Oceanside Tiki Tour

Oceanside Tiki Tour

Outsiders might never discover this on their own, but Oceanside – the beach city just south of Camp Pendleton – has some serious tiki spirit.* If you’re in town, try this self-guided Oceanside tiki tour.

Take the Mission Avenue freeway exit and head for downtown. You can see a tiki-inspired fence at the corner of Seagaze Drive and Clementine Street. (Please don’t bother the homeowners.)

Tiki-tinged fence on Seagaze Drive.

Tiki-tinged fence on Seagaze Drive.

Close by, on Horne Street, the Kona Kai Apartments (built in 1964) are still standing. (Again, please don’t bother the tenants.)

Kona Kai Apartments on Horne Street.

Kona Kai Apartments on Horne Street.

Close-up of what appears to be original signage.

Close-up of what appears to be original signage. And look – the tikis have survived!

And now…on to the heart of downtown.

The California Surf Museum is dedicated to the history and culture of surfing. It’s well worth a visit if you’re into surf culture or Southern California history. But, there are some tiki-related items in the museum’s permanent collection (and who knows what future rotating exhibits may bring?)

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Tiki surf wax! I didn’t even know this was a thing…

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The museum’s rattan furniture seems to move around based on available space. On this visit, I only saw two chairs. But I’ve also seen a sofa and coffee table in the lobby area on previous visits. (This chair is really comfortable, by the way.)

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1960s Jantzen bikini. I’m not sure if the print is supposed to be Hawaiian, Indian, Indonesian batik, or a mix of all three. But, it looks aloha-inspired to me. (Of course, tiki is a mix of different influences…)

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The TIKI! This fellow is in the permanent collection, but isn’t always on view due to space constraints. Call ahead to confirm he’s on display.

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Close-up of The Tiki.

The Tiki was, according to local legend, made from a telephone pole in the 1930s by an unknown carver of Hawaiian extraction. Supposedly, the Tiki stood at Windansea Beach in La Jolla, but was stolen by surfers from Orange County and later stolen back to San Diego County.

(Does anyone else think Tiki Farm should make a tiki mug based on this guy? I bet the California Surf Museum could sell them in the gift shop to raise funds. I’d buy one, anyway.)

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I’ve seen this tapa-inspired vintage fabric used in several exhibits.

The California Surf Museum has a special permanent feature you won’t find anywhere else: The Secret Spot.

I won’t ruin the whole thing for my readers, but I will say it is hands-down the most brilliant thing anyone has ever done with a disused loading dock.

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Toothy carved tiki in the Secret Spot.

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Painted tikis in another corner of the Secret Spot.

When you’re done enjoying the museum, head back to Coast Highway (aka the 101) and go south. Just before Oceanside turns into Carlsbad, you’ll see two more tiki sites on the same block, across the street from one another.

(One friendly word of warning: parking is tricky on this stretch of the 101. Business owners – understandably – only want patrons in their parking lots. There are lots of towing signs, so pay attention.)

On the west side of the highway, the Moose Lodge appears to be undergoing an update. In the past year, some carved wood tikis appeared.

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Tiki in front of the Oceanside Moose Lodge.

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Another tiki at the Oceanside Moose Lodge. Forgive the glare, but that afternoon sun was hard to avoid here.

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Another tiki at the Moose Lodge in Oceanside.

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The artist “signed” his work, too.

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Overall view of the Moose Lodge tikis.

Across the street from the Moose Lodge, Otterlei Coastal sells Hawaiian-inspired decor. While not as tiki-heavy as Oceanic Arts, Otterlei does sell new rattan furniture, glass floats, small tikis, and other tiki-friendly items. (The decor does skew more Hawaiian/beachy chic than tiki. Do ask to see a lei vase** – when I dropped in, the owner had one on display with plumeria blossoms.)

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Otterlei Coastal in Oceanside. Note the tikis…

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Unusual tiki in front of Otterlei Coastal with a pineapple nose. It must have been carved on site; this is a mature palm tree.

It’s not quite Shelter Island, but it is a fun afternoon.

*I’ve contacted Critiki to get some of these spots added, as well as Encinitas’ “Mai Tai Moai“. No word yet.

**Affiliate link

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