Why Go Bar Hopping When Cruisin’ Tikis Can Have You Hopping on a Bar?

Ahoy! (courtesy of Cruisin’ Tikis)

It was a Tuesday afternoon when I entered the tiki hut that is always docked at Mama’s restaurant, which is located along PCH in Newport Beach. I was greeted by Cindy Oshea, the Cruisin’ Tikis Newport Beach director of operations as well as our captain for the day. She ordered 12 delicious tacos from Mama’s restaurant and took us down to the tiki hut. After making sure I was comfortable, O’shea then made sure my family entered the tiki hut safely as well. We immediately got our drinks out, O’shea connected her phone to the bluetooth speakers on board and we were all eager and ready to see what this new floating tiki hut is all about.

My family asked O’shea questions about her driving experience, while we all laughed and toasted each other to a fun day on the harbor with a perfectly nice stranger driving us around for two hours. Before leaving the dock, O’shea asked if we needed anything before we began the tour. We all said we came fully prepared and the captain chuckled and the cruise began.

I had the best experience taking one of these tiki huts out on the water, being able to cruise the harbor, listen to good music and take pictures with my family. It is the perfect, fun addition to Newport Harbor, where it has already been attracting many riders this summer.

“This was such a fun little ride,” said Holly Winder of Newport Beach. “I want to do this again; who knew we could be drinking and having fun on a floating tiki hut?”

The harbor cruise was perfect. We received many stares from people on Duffy boats and kayaks passing by us, but mostly we got waves and people yelling, “How fun!” Those two hours flew by and it was the perfect way for some of my family members to get together and have some fun on the open water.

The author on the Cruisin’ Tiki in Newport Beach.

If you have spent anytime near the Newport Beach Bay in the past six months, you must have noticed a floating tiki boat cruising throughout the harbor. Cruisin’ Tikis made its mark on the West Coast six months ago when owner Mike Donoghue was vacationing with his family in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and took a ride on a floating tiki hut. “This pirate looking dude pulled up on this floating tiki boat and a few hours later I acquired the rights to the West Coast,” Donoghue said. He knew that once he rode this tiki hut that he had to bring them to the West Coast, where he was sure they would be a huge hit.

Well, he was right. Even though there is only one Cruisin’ Tiki boat in Newport Beach, Donoghue has expanded to Mission Bay in San Diego and is in the process of bringing one to the Long Beach Harbor. The main goal behind the little floating tiki hut is to allow the passengers to feel as if they are fulfilling their tropical daydreams, without even having to leave Southern California.

“We have received a lot of positive feedback from customers and all the people who see the hut floating by,” O’shea said. “We have run into some challenges in the Newport Beach Harbor, but overall everyone seems to love the floating tiki hut!”

Cruisin’ Tikis Newport Beach offers custom, two-hour harbor cruises that would be a great way to celebrate an exciting event or a way to wind down with a relaxing, yet fun cruise of the harbor. Cruisin’ Tikis picks and drops off guests at Mama’s restaurant, where they have their own dock that includes a license to bring alcohol from the restaurant to the boats docked at the establishment. Mama’s has worked very closely with Cruisin’ Tikis these past six moths and are even in the process of creating a food and drink menu specifically designed for people taking the tiki hut out for the day. For the local Newport Beach residents, if you have a private dock, the captain will also come pick you up directly at your home.

The tiki hut fits six guests and an experienced, Coast Guard-certified boat captain. You have the option to charter the entire tiki hut and invite your loved ones, or pay per person and experience the cruise with a few others.

Photo by Janelle Ash.

The tiki boat has a top speed of 6 mph, which guarantees a calm and relaxing ride through Newport Harbor. Water and soft drinks are offered, but the cruise allows you to bring aboard your own alcoholic beverages and food, or you have the option of stopping at any of the restaurants along the harbor and bringing their food aboard.

Cruisin’ Tikis even offers pet-friendly cruises, so every member of the family can be included in your excursion. They also offer bluetooth connection to their speakers onboard, so you can control the music. Passengers control everything except the driving, which allows every ride to be a unique and fun experience.

The different types of harbor cruises offered are: “License to Chill” Day Cruise, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere Harbor Cruise,” from 2 to 4 p.m.; the “Newport Harbor Sunset Cruise,” from 5 to 7 p.m.; and lastly, the “Newport Harbor Extended Sunset Cruise,” from 5 to 8 p.m. The extended sunset cruise is only available if you are interested in charting the entire tiki hut for $475. You can also opt to reserve the tiki hut for the full day. The owners and captains are extremely flexible and work with every customer individually, so everyone gets off the tiki boat satisfied.

Prices range anywhere from $72 a person to $475 to charter the entire tiki hut for three hours. These tiki cruises have been booking out weeks in advance for most weekends during the summer, so check out cruisintikiswest.com or go to their Instagram @socaltikis to see their availability. Don’t wait too long, their rides are filling up quickly and you don’t want to miss out on a chance to enjoy a little island flair on Newport Harbor.

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