Locals and visitors flock to San Diego’s iconic Bali Hai Restaurant for its beautiful views and distinctive Pacific Rim style menu.
The landmark restaurant, located on the northern tip of Shelter Island, is a chic, sleek Polynesian paradise opened in 1955 by San Diego restaurateur Tom Ham. Bali Hai was the island’s first “tiki temple,” named after the song popularized by the musical “South Pacific,” and remains one of the largest remaining original tiki temples.
Family owned and operated for over five decades, Ham’s vision continues through his daughter Susie Baumann and her husband Larry, and sons Grant, Andy and Tommy.
Generations of diners come for the delicious food, spectacular views and, of course, the restaurant’s world famous Bali Hai Mai Tais. Its Asian-inspired food features farm fresh ingredients with Hawaiian, Chinese and Japanese influences.
The restaurant’s renovation in 2010 by architect Graham Downes added an outdoor dining deck and showcased the enchanting island setting, sophisticated culinary style and passion for Asian and Hawaiian culture, traditions and heritage.
The structure, originally built with over fifteen types of wood, some very rare, has been restored to its natural, original sheen. The interior design and décor includes Bali Hai’s collection of more than a hundred Polynesian artifacts – including tiki figures, antique tapa cloths, wood weapons, ocean charts, maps and native pictures – creating a museum-like space for guests to explore.
The creation of two famous tiki icons: Mr. Bali Hai, a large wood sculpture at the front entrance greeting guests, and “The Goof,” a playful and mysterious remnant that has stood guard on the roof of the restaurant for over five decades.
The venue’s outdoor waterfront Hawaiian Village pavilion – the only one of its kind on San Diego Bay – has hosted millions of weddings, graduation, reunions and other celebrations in its special event spaces, featuring stellar San Diego bayside views and lush landscaping.
Bali Hai’s dining boat dock caters to Bali Hai’s “dock and dine” guests.