Like a Zombie, which happens to be the name of one of its signature cocktails, tiki culture simply will not die. The golden age of tiki spanned five decades. It started in the post-prohibition 1930s, peaked in the 1950s and early 1960s, and didn’t sputter out until the disco ’70s. But it wasn’t down long. Before the last of the classic Waikiki tiki bars, the Tahitian Lanai, was demolished in 1996, a retro tiki movement was already underway. It’s still going strong today, and shows no signs of dying out.
The original tiki craze was driven by American fantasies of Polynesia as a primitive, enchanting, unfathomably mysterious place thoroughly divorced from any real Polynesian cultures. The tiki revival, bathed in the warmth of nostalgia (and often rum), sees something authentically American in that phony world of Polynesian pop—and something worth preserving, reinterpreting and discussing endlessly in the forums of tikicentral.com.
Like it or not, we are living in the neomodern tiki era, and in the interest of better knowing your fake culture, here’s what it looks like.
Sorry, there really aren’t any vintage tiki bars of a bygone era in Waikiki. There is one in Honolulu close to the airport, and you’ll need a car to get there. Needless to say, be careful not to drink and drive back to your Waikiki vacation condo rental.
The one tiki bar that we can recommend: La Mariana Sailing Club
La Mariana Sailing Club
50 Sand Island Access Rd.
Honolulu, HI 96819
So, technically, there is no list of bars. Here’s what we can say: The food is great and atmosphere is something right out of Hawaii 5-O. Marina and airport right there just waiting for the deal to go down…. Lots of industry in the area to complete the look, but don’t worry, it’s safe and well lit, and just waiting for Jack Lord to come through the door and say “Book ‘em Danno!” We’re not sure if the original Hawaii Five-O ever used this location, but the new version did with its Thanksgiving 2013 episode starring Carol Burnett and Larry Manetti.
We love the quaint feel of La Mariana. It is a place to come and relax and feel the laid back spirit of the island. The price is within reason and the fish, chips, and beer are great! The service maybe little slow due to understaffed servers, but they greet you with aloha. If you have time and want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, stop by and take in the beauty of something that is unique to the island. Locals visit frequently and will make it a place to enlighten out of town visitors of one of Hawaii’s best kept secrets.
Try that Zombie, which is La Mariana’s turbo-charged Mai Tai. Tiki mugs and T-shirts are available at the gift shop located outside the bar. There’s live music most nights, too- so, enjoy!