Hundreds of thousands of students take off in February, March, and April for fun in the sun destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Florida, and elsewhere. While the hordes of Spring Breakers aren't welcome everywhere, a number of Caribbean locations are happy to roll out the welcome mat for the annual college party scene.
Cancun is nearly synonymous with spring break in the Caribbean and continues to attract thousands of American college students each year with the promise of reasonably priced airfares, hotels, cheap alcohol, and a liberal drinking age. There are always a variety of youth-oriented activities in Mexico's party capital, from wild nightclubs to themed bar parties to parasailing, snorkeling, and other sun and surf excursions.
In many ways, the Dominican Republic offers an ideal vacation combination for students with affordable flights and plenty of all-inclusive resorts where travelers ages 18 or older can sleep, eat, drink, and play for one price. There is also a variety of beach resort areas to choose from, including youthful Cabarete, Boca Chica (close to Santo Domingo and the best place to soak up local culture), the eco-tourism destination of Samaná, and the most popular spots of Punta Cana and Playa Dorada.
Suffused with the spirit of reggae, Jamaicans embody island cool and share a love for a good time. Negril and Montego Bay are the hot spots, with a good selection of all-inclusive and budget accommodations, along with their famed beachfront nightlife.
Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan is not only rich in history but also nightlife: This cosmopolitan city has more nightclubs than almost anywhere else in the Caribbean, from gay bars to salsa clubs to sophisticated rooftop lounges. Cheap flights from the U.S. to the San Juan airport—just minutes from major resort areas—make this an attractive option for student travelers, along with the fact that you don't need a passport to visit. Students on a tight budget also will appreciate the city's many fast-food options.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Like Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands attract Spring Breakers with no-passport-required travel and the familiarity of home. Travelers not wanting to step outside their comfort zone will find it easy to be here as English is the local language, U.S. dollars are used for currency, and chain restaurants and known hotel brands are present.
Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas make up the trio of islands. The most active nightlife is in St. Thomas, both in Charlotte Amalie—the U.S. Virgin Islands' capital—and Red Hook. St. John is a more mellow locale, but Cruz Bay still keeps things lively. St. Thomas is the central transportation hub, so the best flight options will head directly there.
Nassau is the prime destination for vacationers heading to the Bahamas; it has tons of direct air service from the U.S. and a wide variety of hotels. Many students enjoy the Disney-like 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 tiny Paradise Island, and many students head for the more affordable beachfront resorts of Cable Beach or an all-inclusive resort.
With its hedonistic reputation and wall-to-wall bars, it's no surprise that Key West draws a massive crowd each year. Located on the lower tip of Florida, Key West is an option for those that prefer to drive to the party from school, although once in town students usually abandon their cars in favor of pub crawls to such famous hotspots as Sloppy Joes and the Hog's Breath Saloon. Straight and gay people alike are welcome in this unique island paradise.