Aesthetics Wiki

Note: This page discusses the aesthetic seen in Tiki bars. For a general tropical aesthetic, see Tropical.

The Tiki aesthetic originated in the United States with the opening of Polynesian-inspired bars and restaurants in the 1930s. Tiki became popular after World War II, when America became fascinated with Polynesian and South Pacific culture.[1] Dim lighting, rum cocktails, tiki decor, hibiscus flowers, and nautical objects (such as maps, fishing nets, and netted fishing floats) are all aspects that make up the Tiki aesthetic.[2] The first major establishment to assume the Tiki aesthetic was a tiki bar called Don the Beachcomber, which Donn Beach opened in Hollywood in 1933. Many other establishments followed, some of the most famous including Trader Vic's, which Victor Bergeron opened in 1936 in Oakland, California, and Mai-Kai, which opened in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1956.


As mentioned above, the Tiki aesthetic is ever-present in tiki bars and other Polynesian-themed establishments. The Tiki aesthetic can also be seen in popular culture. A perfect example of this is the animated television show Spongebob Squarepants. The nautical-themed show is packed full of Tiki art, as seen in the backgrounds, title cards, and time cards of each episode.


  • Leis (flower necklaces)
  • Vintage/retro tiki: Brightly colored floral print dresses with open toe pumps
  • Classic tiki: Brightly colored floral print dresses, sarongs, or caftans; natural fiber sandals
  • Modern tiki/tropical: Brightly colored floral print dresses, mix and match tropical prints (palms, birds, coconuts, etc.), simple sneakers
  • Floral hairpieces with tropical flowers (hibiscus, orchids)
  • Hawaiian shirts with floral or batik print
  • Panama hats or other natural fiber beach hats
  • Fez hats



Sven Kirsten's Circle of Tiki, describing everything you need to embody this aesthetic. Source: Tiki Lovers

  • Dim lighting
  • Bamboo and rattan furniture
  • Palm trees or fronds
  • Torches, fire
  • Hibiscus flowers
  • Orchids
  • Volcanoes
  • Carved Polynesian-style idols
  • Ropes and rope nets
  • Glass floats
  • Tiki mugs
  • Tropical storms— monsoon rains, thunder, lightning


  • Drinking elaborate rum cocktails, either at home or at tiki bars
  • Collecting tiki mugs and other tiki memorabilia, such as vintage tiki bar menus
  • Hawaiian vacations
  • Building home tiki bars
  • Going to tiki conventions:
  • Hosting or attending luaus


On general Tiki culture -- anything by Sven Kirsten:

  • The Book of Tiki
  • Tiki Modern
  • Tiki Style
  • Tiki Pop
  • The Art of Tiki

Tiki culture with cocktail recipes:

Tiki cocktail recipes:


Movies and TV Shows[]

  • Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants (1999)
  • Scooby-Doo franchise



Spotify Playlists[]

Youtube Playlists[]


Further Reading[]