Vegas, Miami, Cancun – what’s this year’s biggest spring break destination? Where will all the keg stands, raucous teenagers, tiny bikinis, "twerking" contests and empty beer bottles be found? Spring break takes place in March and April every year and it’s becoming one of America’s favorite times of year to take a vacation. College students and families from across the USA and Canada hit the road or take a plane to a destination like Las Vegas, Miami, Honolulu or even somewhere in the Caribbean or Baja California.
In the USA, about 1.7 million undergraduate students use their spring break to take a trip, according to research from Student Monitor LLC. On average they are estimated to spend $914 each – or $1.6 billion in total. Students aren’t the only ones who get in on the fun too. These days, spring break is becoming more about letting loose and forgetting stress – even if you’re a few years past university. More than anything, spring break is known for debauchery and fun, so we’ve narrowed down the best spring break destinations of 2014 into a top 10 list. Check it out and see where the party is happening this March and April.
9 Waikiki Beach, Hawaii – Say Aloha to Fun & Sun
Although it costs a bit more to head over to Hawaii and off the mainland, thousands of American college students say “aloha” to these islands every March or April. With its mix of parties, clubs, snorkeling, sunbathing, shopping and more, it is a hit with students and families of all kinds. Waikiki beach (near Honolulu) is where most of the action happens day and night. After dark, the strip comes alive and the parties rage on into the night. This year’s Floatopia party for spring breakers (where students hang out on the beach and on “floaties” in the water) drew about 300 people and a lot of police supervision to ensure it didn’t get out of control.
8 Galveston, Texas – On the Rise
A perhaps surprising (or at least unknown) destination for spring breakers is Galveston in Texas. This island town is among the up-and-coming hot spots for spring breakers, particularly those living in Texas and other southern US states. Its appeal includes its balance between typical spring breaker party-style debauchery – and some good, old-fashioned family fun too. There’s Schlitterbahn water park (with entry costing about $50), the beach, the Seawall (along with tandem bikes for hire), Pleasure Pier and reputable oceanfront restaurants. According to statistics published in the Houston Chronicle, Galveston gets more than 5.5 million per year (more than they got before Hurricane Ike) and up to 500,000 of them are during the spring break period. TripAdvisor named Galveston as one of the top 10 destinations “on the rise” in the USA too.
7 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – White Beaches & Famous Bars
This beach-side town is without doubt one of the biggest spring break destinations of 2014. It’s known for its white-sand beaches, striking rock formations (like El Arco, an extremely unique rock formation at the southern tip of the peninsular) and, of course, its party scene. Spring breakers can be seen every March and April filling up famous beachside bars such as El Squid Roe and Cabo Wabo Cantina. All-inclusive resorts are the most popular choices in Cabo San Lucas among spring breakers. Although Cabo San Lucas is among the most beautiful spots on our top 10 list, it also attracts so many thousands of people that it’s become one of the more cliché spring break destinations. Hipsters and trailblazers – you’ve been warned!
6 Steamboat Springs, Colorado – The Place to Chill Out
It’s hard to believe it (especially for those living in the colder states), but not everyone wants to waste away their spring break days on a beach. For that reason, Steamboat Springs in the great state of Colorado has become a popular spring break destination in recent years with its huge ski fields, pretty scenery and wholesome fun. It could be safe to presume that the legalization of marijuana in this state would make a few spring breakers fairly excited too. Steamboat Springs was recently named as the USA’s fourth best small town to visit this year by Smithsonian magazine.
5 Orlando, Florida – For a Classic Spring Break
Although it somewhat sits in the shadow of other Florida favorites such as South Beach and Panama City Beach (also on our list), Orlando continues to get record numbers of spring breakers. In fact, more than half of the spring breakers who come to Florida this year are expected to be in Orlando to visit theme parks or other attractions. Aside from summer and Christmas, this is the most popular time to visit Orlando and the numbers are expected to be bigger than ever in 2014. Rather than attracting the wild party-going teens you’ll find in the likes of Mexico and Miami, Orlando is all about spring breaker families looking for a mix of beach time, warm weather and fun at the theme parks.
5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - The Best of the East
East coasters flock to this spring break hot spot in South Carolina. With its white-sand beaches, hot weather, nightclubs and great views of the Atlantic Ocean, this small beach town of less than 30,000 people is becoming more popular every year. It offers a mixture of big parties and relaxing fun. Visitors sign up to the Myrtlemaniac party program, which gets you entry to all the big events happening during spring break. There’s also a popular rodeo, as well as plenty of condo or beach house rentals. Senor Frogs is the place to be after dark. Since 1951, during spring break in Ontario, Canada, this beach has hosted special Canadian-American Days which attract tens of thousands of visitors. It’s also a popular Independence Day destinations in the USA, with fireworks displays happening along the beach.
4 Miami, Florida – Costly But Popular
Miami has long been a favorite among party goers and college students who are recovering from a long, cold winter consider it one of the biggest spring break destinations. Every year, thousands of spring breakers hit up South Beach for a week (or more) of sunshine and parties. In March 2013, Miami saw record occupation levels in its hotels, according to the Miami Herald, and 2014 looks no different. Despite sometimes high costs of accommodation, students are always getting creative and on the hunt for a bargain – some reportedly turning to websites like airbnb.com this year to get a deal. Research shows that students hitting up Miami at spring break time are likely to spend about $300 per night (on top of their airfare or transport to and from Miami).
3 Panama City Beach, Florida – Booze & Bikinis
Every year, Panama City Beach spring break parties seem to get better and up to 300,000 high school and college students turn up to get in on the action every March and April. It’s so popular that the beach declared itself as the spring break capital of the world. In 2013, Facebook crunched the numbers and the beach with the most Facebook “check ins” by 18-to-24-year-olds during the spring break period was this one. Aside from the beaches, spring breakers can be found at clubs like Hammerhead Fred’s, Club La Vela, Sharky’s Tiki Bar and Harpoon Harry’s. And for those who aren’t as keen on parties, David Demarest of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau points out that there are 27 miles of beaches with about 100 access points – not all of which are filled with drunken young ones.
2 Las Vegas, Nevada – Party 24/7
For anyone looking for a wild night out and some crazy stories to tell next semester, look no further than this desert city that’s literally open 24 hours a day. Known for its casino-lined streets, huge hotels and hot clubs, spring breakers have been heading to Vegas for years. The city of sin can come across as an expensive destination for near-broke students, but in actual fact it’s considered fairly affordable. The MGM Resorts (which include the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, the Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur) have spring breaker deals through until June. They give students deals including passes to pool parties, night clubs, plus discount coupons for beach cabanas, restaurants and spa treatments.
1 Cancun, Mexico – The Ultimate Party
Spring break is always huge south of the border, and Cancun on Mexico’s Caribbean coast knows how to put on a good party. It all centers around the Oasis Cancun Hotel. Costing about $250 or more per night, it’s not one of Cancun’s best hotels but guarantees a good time and it’s right on the beach. MTV is always there with a week of special spring break programming that includes celebrity appearances, musical performances and all sorts of excitement. Coco Bongo is a popular club among young travelers, with a regular cover charge of $75 or a VIP pass costing about $150. In March last year, about 1.9 million U.S. citizens traveled to Mexico by plane – no doubt partly in thanks to screeds of wild spring breakers looking to be in one of the biggest spring break destinations.