The biggest party of the year, New Year's Eve is a rocking good time in the Caribbean. Take your pick from champagne toasts on the beach and fine dining in elegant hotels to spectacular fireworks that light up the skies at midnight. Put your party hat on and check out the funkiest spots to usher out the old and ring in the new in sunny style.
Get to Bermuda's Onion Drop early to taste test the yummy treats at the food stalls that line the streets and keep the holiday groove going to the beat of local musicians performing their best
A tropical tradition as coveted as the Times Square Ball Drop in New York City and the Peach Drop in Atlanta, Onion Drop in Bermuda is the talk of the town on December 31 when thousands gather in the capital city of St. George as the clock strikes midnight. Tracing its roots to the 1800's when 30,000 boxes of onions were exported to the US each week, Bermuda was dubbed the 'Onion Patch " and locals were affectionately called 'onions'. Today, the teary vegetables are no longer shipped to the States but the tradition stuck and on the last day of the year, it is party time for the whole family. Get there early to taste test the yummy treats at the food stalls that line the streets and keep the holiday groove going to the beat of local musicians performing their best
There are great parties and then there are really great parties. For the sixth year, Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino in the heart of San Juan is hosting not only one of the latter, but also the largest in the capital city. Over 3,000 revelers will ring in the new year at the futuristic 'Illusions' bash, which features dancing and disc jockeys in each of the ballrooms and foyers of the city hotel. Cleverly organized, fans of Latin salsa can boogey till the sun comes up; those who dig rhythm and blues get cozy in another room and for hipster partiers, Miramar Ballroom reverberates with electronic music. Package deals include a bed for your head, open bar, dinner, breakfast for two, late checkout and discounts in the Zen Spa to recover the following day.
British Virgin Islands
On the small island called Jost Van Dyke, Foxy's Bar is where you'll find the legendary 'Old Years Night' party. The biggest beach blowout in the Virgin Islands welcomes thousands to the sandy spit where the good time beach bar is named for its illustrious owner. With nonstop eating, drinking and merrymaking, there's DJs on the beach spinning hip hop, dance bands rocking the sand and plenty of toasting the new year with Foxy's Firewater Rum and heady fruity cocktails blended with Cruzan rum. The lobster barbecue (USD$20 per person) is first-come, first serve starting at 6:30 p.m., while the foam party in the makeshift pool goes all night. Additional ferries and water taxis are available from Tortola; capital city of the BVI and St. Thomas and St. John in the US Virgin Islands with the last ferry departing Jost Van Dyke at 3:30 a.m.
New Year's Eve is full of swank at the ultra-chic Viceroy Anguilla, where a happy crowd snag ringside seats in the Sunset Lounge. The scene is social, with a big digital clock counting down to 2016, fireworks brightening the sky at midnight and dancing to the rock rhythms of the New York-based 'X Ambassadors' and the groove-tinged disco of the Los Angeles duo 'Lost Kings'. Add Chef Raphael Gonzalez's pumpkin fritters, oysters at the raw bar and cigar and chocolate tastings and the party is guaranteed to be the splashiest on the island. For those not watching their wallet, a one-bedroom suite at the spectacular resort that fronts two awesome beaches goes for USD$3,500 per night from through January 2.
In the heart of the action on party Palm Beach, Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino is the prime perch to watch the light show in the sky. At the family-friendly seaside resort, the fireworks are lit at noon on the last day of the year with the smoke believed to take away evil spirits. Later in the day, culinary options aim to please, like the New Year dinner at the Sunset Grille or the feast in the Grand Caribbean Ballroom where the party is hot long after midnight. "Our New Year's Eve includes live entertainment and dancing, premium open bar and celebratory hors d'oeuvres, champagne toast at midnight and party favors," said Olivier Maumaire, General Manager, "Kids can enjoy their own New Year's in the kids' entertainment corner, right next to the Ballroom, thus allowing their parents to dance the night away." Get lucky in 2016 at the star-lit after party in the casino with the first 20 revelers arriving after midnight receiving USD$15 of free play. Refresh yourself (or keep the party going!) on New Year's Day with breakfast at 7 a.m. in the Laguna Restaurant.
The largest island in the Caymans goes all out for with fireworks at Camana Bay in the heart of Grand Cayman. Known as a hot-spot for both locals and visitors, ringing in the New Year is a family affair with front row seats for the early fireworks show at 7 p.m. available at the many restaurants that dot the open-air promenade. When the kids are tucked in, the grown-ups can head back out to the 'No Resolutions' party at midnight as the harbor hosts a second fireworks spectacle. For those who prefer to celebrate with their toes in the sand, Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort is hosting a seaside party with nonstop music, bubble ups on the beach with sparkling wine and food stations serving the best in island fare. The fun keeps on coming with a sand sculpture contest on New Year's Eve and a champagne beach brunch on New Year's Day.
The dinner party to beat all dinner parties, Graycliff Hotel on West Hill Street in Nassau is serving up a Caribbean-chic New Year's Eve Gala guaranteed to please even the finickiest of foodies. Bring your appetite for the eight-course extravaganza with delectable main attractions like champagne poached Bahamian lobster and orzo risotto with truffles. A tad more casual, Humidor Churrascaria invites with a Bahamian-Brazilian spread of roasted meat and plenty of locally-caught seafood. Linger awhile and get down with the fire limbo dancers, watch the circus jugglers and break a sweat dancing to the sounds of live bands. At midnight, it's time for the Junkanoo parade and fireworks to welcome the New Year in style.
by Melanie Reffes, Special for USA TODAY