Other than all-nighters, triple-spaced papers, and pulling down your dorm room closet door to play beer pong, spring break is one of the most important rites of passage for college students today. And why shouldn’t it be? With all the stress from your school work, your social life, and that intramural loss you keep reliving in your head, you definitely deserve a break. The only question you need to ask yourself now is “Where do I want to go?” That’s where we come in.
As the premier source of all things spring break, COED has put together an extremely helpful list to break down the 11 best spring break destinations for you and the squad. Why 11? Because spring break is always about doing just one more.
In previous years, COED used to rank spring break destinations in order of trashiness, but not this time. That’s not to say that we no longer stand by our rankings or that we disagree with the fact that trashy = awesome. Instead, the demise of Panama City Beach as a no-holds-barred spring break destination meant that no other city would be able to topple Las Vegas from the top of the charts. In other words, Las Vegas was like the UConn women’s college basketball of trashiness. We had to change the rules.
Now we’ve switched it up to give you a direct ranking of the best spring break destinations. Our list spans from the United States to Mexico and across the Caribbean. We’re still talking about some pretty wild places, but we’re no longer using metrics to give you the answers. We’re pulling from our own personal experiences, plus some of our friends’, to give you the low-down on the hottest spring break spots to hit up in 2017.
11. Panama City Beach, FL
There was a time not so long ago when Panama City Beach was the trashiest and craziest spring break destination in the world, even going so far as to beat out places in Mexico and Jamaica. But after years and years of bad press and unfortunate accidents/fights/deaths/crimes, the city of Panama City Beach decided to try and put out the fire that they believed was destroying their city. First, they banned drinking on the beach during the weeks of spring break. Then they started cracking down seriously on people breaking these laws. They were successful, but not in the way that they had hoped.
Believe it or not, doing everything in their power to keep the hundreds of thousands of paying tourists and college students out of their city did have a negative effect. The beaches, once literally packed to the brim with spring breakers having a good time, are now comparatively empty. Sure, it’s still a hell of a place to party and dance and day drink, but when I say that it was once literally the definition of Sodom and Gomorrah, I am not kidding you. Until they make drinking on the beach legal again, there are other places you should go to enjoy spring break.
10. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana is one of the closer Caribbean options if you want to leave the United States of America. And since it’s a foreign country, more than likely you’re going to opt for an all-inclusive hotel/resort when you go. You should.
Rum drinks are the name of the game, as is the sun. Punta Cana doesn’t attract the absolutely insane spring break party animals (they head to Mexico), but the truth is that there’s still a lot of trouble to get into if that’s what you’re looking for. The biggest thing you need to be careful of, though, is not getting arrested or caught by the police with anything.
The second biggest thing is being careful of what you eat or drink: there are a number of bugs or other things that can seriously upset your stomach badly enough to send you to the hospital. Better off just sticking with rum, crackers, and cheese.
9. Daytona Beach, FL
There was a time when Daytona Beach was the hot-spot for college students to visit for spring break. Hell, MTV even helped to give it the name of the “Most Famous Beach” back in the ’90s. Now, however, there are noticeably fewer college students than before. Part of the reason for that fallout is because 1) the police started cracking down seriously on underage drinking and 2) because college students are traveling abroad more and more to get their fix.
But that doesn’t mean that the Daytona beaches are empty. Far from it. We’re just trying to say that instead of 10,000 people on the beaches there are only 3,000. Tack on the large amount of non-college students who still head to Daytona to celebrate the city’s love of racing and motors, and you’ve got yourself a hell of an interesting mix of people partying.
As a final word, I would like to include this description of Daytona Beach from someone on reddit, which I think nails the analogy perfectly:
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.
8. Puerto Penasco, Mexico (Rocky Point)
Written by Gabriel Palmer, ASU Campus Ambassador: Let’s be real here Rocky Point is the undisputed king of spring break. Yes, Las Vegas is really cool, I bet South Padre Island is dope, sure everyone loves California, but they all pale in comparison to el mejor lugar del mundo, Puerto Penasco.
First and foremost, the drinking age in Mexico is lowered from 21 to 18. Boom, game over, end article. Do I really need to say more? Sure, the Surgeon General wouldn’t be too happy about us soaking our livers in watered-down tequila at such a young age, but you know what? I’m here for a good time not a long time, and what does that guy know? He’s not in the army, so why’s he a general? Fake news, that’s why (Please listen to the Surgeon General).
The second reason Rocky Point is the greatest spring break destination is because there is so much to do and it is all dirt cheap. Everything in Mexico can be negotiated, and it’s the greatest thing on God’s green Earth for broke college kids. Have you always wanted to go horseback riding but the guy says it’ll cost $10? You can negotiate with him to $5. Need to get to the beach? You can set the price with the cab driver before you head out and get a fair price before you leave. If you are a legendary negotiator or a baller on a budget, Rocky Point might be the place for you.
7. New Orleans, LA
New Orleans is a popular destination for anyone and everyone, not just spring breakers, but because of the fact that sometimes Mardi Gras matches up with some colleges’ early spring break schedule, sometimes it can be busier than usual. I mean, it makes total sense. Drinking in public is allowed, women aren’t waiting for wet t-shirt contests to show their stuff, and the entire city turns out for a week-long party.
What we would recommend, though, is that you stop through New Orleans for one or two nights on your way to or from your final spring break destination. Mix it up a bit with the professionals. Day drinking on a beach can get a little bit old after awhile, but checking out the Bourbon Street scene is always a 10/10 experience.
6. Las Vegas, NV
For years and years, Las Vegas has been the #1 trashiest spring break destination on our list–and honestly, it’s never ever going to give that crown up. The truth is that Vegas has way too many strip clubs, liquor stores, lenient drinking laws, and other factors that played into our extremely scientific breakdown of the trashiest spring break destinations. So, now that we’re moving from “Trashiest” to “Best” it’s time we revisit exactly what makes Las Vegas a great spring break destination.
The key factors in terms of what you want in spring break are fun, sun, and drinks. It’s the truth. So with Vegas, you 100% get fun and sun but buying drinks can be kind of an issue on a college budget. Yes, you can buy liquor from one of the thousands of liquor stores, but once you enter a club, we’re talking $15 beers. That’s less than ideal. Don’t get us wrong, there is 100% a time and a place for an amazing Las Vegas trip and maybe it’s your spring break. But if you’re looking for red cups, bikinis, beaches stacked with college flags and handles getting passed around, Las Vegas is not for you.
5. Lake Havasu, AZ
Lake Havasu is truly one of the trashiest spring break destinations in the United States of America. COED visited the city two years ago for spring break and whoa, Nelly were we blown away by the place. Lake Havasu is literally an oasis in the middle of the desert. When you fly into Las Vegas (the closest airport) it’s then a 2.5-hour drive to Havasu. When Ma$e performed at a show we went to, he got paid, headed to his Sprinter to do an interview with us, and then drove back Vegas to blow his check at the casinos. Honestly, he probably would have been better off staying in Lake Havasu for the night, but what do I know?
But back to the whole oasis thing. Lake Havasu’s identity is almost built on the fact that it’s the lone lake in the area. People who you would never imagine in a million years owning boats actually own boats there. It’s mind blowing. And if you’re just there for spring break, it’s amazing. There are boats everywhere. Either you rent a boat and head to a raft up or you hire out a pontoon boat (like in the video below) and party with the people there. Then you can cliff jump or do whatever the hell else you want to do.
We heard rumors that SWAT (the group who took most of the college kids to Lake Havasu) was asked not to return to Lake Havasu, which is a big disappointment, but we’ll see how that works out for the city this year.
4. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo has been a staple of beautiful islands to visit for some time now, but only recently have more and more spring breakers been flying to Cabo San Lucas for fun in the sun. Honestly, with flights being as cheap as they are, we can’t blame them, because Cabo is 100% ready to become a new staple for spring breakers. Not only does Cabo have Mango Beach, one of the best bars/clubs to drink at during the day, El Squid Roe is one of the most popular spring break nightclubs. Unless you’re traveling with the guys over at CollegeWeekly/JusCollege, lines to get into Squid Roe are regularly an hour (or more) to get in and some of the best rappers/performers make sure to stop by.
Then on top of all of that, you’re in Mexico aka the primo country for spring break. Drinks are cheap. The sun is bright. Inhibitions are as non-existent as a certain wall. As always is the case with anywhere in Mexico, the key is staying in your lane and not going anywhere alone. Keep in mind that despite the fact you’re in a tourist town, Mexico is still Mexico. Earlier this week there was a shooting at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos.
But let’s concentrate on the good here. Like all the good times you can/will have with all your friends down in Cabo. Check out the wildness below.
3. Puerta Vallarta, Mexico
Whereas Cabo has always been a prime destination for vacationers, not just spring breakers, Puerta Vallarta (aka “Rocky Point”) has come out of nowhere to become one of the best places for spring breakers to visit. Before a few years ago, we can’t remember hearing of anyone heading to PV for break. We’re sure that’s partly because we’re on the East Coast and PV is popular among college students on the West Coast, but it’s also probably because the tourism board has recently been pushing their city as a good place to be.
A few of our ASU Campus Ambassadors are heading to Rocky Point later this week, but some of you might be most familiar with the place because of the XtremeTrips videos that were passed around the web last year.
2. Cancun, Mexico
When we think of spring break, there is literally one place that comes to mind: Cancun. For literally decades, Cancun, Mexico has served as the hotbed of activity for spring breakers, especially here on the East Coast. The place has literally everything you could ask for: nice (enough) beaches, non-stop flowing tequila, plenty of clubs to visit at night, and more college students than you can shake a bierstick at. And of course, extracurricular activities are just a taxi ride away.
Some of the more popular resorts to stay at are the Grand Oasis and Krystal Cancun, although it won’t really matter where you’re staying because after your first night you’ll be napping on the beach anyways. Do yourself a favor and shell out cash for the bracelets that get you into all the clubs. It’s well worth the $40 or whatever it is that you have to pay because most people all go to a different bar each day of the week, that way you can experience most of what’s going on in Cancun.
Again, a quick word from the wise. Yes, Cancun tends to be “taken care of” by the policia and the national army, but don’t forget that you’re still in Cancun. Don’t be an idiot, don’t do anything you can get arrested for, and remember the very valuable phrase: “I’m sorry, officer but I don’t have time to visit the police station. Can I just pay you the fine now?”
1. South Padre Island, TX
The fact that a place like South Padre Island can exist in a state like Texas is one of the most mind-boggling things I’ve ever heard of in my life. With the sole exception of Las Vegas and New Orleans, South Padre Island is the only place in the United States of America where drinking in public is allowed. The only two rules they have there is “no underage drinking” and no glass bottles. Otherwise, if you can bring it on the beach, you’re good to go. I’m talking kegs, handles, the whole nine yards.
And on top of that, SPI is now the site of some amazing musical talent that comes through Texas. This year, Lil Wayne, Migos, 2Chainz, Tiesto, some dude named Marshmello, and Zedd will have all rolled through Clayton’s on South Beach.
Sadly, similarly to what happened with Panama City Beach, I feel as though South Padre Island might start cracking down on the spring breakers sometime soon. I hope it doesn’t happen, obviously, but the people going also need to make sure that they don’t give the town or the police any reason to shut it down.