Spring break: Top spots to party and relax, from Bali to the Balearics – New Zealand Herald

The beautiful palm-fringed beach on the island of Holbox, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Photo / Getty Images

Whether you’re looking for a lively getaway or a quiet escape, there’s a travel hotspot to suit all shoulder-season tastes, writes Thomas Bywater.

In September, as winter thaws, there are only two appropriate courses of action: rejuvenate in some late-season sun, or dance till you’re dead. In Europe and the US particularly, spring has a reputation for travellers letting their hair down. While spring might not align perfectly around the world, it offers the same appeal: world-class resorts at shoulder-season prices. But those wanting to avoid the riotous mass of students at leisure might be surprised by the more relaxed options nearby. The most successful spring breaks offer both.


Party in Cancun, Chill in Isla Holbox

Mayan ruins, margaritas and the bay of Mexico. The hedonistic Punta Cancun is a notorious party location that has been attracting revellers from the Americas for years. The proximity to tropical beaches, the pyramids of Chichen Itza and beach resort create a “vibey” atmosphere with a strong enough pull to reach into Australia and New Zealand. However, the candy-coloured towers of the Temptation resorts leave no ambiguity that this is a destination that is up all night. On the other side of the peninsula, the Isla Holbox is a far more laid-back experience.

Less developed, Playa Holbox is full of painted beach huts with a gentle onshore breeze. A couple of hours’ drive from Cancun, the ferry from Chiquila costs 140 pesos ($10) per person. A pass to fish tacos, powdery beaches and a Mexican holiday that feels decades removed from the strip at Kukulkan.


Party on the Oversea Highway, chill in Merritts Mill.

The palm-lined beaches of the Florida Pan are notorious for wild and wanton spring break parties. Spring break in “Magic City” Miami is a hot mess – around 90,000 party-goers arrive over the fortnight. A more low-key option would be along the Oversea Highway 1, from Key Largo to Key West. With shallow, batheable beaches on a string of islands, it offers the novelty of a four-hour road trip into the Gulf of Mexico and stops to satisfy party-seekers, beach-hoppers and their sense of adventure.

For a break from the Florida spring breakers, head north to the Panhandle. The quaintly named Apalachicola is exactly the paintbox-coloured beach town you imagine it to be. A little further inland the aquifers of the Merritts Mill wetlands are a naturally soothing experience. Get Up And Go Kayaking Florida run clear-bottom paddling tours out into freshwater groves, and it feels as far from Miami Vice as you can get.

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Get a fresh take on Florida Kayaking in Merritt’s Mill. Photo / 123RF


Party in Palm Springs, chill in Scottsdale.

The oasis from which a thousand Instagram influencers bloomed, Palm Springs might be America’s trendiest desert resort. And it knows it. Somehow the Palm Desert underwent a transformation from a Californian golf trap to the aesthete’s spring break of choice. The Coachella music festival, with headliners from Harry Styles to Beyonce, has a lot to do with this. But on the other side of the desert, you’ll find more chill in Scottsville.

Similarities are more than cosmetic. Palm Spring’s famously chic Saguaro hotel began here. The original pastel-coloured desert retreat is every bit as beautiful, but with fewer people stopping for selfies. Similarly stunning desert landscapes without the filter can be found at Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert home in Taliesin West and the SMoCA Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

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The Saguaro Palm Springs. Photo / 123RF


Party in San Antonio, chill at Casa Ibango

Since the late 60s the White Isle has been a beacon for celebrity musicians and revellers from the UK to Australia. However, it was in the early 90s that the club culture exploded. 24-hour party people took over San Antonio and Ibiza city. Spring is the start of the party calendar. You’ll find Cafe Mambo and the unforgettable Amnesia are booked out with international dance acts nightly. Accommodation options are also decidedly upbeat – the Ibiza Paradiso, for example, is a quirky art-themed hotel where guests are on display. However, on the north of the island, out of earshot of the 808s, is a different side to the island.

Santa Ines and San Juan offer a glimpse of a more bucolic existence in the Balearic isle. You’ll find high-end eco-resorts such as Six Senses Ibiza alongside Mediterranean homestays, near the barber pole-like Punta Moscarter lighthouse. There are also some drippy hippie gems clinging on in the hinterlands, too. Why not indulge in a spot of “Gong Bathing” at Casa Ibango in the Ibiza highlands?

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View of Cala d’Hort Beach, Ibiza. Photo / 123RF


Party in Seminyak, Chill in Lombok

Isle of the Gods has a unique place in Indonesia. This is especially true for Kiwi and Aussie students on their spring holidays. The beachside resorts of Kuta and Seminyak exist somewhere along the boho-bogan continuum. In a remix of Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 paperback, young party goers come here to Eat, Play, Rave. The “new age” hippie fantasy of Bali has been replaced by parasols, fish-bowl cocktails and swim-up bars. There are some more sophisticated haunts, such as Potato Head, which specialise in sustainably-minded hedonism.

But to turn back the clocks to a more relaxed Balinese experience, you can take the hour-and-a-half ferry ride to Lombok. You’ll find pristine beaches and free-range livestock among the coconut groves, but there are also some comforts. Upmarket accommodation options include the Hotel Tugu Lombok in Tanjung.

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Seminyak Beach, Bali. Photo / 123RF

Source: nzherald.co.nz

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