Everyone is familiar with the typical Florida beach bar. They’re even found inland and so ubiquitous on the beach itself that I often overlook them entirely, assuming — often correctly — that there’s not much more to be said.
I had to pay Salty’s Tiki Bar at St. Pete Beach’s TradeWinds Island Grand Resort a visit, however. Although it fits quite squarely into the well-established format of the Florida beach bar, Salty’s has established a well above-average reputation in that niche, no doubt due in part to the resources afforded to it by the sprawling, big-budget resort.
I’m not really a beach person. I enjoy it in principle, but the combination of scorching sunlight, sticky saltwater and the futility of trying to brush sand off of yourself before putting your shoes back on (shudder) gives it a pretty low rank on the enjoyment scale of things that I’m forced to do several times a summer.
I understand that people love beach bars, though, and my aim is to cover local bars for everyone. That means the occasional beach bar visit, and Salty’s seems to be one that people like. I went at night.
The last time I went to TradeWinds at night was as a teenager, when I got chased out with a group of friends by a security guard who felt that the hotel pool was better utilized by actual resort guests. Fair enough. Fortunately, Salty’s is open to the public, so the visit went a lot more smoothly.
Located on the beach side of the resort, Salty’s actual bar is not much to look at. It’s a standard octagonal bar with a thatched tiki roof, a few TVs posted up in the center. Behind the bar are a few beers taps, a giant blender and a general assortment of the rums, flavored vodkas, fruit juices and mixing concentrates that you’d expect.
But the surrounding outdoor lounge area of Salty’s is one of the best in St. Pete Beach, with plush cushioned sofas, fire pits, shaded beach recliners and, of course, the beach itself — Salty’s is one of the few area beach bars that actually extend out onto the sand.
At night, red-orange LED bulbs strung between the palm trees light up, giving the bar and outdoor lounge a laid-back glow. Circular sofa areas are centered by lit-up fire pits, which must come in very handy in cooler weather.
Salty’s serves a small food menu and stocks a pretty fair drink selection. There are a half-dozen or so beers on draft, including local options from Cigar City, 3 Daughters and Yuengling, as well as a handful of wines. The liquor selection is straightforward but well-stocked.
Naturally, being a resort beach bar, there’s an emphasis on frozen tropical drinks. I’m not a big fan of this stuff in general, though I’ve been known to enjoy a nice piña colada. Salty’s offers a few variations on this classic, including one called the Coconut Haze, which adds hazelnut liqueur to the base model. It’s a simple twist, but the resulting effect is downright amazing. For beach bar sipping, this drink is a must-order.
The drinks aren’t especially strong, or cheap, but this is a major resort, so that’s not surprising. The bar staff is friendly, the scenery is great and there are a lot of enticing signature drinks to choose from. For a lazy Florida evening with a (fingers crossed) nice evening breeze, Salty’s is a place that even the beach-averse can get into.
Of course, if you’re of the beach-loving variety, you’re more than welcome to kick off your shoes and dig your feet in the sand, and the water’s just a few steps away. As a resort amenity, Salty’s gets good marks. The fact that it’s open to the public is a bonus, a detail that local beach bar enthusiasts would be wise to remember.
Contact Justin Grant at [email protected] Follow @WordsWithJG.