10 Best Caribbean Islands for Spring Break
Negril may be a few years removed from its hedonistic heyday, but leaping off the cliffs of the West End remains a rite of passage for spring breakers from around the world. Rick’s Cafe (shown here) is the classic place to take the plunge, while Negril’s Seven Mile Beach remains a more laid-back alternative to Montego Bay or Ocho Rios. Love snorkeling? Consider staying at The Rockhouse resort here. Just don’t drink and dive!
The rooftop bars of Condado, salsa dancing and live music at the Nuyorican Cafe, and the timeless allure of Old San Juan’s 500-year-old streets await just a quick flight from the East Coast. Make the glamorous Condado Vanderbilt (shown here) your base camp for easy access to both beach and city. Connect with San Juan’s culinary culture with Orozco restaurant’s varied takes on mofongo, Puerto Rico’s national dish.
Spring breakers on a budget can still get flights and seaside rooms in Punta Cana (shown here) for short money, but Punta Cana has also upped its luxe offerings at hotels like the Royalton and Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana. The Hard Rock Punta Cana is a nice option for families or singles seeking casino action. For all-inclusive resorts and endless beaches, the east coast of the Dominican Republic is still the “Big Papi” of the western Caribbean.
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Spring breakers can cool off in Charlotte Amalie’s Magic Ice bar, graze Frenchtown’s harborside dining scene, spin yarns with sailors in the nightclubs of Yacht Haven, and sip Cruzan rum cocktails in the sand at Iggie’s Beach Bar. Sleep it off at Magens Bay Beach (shown here), or hop on the Red Hook ferry to recharge with a daytrip to St. John.
Dress to impress at the casinos and clubs at the Atlantis (shown here) and the soon-to-debut Baha Mar resort (opening April 21), connect with local culture at the Arawak Cay fish fry, and head up the hill in downtown Nassau to sample the spirits at John Watling’s Distillery. The venerable Graycliff Hotel is an all-in-one destination with fine dining, a cigar factory, and chocolate-making classes. Ask for a tour of the hotel’s remarkable wine cellar, filled with 200,000 bottles of every style and vintage.
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Desert-island Aruba may not be as lushly tropical as other Caribbean destinations but makes up for the lack of palm trees with an endless variety of entertainment and adventure options. Pick from pirate-boat trips off Palm Beach (shown here), ATV treks through the desert outback, and all-inclusive DePalm Island, which has a waterpark, banana boat rides, snorkeling, and zip lining. It’s a private island of fun that’s perfect for a day away from the hotel.
The early bird catches the curls at Barbados’ Bathsheba beach (shown here), a legendary Caribbean surfer’s paradise, but this British West Indies island also get major props for the dining and nightlife concentrated along a short stretch of beachside road in St. Lawrence Gap. Hanging out at a local rum shack is best way to experience local culture: With 1,500 rum bars on the island, a Mount Gay and Coke is never too far away.
Trinidad and Tobago
Soca music and the spirit of Carnival suffuse Trinidad year-round, and you’ll always find a great party in Port of Spain and a great beach “lime” (local slang for hanging out) at Maracas Bay. Tobago is a better option for spring breakers seeking a stress-free getaway with some of the loveliest beaches in the Caribbean (including Pigeon Point Beach, shown here), waterfalls and wading in the Nylon Pool, and the small-town charm of browsing the weekly market in Scarborough.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach is one of the world’s best, and this reef-fringed island has the greatest concentration of luxury resorts in the western Caribbean: Expect serious pampering at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, among others. Kids will love meeting rays in their natural habitat at Stingray City (shown here) and chilling with Crush’s cousins at the Cayman Turtle Farm.