So you’re ready to drop your books and plan your spring break vacation in Mexico, but where to start?
Every March and April, when students from all over North America make the exodus to sunny shores, popular vacation spots in Mexico are inundated with fun-seekers ready to drink, dance and party it up. Here’s how to plan your trip and get the most out of every sun-soaked minute. Salud!
Popular Mexican Spring Break Destinations:
Cabo San Lucas
West Coast fun-seekers flock to this former fishing village on the southern Baja California coast come spring break. As befits Baja’s most popular tourist destination, Cabo offers a plethora of resorts and hotels, from the high-end to the hightail-it-outta-there, along with a host of clubs, bars and all-you-can-drink tequila joints.
Top 3 Cabo Must-dos:
- Take a panga (a small, cheap fishing boat) out to Land’s End and the impressively craggy natural formation known as El Arco
- Test your drinking mettle at The Giggling Marlin, whose tag-line pretty much says it all: “If our food, drinks and service aren’t up to your standards, please lower your standards”
- Sample one of the area’s best fish tacos at Venado (it’s open all night)
Once Mexico’s premier resort town, Acapulco fell from grace in the late 20th century, but this central Pacific Coast town is going through a renaissance, and it’s ready to party again.
Top 3 Acapulco Must-dos
- Decide whether the famous cliff-divers of La Quebrada are fearlessly daring or just suicidal as they plummet 100 feet from the cliff-tops to the ocean
- Rent snorkeling gear on Isla de la Roqueta, a small sheltered island reached via an eight-minute boat ride from playas Caleta and Caletilla
- Soak up traditional Mexican village atmosphere on the zócalo, or plaza, in the old town, where local families come to see and be seen
Mexico’s unparalleled party town – which literally didn’t exist until the 1970s -- is almost exclusively geared to young North Americans intent on packing as much drinking, dancing and debauchery as humanly possible into a few day’s vacation. For all that, this glitzy town has its charms, and thanks to the volumes of visitors (some 3 million a year) offers some of the best Spring Break package deals around.
Top 3 Cancun Must-dos:
- Check out the town’s two Mayan archeological sites, El Rey and Yamil Lu’um
- Lounge around on the beautiful white-sand beaches, most of which need to be accessed through the lobby of a hotel
- Get in the spirit at Coco Bongo, the infamous, raucous bar where MTV often films their Spring Break coverage
If Cancun is a little too declassé for your liking, head to Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco, where the beaches are perfect and the scene is slightly more sedate.
Top 3 Puerto Vallarta Must-dos:
- Ride a horse through the jungle and the Sierra Madres
- Go whale watching or zip-lining with an outfitter like Vallarta Adventures
- Explore the many hidden beaches and coves (many accessible only by boat)
Spring Break Planning Tips:
- If you’re flying into any of the Spring Break destinations, you’ll need a valid US passport
- The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18. (Of course, we recommend drinking responsibly)
- Most establishments in the popular Spring Break spots accept US dollars as well as pesos
- Obviously all traveler have different budgets, but a good rule of thumb is allow around $50 a day (not including accommodation) for food, drinks and activities
- Most hotels require a deposit to secure a booking
- We strongly advise taking out travel insurance prior to your trip to cover any unforeseen problems or emergencies
To make the most of your money, consider these cash-saving strategies:
- Eat at buffets (major hotels tend to offer all-you-can-eat deals) or seek out mom-and-pop taquerias and food stands where you can dine well for a few pesos
- Ask about drink deals at your hotel and bars: pitching in on a pitcher of margaritas will work out cheaper than buying drinks individually
- Gather a group of friends and share accommodation
- Consider booking a package through an agency that can take care of all the details
What to Pack:
- Sunscreen and hat: the sun in Mexico can be fierce, even in winter
- Insect repellent
- Travel Insurance
- Photo ID
- Camera (both your regular snappy one, and a disposable underwater one)
- Spanish-English phrase book
What to Keep in Mind:
- You’re a guest in someone else’s country: respect locals and their traditions and values. Learn a few Spanish phrases before you go – as everywhere else you’ll travel, most Mexicans appreciate visitors trying to communicate in their language, no matter how ineptly!
- Party it up by all means, but try to drink in moderation. Don’t get separated from the group and look out for friends while you’re out on the town.
- Tourist hotspots tend to attract more crime than other areas, so exercise caution, particularly when out at night, and use common sense when it comes to meeting strangers. Petty theft can be a problem, so leave expensive jewelry and possessions at home and keep passports and other important documents back in the hotel safe.
Read more about health and safety while on Spring Break.
No matter which Mexican destination you choose, you’ll be talking about this trip for the rest of your life, so leave your study worries at home and live it up!