8 Spring Summer Getaway
1. SANDY LANE, Barbados
Barbados is one of my favorite Caribbean destinations. Why? It’s authentic. The food—from Oistins Friday night fish fry to Cin Cin to Cuz’s and beyond—is delicious. The rums (Mount Gay and St. Nicholas Abbey) are tasty and potent. The people are delightful and good-natured. Overall, it’s just the kind of island where you can truly forget about your miseries. And while you can stay in more modest resorts and still be happy, Sandy Lane can’t be beat if it’s extravagance and respite you’re looking for. Its “Spa Escape” package offers one 60-minute body massage, a Bajan sugarcane scrub, and lunch for two at the Spa Café. But for those who don’t want two treatments, you can opt to indulge in a round of golf instead. Plus, the property also has two other promotions: the “Family Escape” and the “Romantic Escapade.” All three are valid through November—but whatever package you decide to go for, don’t leave without bringing home bottles of Bajan hot pepper sauce.
2. Panama City Beach, Fla.
Any destination dubbed the “Spring Break Capital of the World” should make this list, and so of course, Panama City Beach does. This low-key Florida beach town hosts nearly half a million co-eds every spring and keeps them entertained with outdoor concerts and contests, popular restaurants and bars with extended happy hours, and even an amusement park. Families can enjoy many of these perks as well, and often appreciate the destination’s relatively low prices. There’s also miles and miles of white sand, beautiful state parks, historic sites and great fishing. And a bonus: If you go during spring break, you’ll miss the jellyfish that become prevalent in the late summer.
Despite its “Man-cun” reputation, the dude-heavy originator of all-you-can-drink SB debauchery is still going strong. No, it’s not the world capital of Spring Break that it once was, but what the city has lost in US college kids, it’s picked up in students from South America, Europe, and Canada. In Cancun, you can party with people from all over the world without crossing an ocean, and the international draw means A-list DJs perform at the bigger clubs during March. The Hotel Zone has ten of those to choose from, whether it’s high-end ultra lounges like Elevate or the high-energy EDM scene at Coco Bongo.
4. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Recently turned party spot, San Juan is filled with beautiful vistas, the sun, alcohol and relaxing resorts. Possibly one of the quieter party beaches during the break season, San Juan offers a serene, relaxing view for all those in need of it. However, there is a side of town that caters to the wild party culture that doesn’t ware down even after the onset of sunrise. If you are looking for delicious food, party, and nightlife with affordable hotel accommodation, San Juan is a perfect pick.
This laid-back island continues to be among the most-visited Caribbean destinations thanks to its heady combination of intoxicating music, sublime sunsets, and affordability. Couples should make a beeline for Negril, the fun-loving resort town on Jamaica’s northwest coast, and check in to T+L reader favorite Rockhouse Hotel, where love is always in the air. Book one of the thatched-roof villas on the edge of cliffs overlooking Pristine Cove, and feast on blackened mahi mahi with mango chutney—served by the light of tiki torches in the cliff-side restaurant. Hit the elevated wooden boardwalk in Negril’s tranquil Royal Palm Reserve, a forest oasis filled with Morass royal palms (found nowhere else in the world) and more than 300 species of fauna, including butterflies and exotic birds.
6. Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Stretching nearly 200 miles from the colonial town of San Blas to Nuevo Vallarta (just north of Puerto Vallarta), Riviera Nayarit winningly combines Pacific coastline with the majesty of the Sierra Madre Mountains. An acclaimed culinary scene and some of the world’s best whale-watching don’t hurt either. The city of Puerto Vallarta’s siren song is strong—lively nightlife, a pretty historic center, and winsome hotels like colonial art–filled Hacienda San Angel. If you’re in the mood to splurge, seek out the 250-acre Imanta, a Relais & Châteaux resort hidden between lush jungle and a perfect sweep of beach near Punta de Mita, at the northern tip of Banderas Bay. Kick back with a margarita and sublime fish tacos at the beach restaurant. Nearby, the famous surf town of Sayulita offers a laid-back vibe and activities (paddleboarding, horseback riding, yoga) that draw a youthful and New Agey crowd.
7. The Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Spring is the perfecto time to visit Costa Rica. First, it’s the hot, dry season (as opposed to the rainy, mud-slide season). Second, the just-completed expansion of the country’s northernmost airport, Liberia, on the Pacific coast (and newly added flights by JetBlue), has made getting to the Nicoya Peninsula that much easier. Despite all the rumors of mongo hotel complexes, the Nicoya is still somewhat underdeveloped, home to deserted beaches, jungle preserves and world-famous surfing in Tamarindo and Mal País. Expect: wild parrots, wild monkeys and a free hammock waiting outside the door to your room.
Awe-inspiring scenery, spiritualism, and rich cultural and culinary traditions continue to lure lovers to this Indonesian island—which also has its share of world-class spas and resorts. One of the newest, The Mulia, has three tiers of lodgings: rooms within the Mulia Resort, butler-serviced beachfront suites at The Mulia, and ultra-private Mulia Villas, also with private pools and butlers. Sip cocktails at the Instagram-worthy candlelit Sky Bar, with its sweeping Indian Ocean views, then dine at Table8, the property’s new restaurant, featuring home-style Cantonese and Sichuan dishes and fancy street food. For a dose of culture, head up to the lovely hill town of Ubud, with its poetically beautiful jade-green terraced rice paddies and vibrant arts scene, and wander through the Sacred Monkey Forest, a wooded sanctuary filled with Hindu temples and cheeky macaques.