Best Alternative Spring Break Destinations
Instead of Ft. Lauderdale, Try St. Augustine, Florida
Founded in 1545, St. Augustine (shown here) is the most elegant of Florida cities as well as being the nation’s oldest. On the water, you can kayak around the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos fortress; on land, St. George Street is shopping central in a historic district filled with restaurants and museums. Broad, sandy beaches stretch south of town, including four pristine miles of shoreline in Anastasia State Park.
Instead of Miami Beach, Try Havana, Cuba
Why settle for Miami’s Little Havana when you can visit the real thing less than an hour south by plane? Havana’s rich culture and history, vibrant nightlife, and the party scene at the beaches of Santa Maria del Mar are now open to U.S. travelers.
Instead of South Padre Island, Texas, Try the Alabama Coast
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the spring break crowds on South Padre Island; the Gulf coast of neighboring Alabama is a family-friendly alternative with white-sand barrier beaches in coastal communities like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach (shown here).
Instead of Cancun, Try Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Just 45 minutes south of Cancun, Puerto Morelos is the Riviera Maya minus the high-rise beach resorts. Located in a protected marine park, the town is protected by an offshore reef—an irresistible lure for divers—and has a compact downtown with plenty of restaurants and small hotels.
Instead of San Juan, Try Guanica, Puerto Rico
Discover the different Puerto Rico beyond San Juan in Guanica, a small, south-shore fishing village with uncrowded beaches close to the vast Guanica Dry Forest (a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve), one of the island’s top hiking destinations. Just offshore is Gilligan’s Island, where you can skipper a kayak or snorkel among the mangroves.
Instead of Jamaica, Try St. Croix
Jamaica may have more all-inclusive resorts, but the fusion of St. Croix’s small-town culture, the historic forts and narrow streets of Christiansted, and the great reef diving and remote beaches on nearby Buck Island, is a spring elixir unto itself.
Instead of Cabo San Lucas, Try La Paz, Mexico
If the crowds in Cabo are a “no” for you, seek your serenity in La Paz, a charmingly timeless colonial city on the Sea of Cortez. Playa la Paz is closest to town, but consider taking the quick drive down the coast to Balandra Beach or a snorkel cruise out to Isla Espiritu Santo (shown here).
Instead of Panama City Beach, Florida, Try Panama City, Panama
Skip the classic spring break destination in Florida and head for the “real” Panama City in Central America, a mix of colonial history, Panama Canal-driven commerce, and cosmopolitan culture with gleaming hotels and clubs with stunning ocean views. For a true escape, make a daytrip to the remote Caribbean beaches of the San Blas Islands (shown here).
Instead of Acapulco, Try San Agustinillo, Mexico
As Acapulco works to rebound from being overrun with development, San Agustinillo in neighboring Oaxaca state is a delightfully low-key ecotourism destination with a charming village, locally run inns and restaurants, and the broad sands of Playa Rinconcito.
Instead of Southern California, Try Portugal
Is your spring break dream a surfing safari? While the surf is always up along the Southern California coastline, it’s also up in Portugal—one of the coolest destinations of 2017. Ride351 organizes spring surfing trips to the north, south, and central coasts of Portugal—the latter has the most consistent surf in Europe. Gnarly!