Grab those bikinis and speedos while we talk about the absolute best Caribbean Islands to party for spring break this year.
These destinations embrace the party culture like nowhere else, and the bars and hotels in the area know what they are getting into each spring as much as you do
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
At the southern tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas — a beach town on the stretch of coastline collectively known as Los Cabos — has long been a popular vacation spot for sun-worshipping party seekers over spring break, and this year is no different. Aside from its lively party scene, Los Cabos remains a staple in the beach resort world thanks to its California-esque vibe. It almost feels like an extension of Southern California, with deluxe accommodations, striking golf courses, high-end shops, and of course, beautiful beaches.
Cancun — with its beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise waters — is one of the world’s top beach destinations, so it comes as no surprise that it's one of the most-visited spring break destinations on the planet. The Hotel Zone is where to go if you're looking for all the college spring break staples; dozens of megaresorts line miles and miles of postcard-perfect beaches where guests lounge in the sun, margarita in hand. Families can be just as happy here, though, especially if they opt for a quieter all-inclusive with amenities such as a kids’ club and water park.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic The Dominican Republic has become the world’s hottest new tropical Spring Break destination. And while Punta Cana has a long way to go to catch Puerto Vallarta and Cancun in terms of bars and nightlife, the slew of all-inclusive resorts like Barcelo Bavaro and Occidental Grand make it so you don’t really need to leave your hotel to get the full experience. And if you do choose to leave, the outdoor activities are some of the best in the Caribbean — a nearby tropical rainforest is full of hiking, zip-lining, and ATV adventure.
As you might have learned, the Bahamas are actually over 700 islands, so it's hard to name just one here that's great. First, every Spring Break cruise on the planet stops in Nassau, where Señor Frogs has caused more than a few people to miss their boats home. A short car ride from the cruise port is Atlantis, which is like going to Vegas, but with an actual beach nearby. Then there's Freeport, where the bar-lined town square is an un-walkable mass of Spring Break debauchery. Finally there's Bimini, where students can be in less than three hours (from Miami) thanks to the Resorts World's SuperFast cruise ship, and big name DJs play the resort nightly.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
This is more than just a coastal resort getaway. Somehow Puerto Vallarta — also known as "Vallarta" or just "PV" — maintains a small-town atmosphere, while still boasting one of the most unique and sophisticated oceanfronts in Mexico. The dining options and the hotel choices reflect more of the same — you'll find both elegance and efficiency mingled together within the hotel and restaurant areas. 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.
To many, Jamaica is the heart of the Caribbean. The birthplace of reggae music, the Rastafari movement and all-inclusive resorts, Jamaica symbolizes many of the things most loved and, perhaps, most misunderstood about the region. A simple remedy to clear the confusion? Come to the land of sugar cane, coffee and limestone, and form your own opinion. Your new ideas are bound to be swathed in cream-colored beaches, bordered by rugged Blue Mountains, anchored in foamy waterfalls and set to a dancehall soundtrack.
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. Some (but not many) visitors choose the eastern area of Port Antonio to try the top-notch surfing at Boston Bay Beach, the hiking along the Blue Mountains and the river rafting along the Rio Grande.
A visit to Bermuda means that there's a good chance you'll see men milling about the capital city of Hamilton dressed in crisp and prim business shirts, tucked neatly into seemingly casual short trousers. Their "Bermuda shorts" fit well into the mystique surrounding these lonely islands of the Atlantic — islands that hold tight to their British customs, elegance and etiquette, but still know how to let loose under a subtropical sun.
Usually, the people who visit are looking for a little luxury. Top activities include spa treatments and afternoon tee times. Need a break from the golf clubs or a change of pace after your facial? Try stretching out on the dazzling pink sand at Elbow Beach or Horseshoe Bay Beach, strolling past the old-time buildings in Historic St. George or polishing up on your naval history at the Bermuda Maritime Museum. These islands don't put on a pretense of being "hip," but they do offer a charming old-school sophistication that's hard to find anywhere else.
Many students like the Disneyesque aspects of the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island, though like Disney, a stay at Atlantis doesn't come cheap. But there are budget hotels even on tony Paradise Island, and many students head for the more affordable beachfront resorts of Cable Beach.
Puerto Rico has become an increasingly popular spring break destination as flight prices have dropped and students have discovered the lively casinos and clubs that line the streets. By day, huge malls, golf courses, casinos and, of course, beautiful, white-sand beaches, attract tourists and partiers alike.
Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan is not only rich in history but also nightlife: this cosmopolitan city has more nightclubs than anywhere else in the Caribbean, from gay bars to salsa clubs to sophisticated rooftop lounges.