Spring Break's Party Spots
A Week's Worth of Beaches and Bikinis
Students descend on warm locales in droves to celebrate Spring Break between late February and early April. Most students book package deals through special spring break tour outfitters that include simple accommodations, meals and, the real attraction, free booze and plenty of parties. Here are our hints for a rocking spring break. And remember -- what happens on spring break stays on spring break, at least until the photos hit the Web.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
There's plenty of partying in the Dominican Republic, but spring break debauchery is balanced with great beaches and unique activities. Packages at all-inclusive resorts, like the Barcelo Dominican Beach and Bavaro Princess Resort, include meals, drinks and water sports. Most of the resorts also have clubs, casinos and pool bars, so your daiquiri is just a backstroke away. Venture off the compound for a booze-soaked catamaran tour or serious dancing at Imagine, a nightclub located in ancient underground caves. And be sure to remove your beer goggles long enough to enjoy the natural wonders of this beach paradise on a jungle safari, ATV tour or a trip to swim with the dolphins.
Panama City, Florida
The Holiday Inn Sunspree is Panama City's unofficial spring break headquarters. With a beachfront location on the Gulf, the resort is hopping all day long with contests celebrating hot bodies and chugging abilities. At night, Thomas Drive is a popular hangout, in particular Harpoon Harry's and Spinnaker Beach Club & Paradise Grill. But the center of spring break is Club Le Vela with 11 theme rooms and room for 6,000 partiers. The party starts poolside at 10 a.m. and stretches into the wee hours. Diehards should spring for the club's Ultimate Spring Break Party Pass which guarantees no cover charge, speedy VIP club access and free entry to a beach and foam party.
Daytona Beach, Florida
With 23 miles of beaches, Daytona is an old-school spring break hot spot that has been hosting rowdy college students for generations. Rooms can easily be found for less than $100 a night at places like the Hawaiian Inn and the Dessert Inn. The Ultimate Party Card offers free beers and cover charges for bars like Ocean Deck, known for its bikini contests and live reggae, and Razzles.
There's no shortage of golden sandy shores amongst the chain of islands that makes up the Bahamas. Nassau is the popular spot for spring breakers who check into hotels like all-inclusive SuperClubs Breezes Bahamas. Drink up at the Mardi Gras parties at Cocktails & Dreams and dance to the live bands at Club Waterloo. Once you've had your fill of rum punch and Bahama Mamas, head to Senor Frogs, the ubiquitous Mexican chain. Many spring break packages include a trip to Blue Lagoon, a private island party with a few hundred fellow spring breakers and plenty of drinks. Lounge in a hammock, play some ridiculous beach games or shell out some extra cash and swim with dolphins or sting rays.
Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Spring break doesn't have to be all about the partying and wet T-shirt contests. Costa Rica is certainly not a traditional spring break spot, but plenty of college kids head there for outdoor adventures and, yes, even a few cocktails during break. In just 1 week, you can rappel through waterfalls, fly through the forest canopy on a zip-line, raft through level 3-4 rapids, tour coffee plantations on horseback and hike the Arenal volcano. Learn how to catch a wave with area surf schools including the Tamarindo Surf School and 360 Surf Camp. The bohemian surfing crowd isn't looking for luxe resorts, and simple accommodations can be found at inexpensive local hotels and hostels like the Tamarindo Vista Villas. If you're not exhausted from daytime activities, there's plenty of nightlife in Tamarindo including the hotel's Crazy Monkey Bar and clubs like Big Bazaar located in town.
In the spring break world, you know you've made it when MTV wants to join the throngs of college kids to cover the party scene. Welcome to Acapulco, deemed a hot party spot by the MTV crowd. Most students choose to stay at all-inclusive resorts like the Playa Suites with an intense party scene and snacks and drinks available 24/7. Popular mega-clubs like Disco Beach, El Alebrije, Palladium and Mandara keep the dancers gyrating and the beer flowing into the wee hours. Take a break from the party scene to see the jaw-dropping cliff divers at La Quebrada cliffs and then have some thrills of your own on the water slides and sky coaster at CiCi Waterpark.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
If you've got a sugar daddy bankrolling your holiday, spring for Cabo San Lucas. This beach resort town is popular with West Coast universities and students looking for a more high-end spring break experience. The Tesoro Los Cabos hotel is near the marina and a short walk to the popular bars. The ME by Melia Cabo is more exclusive with pricey suites, chic clubs, beachfront property and an over-21-only policy. Spring breakers may recognize this hotel from televisions -- it's a favorite with the crowd from MTV's show The Hills. Relax poolside by day because you'll need the energy at night for clubbing at the Giggling Marlin, Zoo Club and Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo.
Spring breakers flock to the all-inclusive Oasis Cancun hotel where the pool and beach are hopping with daytime dance parties. Salvia is a budget hotel that offers access to the Oasis properties and fun. College kids hit the bars (and even dance on top of them) at favorites like Senor Frogs and Dady'O. It's always Mardi Gras at Pat O'Briens with a flurry of hurricanes and beads. You never know who you'll bump into at the City, with room for 5,000 and past guests including Ludacris, Fergie, 50 Cent and Paris Hilton.
Negril is amongst the most chill spring break destinations with a low-key vibe and laid-back party atmosphere. The most popular hotels are located along a 7-mile beach. DJs spin tunes at the Travellers Resort by the pool, which has a swim-up bar and even in-water tables where you can enjoy a frozen drink. Jamaica Tamboo is a combo hotel and club with bikini contests and dance parties aplenty. Spring breakers venture off-site to tube down the Great River or take a ride on the rope swing at the waterfalls. At night, the party scene continues at Risky Business, Margaritaville and JamFest, a 4-week long concert festival just for spring break.
Lake Havasu, Arizona
Lake Havasu proves that you don't need the ocean to have a killer spring break. This Arizona lake is an inexpensive and unique spring break destination where giant flotillas of party boats drop anchor and get down. College kids show off their moves on jet skis and water skis or get a new perspective on the party scene floating through the sky while parasailing. Most students stay aboard a boat, but the London Bridge Resort is an affordable choice if you're looking to rest your weary sea legs. Kokomo Havasu is a surf bar that's an outdoor oasis of cheap beer and bikini-clad ladies while Style Entertainment Lounge and Martini Bay Martini Bay round out the nighttime fun.