Top 5 Spring Break Spots

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica
Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

So midterms are over, and now you are looking for a place to retreat and cool out. Well, below are this season’s 5 most popular Spring Break destinations. Each place has its own unique formula for fun and relaxation. Whether you are looking to kick back and be lazy for 7 days or have a penchant for nonstop excitement, you’ll find that these spots will allow you to experience the best of both.

Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Pura Vida, the mantra of Costa Rica, captures in a nutshell the sprit and personality of the country. I traveled to Costa Rica with one of my college roommates a couple of years ago. For 9 nights and 10 days we traversed the Central Valley, Northwestern region, and Central Pacific Coast. Our last full day was spent in a vegetative state on a barren strip of beach in Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, one of the country’s many national parks and preserves. Imagine yourself sprawled out on the beach… directly in front of you is an incredible view of the Pacific Ocean and about 100 yards behind you a dense rainforest… Ahhhh, the essence of Pura Vida; (Pure Life).

Individuals looking to escape the concrete jungles of America can find refuge in Costa Rica’s naturally diverse landscapes and relaxed culture. Except for the capital city, the country is void of the daily stress and hostility characteristic of urban life. Iguanas, white-faced monkeys, toucans, armadillos, and crocodiles — those are just a few of the forest inhabitants that make the country a rich, ecological wonder.

While there are plenty of resort packages available, backpacking offers the best cultural experience and the best bargains for the budget traveler. During my 10-day trip I spent less than $100 total on lodging. My favorite spot was Cabinas Iguana Keanda. This budget lodge is located in a small town called La Fortuna about 6 km from an active Volcano. During the day we could see the smoking volcanic mountain from our cabin, and at night, we could hear it grumbling and spewing lava rocks. 

If you are a thrill seeker, like I am, your options are endless. I went white water rafting in the Sarapiqui River, hiking around the Arenal Volcano, rappelling down a waterfall near Quepos, and trekking through the Monteverde Cloudforest.

Costa Rica is my top pick for Spring Break 2004. It is an unforgettable, life changing experience.

Nassau, Bahamas

Meet the Bahama Mama: 1 fluid once orange juice. 1 fluid ounce pineapple juice. 1/2 fluid once each of rum, grenadine syrup, and coconut-flavored rum. 1 cup crushed ice. Blend and serve over powdered white beach.

Hungry? Try some conch fritters with a side of fries and crab. When you are tired of eating and sun bathing by the crystal clear water, go shopping on Bay Street or brush up on your golf game at one of the best courses in the Western hemisphere.

Nassau is a perennial Spring Break hotspot, because it has all of the ingredients you need for a great vacation. Island activities cater to the college crowds. Don’t be surprised if you bump into a few of your classmates.

During the day you can parasail, scuba dive, waterski, and snorkel (best if done before the Bahama Mama). At night, make your rounds at the clubs, pubs and casinos. Whatever you decide to do, it is impossible not to have a great time in Nassau.

Negril, Jamaica

86 degrees, a soft warm breeze, and the riddums of Bob Marley in the background — welcome to Jamaica, 146 miles of leisure and relaxation. Negril is on the far west end of the island, and its claim to fame is a seven-mile strip of the best beaches in all of Jamaica. On this uninterrupted stretch of white sand you will find small outdoor eateries, live music, beach bars, and the typical beach and water activities. For the exhibitionists, there are a few nude beach areas as well.

In the evenings, nothing beats watching the colorful sunsets over Negril’s 45-foot cliffs. You can grab a front row seat at one of the restaurants and hotels dangling on the edge. Instead of beach below, the cliff side has rocky bluffs and caves for adventurous swimmers to explore.

After the sun goes down, you can enjoy the bonfires and music on the beaches. During Spring Break some of the beach side hotels host concerts (they had Ziggy Marley a few years back). Negril is the largest tourist city in Jamaica so accommodations are plentiful. It is the perfect place to experience a calmer side of the Caribbean.

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Everything you heard about Rio is absolutely true. The city shamelessly indulges all of the five senses and in the process, creates about five more. Home of the samba and bossa nova, Rio has a rhythm and soul unmatched anywhere in the world. The culture is colorful and dramatic, the city breathtaking and beautiful.

The nightlife will have you sleeping most of the day, but once you awake there is plenty to see: the Tijuca Rainforest, Corcovado, Sugar Loaf Mountains, and the famous Impanema and Copacabana beaches. Those interested in the cultural arts can visit one of the many galleries and museums. If you are hungry for Brazilian cuisine, I hear that feijoada is a must try.

Rio has a spice for all tastes and budgets. Pack a thong and some sunscreen, and leave all of your inhibitions at home.

Los Cabos, Mexico

Last spring I took a trip to Los Cabos with my compadres. As a bartender passed us our tequilas he said “what happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo.” So out of respect for the Cabo code, I won’t say which Fortune 500 CEO we saw pass out, inebriated that night. But if one of us owned a T720i cell phone camera (hint), I’d have some great photos for this story.

In Los Cabos happy hour is all day and every night. The resort town is built exclusively around tourism. West Coast people know it well, and for many Californians, Cabo is a weekend playground. It is located in Baja California about 1000 miles south of San Diego. The land is basically desert, so it barely gets a drop of rain.

Extracurricular activities include golfing, ATV tours, parasailing, sportsfishing, surfing, and of course partying until you pass out. New clubs and bars pop up often, but the most famous (and wildest) are the Giggling Marlin and El Squid Roe. Los Cabos is what Spring Break is all about.

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