Spring Break 2016 is in the air, bringing with it the smells of aerosol sunscreen, coconut liquor, cheap cologne, and that other scent you can neither explain or pinpoint (pro tip: you don’t actually want to know what it is).
As wild and trashy as Spring Break is supposed to be, COED was more than a little disappointed in all the ruckus that happened last year in Panama City Beach, the same place that we named the #1 Trashiest Spring Break 2015 Destination. Some of what happened down in PCB was too obscene–not in a “kids, don’t look” kind of obscene, but in a “multiple sexual assaults, rapes, and fights on the beach” kind of obscene. There were even big headlines in national newspapers when a bloody Mississippi State QB Dak Prescotdt was jumped in a street fight.
This much larger-than-usual public backlash prompted the city of Panama City Beach to completely change their city laws and ordinances for the duration of Spring Break. Drinking on the beach is no longer legal and bars will now be forced to close at 2 AM.
UPDATE 2017: We just published a new and improved 2017 Edition that takes into account foreign destinations like Mexico and the Dominican Republic!
Update–4/3/2016: Looks like we were right on the money. I mean, it’s a couple days too early and we don’t expect PCB to completely empty but scenes like this are a little telling, no?
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So rather than support that level of insanity by including Panama City Beach in this year’s 20 Trashiest Spring Break feature, we’re going to respond by removing it from the list altogether. For us the idea of “trashy” should be fun, not dangerous. Trashy is what Spring Breakers should aim for: cheap, excessive, loud and rowdy. It’s unforgettable, not menacing.
But the fall of one Spring Break haven means that more places will rise to meet new demand. This year we’ve noticed that more college students will be traveling abroad than ever before. That’s why we’re pleased to announce that for this year’s 20 Trashiest Spring Break Destinations feature, we’re now looking beyond our borders. Included in this year’s feature are infamous places like Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
And with the addition of these new destinations comes new categories that can help take into account the varying levels of trashiness. If you get arrested for a joint or public intoxication, can you pay off the police? Is there an element of danger if you venture out of the all-inclusive resort? These are all things that should be taken into account.
We’ve still kept some of the most important categories that can help make or break your trip: like the availability of strip clubs, liquor stores, tattoo parlors, drug laws/availability, and whether or not there’s any legal gambling available.
So whether you’re looking to plan a last-minute Spring Break trip or are just looking for an inside scoop on your destination–here’s your best chance to learn just how trashy it’s going to get this Spring Break.
#20: Biloxi, MS
Little party birds are telling us that this year is going to be a big year for Biloxi and Spring Break. Previously the biggest partiers in Biloxi arrived for Biloxi Black Beach Weekend, but this year’s college students are going to help diversify the attendance numbers a bit. The reason? Because both Destin and Panama City Beach have made it abundantly clear they don’t want Spring Breakers.
While Biloxi’s beaches aren’t as beautiful as places you’d find on the Gulf Shores or in Destin (seriously don’t swim in the water, it’s infested with bacteria), the town’s nightlife and casinos are always a good bet.
Fun fact: Biloxi is the same place that Afroman punched a woman in the face during a guitar “solo” last year.
Popular Among: University of Alabama, FSU, UGA
#19: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Although San Juan is a nice place to visit year-round, Spring Break is one of the more popular times to go and party because of the 18-year-old drinking age and plentiful amount of rum.
During the day, there are no shortage of beaches to lay out at and at night you can hit up plenty of the bars and clubs. San Juan’s existence as the de-facto 51st state also means that things are relatively safe outside of the resorts and hotels, but sketchy enough that trouble can be found if you’re looking for it.
Popular Among: University of Alabama, UConn
#18: Key West, FL
Key West is a low-key party town 365 days of the year, but during the weeks of Spring Break the average age of partiers drops from about 45 to about 24. It’s the perfect combination of bros, chicks, and middle-aged animals looking to take advantage of the town’s lenient nudity laws.
Just don’t be surprised if you’re dancing with your peers and find that a body painted MILF starts getting up in your crotch. Things like this are commonplace in Key West.
Popular Among: Florida State University, University of Florida, FGCU
#17: Nassau, Bahamas
When people talk about going to Nassau for Spring Break, there are really three main resorts they’re staying at: Atlantis (the most popular), Sandals Royal Bahamian, and the British Colonial. Truthfully there are a ton of teenagers and high-school students who stay at Atlantis, so be careful with who you meet. The umbrella rule is that if she’s put cornrows into her hair, she’s still in high school. That being said, Nassau is heating up as one of the more popular places to party for 18+.
Despite the country’s pretty Christian beliefs (no strip clubs), weed is pretty easy to find. If you stay on resort grounds (there’s really no reason to leave), you’re in the cool, but those of you traveling there via cruise ship should beware that the Tourism Police love to bust visitors for negligible amounts.
Popular Among: University of Delaware, UConn
#16: Miami, FL
With all the bling, expensive sports cars, and implants you’ll see in Miami, Magic City’s version of “trashy” is much different from the rest of destinations on this list. One of the upsides of partying in Miami for Spring Break are all the different choices of pool parties you can find at the various South Beach hotels. Do your research to find tickets to these for cheap.
If you’re there for Ultra Music Festival, don’t forget that in addition to the massive event there are thousands of other small events that can provide you with a more intimate experience with partiers and the DJs themselves.
Just make sure you’ve been saving your money because it’s all going to be gone once you leave the 305.
Popular Among: Students in the Northeast, ASU, UF, FSU
#15: Lake Havasu, AZ
Lake Havasu is an impressively large lake in the middle the of the desert, which is why it’s such a popular destination among Spring Breakers. Truthfully the atmosphere there is unlike anywhere we’ve ever been before.
The town’s size is somewhat small, but the fact is that most people are spending all day on the water on booze cruises or rented boats. Their nights are spent at the bars and clubs in their hotels.
We stayed at Kokomo’s last year but it’s 100% worth checking out what SWAT has available. Also, go on a booze cruise. See the video below for reasoning…
Popular Among: ASU, University of Arizona, SDSU, Fresno State, New Mexico State, UNLV, Colorado State University
#14: Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach is historically one of the most famous Spring Break destinations in the United States. MTV even helped it earn the nickname of “The Most Famous Beach” from their multiple parties and events they covered during the 80’s and 90’s. But that “most famous” moniker has since been replaced by “The Undisputed Underage Drinking Capital of the World.”
Despite police efforts to curb Spring Break, Daytona Beach still an extremely popular destination. One of visitor’s favorite things to do is cruise the strip in the car, blasting tunes and hollering at girls. But come nightime, park your ride and hop on one of the free shuttles that take you from place to place.
Edit: I’d also like to include this wonderful nugget of helpful material from someone on Reddit who absolutely nails the Daytona Beach description:
DB during Spring Break is like that “hot” chick you match with on tinder, or bumble since apprently that’s what everyone is using now. On all her pictures she looks super hot, she talks flirty, and best of all is super dtf. The day finally comes when you meet her. You’re psyched and expect a yeti-butt babe to meet you, but end up meeting some weird off-spring of Jabba the hut and Steve Buscemi. Clearly, you were deceived. Nonetheless, you’re in too deep and say “fuck it” and spend $70 bucks on a dinner you didn’t even wanna have. Probably end up piping her because you planned this day for that, but at the end of the day, you you just feel sorry and start to question how your day ended up like this. That’s essentially what will happen if you decide to invest in SB in Daytona Beach. Please, don’t do it.
#13: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic has been a college students’ Spring Destination for at least a decade, so we’re stoked to be able to tell you about all the debauchery you can have over in the DR. Just know this: I personally know multiple people from different trips who have gotten seriously ill from the food, water, or a combination of the three. Also, before we start talking about the fun stuff, you should also be aware that the Dominican Republic is not really a safe place. On the resorts you’ll be fine, but once you step off the property you become a target–especially for the police and drugs. Seriously, do not risk buying or using drugs on your visit there as the country has an unnecessarily strict policy regarding narcotics.
Now for the good. It’s trashy as hell. The rum flows like water, students from all over come because of the outstanding weather, and most importantly you don’t have to leave the poolside bar to use the bathroom.
Popular Among: Clemson, Pitt, UNC, West Virginia, George Washington, Boston University
#12: Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach as a Spring Break destination is somewhat surprising considering the average temperature isn’t as warm as places a bit further south, but who are we to judge how you all want to spend your cash? The upside to a Dirty Myrtle Spring Break is that there are tons of properties are available to rent. Finding a house is definitely the better move than some of the hotel suite options.
The city likes to tout itself as a “family friendly” Spring Break destination (seriously, we’ve gotten messages from them) but anyone who steps foot at Broadway at the Beach after dark knows that things get crazy. Just make sure you have some extra cash in your pocket when the bars close at 1 AM because you’ll need to pay for a taxi ride to the nearest strip club, which continue to serve booze until later in the night. Or, just pick up a 30-rack at a gas station and bring it to one of the BYOB clubs.
#11: Tampa, FL
Tampa and St. Peter’s (one and the same for the purpose of this feature, apologies if we’ve offended anyone for that decision) were solidified as a Spring Break staple once the Harmony Korine movie Spring Breakers was released to awful reviews. The movie follows three young girls who in attempt to do something different in their life, rob a diner and head south for Spring Break. But pretty much it’s only worth watching for the bright bikinis and James Franco’s cornrows.
There’s a lot of fantasy and fiction within the Spring Breakers, but the one thing we can attest to is the level of insanity and wife-beater-wearing white boys you’ll find in Tampa during March and early April.
Popular Among: Penn State University, ASU, UVA, USF
#10: Puerta Vallarta, Mexico
As far as we can tell, last year Puerta Vallarta was the new kid on the block in terms of trashy Spring Break trips. Easily the most visible company to bring in American college students was Xtreme Trips, who were able to fully book two separate weeks. But we were more interested in the fact that the resorts looked like they were more than happy to put up with the Americans doing whatever they wanted.
Of course, the same can’t be said for once you leave the resort property. If you get bagged by the Mexican police or marines, though, the good news is that you’re more than likely going to be able to talk your way out of an arrest with a couple of Andrew Jacksons.
#9: New Orleans, LA
What we love the most about New Orleans is that it doesn’t take a specific time like Spring Break to make the city trashy and fun. The place is a thriving party atmosphere year-round.
So if you’re in the South and driving west towards a place like Gulf Shores or Biloxi, do yourself a solid and stay in New Orleans for a night or two. Not only are you likely to pick up a new friend or two, how often can you say that you’ve had a real Hand Grenade on Bourbon Street? New Orleans’ infamous nature also means you’ll get to drink with people from all walks of life.
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#8: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
One of the best things about Playa Del Carmen is that unlike some other Mexican resort cities, a lot of tourists and visitors leave to go visit the clubs and bars in town. That’s also one of the worst things about it. Because as safe as you are being protected by the armed Marines in camouflage carrying machine guns, it’s a little disconcerting when you realize why they need to do this. You’re also not in the authorities’ field of vision when the taxi driver you ask to help you find weed or white takes you into the non-tourist section of town.
The police you can bribe, but the cartels and criminals will want more than just a couple of bucks. All in all you’re safe, just don’t do anything too loco after dark.
Popular Among: University of Louisville, TTU, University of Texas-Austin, Washington State
#7: Negril, Jamaica
Jamaica! The land of weed, beautiful beaches, and ganja (did we mention that already?). But despite all those positives, things can be a little sketchy on the island of Jamaica.
Without getting into too much detail, Jamaica’s crime has skyrocketed since growers moved from planting marijuana to the more profitable crop of cocaine. With that change came the guns and violence that typically accompanies the business. Of course you can still find as much weed as your lungs can handle, but just be careful where you do it. The upside is that Negril is far west of Kingston, so police are there specifically helping out tourists.
You’re fine on the long stretch of seven-mile beach, just make sure you’re familiar with the word “no.” A ton of hustlers will try to sell you everything on this earth.
Those looking for a raunchy and trashy time will have no problem finding them in Jamaica. One of our close friends can recall being woken up by the 50-year-old, weathered female resort MC reminding everyone that it was “Time to take your t*tties and d*cks wet.” This was at 9 AM.
Popular Among: Central Michigan University, Miami University, Texas State
#6: Acapulco, Mexico
There was a time not too long ago when Acapulco was the largest international destination for Spring Break. But then the drug money and rise of Mexican cartels literally killed that off. Now there are a significantly lower number of American tourists who head to Acapulco for Spring Break than were there before.
The good news for those of you still going is that prices tend to be cheaper in Acapulco than in other Mexican resorts because the city is actively trying to get people back. The bad news is that there are fewer American partiers than you’d expect. Again, the good news is this means there’s more tequila for you.
A must-visit destination is the Hannah Sun Club (pictured above). It’s definitely the nicest day club in Acapulco, but well worth a visit if you’re looking for an Ibiza or Vegas-type vibe.
#5: South Padre Island, TX
Beer is proof that God loves us, and South Padre Island in Texas is proof that he wants us to party. The thin strip of beach located on the southeastern border between Texas and Mexico is regarded as one of the best destinations for Spring Break year after year. Not only is it constantly packed with Texas college students, the local government and police have made it legal for all non-glass sources of alcohol to be on the beach. That’s a rarity in the United States.
Of course, it also helps that Rockstar Energy Drinks is sponsoring a huge party there this year, bringing in artists like Lil Dicky, The Chainsmokers, and Lil Jon.
Obviously an atmosphere like this brings out a ton of dudes, so don’t go expecting to find a ton of chicks to hook up with.
Popular Among: Kansas, Indiana, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Texas Tech
#4: Montego Bay, Jamaica
Unless you’re traveling with a trip planning company, Montego Bay is the destination of choice for most Spring Breakers headed to Jamaica–and for good reason. The beaches are second to none, the resorts take care of their guests, but that’s because the surrounding area is considerably more sketchy than in Negril. And whereas in Mexico it’s understood that you’re under the protection of the cartels, you’ll have no such luck in Jamaica.
But that doesn’t mean you have anything serious to worry about. Your biggest concern should be how to ditch that ounce pot you bought for $30 and where you can find some Advil to help you deal with all that rum.
Popular Among: UT-Austin, FSU, Georgia State, Central Michigan University, Miami University
#3: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
If you’re looking for a solid Spring Break surrounded by 18+ year-olds and body shots until you drop, then Cabo is the place for you. By and large the city is much better prepared for Spring Breakers than Puerta Vallarta and Playa Del Carmen, but less sh*tty and soulless than someplace like Cancun.
There are tons of places within the resorts to hang out at, but make sure you spend the extra dough to get the student wristband that gets you into the clubs and bars. Whatever you do, don’t miss at least one night at Squid Roe (pictured above).
Also, remember the line “”How much does the fine cost, I am leaving the country soon and do not have time to pay it. Is there any way I can give you the money so you can pay it for me?” When you use that to get you out of at least one night in jail, make sure you thank redditor RustyBeerCan.
Popular Among: ASU, Washington State University, Indiana, UNLV, Oregon State, Northern Illinois University, SDSU
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#2: Cancun, Mexico
Cancun is something that needs to be experienced to be believed. And in a true definition of the word “trashy,” once you go to Cancun there’s a chance that you might not go back. Not because you won’t have enjoyed yourself, but because you won’t believe that you’ll make it out in one piece again.
The city has it all: crazy clubs, all-inclusive resorts, taxi drivers who can sell you whatever you need, and corrupt police who will look out for your best interests until they catch you with something (at which point they begin looking out for their best interests). But don’t get it twisted–you’re still in Mexico and winding up in jail is a serious possibility. As is death.
Similarly to Cabo, make sure you pony up the cash for the wrist bands that will give you cheaper access to the big clubs. That way you can save some money for the disgusting but life-saving Pizza Hut and Dominos delivery late-night.
Obviously you’ll be looking for some hoochie mamas to hook up with, but do yourself a favor and try to meet some of the insane English people who travel there for their own sh*tshow vacations. They’ll be the degenerates willing to drink with you until 6 AM at the 24-hour bar located within your resort.
Popular Among: Everyone
#1: Las Vegas, Nevada
The King of Trashy Spring Break destinations, Las Vegas returns to its rightful throne. And how awesome is it that you don’t even have to cross a border or fly to an island to find the wildest Spring Break spot? We’ve got the raunchiest place right here in the United States!
Boasting more strip clubs than your mom even know existed, more bars than you can count, and a ton of cheap hotels/motels to crash at, Las Vegas is a Spring Breaker’s paradise. An expensive paradise, but a paradise all the same.
The good news is that your flight and room rates are actually subsidized by the casinos, but the bad news is that you’re still going to get on your return plane home with nothing left to show–except a bunch of phone numbers and an itch on your mouth you’ll be very nervous about.
The smart move is to buy a bunch of liquor at any of the stores that sell it and bring it up to your room for pregaming. That’s not going to keep you from spending all your chips at the pool bar, but it’ll help more than you know.
Update–3/1/2016: And look at that! Almost right on cue there’s a syphilis pandemic running rampant in Las Vegas:
The Southern Nevada Health District has identified a 128-percent increase in reported syphilis cases in Clark County since 2012 and is now considering the increase to be an outbreak of early syphilis cases, according to a news release…
‘We are considering this an outbreak because disease rates in our community are continuing to climb and we see no plateau at this point,’ said Dr. Joe Iser, SNHD’s chief health officer [source].
Popular Among: USC, UCLA, Arizona, ASU, anyone and everyone else