. I did not know that.
It’s also the name of an unspoiled tiki haven and marina opened in 2003 by local fixture, fundraiser and worldly adventurer Jim Burg, who developed this once-dumpy-now-prime property on the Jupiter Inlet across from the famous Jupiter Lighthouse landmark. Mary Anne, the Professor and Skipper could definitely hang here.
Somewhat hard to find (the locals like it that way) within the Jupiter Inlet Village, patrons can kick back on plastic chairs in the sand while the ocean breeze blows off the daily dust. Later, tikiers vie for a fanned placed at the bar when the place gets rocking with live music from a tiki-style stage guarded by a life-sized Captain Morgan statue. Take your shoes off, stay awhile.
Square Grouper serves various frozen or on-the-rocks liquor drinks ($6.25 to $7), bottled and draft domestic and imported beers ($3.25 to $4.25).
A few simple dishes are offered from $4 to $7 like hot dogs, burgers, pulled pork sandwiches or chicken wings, but you didn’t come here for the food. You came here to feel like country singer Alan Jackson with Jimmy Buffet in that video ‘It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,’ which was shot at the Square Grouper.
960 N. A1A, Jupiter, Florida
Bar Hours: Daily 11:30am-11:00pm; Open Fri & Sat until 2am
Happy Hour: 50% Off Wells & Drafts; Daily 3pm – 6pm, Fri & Sat 11pm until Close
Guanabanas is the name of a must-see tiki bar and open-air restaurant within walking distance of the Square Grouper owned by partners Rick Clegg and John Zimmerman. The unique bar and eatery re-opened last winter after a two-year, $2.5 million makeover of spectacular tropical landscaping woven through what feels like a tiki hut village without the mouse ears.
While Guanabanas offers an expansive menu of Carribean fusion dishes from its restaurant, you might want to get familiar with the bar and its menu – the wait for a dinner table takes as long as two hours on a busy night during high season.
Lots of beautiful staff and patrons float around this oasis. You might run into Thurston Howell III with Lovey here. The wait staff has always been kind, but the bartenders sometimes get overwhelmed, but hey, there’s always trouble in paradise. Stalk for a stool under the thatched hut bar or perch at one of the carved-wood appetizer tables. Get your tiki vibe on from the live music, the Jupiter River and the energy from the great banyan tree. Ginger might say this place has “good feng shui.”
Satisfying selections from the bar menu include Grilled Sweet Chili Shrimp Skewer ($7.95) a delicious Smoked Fish Dip ($7.95) Slow Smoked Sweet and Spicy Wings ($9.95). Domestic beers are $4, imports $5 and the popular A1A Lemonade, consisting of lemon juice, vodka, sprite and cranberry juice is $8. Happy hours daily from 3pm to 6pm slash all these prices in half. For wallet relief go on Wednesday for ‘Surf’ nights, with surf videos playing and 50 cent drafts from 9 to 11 pm.
Rum Bar at Panama Hatties
11511 Ellison Wilson Rd., N. Palm Beach, Florida
Open Mon-Sun 12 pm-1 am
You have to love a tiki bar that has happy hour from 12 pm to 7 pm. Monday through Friday when their hours of operation are 12 pm to 1 am. That means it’s happy hour most of the time. Cruzan Rum Bar at Panama Hatties is the ultimate tiki bar in North Palm Beach County.
Panama Hatties is the restaurant next door where you can get a proper meal. But the Cruzan Rum Bar is exactly what a tiki bar should be – take your shoes off, dance crazy at a drum circle, lounge at the fire pit or yo-ho-ho with a bucket of rum. This is where Gilligan and his hot new friends can be found spending cash from the buyout of Gilligan’s Galapagos Tiki and Timeshare.
Food items range from $3.99 to $12.00 and include fare called Fish Dog (flash-fried white fish on a roll) and Sea Dog (beer battered cod on a bun) but really, just go for the All You Can Eat Pig Roasts ($10), Bartender’s Bashes and Thursday night drum circles. You’ll never want to get rescued.