Hot Sand + Cold Drinks + A Possible Squirrel And A Side Of Pickles = TIKI HUT
Author: Courtney Hampson | Photographer: John Brackett
Now this is a math equation I can get behind. And no, that is not a typo. JoJo Squirrell and the Home Pickles is the “house band” at the Tiki Hut. Founded over a decade ago, they have been entertaining Tiki Hut revelers with their wit and musical muse every weekend since.
The first time I hit the Tiki Hut, I was a visitor to the island, and was quickly introduced to the Squirrel and his accompanying Pickles. The next time I trekked to the Tiki, it was as a resident, with visiting friends (one, coincidentally nicknamed Pickles) to give them a sample of the local flavor.
My most recent foray was this past July 4th. Frankly, I was hesitant. I mean what nut goes onto the island on July 4th where an impending implosion of tourist traffic crowding the bar and spilling into the sand is likely? I was pleasantly surprised by a relaxing evening. Mike Korbar was singing. The sun was setting. Fireworks were sizzling. Margaritas were flowing.
Locals and visitors alike have been lauding the Tiki Hut for years. In fact, you may recall that a few years back, when there was talk of re-zoning the Holiday Inn, and demolishing the Tiki Hut, a revolution was started. More folks banded together to support the Tiki Hut than turned out for the most recent local election. Scary, right? Well, not if you love your drinks frozen and your toes toasty in the summer sand.
To locals, the Tiki Hut is the ol’ standby. The bar opens in mid-February when our Northern brethren are still shaking snow off their boots, yet we are ready for our first taste of summer. A live band is always playing—day and night. And you can’t beat the sensory overload—waves crashing, salt air, and darn good people-watching.
To the visitor who seeks relaxation, fun in the sun, and a taste of what the locals like, it is heaven on earth. In fact, according to Tiki Hut manager, Joanne Nash, the Holiday Inn hotel provides a cadre of visitors who return year after year, looking forward to seeing the same faces behind the bar. “It is pretty remarkable that we’ve had people return every summer for 10 years; we know their names and they know ours,” she said. “When a customer returns, I know we have made a friend, and we can’t wait for our friends to return.”
Four thousand Facebook fans from all walks of life support Nash’s theory that no demographic is out of reach for the Tiki Hut. During the day and at the height of the season, things can get a little crazy, according to Nash. “Weekend days are frenetic and frantic,” she said. “Our crowd will be a mix of vacationing families, the just-turned-21 sect, and members of the military out for a little R & R.”
At night, Nash says the bar has a totally different vibe. “Nighttime is when folks kick back, kick off their flip flops, and enjoy the scenery and the live music. And the bartenders at night really enjoy the atmosphere they have created,” she said.
My favorite part of the Tiki Hut? No pretense. It doesn’t matter what you wear, what kind of car you drive, or if your sunglasses are from Target … anything goes.
There is something almost therapeutic about sinking your toes into the sand, sharing a table with good friends, and listening to live music. So grab your favorite wing-man and make it a date.