Ah, spring break: that blowout of booze and partying that everyone’s looking forward to. Yes, we know the beaches of south Cali or Florida are fun when the sun strikes and lectures recede, but why not try something a little different this year and head for the sultry reaches south of the border? You can expect everything from world-class surf to steaming volcanos, not to mention uber-cheap tequila shots, potent mojitos and more cerveza than you can shake a Nicaraguan gallo pinto at!
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
Boasting its very own big blue bay, craggy cliffs and belts of endless green jungle just on the periphery, it’s hardly surprising that San Juan Del Sur remains one of the biggest backpacker pulls in Nicaragua. With top-quality surf schools and oodles of tin-shack rum bars, rooftop party opportunities, uber-friendly local Ticos and enticing pools just a stone’s throw from the sea, it’s perhaps the perfect balance of culture and hedonism in Central America. Situated just next to the rolling waves of the Pacific, a short jaunt south-west of both Granada and Managua, we head this way on out much-loved Naturally Nica itinerary.
Bocas Del Toro, Panama
This one’s for the spring breakers interested in kicking-back, chillaxing and relaxing with a potent Carib rum in hand and a backing track of reggaeton a la Jamaica echoing all around. A land of shimmering turquoise-blue waters and deep green jungles that fringe the sea, Bocas is a place of palm-topped beach huts and full moon parties on the sand. LBW head this way on our Panamania trip, to spend time conquering the waves of Black Rock and Carenero, sipping cerveza in al fresco discos, scuba diving, island hopping and jungle trekking. Not a bad spring break, eh?
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Encircled by waterfalls and orchid-spotted rainforest, misty jungle groves and winding trekking trails trodden by two-toed sloths, La Fortuna is for the spring breakers who want to crank up the adventure valves and get the adrenaline flowing. Of course, it’s the colossal peak of Arenal Volcano that still draws most of the crowds, while waterfall bathing, whitewater rafting down the winding river ways and 4x4 driving through the wilds are all possible (check out our Rockin’ Rica itinerary if any of those have taken your fancy!).
El Tunco, El Salvador
The single most attractive draw for the backpacking gringo in El Salvador has to be El Tunco. Delineated by stretches of rugged, boulder-peppered Pacific beach, and loaded with the famous surf swells of El Sunza and Bocanita, the town is an unusual enclave of calm and tropical relaxation in a country otherwise a tad marred by its high crime rates. Add to that a smattering of poolside hostels and guesthouses and a clutch of evening clubs where everyone gathers to chatter each night, and you’re in for a well-balanced spring break of relaxation and partying!
Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Prep the dread beads and the elephant pants, the board shorts and the gnarly wave rides for a spring break spent in Puerto Viejo. Mhmm, this one’s the surfer come backpacker mecca of the Costa Rican east coast. A place of lean-to cocktail bars and endless mojitos, carefree days spend lazing under the shade of swaying coconut palms and the crashing swells of legendary Salsa Brava, this town is about waxing up the boards and drinking the nights away to the sound of steel drums. Oh yea, and did we mention we head here on our awesome Coasting Costa trip?
Green and gorgeous in the very middle of the north Panamanian highlands, Boquete is a land of endless greenery. Kissed by the cool highland breezes of the Chiriquí hills, it’s become something of an outdoorsy mecca in recent decades. So, for the budding ecotourist or adventure traveler looking for somewhere a little out there this spring break, Boquete promises some world-class whitewater rafting down the courses of the Chiriquí Viejo, trips to coffee plantations, horse riding between the sierras, hiking trails up the Volcan Baru, and quetzal spotting in the cloud forests. Check it off on our Panamania tour!
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Slim palm trees and shimmering sands line the coastal reaches of picture-perfect Tamarindo, arguably the backpacker capital of Costa Rica. Sprawled out over its own river mouth and with countless legendary surf spots within reach, this one’s become one of the favorite haunts of snowbirds and partiers alike. By day, travelers hit the waves with one of the local surf schools or head out for some game fishing (particularly popular here), while night time gives way to the DJ tables of Monkey Bar and Pacifico. Check out our salt-washed Coastin’ Costa trip if Tamarindo takes your fancy.
A more off-the-beaten-track option for spring breakers eager to hit the humid reaches of Central America this year when the holidays swing around, Antigua sits shrouded by the peaks of many a volcano. Its piece de resistance is the multi-coloured faces of its historic colonial builds, which spring up on the corners of cobbled streets and plazas once trodden by the conquistadores. That’s all neatly balanced out by evening pub crawls through the UNESCO-attested center, where Irish bars and lively tequila cantinas hide between the cathedral and crumbling stuccoed builds.
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"Rich is a traveler, writer and filmmaker who's always after somewhere new to go. He's been hopping around the globe since 2011, from Poland to Paris, Mumbai to Ho Chi Minh. He runs several travel sites of his own, from Ski Eastern to Live Krakow to Crabs Move Sideways. When he's not planning his next trip, he's usually listening to 50s jazz, surfing in Wales, skiing in the Alps, or just swigging (too much) great craft beer."
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