After a long, brutal winter of studying, spring break is the light at the end of the tunnel, the break that lets you relax, recharge, and prepare yourself mentally for the last few weeks of classes, exams or time off work. When it comes to spring break trip ideas, everyone has their own interests and goals, but by and large, they have one thing in common – sun and fun.
Cancun has all the makings of a quintessential spring break getaway. Along with its clean, white-sand beaches, it boasts budget-friendly, all-inclusive packages and a rocking nightlife scene. Cancún also remains one of the most affordable vacation destinations in the Western Hemisphere, even during the self-indulgent spring break season. Cancún’s beaches are spectacular spots to try some jet skiing and parasailing. If you want to explore beyond Cancun, the city’s top guided tours offer daytrips to idyllic spots like Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy. And there’s also a host of after-hours activities; be sure to check out the acrobatic dance performances at the Coco Bongo Cancún.
Located on the southern tip of Baja California, this Mexican beach destination boasts stunning golden sands, turquoise waters and a reputation for uninhibited nightlife. Cabo San Lucas first beckoned to Hollywood’s elite in the 1970s as a luxurious reprieve from show business. The town’s rather seedy reputation changed as world-class resorts took up residence here, in the neighboring village of San José del Cabo, and along the 18-mile stretch of highway that connects the two (known as “the Corridor”). The construction of an international airport in the 1980s made it easier for travelers from all over to hop a nonstop flight to the “Los Cabos” area. Forty years later, this destination on the southernmost tip of Baja California is still known for its decadence – just take a look at the sprawling golf courses or deluxe villas.
If you’re looking for nonstop beach and pool parties, budget-friendly lodging and celebrity-hosted events, South Padre Island is for you. While it’s family-friendly for the rest of the year, college coeds flock here during the month of March. South Padre, or SPI, delivers with wide sandy beaches, sparkling blue water and a mixture of fun activities for kids of all ages. But there’s more to SPI than beach revelry. Kiteboarding is a favorite pastime and several sports outfitters offer deep-sea fishing trips and dolphin-watching excursions. The consistently warm weather also seduces northern Texans seeking refuge from the cold.
If you’re looking for a bit of Las Vegas in the Caribbean, the Bahamas might just be the spring break destination for you. When you’re not testing Lady Luck in Nassau’s twinkling casinos, barhop in Freeport. Families that flock here tend to indulge in the diversions of Atlantis, Paradise Island and other mega resorts, but this diverse island chain also offers a range of activities away from the hotel zone. Nature enthusiasts can explore pristine protected areas like the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve (on Eleuthera) and Lucayan National Park (on Grand Bahama Island) or take it easy at one of the country’s many beaches or private islands. Bargain hunters, meanwhile, can patrol the marketplaces in Nassau (the country’s capital), in Freeport and on Paradise Island for the best duty-free deals.
Punta Cana is ideal for spring breakers who like all-inclusive resorts but care little about venturing away from their hotel grounds. The sugary sand of a Punta Cana beach is so soft, so perfectly golden that you might think it was synthetic. And in fact, in this easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, it’s possible. Punta Cana is a manufactured Caribbean getaway, completely catering to the needs of sun-seeking vacationers who enjoy all-inclusive resorts. Boasting more than 24,000 hotel rooms at affordable rates, Punta Cana beckons to jetsetters, especially the budget-minded kind. Overall, this reasonably priced, Caribbean hideout is made for travelers of all ages seeking a relaxing turn from the norm.
Puerto Vallarta is tailor-made for night owls year-round but especially during spring break. Sip cocktails at a bar along the Malecón, dance to a salsa beat in a Havana-style nightclub or let loose at one of the many hosted foam parties Most people associate this west coast town with its boundaries – the Banderas Bay that snakes along the coast or the palm tree-lined Sierra Madre Mountains that stand tall in the east – but Puerto Vallarta is more than its scenery. Take some time to discover its other perks for yourself by sampling the delicious food, discovering a hidden boutique in the Zona Romantica, sipping a signature cocktail at a bar along the Malecón or dancing to a salsa beat in a Havana-style nightclub.
Daytona Beach, Florida is about 50 miles from Orlando’s playground – home to Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld. People often refer to it as the original spring break beach that meets the Atlantic Ocean. Daytona Beach is the principal city on what is known as Florida’s Fun Coast. Daytona Beach, Florida’s 23 miles of sandy beaches are famous for the hard-packed beaches because this is the kind of sand that you can drive on. Sixteen miles of their Daytona Beach’s sandy beaches are dedicated to motorsports that takes advantage of the hard-pack sand beaches. Red double-decker buses cart spring breakers from restaurant to the bar or the beach, and it is free. Most places to see are in walking distance.
What’s not to love about reggae music, cream-colored beaches and all-inclusive resorts? That’s what you’ll get with a spring break in Jamaica. Those looking to relax and lounge on the beach will find upscale accommodations near Negril, while more adventurous types should choose a resort closer to Ocho Rios. Most who travel here don’t leave the comforts of their all-inclusive resort; those who do typically don’t venture too far outside their immediate area. As the third-largest island of the Caribbean, Jamaica is hard to cover in one trip. Rather, it’s best to choose your activities and vacation priorities, then make your hotel plans accordingly. Of the three main tourist pockets on the island, westernmost Negril is popular for its beaches and upscale accommodations; northwestern Montego Bay is well-liked by golfers; and Ocho Rios in the northeast appeals most to adventurous types who might be interested in climbing waterfalls like Dunn’s River.
Affordable accommodations and a prime spot on Florida’s Gulf Coast draw spring breakers to PCB year after year, so much so that many consider it the spring break capital of the world. Though the 27 miles of beaches and lively parties are the city’s main draws, vacationers can also fill their days with other activities like fishing charters and dolphin tours. Panama City Beach is the quintessential Florida getaway. Panama City Beach is perhaps best known as a college spring break destination but after new laws were introduced banning alcohol on the beach during the month of March, the city quickly saw a decrease in the wild beach parties – great news for families and couples in search of an affordable, warm-weather escape.
When you’re not lounging on Miami Beach’s wide shorelines, make the most of what the city has to offer. Dodge exorbitant cover charges by getting to the clubs early in the evening. Miami Beach is where a mix of cultures, residents and travelers mingle. A wide variety of people – including waifish models, amateur architecture critics, distinguished seniors and sun-seeking families – enjoy the renowned shores of “America’s Riviera.” North Miami Beach is where you’ll find the kid-friendliest beaches and the most affordable restaurants and hotels. Don’t leave Miami Beach without chowing down on tasty small plates and enjoying cocktails at a rooftop bar.