A joyful holiday inseparable from youthful energy, spring break is a rite of passage for American college students.
With the weather finally warm enough for carefree frolicking, folks flock to locales like Myrtle Beach and Playa Del Carmen for sun, surf, and sand.
However, if you want to avoid wasting money, there are beachy destinations that offer spring break energy without the crowds.
This hidden gem on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula is often overlooked in favor of Los Cabos to the south.
But don’t sleep on this colonial city not far from La Paz. It has cute hotels, a burgeoning dining scene, and gorgeous beaches for snorkel and dive enthusiasts.
Wildlife lovers, this is your big chance to see whales and dolphins in the wild without fighting the crowds for a close encounter.
Batibou Beach, Dominica
No, not the Dominican Republic — Dominica is a Caribbean island that’s somehow still under the radar.
This is the ideal spring break spot for nature lovers, as Dominica has everything from a boiling lake to waterfalls and bluffs.
As for beaches, we recommend Batibou Beach, a spot with classic Caribbean energy. Champagne Beach is a close second, with its natural bubbles and unique wildlife.
Anna Maria Island, Florida
While you’ve probably heard of Siesta Key to the south and Clearwater Beach to the north, Anna Maria Island boasts world-class white sand beaches without the spring break crowds.
The waters here are a blazing turquoise, and warm enough for swimming year-round.
This Gulf Coast island also has a vibrant dining scene and tons of boutique lodging options as well as plenty of fun water activities.
Playa Negra, Costa Rica
When it comes to spring break in Costa Rica, Jaco immediately pops to mind as the place to go.
However, we prefer the black sand beach of Playa Negra to the north, tucked away in Guanacaste province. Here the surfing is legendary, even attracting professionals.
When the beach gets too busy at high tide, step away and grab a bite to eat or head to Marino Las Baulas National Park.
Fajardo, Puerto Rico
You don’t need a passport to visit Puerto Rico, which has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. As for where to go, leave the crowds of San Juan behind and head to Fajardo, which is home to both popular and secret beaches alike.
While Fajardo has plenty to do and see, you absolutely can’t miss Laguna Grande Bioluminescent Bay. Here the water literally glows at night!
Pismo Beach, California
Everyone has heard of Malibu and Venice Beach, but folks seeking a quieter spring break spot will love Pismo Beach.
This stunning escape off Highway 1 is the perfect place to rent a dune buggy, go kayaking, or just lounge around.
There are ample places to wine and dine in town too. And don’t forget to stop by nearby Hearst Castle for a day trip.
Pinneys Beach, Nevis
The little sibling of St. Kitts, Nevis is a jewel of an island with mysterious volcanic energy, ample wildlife, and stunning rainforest hikes.
It’s also home to Pinneys Beach, a stunning four-mile stretch that while popular, has more secluded spots as well.
After you’ve had your fill of sun and sea, check out the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, stroll through botanical gardens, and of course, dine in style
Titusville is the spring break destination you’ve never heard of, with its pristine Atlantic beaches, colorful restaurant scene, and ample outdoor activities.
It’s also home to Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center, the beating heart of American space exploration.
Our recommendation: Paddle the bioluminescent waters off Merritt Island and take in a rocket launch from your kayak. It’s an unparalleled experience that blends nature and human achievement.
Honolulu and Maui are bucket list destinations in their own right, but these Hawaiian locales are tourist magnets.
Instead, explore the hidden gem that is Molokai, a natural paradise with imposing cliffs and secluded beaches. There’s so much to do here, both outdoors and in.
This is a top destination for those seeking to enjoy native Hawaiian culture which honors the land and natural world.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Ambergris Caye may be a popular destination in Belize, but it’s far from a tourist trap — perfect for spring breakers.
Snorkel the famed Belize Barrier Reef or lounge on the beach by day then hit the clubs after hours — the nightlife scene in San Pedro is popping.
If you prefer fishing, you can do that too and have local restaurants cook your catch for dinner.
South of the popular Puerto Escondido, Zipotle is a boho destination famed for its natural vortex energy.
This hidden gem may have you howling at the moon before your trip is out, cavorting on beaches where wearing (or not wearing) a bathing suit is optional, and enjoying ubiquitous libations. What’s more spring break than that?
Here you’ll find lots of hippy restaurants and lodgings as well as yoga classes and spas for recharging.
Vieques, Puerto Rico
The third destination with bioluminescent waters on this list — the brightest in the world — is Vieques.
This island paradise offers secluded beaches, lush greenery, abundant fauna, and more. Here wild horses roam and water activities are plentiful. Once you arrive, you won’t want to leave.
Whether it’s hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking, fishing, wining, or dining, Vieques has it all. Even the stargazing here is top-notch thanks to a lack of light pollution. Sign us up!
It’s always fun to stay at a resort in a popular tourist destination for spring break, but there’s more to the world than margaritas by the pool.
Traveling to some of these places can also be more affordable than the tourist traps — especially if you book your trip with one of the best travel credit cards. That’s just one more reason to step outside of your comfort zone.
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