A slice of Polynesian paradise might be closer than you think. Long Island's tiki bars have plenty of fruity drinks, live tropical music and a faux palm tree or two -- but patrons say it is the vibe that is the most transporting.
"When you walk in here, you feel like you're on vacation," says Linda Gallagher-Jandris, 45, of Holbrook, who was among the patrons hitting the sandy man-made beach at Off Key Tikki in Patchogue on a recent night. "It's a different world."
Here's the scene at a handful of tiki bars from Freeport clear out to Montauk.
The Bamboo Bar and Grill
The Bamboo Bar and Grill, Freeport: Located along Freeport's Nautical Mile, this airy, wide-windowed indoor surf shack has a sand-filled outdoor tiki bar that draws a big crowd. "It gets really packed here, but that's because it's a cool spot, with great drinks," says Gigi Giovanniello, 21, a student from Freeport. Fruit-flavored cocktails, margaritas and mojitos are available in dozens of incarnations. Live bands play most warm-weather weekends, but, even when the attendance swells, regulars like Anthony Lopez contend the experience is the same. "The people are cool," says Lopez, 21, of Baldwin. "Great vibes always."
Lynn's Hula Hut
Lynn's Hula Hut, Montauk: Almost invisible from the street, this tiny oasis hidden within the Montauk Marine Basin is a patch of tropical bliss. Wrapped inside a loose fence of wooden planks and bamboo, there's an open-air bar serving more than 20 specialty cocktails. Patrons congregate there or retreat to beachy furniture clustered amid short palm trees. A stage hosts live music on summer weekends. During special events, Lynn's features a secret VIP space called the Hammock Garden that's done up with a day bed and an actual hammock.
Off Key Tiki
Off Key Tiki, Patchogue: This waterside hot spot backing the Patchogue River is a big draw for its backyard. There's a stage where live bands play to guests dancing barefoot in the sand, dozens of colorful chairs plunked on the "beach" and a blazing fire pit. "The music, sand between my toes . . . it's perfect," says Jacquie Frangoulis, 38, of West Islip.
The Dublin Deck Restaurant & Tiki Bar
The Dublin Deck Restaurant & Tiki Bar, Patchogue: This waterside hangout along the Patchogue River remains a bustling stop for big crowds of all ages. Live music happens almost daily in the summer -- 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays and the "Hump Day Hoedown" (featuring country bands and line dancing) every Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Shooters Tiki Bar & Sports Grille
Shooters Tiki Bar & Sports Grille, Wantagh: You'll have no problem spotting this pub, as its entrance is marked by a quartet of glowing, light-stringed palm trees that shine bright green and yellow. Inside, rock and country tunes play as a backdrop for customers sitting beneath surfboards, paddles and thatched railings. "It's worth the drive for the food," says Deirdre Hester, 41, a real estate agent who's a regular despite living in Valley Stream. There's no set cocktail menu -- staffers invent signatures such as the Lucky Leprechaun, a mix of coconut rum, Blue Curacao, Southern Comfort and melon liqueur.