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Floating Tiki Bar Boats Cruising Down the New River Is the Most Florida Thing Ever

Picture a tropical-looking tiki bar, with a few stools and a large hut, situated on a slab of wood. Now imagine it floating in the water. No, this isn't an ill-advised escape attempt by the stranded crew of the SS Minnow.

It's the Cruisin' Tiki that's been sailing down the New River thanks to Fort Lauderdale local Greg Darby. 

"It was actually kind of an accident," he says. "About two years ago, my wife and I's dinghy was stolen, and we used to go up and down the New River a lot in it. At the time, I wanted to put a tiki hut in our backyard but now had to figure out how to get another dinghy too."

When Darby, who runs a computer data center, suggested to his wife that they purchase a new dinghy, she replied with, "What about the tiki bar?" That's when his brain started swirling. 

"I'm an electrical engineer, so I started working on drawings of a tiki bar that could float," he says. "Then I got carried away and designed it with a motor."

Darby built his first Cruisin' Tiki toward the end of 2015, with order requests for more before it even hit the water. The rest, he says, is history.

"Now I'm into boat building," he laughs. "It's so much fun. It really caught me by surprise and has taken on a life of its own."

Each Cruisin' Tiki holds ten to 12 people and comes customizable, with options of adding barstools or picnic benches, a fridge, a wet bar, a Bluetooth sound system, and LED lights. Each one follows Coast Guard requirements, meaning no license is needed to purchase or drive one unless it's being used as a charter.

"Just figure out where you want to go," he says. "Then turn the key and go. We already have a few of them out on the water, in Florida, Georgia, Canada, and we're working on one for Cabo San Lucas in Mexico too."

But if you dream of captaining your very own tiki bar, they're not cheap — though depending on how much you love this idea, it might seem like a bargain. They're sold at two different prices — $16,500 for a docksider, which is nonpowered, or $21,500 for a motored version, which comes with a six-year warranty through Suzuki.

Unfortunately, booze isn't included in its hefty price tag. But an "extremely fuel-efficient" motor is, says Darby. It burns three quarters of a gallon per hour, letting boaters cruise for a full day without using a full tank of gas, he says. 
Darby says he takes his personal tiki out on the New River four to five times a week, bringing family and friends with him.

"It's great because I use it as a demo for people who want to maybe buy a boat or buy something like this," he says. 

Darby's Cruisin' Tikis aren't available for public use yet, but he's working with a group to put a few tikis on public charter. He says they should be in place by the summer for activities like small dinner cruises or rentals. 

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"They're not a water taxi, though," he says. "This is something unique and different. It can sit along the sea wall or be taken out for a drive.

"It's so much fun buzzing up and down the New River," says Darby. "It's been a real blessing to get an idea that resonates with a whole lot of people. There's really a lot of homes for tiki bars like this."

For more information on Cruisin' Tikis, visit cruisintikis.com or call 877-554-5200.

Follow Clarissa Buch on Instagram and Twitter.

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