With spring break just around the corner, now’s the time to cast aside your studies, hunt down those last-minute deals and plan an unforgettable trip. Whether you’re looking for a budget beach break, a romantic getaway or an adrenaline-pumping adventure, here’s a roundup of the best spring break destinations.
For Budget Travelers
One of the most affordable destinations in the Caribbean, the Bahamas offer plenty of spring break deals, with cheap flights running from the U.S. to Nassau and Paradise Island and a variety of island cruises available. Lounge on white-sand beaches or try your hand at water sports during the day, then hit the beach clubs by night.
With a drinking age of 18 and prices far cheaper than most U.S destinations, the aptly nicknamed “Island of Enchantment” is fast becoming a popular alternative to the party hotspots of Mexico. If the pristine beaches and lively nightlife aren’t enough to entice you to Puerto Rico, there are plenty of alternative activities to try, from horseback riding to scuba diving to trekking in the rainforest.
If you’d prefer to stay stateside and cut down on pricey airfares, there are plenty of options in Florida. Hit the beach bars and celebrity-studded nightclubs at Panama City Beach, join the crowds at Miami Beach or get involved in myriad spring break activities in the Florida Keys.
We couldn’t complete a spring break roundup without a nod to the student party mecca of Mexico. If you’re looking for a non-stop roster of sunbathing and parties, head to the beach resorts of Cancun, Los Cabos or Acapulco, but don’t expect to have the beach to yourself – masses of students will be descending on the coast for the busiest season of the year.
For Sun Seekers
If you’re happy to fly further afield, Thailand offers some of the world’s best-value beach resorts, with vast sandy stretches, coral-filled waters and a notoriously debauched party scene. Spend your time snorkeling or elephant trekking in the jungle, then hit the beach bars at night. Phuket, Hua Hin and Koh Samui are all popular among beach lovers, but be sure to join the masses for one of Koh Phangan’s infamous Full Moon Parties, where cocktail buckets and blaring dance music keep the scantily clad revelers dancing until the early hours.
With powder-white beaches, scorching temperatures and endless caipirinhas, Brazil knows a thing or two about a beach holiday. Head to Rio where you can soak up the rays on the famous Copocabana beach, hit the waves on neighboring Ipanema and pay a visit to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. If you’d prefer to dodge the crowds, travel north to Natal where you can spread your beach towel on the popular Ponta Negra beach and hit the samba clubs in the evening hours.
Uncover India’s bohemian roots with a beach vacation in Goa, where you can revel in the laid-back vibe and try wakeboarding, kite surfing and jet skiing, before hitting the beach bars at sunset. Once you tire of the sun, sea and sand, head inland to the ‘”Pink City” of Jaipur, home to some of the country’s most spectacular architecture, and undergo a pilgrimage to the magnificent Taj Mahal.
Few countries boast more sunny days than South Africa, and whether you’re after an action-packed vacation or a leisurely beach break, there’s something for everyone. Of course, you just might need a trust fund to afford the airfare, but if you’ve got the cash to splash out, a South Africa spring break is an unforgettable adventure. Brave the waves on the famous Wild Coast, spot the Big Five on safari in the vast Kruger National Park or come face to face with great white sharks on a shark-diving excursion from Cape Town.
For Adrenaline Junkies
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
The bright lights of the famous Strip aren’t just for revelers and gamblers; Las Vegas makes the perfect destination for thrill-seekers, with the vast Grand Canyon right nearby. Take a helicopter flight over the strip, whiz through the Valley of Fire on a dune buggy, brave the Grand Canyon Skywalk, take a sunrise hot air balloon ride or skydive over the spectacular Red Rock Canyon. Or you could just blow your savings on the roulette table.
Costa Rica offers myriad activities to get your blood pumping, from hurtling down rapids in a whitewater raft to scaling the crater of an active volcano. For the most mind-blowing experience, make like Tarzan on a rainforest canopy tour, where you’ll get to zipline at breakneck speed through acres of untamed jungle, or zoom along the rainforest floor on an ATV instead.
Home to the second-largest barrier reef in the world, Belize is the perfect place to strap on some fins and dive to the depths of the ocean on a scuba-diving excursion. Another hugely popular activity is cave tubing, with Belize harboring one of Central America’s most extensive underground cave networks. Still not exciting enough for you? Try ziplining through the jungle, kayaking through crocodile-infested waters or parasailing on the open ocean.
One of North America’s most celebrated natural attractions, the thundering Niagara Falls is a thrill to see but those hoping for an action-packed trip can hurtle beneath the falls on a high-speed jet boat, zoom over the top in a helicopter or get a view from a giant tethered helium balloon. Not all activities have to involve the falls, though – go kayaking along the Niagara River, bungee jumping in the Niagara Falls area or climb the precipitous gorge at the nearby Devil’s Hole.
For Snow Bunnies
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
Just because it’s spring doesn’t mean you have to opt for a beach holiday – swap sand for snow and hit the ski slopes instead. Head to the world-renowned Whistler resort – the continent’s largest ski area – where you’ll have the pick of over 200 ski runs. There are also snow-free activities to keep you busy on the warmer days too – horse riding, canoeing and mountain biking are all popular pastimes.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, U.S.
With some of the best ski runs in America, Jackson Hole is a veritable paradise for skiers and snowboarders. Springtime offers warmer weather activities too, so once you tire of the slopes you can hike or horseback ride through Grand Teton National Park, whitewater raft in the Snake River Canyon or explore the legendary landscapes of nearby Yellowstone National Park.
Lake Tahoe, California, U.S.
Springtime in Lake Tahoe is the perfect time to explore the area’s idyllic beaches and waterfalls, but those hoping to hit the slopes will find plenty of powder still dusting the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Squaw Valley and Heavenly Mountain resorts are popular spots, where you can ski or snowboard through the day, enjoy a beachside barbecue, then party the night away at one of the lakeside casinos.
Whether you take a romantic sunset boat cruise, cuddle up in a luxury eco-lodge or just stroll hand in hand along a moonlit beach, Hawaii is a destination tailor-made for falling in love. There are plenty of adventures to be had in paradise too – try your hand at surfing, snorkel among the shimmering corals or take a helicopter ride over the famous “Ring of Fire.”
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
With its impressive mountain-backdrop and park-lined waterfront, Vancouver offers the perfect backdrop for a loved-up getaway. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride around Stanley Park, take the ferry over to the picturesque Vancouver Island, then enjoy dinner with a view at Grouse Mountain’s observatory restaurant or on a sunset dinner cruise through Vancouver Harbour.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Effortlessly cool and oozing with charm, Buenos Aires is the unofficial romance capital of Latin America. Get in the mood with a tango show or dance class; enjoy a stroll through the Palermo rose garden, where you can hire a row boat on the lake and visit the planetarium for some sunset stargazing; then head to the waterfront Puerto Madero for dinner with a glittering view of the docks.
San Francisco, California, U.S.
With its abundance of art galleries, designer boutiques, hip bars and gourmet restaurants, San Francisco never falls short for date night. If you prefer some low-key romance, snuggle up on a boat cruise around San Francisco Bay, take a day trip to the Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries or take in the sunset from the famous Golden Gate Bridge.
Rent a villa in the idyllic Tuscan countryside and spend your days cycling the vineyards and olive groves, poring over masterpieces in the birthplace of the Renaissance and over-indulging in delicious Italian pastas. Whether you’re after serene landscapes or iconic architecture (don’t miss the famous leaning tower of Pisa), few European destinations offer such variety as Tuscany.
Alternatively, opt for a memorable sojourn in the City of Light, where you can breakfast on croissants and shop among the world’s most fashionable people. A trip to the Louvre, exquisite Château de Versailles and, of course, inimitable Eiffel Tower, are all must-dos, along with a cruise long the River Seine and an entertaining evening at the notorious Moulin Rouge.
Costa Brava, Spain
If you want to guarantee some warm weather, the glamorous resorts of Spain’s Costa Brava coastline are a popular springtime destination in Europe. Beloved by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Orson Welles, the vast Mediterranean beaches are not only popular with sunbathers but renowned among surfers, windsurfers and kite surfers, and with a network of hiking and cycling trails running along the coast, you’ll never be short of things to do.
You can’t visit Europe without paying a visit to the British capital. Take a tour on London‘s iconic double-decker buses, enjoy a boat cruise along the Thames, watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and get spectacular views of the city from the London Eye and The Shard. Make sure you spare some time for the quintessentially English tradition of afternoon tea at one of London’s glitziest venues.
Read more: Top 5 USA Spring Break Cities.