5 Off-the-Radar Spring Break Destinations
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Spring break doesn't have to mean overcrowded beaches, long lines at bars and drunken pool parties. Students who are looking for a more laid-back but equally adventurous getaway can skip the typical spring break hotspots and choose a more off-the-radar destination. From a haven for adventure sports buffs in the Dominican Republic to a Rocky Mountain city known for its lively arts scene and nearby ski slopes, here are five awesome locales to consider that won't kill your budget.
Bocas del Toro, Panama
If you haven't heard of Bocas del Toro, you're not alone. "This archipelago of pristine beaches and lush palm tree-covered islands is an undiscovered beauty off the coast of Panama," says Ryan K. Croft, founder of Croft Global Travel & Pilots .
Bocas del Toro's relaxed, easygoing vibe is a refreshing contrast from the more popular spring break party spots such as South Beach and Cancun, and students who travel here can enjoy great surfing, fishing, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving, plus delicious restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. According to Fodors.com: "With its turquoise waters, sugar-sand beaches and funky island towns, the relatively isolated archipelago of Bocas del Toro has the same attractions as major Caribbean destinations with a fraction of the crowds, development, and price."
Many of Bocas del Toro's hotels, bars and restaurants are found in the main town on the archipelago, Bocas Town, which is located on Isla Colón. From there, visitors can take water taxis to visit remote beaches and snorkeling sites for just a few dollars, such as Isla Bastimentos . Located ten minutes away by boat, this must-see island features beautiful beaches, coral reefs, mangroves, a marine park, eco lodges and wildlife like monkeys, sea turtles and frogs.
While Bocas del Toro offers a variety of cheap hotels and hostels , students might also want to consider booking a trip through Give and Surf , a nonprofit based in Bocas that offers a week of surfing mixed with volunteering to benefit the local community. This year's program is offered from March 22 to 29 and includes accommodations, meals, yoga instruction, transportation in Bocas del Toro, use of surfboards and snorkel gear and bilingual guides (starts at $1,000). "It's a great way to give back and get more out of the trip than just sunburn and hangovers," says Croft.
Cabarete, Dominican Republic
While Punta Cana draws hoards of spring breakers to the Dominican Republic each year, students looking for a more unique travel experience should check out Cabarete on the country's north coast. "Cabarete has a very unassuming, international vibe, without all the overpriced restaurants and all-inclusive hotels," says Croft. "It's a great place to unwind, pick up a new water sport and have a good time."