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Mai Kai – The Postcards

Friday 1st September 2006 - 11:36:16 AM

The Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale is my favorite place on Earth. It’s far beyond words. Knowing the owners only makes me love it more. If you don’t know about the Mai Kai, look at my page HERE for a little information.

As part of my love for the place I started work on a Mai Kai fan site a while back. If I had more time, it would be done by now, but, you know how that goes. I have managed to get images of every vintage postcard the Mai Kai produced (as far as anyone can tell me.) So, here is that sampling of the Mai Kai ephemera catalog.

tropicalEarly card showing the cannibal trio of tikis on the sign.



pc14Perhaps the earliest photo card. The coverig for the valet area is not there yet. Look how few trees are around. It really was out in the middle of nowhere. 

A slightly later image, now showing the covered valet area. These two are some of the most common pastcards.

Another early photo card.

Early interior shot.

surf room

This was the bar before the renovation in the 1970s that created the Molokai Lounge. I am told it was really an incredible room and this single image does it no justice. There was some sort of mural that I am told was incredible.


I assume this is an early card just because it is linen. Linen postcards went out of style a long time ago in favor of chrome. I think this is likely where the garden area is now.



This is perhaps the oldest card. It seems to be an architectural drawing of the Mai Kai, done perhaps before they opened in 1956.


The famous iconic Mystery Drink Lady. This piece of Polynesian Pop was invented by the Mai Kai.


A classic luau scene at the Mai Kai.


The friendly wait staff of the Mai Kai.

coffeeThe pouring of the Flaming Coffee Grog.

pc3This is a little later than the second card above. The covered valet area is there now.



pc1This is also perhaps a very early card from before they opened showing an architectural rendering of the Mai Kai.

bartenderThe coasters on the bar and the style of the Rum Barrel tell that this is a very early image. Likely 1950s, maybe early 1960s.

pc4Here is his counterpart. I think this card is dated 1963. I know that’s got to be a wig, but, wow, what hair! The picture is taken in exactly the same spot as the one above. It could be the same photo shoot which would make the above image not 1950s.

mk11An exterior shot from the road. This tiki is still there in front of Bora Bora. My guess is that this is from the mid 1970s, but I am not sure.

pc12A wider shot of the with the same tiki. You can see the city now coming to meet the Mai Kai. The car is early 70s. I think this is an image after the remodel that added to the Mai Kai in the 1970s.


The first of a trio of paintings of the Mai Kai that were made into postcards.


A long picture card.
molokaiA linen card of the Molokai Lounge.  That means it came out in the 1970s, but the style is old. Maybe this is also an architectural image of an uncompleted lounge, before it was opened.

mk8The performers of the Mai Kai. I think this is from the 1970s as well.

pc9I think these are interior images from before the renovations.

pc6I think this is a later shot. Maybe 1970s.


This shows the room that would become the gift shop after the remodel. I think it is from the early 1970s.



pc13A recent postcard. 
I think it is all of them. If you have any not here, please send me images of them.

If you have not been to the Mai Kai, you need to put it on the top of your to-do list and think about coming down in a month to Hukilau when it will be filled with enthusiasts from around the world. It is truly greater than any description can give.

UPDATE: Another new one found.

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  1. MrBaliHai

    I hope I can make it to this glorious Temple of Tiki before some developer buys it and turns it into a strip mall.

    Comment left on September 3, 2006 @ 7:40 am

  2. johnny dollar

    balihai, shut yo mouth! :P (bad karma.,.,.,.)

    Comment left on September 5, 2006 @ 11:38 am

  3. Swanky

    He is sort of right. The Mai Kai employees over 200 people. It’s a huge operation and thanks to the hard work of the great staff and the guiding hands of the family owners, it continues to thrive. But something that complex could change and end. I hope it never does! I wanna take my daughter there for her first legal drink when she is 21 in 6 years. But as in all things in life, do not take them for granted. Get there now!

    Comment left on September 5, 2006 @ 1:07 pm

  4. MrBaliHai

    “balihai, shut yo mouth!”

    But I’m talkin’ ’bout the Mai Kai!

    (Then we can dig it!)

    Comment left on September 5, 2006 @ 6:23 pm

  5. Humu Kon Tiki » Blog Archive » Swanky’s Massive Mai-Kai Postcard Collection

    […] Swanky has shared scans of many Mai-Kai postcards from his collection on his Swank Blather blog. These include interior shots, exterior shots, and artists’ renderings of this most beautiful and archetypical of Polynesian palaces. As can be seen in some of the postcards, the exterior of the Mai-Kai has changed dramatically over the years — not just due to expansion, but also because of the encroachment of the city (when it was new, the Mai-Kai was quite isolated), and the growth of the lush jungle-like foliage around it. Swanky will be bringing his postcard collection with him to the Hukilau next month. Via MrBaliHai’s Eye of the Goof. […]

    Pingback left on September 6, 2006 @ 4:54 pm

  6. virani

    Excellent post swanky…I love the Mai Kai and your postcard collection. Thanks for all the info

    Comment left on September 7, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

  7. Traitor Vic

    I CAN’T WAIT!!! Only 10 days ’til my next Mystery Drink!

    Now that I have a working computer once again, I bet I spend at least a half hour a day (some days much more) from now until then pouring over this post. I also can’t wait to see these postcards in person!

    Comment left on September 26, 2006 @ 11:50 pm

  8. Swanky’s Blather » Update: New Mai Kai postcard found

    […] Previously: Mai Kai: The Postcards […]

    Pingback left on November 21, 2006 @ 10:49 am

  9. mariam doneiran

    March 26, 2007~~
    I went to the Mai Kai as a kid in the mid 1960’s…. about 1967 or 1968.
    It was a wondrous fairyland inside and out!! I have color photos that we took of the exterior. Beautifully landscaped on the outside with big sea shells acting as fountains…it was a true fantasy land!!! Better than Disney World!!
    I had one of those long slim post cards on my little bulletin board for years!! They gave them free back then~~
    I saw the floor show back then…boy i wanted one of those gorgeous floral leis that they had for sale, i think that they were a whopping $3.50 at the time.
    I had a pineapple drink in a real carved pineapple there~~ it was about $3.25 back then.
    Well the MaiKai is an established tourist attraction and since it has been around for 50 years, i think that it will be there for another 50!

    Comment left on March 26, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

  10. Dallas Keffer

    I took my grandmother there so she could finally see fire dancers and it was a blast. She was always cold in her last years and I was able to treat her to two trips to Florida. We made it to the Mai Kai on the latter of the two and I am so glad we did. She passed away a week after I got her home to West Virginia.

    Comment left on November 22, 2007 @ 4:14 pm

  11. janice wilson

    Taking out of towners to the Mai Kai was always the high light of everyones vacation in the 60’s. There really wasn’t alot to do back then and it was way before its time, after all Ft. Lauderdale back then was just a sleepy little town. Great posts cards…………………..Janice

    Comment left on November 26, 2007 @ 6:22 pm


    once again – LOVIN’ this site – such wonderful memories and the MAI KAI – the place of my engagement – nearly 40 years ago – in the garden – my TOM placed my engagement ring on my finger – LOVE IT!


    Comment left on May 9, 2008 @ 1:53 am

  13. Swanky’s Massive Mai-Kai Postcard Collection | Critiki News

    […] has shared scans of many Mai-Kai postcards from his collection on his Swank Blather blog. These include interior shots, exterior shots, and […]

    Pingback left on August 30, 2015 @ 10:12 pm

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