Advertisement
  1. Arts & Entertainment
  2. /
  3. Food
  4. /
  5. Bars & Breweries

Far from the beach in Land O’ Lakes, there’s a sand bar

The Tiki Cove is a Florida-only novelty that anyone passing through will be sure to enjoy. | Bar review
At The Tiki Cove, you don’t need too much imagination to place your mind and mood at an actual beach. [JUSTIN GRANT | Justin Grant]
Published Oct. 18
Updated Oct. 18

There’s a lot of charm in Land O’ Lakes. Along the shores of its many lakes, tall cypress trees draped in Spanish moss loom over the scenery, offering an immersive taste of pre-development Florida only occasionally interrupted by a WaveRunner jetting across the water.

This is one face of Florida: the “old Florida,” if you will. The other face, familiar to both Floridians and outsiders, is one of white-sand beaches, lined with palm trees, waves of warm water crashing gently on the shore. That’s one that no one associates with Land O’ Lakes, a city filled with bodies of water despite being landlocked for 20 or more miles in any direction.

For the past few months, word has spread of a beachside tiki bar of the sort that you might find on the beaches of St. Pete or Clearwater — only this one is in the heart of Land O’ Lakes.

RELATED: Bar review: Detour to a secluded ‘Harbor’

The Tiki Cove, located just a block off Land O’ Lakes Boulevard on the southwestern shore of Lake Padgett, is an improbable proposition, bringing the beach inland by way of truckloads of white sand, volleyball courts and a massive thatched tiki hut looking out to the water.

Admittedly, it’s an odd juxtaposition: watching a game of beach volleyball framed by tiki thatch, with cypress trees, boat docks and lakeside homes in the background. If you squint, you’d think it’s an ordinary beachside tiki spot. With eyes fully open, it’s in a category of its own — a place to sip rum cocktails and get some sand between your toes while also enjoying a small touch of unspoiled Florida.

The Tiki Cove is removed far enough from the main road that you’d never see it if you missed the sign pointing down a long dirt road to a large grass lot. Despite that, it’s built a substantial following primarily via word of mouth. That’s not surprising — if you lived in Land O’ Lakes and wanted to chill on the beach, would you drive an hour or just throw on some flip flops, go down the road and enjoy the next closest thing?

RELATED: Bar review: Shhh, this Hidden Star shines

The Tiki Cove is a weekends-only deal for the time being, so a limited window of opportunity probably helps. Throw in some live music on a small stage near the entrance and a few TVs playing sports behind the bar and you’ve got a strong case for spending a few weekend hours at this faux beach.

That said, there could be a few improvements. With a full liquor selection available, it sure wouldn’t hurt to have a small menu of tiki drinks to choose from. Maybe it’s playing too hard on the theme, but some proper rum cocktails would really do the trick for me.

And the kitchen could probably step it up a notch while still keeping it casual. My red pepper hummus came with some baby carrots straight out of the bag, served on a plastic takeout container lid. It was tasty enough, but for $7, it could probably be dressed up a bit.

For the time being, Tiki Cove in Land O’ Lakes is a weekends-only experience. [JUSTIN GRANT | Justin Grant]

Those are relatively small details when you look at the bigger picture of a real-deal tiki hut and a huge stretch of sandy beach built in the middle of Land O’ Lakes, of all places. It’s a wild concept, but The Tiki Cove has pulled it off surprisingly well.

I really don’t think there’s anything else like this anywhere; certainly not in the bay area. While The Tiki Cove is surely a boon to locals who want the sand without the commute, it’s also the kind of Florida-only novelty that anyone passing through will be sure to get a kick out of. Next time you’re cruising down U.S. 41, consider taking a brief detour, kicking your shoes off and enjoying some drinks on a sandy beach in a location where you’d least expect it.

The Tiki Cove

2700 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., Land O’ Lakes 34639. (813) 683-0385; facebook.com/thetikicove

The vibe: A huge thatched tiki bar and improbable white sand beach, built on the shore of Lake Padgett.

Food: Appetizers, $4-$8; entrées, $9-$13.

Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $3.50-$6; wine, $6.50; liquor, $9-$12.

Specialty: Just like a real beach, The Tiki Cove is well-suited for buckets of beer and tropical punch drinks, like the house’s Hurricane Hooch Punch, made in bulk and topped with a rum floater. The beers are somewhat garden variety, but you’ll find a few solid locals in there, like Passion of the Heights, a hibiscus- and cinnamon-flavored wheat ale from Tampa’s Florida Avenue Brewing Co.

Hours: 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday; noon-7 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday-Thursday.

Contact Justin Grant at jg@saintbeat.com. Follow @WordsWithJG.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Two of the creative drinks are the Loaded Bear Claw and the Blame it on the Juice. Photo courtesy of Geneva Johnson
    The venue near USF features the creative cocktails and drink specials needed for a go-to college bar. | Bar review
  2. Nov. 7• Arts & Entertainment
    Lullaby Rye Courtesy of Geneva Johnson
    The unique tasting-room selection should help raise a brewery’s profile. | Local craft beer of the week
  3. Oct. 31• Arts & Entertainment
    Bike Trail Pale Ale Courtesy of Eric Richardson
    St. Pete brewery taps into the lighter side of ale. | Local craft beer of the week
  4. Oct. 31• Arts & Entertainment
    Cowboy Corral Bar & Grill is a good spot for enjoying truly cheap drinks, playing pool or watching the race on Sundays. The Clearwater bar has a cozy dining area and offers a full menu filled with Tex-Mex fare. Photo courtesy of Geneva Johnson
    Cowboy Corral Bar & Grill brings a little faux Texas to town. | Bar review
  5. Hard Pumpkin Cider, Two Henrys Brewing Company Justin Grant  |  tbt*
    The Plant City product drinks like a spiced cider with a side of pumpkin pie. | Local craft beer of the week
  6. SpookEasy Lounge is in a room above The Stone Soup Company. Photos courtesy of Geneva Johnson
    Tampa’s booze-free bar spills the tea on kava and kratom. | Bar review
  7. At The Tiki Cove, you don’t need too much imagination to place your mind and mood at an actual beach. JUSTIN GRANT  |  Justin Grant
    The Tiki Cove is a Florida-only novelty that anyone passing through will be sure to enjoy. | Bar review
  8. Try I Am The Walrus Berliner Weisse ib draft at Hidden Springs Ale Works, or look for it in cans at your local quality beer shop. JUSTIN GRANT  |  Justin Grant
    This is Florida, so some of our autumn brews fall outside the paradigm. | Local beer of the week
  9. Oct. 10• Arts & Entertainment
    Wedge Cut American Wheat Ale, Cigar City Brewing Justin Grant  | tbt*
    The Tampa brewery scores again with the limited-release Wedge Cut. | Craft beer of the week
  10. 7th + Grove is split into two discrete spaces. The corner space is a bright and upbeat restaurant. Next door is the club. Courtesy of Ashley Canay and Ashley Meyer
    With Southern cuisine, strong cocktails and DJ-led events, the club and restaurant lives up to its motto: “Eat. Vibe. Flourish.” | Bar review
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement