Travel and Leisure — April 2, 2014 at 12:00 pm

7 of the Most Popular Spring Time Beaches

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pashapixel / iStock / thinkstock.com

pashapixel / iStock / thinkstock.com

Their natural habitats typically consist of dorm rooms, libraries, and large lecture halls.

But once a year, American students are rewarded with a week of freedom, where books are swapped for beaches and booze. I’m talking, of course, of Spring Break, which many consider a rite-of-passage for any co-ed.

Whether you’re planning your own Spring Break extravaganza, or you’re looking for advice on which places to avoid over Spring Break season, or you’re simply curious as to what kids are getting up to these days—here are 7 of the hottest beach destinations to celebrate Spring Break.

Cancun, Mexico
Cancun might very well be the mother of all Spring Break destinations. It consistently ranks as the top international choice for Spring Breakers, and for a good reason—or rather, a few good reasons.

The beaches, the jungle tours, the snorkeling, the day cruises, the parties that start on the sand (complete with beach bars) and spill into the night clubs when the sun goes down—these are the reasons that more than 100,000 American Spring Breakers flocks to Cancun when school lets out.

Panama City, Florida
Spring Breakers who prefer to stay local have more than a few destinations to choose from, but Panama City, Florida, ranks as the top Spring Break destination within the United States.

More than 500,000 Spring Breakers pour into this normally small town (pop. 12,018) each and every spring. Why Panama City? Well, the parasailing, jet skiing, banana boat rides and glow paint parties play a role—but so does the city’s proximity to many southern colleges, plus the fact that other traditional Spring Break destinations in Florida (like Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale) have placed restrictions to discourage Spring Breakers from invading, while Panama City still welcomes the party animals.

Nassau, Bahamas
Spring Breakers looking for a more exotic experience at a relatively affordable price often choose to explore the capital of the Bahamas, Nassau. All-inclusive packages allow students to maximize their partying potential while enjoying the beaches and adventure activities, like jet skiing and SCUBA diving.

Entire hotels are taken over by Spring Breakers, providing a safe haven of sorts from families placing noise complaints and maximizing the chances of encountering other equally eager partiers.

MorenaKi / iStock / thinkstock.com

MorenaKi / iStock / thinkstock.com

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Those looking for a “Spring Break Lite” experience might want to try the Pacific coastal city of Puerto Vallarta. It’s not as common a Spring Break destination as, say, Cancun or Cabo, but it’s rapidly gaining in popularity.

There are beaches and clubs aplenty—even some poolside DJ parties—but Spring Breakers can balance the partying with some other activities.

Between rappelling through tree canopies, snorkeling among expanses of coral, ziplining through the tropical forest and off-roading into the jungle, Puerto Vallarta is the perfect place for those looking for a Spring Break with a side of adventure.

Lake Havasu, Arizona
West Coasters looking to stay local will want to check out Arizona’s Lake Havasu. It’s not a traditional oceanfront Spring Break locale, but that doesn’t stop 15,000 plus partiers from more than 30 different states from making the annual pilgrimage.

Concerts, competitions, theme parties and after-hours bonfires are part of the appeal—but the, err, unique traditions, like naked waterskiing  and partying along the London Bridge (yes, the same one from the song), are part of what make Lake Havasu a top destination from Spring Breakers.

Negril, Jamaica
Seven miles of white sand beach—including clothing optional areas—create the perfect backdrop for a memorable Spring Break adventure. Students will barely need to leave the beach throughout their entire stay, with hotel properties and dance clubs a stone’s throw from the shore.

Thoughtfully aligned with the Spring Break timeline is “JamFest”, a free four-week concert series right in Negril. Spring Breakers can take in the tunes between exploring Negril’s cliffs, partaking in a bonfire party and waterfall climbing. Boredom is not an option.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana offers a gorgeous backdrop to a Spring Break adventure, with lush green palm trees, white sand beaches and sparking turquoise water as far as the eye can see.

All-inclusive resorts are the top choice for Spring Breakers, and many companies offer complete party packages. Spring Breakers need only show up, ready to have a good time.

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