Smathers Beach, Key West, FL
Who wouldn’t love spring break in glorious sun-baked Key West – the southernmost point in the continental United States.
The probable inspiration for Jimmy Buffet’s song Margaritaville, Key West is a decidedly scenic 90-minute drive (rent a convertible!) from Miami. This is the kind of handsome sun-dappled hamlet that everyone falls in love with the moment they arrive. Ernest Hemingway did some of his best writing (and cocktailing) here, and you can too! During the day, soak up the hot sunshine at Smathers Beach, longest in the Keys. Then join other spring breakers at Sunset Pier, just off Mallory Square, to enjoy the daily sunset celebration. Follow this with dinner at Santiago’s Bodega, or Blue Heaven. Then sample authentic mojitos and margaritas at jaunty pubs like Rick’s Tree Bar, the Schooner Wharf Bar, or the Green Parrot.
Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
The largest of the three Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is the ideal place to enjoy an exotic spring break beach holiday.
Though it’s British territory – complete with all the pukka trappings – a British colonial governor and British colonial flag – Americans visiting the Caribbean for the first will feel right at home, as US currency is accepted everywhere, and North Americans don’t need a visa. The island’s petite pastel-painted capital, Georgetown, is a popular port-of-call for cruise ships, and within walking distance of the gorgeous world-famous Seven Mile Beach. Away from glam Seven Mile Beach, rental cars will bring you past small rural settlements like West Bay, East End and Rum Point. But Grand Cayman’s most compelling attraction is surely Stingray City – which is not a city, but an amazing sandbar which rises out of North Sound, where visitors can wade in gin-clear, hip-deep water to hand-feed gentle Southern stingrays.
South Beach, Miami, FL
The grand-daddy of all upmarket spring break destinations - Miami’s one of a kind South Beach has it all. Like an amusement park for adults (without an entrance fee), good looking people flock here from all over the globe to have a good time under the hot Florida sun.
They sip mojitos at sidewalk cafés beneath swaying palm trees, as beautiful bikinied bodies in Ray-Bans walk by, waving at handsome hunks in cherry-red convertibles. Movies and television have made South Beach’s charming Art Deco buildings famous, but the unique vibe is best felt in the district’s many lively bars and pubs, unique restaurants, cafes and clubs. And, yes, it’s all just a few footsteps from the soft sands of one of the best beaches in the world, with the warm Atlantic waters always in sight. A South Beach spring break will likely create memories lasting a lifetime.
Alamitos Bay, Long Beach, CA
Ever since the 1960s, Long Beach has been the siren call for spring breakers on the West Coast. And the image of sun-bronzed boys and bikini-clad girls along the eight-mile beach is authentic.
Alamitos Bay is one of the nicest beaches here, and you’ll see a lot of locals renting kayaks or kite boarding. Long Beach also has a spirited nightlife scene, including everything from Latin lounges to jazz clubs. Away from the beach, downtown Long Beach has undergone a mega transformation in recent years. Trendy new restaurants attract the young and young at heart. With a rental car, fun day-trips are dead-easy to do to nearby places like Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica. And in April, don’t miss the thrilling Long Beach Grand Prix Formula One race!
Daytona Beach, FL
This family-friendly, wallet-friendly beach town first gained fame for its annual Daytona 500 stock car race, which took place right on the beach. Even today parts of the 23-mile long white-sand strand are free to drive on - though it’s best to do so in an SUV.
These days the balmy resort town is renowned as spring break heaven for young people keen to escape the long northern winter. Once here, they party hearty before returning to school or work. Attractions include everything from para-sailing and jet-skis, to sailing and beach volleyball. And after dark, spring break dance parties often run till dawn. Among the most popular night spots include the Bank Blues Club and the Ocean Deck Club - with its funky Reggie Bar right on the beach. And Florida’s mega theme parks in Orlando are just an hour’s drive inland.
Chincoteague Island, VA
For a genuinely unique spring beach break for families with kids, look no further than the charming little island called Chincoteague (pronounced ‘chinka-teak’). Located a morning’s drive from Washington DC, Chincoteague booms during the summer months. But its natural beauty can also be enjoyed in spring, before the crowds arrive.
The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is open all year. And linked by a small bridge is amazing Assateague Island – a 37-mile long barrier island facing the Atlantic, much of which makes up the 800-acre Assateague State Park - some of the last rural undeveloped shoreline on the East Coast. The kids will love seeing the abundant wildlife here, including wild deer, blue herons, snowy egrets and even bald eagles. But the most enticing creatures are herds of feral free-roaming ponies, made famous by the children’s book, Misty of Chincoteague. The sweet-natured ponies, which number several hundred, graze in the open fields and are often seen ambling along the roads of both Chincoteague and Assateague islands.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
What’s not to love about a spring break in Bob Marley’s astonishing beautiful tropical island - “where the sun shines daily on the mountain top”? Jamaica’s most celebrated destination is illustrious Montego Bay (first made famous in the pop song) on the island’s stunningly scenic north coast, just a short drive from the main airport.
The best beach in ‘Mo Bay’ is Doctor’s Cave Beach. Though small – about 1,000 feet long, it has calm crystal clear waters and has an engaging vibe where locals and visitors happily mingle. Small boats can take you out for good snorkeling. What’s more, it’s a stone’s throw from the town’s ‘hip strip,’ more formally known as Gloucester Avenue – where there are lots of lively restaurants and pubs. And visitors can listen to live reggae bands while sampling Jamaica’s excellent Red Stripe beer, and try the island’s beloved jerked chicken). In addition, there’s both upmarket duty-free shopping and friendly vendors hawking cheap and cheery locally made T-shirts and sun hats. Attractions near Montego Bay include tours of Rose Hall, a beautifully preserved 17th century plantation house. Another must-do, for families or romantic couples, is leisurely floating down the gentle Martha Brae River on comfortable ingeniously-built bamboo rafts, with an expert oarsman steering at the back.