Haunted Tiki Crawl

San Diego knows Tiki Culture

Sometimes, you just need to get away. This time it was off to San Diego again for us.

Our first night, we just got food and rested. Our second night, we decided to safely go out for some fresh air.

We were very fortunate that we got to go to all the places we set out to see. Usually you have to make reservations, as all the Tiki lounges we chose are compact. We asked really nicely if we could just do a walk-through and were welcomed with open arms.

What do you know about Tiki bars? They have fun drinks, food and island tunes to carry you softly away like a gentle wave? You should also know that they have secret doors…


Let’s set the tone for the trip first and then you get photos and video, aka an insider look at San Diego Tiki culture.

While at our place at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego:

First we had some quality time with the varmints named Bea (brown and white) and Jasper (black and white) at our sea shanty:

The goods:

We had to get some souvenirs of our evening out. You’ll see in a bit where they came from.

Here are a few of ’em:

Swag – from all three Tiki spots!

The pre-game:

Got these two situated:

Got some sea-spray to get into the spirit:

Off of Ocean Beach Pier – some inspiration from the Pacific Ocean looking towards Hawaii, Polynesia

Got some sugar in our systems:

Sand crab cupcakes from Coronado Cupcakery

Caught some 1950s feelings:

South Park smooth ride – in the mood

Here’s where the souvenirs came from–>

Spot #1: Forbidden Cove

From our place in the Sunset Cliffs area of Ocean Beach, we drove a whole 15-minutes on a Saturday evening to the suburb of Kearny Mesa to Forbidden Cove, which is part of Kilowatt Brewing. Parking is extremely easy here.

Here’s the super secret entrance to the Forbidden Cove:

Here’s the “vibe” (as Californians would say):

Haunted Tiki shirt. I have a decent collection of specifically spooky Tiki button-ups! And some spooky Tiki mumus too!

Spot 2: False Idol, Little Italy

From Kearny Mesa, it only took us another 15-minutes to get to Downtown San Diego and about 5-10 minutes to find free parking (free all over most streets after 6pm there – even on the weekend- how crazy is that?)

False Idol is a very talked about place. It’s tucked inside a larger restaurant at the same address.

Sunset on Little Italy, San Diego – Beech Street, outside False Idol
Right outside
Entry way before False Idol
Display case

Glow skulls greet you
Skulls in jars at the bar – scary

Here’s some video of how it is on the inside:

Spot 3: The Grass Skirt, Pacific Beach

From Little Italy, it takes merely another 15-minutes to get to Pacific Beach where you’ll find the Grass Skirt in an unassuming strip mall a block from the ocean. Parking is very easy here – in the shopping center parking lot or in the neighborhood.

How do you get in here for some libations and bites?

Start at the kitchen door where you see a team preparing food.

Then ask to be let in…

After this, you’re taken through a giant wall-sized freezer door… and you are here:

More skulls. Who can get enough skulls, really?

Thank you to all of our hosts and wait staff for being so super nice!

People all over San Diego are just so darn friendly in general.

In many places, it’s impossible to accomplish the feat of going to three different places in a couple hours, but in San Diego, so many things are possible.

The second we hit the edge of Los Angeles on our drive back, we saw a digital billboard that said: Happiness is calling you back. San Diego.

Indeed. It’s really nice to spend time in a city where kindness is the norm.


Do you like to go to haunted Tiki lounges?

If so, what are your favorite ones?

What do you get to drink or eat when you go there?

Are you into Tiki clothes, music, gear, art, home decorations?


*All photos + video by Thuc Doan Nguyen 😉

After experiencing most of the well known Tiki spots in Los Angeles, it was super cool to get to check out all of these in San Diego & see the Grass Skirt again.

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