The Space Coast tourism industry thrives in part because many of its attractions and local hot spots are truly one of a kind. That certainly is the case with Rikki Tiki Tavern, which Coastal Living magazine this year included in its roundup of 10 of the best beach bars in Florida. Not bad when you consider this state might just be the beach bar capital of the world, according to the publication’s editors.
You’ll find this unique watering hole about 800 feet out over the Atlantic, occupying the very end of the landmark Cocoa Beach Pier. Recently renovated and expanded, Rikki Tiki Tavern features panoramic coastal views, open-aired table and bar seating, and specialty drinks galore. With a thatched roof covering the entire deck, it’s a laid-back, dreamlike setting for cooling off and enjoying the salty ocean breeze while sipping on a refreshing tropical beverage.
But its enticing libations and soothing over-water locale are only half the story. Rikki Tiki sits on a fairly hallowed site. Long before the tavern arrived, the Cocoa Beach Pier already was legendary. The structure was completed in 1962 and almost instantly became an enormously popular vantage point for watching nearby rocket launches, as America’s space program came into full bloom. Back in the day, you could even drive your car out the length of the pier, and early astronauts such as Alan Shepard, the first American in space, were known to frequent the establishments along this celebrated boardwalk.
Only adding to the lore is the fact that Cocoa Beach during that same period started gaining fame as the surfing capital of the East Coast. Today, there is no better place to catch some spectacular local surfing exploits than at Rikki Tiki Tavern at the end of the pier. Come for the awesome ocean views and wave-riding action, stay for the cool liquid concoctions. Recommended: the Original Pieradise, with tropical flavors like pineapple, orange and banana, and the Cocoa Set Sail, a fun twist on the traditional pina colada that includes Puerto Rican spiced rum and blue curacao. The seaside saloon now also boasts food service, for an equally outta-sight dining experience.
Rikki Tiki Tavern at the Cocoa Beach Pier: 401 Meade Avenue, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931. Phone (321) 783-7549.