This Florida "Iconic Dive Bar Gem" Has Been Called The State's "Best," As Well as The "Dumpiest"

L. Cane

According to the Urban Dictionary, the phrase "dive bar" is rather vague, as it means "a well-worn, unglamorous bar, often serving a cheap, simple selection of drinks to a regular clientele."

Using that definition, Florida has a few "dive bars" including The No Name Pub in Big Pine Key, Pete's Bar in Neptune Beach, and Mahuffer's in Indian Shores.

But none of the above were recently named the "best" in Florida, and perhaps none of them have the same kind of mystique as the dive bar that this article will discuss.

What's So Special About The Boat Club in Tarpon Springs?: It would not be a surprise if some readers have never heard of The Boat Club. It isn't heavily advertised, and it isn't in a highly trafficked area.

Locals and regulars definitely know where it is, but it's not exactly an establishment that you'd accidentally stumble upon. And there is no website that I can direct readers to, unfortunately. But I can tell you that it is behind the Tarpon Animal Hospital.

In the winter of 2022, Wall Street 24/7 declared The Boat Club as Florida's "best dive bar." To do so, the site looked at Yelp reviews and disqualified any bars that were technically sports bars or chain restaurants.

The site praised the character of The Boat Club, quoting a Yelper who dubbed it a "classic Florida dive bar."

A Unique Appearance and Experience: When the Dive Bar Tourist website visited The Boat Club, they declared it a place that truly seems "like an iconic dive bar gem," but noted that it isn't always easy to find via GPS and they understand why many locals arrive via boat on the Anclote River.

The site noted that the bar has a rickety charm but isn't for germaphobes. (It was built in 1926.) However, despite its "shanty" appearance, Dive Bar Tourist praised the bar's simplicity and friendly staff.

Some Things To Know About The Boat Club: If you plan to visit, it's important to know that they only serve beer and wine. There is no option for hard alcohol, and they only accept cash. There are billiards, a jukebox, and occasionally live music.

What Do Reviewers Have to Say About The Boat Club?: Google reviewers give this bar 4.6 out of 5 stars. Most praised the colorful atmosphere and fun environment. Many greatly enjoyed the variety of live music. Several mentioned the raccoons that seem to also frequent the place.

One reviewer named Stacy Ann wrote:

"This is truly the happiest place on Earth!! It is the one place that I take everyone who comes to visit me!! I have friends who have seen the world, and think this is the absolute coolest place they've ever been to!! (We) just love it here!!"

Those who gave less than 5 stars generally did so because of the condition and "shanty" feel of the place.

A TripAdvisor Reviewer wrote:

"This is without a doubt the dumpiest bar in the world, and the patrons like it that way."

Note that this review was left in 2012, and current reviewers still describe a similar "kitch."

I would normally include social media pictures, but unfortunately, in true dive bar fashion, The Boat Club seems to rely upon its existing customer base to attract more business. It does not have a social media presence.

And when you Google "The Boat Club" in Tarpon Springs, you'll find information about yachting. But rest assured "The Boat Club" dive bar is out there for those who wish to seek it out.

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