Cancun is the top spring break destination for college students and others looking for a wild, warm getaway from studies and chilly weather, based on a Beach Maniac analysis of rankings from major travel websites, magazines and student resources, combined with our own experiences.
The shores of Cancun, on the Yucatan Peninsula, are lined with all-inclusive resorts that turn spring break into a seemingly endless party featuring bikinis, beach volleyball, music, crowded resort-style swimming pools and, of course, lots of tequila. Not to mention that the Cancun area has some of the most beautiful clear waters of the Caribbean, with soft white sand and lots of sunshine. Travel agencies (online and otherwise) know college students love Cancun and put together spring break packages that are convenient and affordable. (But be careful to deal with a website or travel agency with a solid reputation; it’s not unusual for spring breakers to be victims of travel scams.)
If you want to stay in the continental United States, Panama City, Florida, ranks as the top spring break beach. For one thing, it is accessible by car for many Midwest and East Coast spring breakers, it welcomes them with open arms, is affordable, has plenty of beachside resorts, and has some of the widest, whitest, most beautiful beaches in the country.
Here is the complete Beach Maniac Top 10 List of Spring Break Destinations. For each destination we provide a link to Tripadvisor.com information. TripAdvisor is a reliable online resource where you can read traveler reviews, compare prices and book packages through established travel providers:
- 1. Cancun, Mexico.
- 2. Panama City, Florida.
- 3. South Padre Island, Texas. In typical Texas style, where everything is big, Padre Island beaches seem to stretch forever, and the spring breakers party hardy. South Padre is a blur of nonstop activities.
- 4. Key West, Florida. For a more laid-back vibe, you may want to check out Key West. There is no other place like Key West, which – tongue in cheek – considers itself the independent Conch Republic. The beaches are cool though they can’t match up with places like Panama City or Daytona Beach. Yet, a day at Key West is likely to be slightly warmer than beaches to the north. And watching the sunset at Mallory Squre, with its carnival atmosphere, grabbing a bite at Sloppy Joes and walking down Duval Street on a warm spring night, listening to the music spilling out from the clubs, makes this one cool place to be.
- 5. Daytona Beach, Florida. If you’re too worn out from partying to walk, you can drive right on the sand along the beach in this traditional spring break mecca. But as you take that slow cruise on the hard-packed sand of Daytona, watch out for that guy chasing his frisbee and take your eyes off those girls!
- 6. South Beach, Miami, Florida. What can we say about South Beach, one of the nation’s premier beach scenes with a nightlife to match. If you are old enough to get in, get ready to dance and party here at the chic clubs that line the beach. If you’re not old enough, just hang out on the beach where the fun spills over. This is a place where just about anything goes.
- 7. Clearwater Beach, Florida. While this beach tends to be quiet and family-oriented most of the year, it becomes party central for the wilder, younger crowds during spring break. In the evening, Pier 60 is the place be.
- 8. Bahamas. This is a spring break destination that tends to be a little pricier for most visitors, but if you are looking for great beaches, clear inviting water and a somewhat quieter spring break experience, the Bahamas has a lot to offer you. The more adventurous might want to check out offers for spring break party boats leaving from Fort Lauderdale on five-hour cruises to the Bahamas.
- 9. Jamaica. Montego Bay is where the action is, while Negril offers lots of options on the somewhat quieter side. If you visit Negril be sure to stop off at Rick’s Cafe, where you will be cheered on as you dive from a cliff into the warm Caribbean waters.
- 10. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Puerto Vallarta not only has wild beaches but a nightlife to match. With the mountains nearby, you can take a break from the beachside partying and do a little mountain biking too.
If like a little trash in your spring break splash, Coedmagazine.com has come up with a list of the Top 10 Trashiest Spring Break Destinations. Don’t fear, though. The website says it is not associating the word “trashy” with poor quality. “We associated the word with enjoying guilty pleasures. Like reality television — but in real life,where you can have the most amount of fun with the least amount of money.” You will note that the list overlaps some with our list. Oh, well, you know what they say: One person’s trash is another one’s treasure.
Here is their list of Top 10 Trashiest Spring Break Destinations. Like above, for each one we provide a link to Tripadvisor.com information on that location. TripAdvisor is a reliable online resource where you can read traveler reviews, compare prices and book packages through established travel providers: