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What’s New in 7 Popular Spring Break Destinations

From Ft. Lauderdale to Hawaii, these classic locations still offer a week’s worth of fun, while keeping things fresh.

March 12, 2020
Waikiki Beach
If your Spring Break plans include an amazing time on Waikiki Beach, just know that Oahu has plenty more to offer. Shutterstock

Whether your Spring Break is with your college classmates or your school-age kids—there are two very different ways of experiencing this annual travel ritual, after all—you’ll want to enjoy the coolest and newest attractions, restaurants and bars in whichever island or beach destination you’re planning to visit.

Here’s a look at the newest activities, attractions and culinary offerings in seven popular Spring Break locales.

Oahu

If you’re heading here to soak up some sunshine, Hawaii’s most-visited island has added several notable new activities and eateries ideal for families or friends.

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  • Bike Hawaii has the E-bike Tour–Honolulu Rainforest Ride on mountain bikes with a 250-watt solar-powered electric-assist motor to help during a 5-mile ascent before the downhill fun. 
  • Hawaii Forest & Trail has added Sunset & Rum Tasting, a seven-hour tour to Oahu’s west side for a tasting at the Ko Hana Rum Distillery, followed by a rainforest hike and sunset viewing with Hawaiian appetizers; and North Shore & Waterfall Adventure, a 7.5-hour tour featuring a waterfall swim, botanical garden visit, sea turtle spotting on secluded North Shore beaches, a shrimp truck lunch, and visits to a sacred Hawaiian fishpond and the shops of Haleiwa Town.  
  • The Bishop Museum’s new exhibition, “Mai Kinohi Mai: Surfing in Hawaii,” explores the sport’s history and showcases some of Hawaii’s oldest surfboards along with archival photos and rare memorabilia (through May 3). 
  • Love chocolate? The newly opened Halekulani Bakery & Restaurant (in Halepuna Waikiki) serves baked goods, lunch and dinner—and also has a viewing kitchen that allows visitors to watch the creation of its signature dragée chocolate macadamia nut pearls.

Jamaica

Negril
As if Negril’s beaches aren’t nice enough, visitors now have a floating tiki bar to enjoy. Shutterstock

Jamaica continues to draw all demographics of spring break revelers to its many all-inclusive resorts, but here’s what travelers can enjoy beyond the property lines.

  • Chukka Caribbean Adventures has introduced several tours that let travelers not only climb Jamaica’s legendary Dunn’s River Falls but also zip line over them on the new Chukka Falls Flyer.
  • Miss Lily’s, the New York City Jamaican restaurant and bar known for its jerk barbeque and lively music hall vibe, has opened an outpost at the Skylark Negril Beach Resort, complete with a DJ booth and a menu of locally inspired and sourced dishes. 
  • Negril also now has a floating tiki bar, the Tiki Pon Da Sea, which offers lunch cruises, booze cruises, sunset cruises and more. 

Aruba

Oranjestad
Oranjestad is usually buzzing, but the addition of a speakeasy means one more reason to check out the city. Shutterstock

An island-wide initiative offers opportunities for visitors to show their love and respect for Aruba, an updated waterpark offers new thrills and unique dining and bar openings have added even more deliciousness to the fun in the sun.

  • Aruba Promise, an initiative launched last fall by the island to celebrate World Tourism Day, invites visitors to sign a pledge to be both ecologically and socially responsible while on island—and share their pledge (along with a beautiful image of Aruba) on social media if they choose.
  • De Palm Island has expanded its waterpark offerings with three new body drop slides (for tweens, teens and adults) and the conversion of the old waterpark area into a new Aqua Play area for younger kids, featuring water canons, zip-down slides, tipping buckets and more.
  • Culinary-focused visitors can reserve a spot at The Secret Garden, where local Tina Causey-Bislick has opened her home (a replica of a traditional Aruban cunucu home) and outdoor space for three different dining experiences: vegan tastings (twice a week) and two non-vegan Cunucu Table tastings each week focused on traditional local cuisine with a gourmet flair. 
  • Located in a historic Dutch-colonial building “somewhere in Oranjestad,” the new Apotheek Speakeasy—opened by the two-time champions of the island’s Bartender’s Brawl Cocktail Competition—serves “remedy cocktails” and other bespoke libations. Reservations highly recommended.

Fort Lauderdale

Ft. Lauderdale Beach
Once a go-to destination for party animals, today’s Ft. Lauderdale Beach offers fine dining and a laid-back vibe for families and people of all ages. Shutterstock

Fort Lauderdale, which continues to evolve from a party-on-the-beach scene to a sophisticated spot that’s fun for couples or the whole family, now has a half dozen new dining experiences.

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  • Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants recently opened an outpost—a combination Napa-style tasting room, restaurant (serving casual contemporary cuisine) and artisanal market—in The Galleria Mall. 
  • Las Olas Blvd. has a new Italian eatery: Talento, serving a modern southern Italian specialties and pizza (plus vegan/vegetarian dishes) for dinner and an unlimited buffet Sunday brunch.
  • Oceanic, located on neighboring Pompano Beach’s legendary pier, is serving super-fresh seafood for lunch and dinner in a modern, light-filled space with ocean views. 
  • Two new dining additions to Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Riverfront District: Rivertail, an upscale eatery by Chef Jose Mendin serving creative seafood dishes (including crab donuts) and featuring a large raw bar, and for a more casual, open-air dining, The Wharf, offering a nautical theme with communal tables, four bars and five pop-up kitchens by local chefs. 
  • Prefer to eat, drink and shop? Head to the Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar, the new retail-dining hybrid on Las Olas (and in the new Dania Pointe mixed-use complex), to enjoy tropical cocktails, coconut shrimp, fish tacos—and an opportunity to scoop up some beachwear before or after.

Kauai

Kauai
Hawaii is a dream destination for any Spring Breaker, and Kauai offers so much when it comes to adventure and excitement. Shutterstock

Sun-seekers who love nature and adventure are drawn to Kauai, nicknamed the Garden Isle and famous for its lush mountains, waterfalls and Hawaii’s only navigable river.

  • If you plan to hike the Kalalau Trail or visit Ke’e Beach in Ha’ena State Park on Kauai’s North Shore, you now need advanced reservations and a permit—you can no long just show up and try to park. 
  • There are now two spots on Kauai to try a Hawaii tradition—shave ice, a cone of freshly shaved ice flavored with a variety of syrups—made with a super-fresh local ingredients and a fun twist: a mustache straw. The Fresh Shave has opened a second location in Waimea Town (the first is in Koloa).
  • The island has added a new mode of environmentally friendly transport with Eco E-bikes Kauai, which rents rechargeable e-bikes that can travel up to 20 miles an hour with the touch of a button. 
  • Kayak Kauai has added a new seasonal Poipu Whale Watch & Snorkel by Sea Kayak tour (through April 17) that paddles along the island’s sunny southern coast. While wintering humpbacks are the stars, you might also see spinner dolphins, green sea turtles and flying fish.
  • If a rum safari sounds fun, head to 105-acre Kilohana Plantation, where Kauai Safaris has launched an open-air truck safari featuring tastes of local fruits and vegetables grown there, feeding the plantation’s wild pigs—and sips of farm-to-table cocktails made with Koloa Rum. 
  • Savoring is also the goal on Tasting Kauai’s new Kauai Happy Hour Tour featuring craft cocktails and food pairings designed to highlight the island’s unique natural flavors.

Bahamas

Gold Rock Beach
Gold Rock Beach is open to visitors following Hurricane Dorian. Shutterstock

The bar and dining scene continues to expand on Nassau/Paradise Island, while the islands impacted by Hurricane Dorian in September 2019—Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands—are continuing their recovery, with most restaurants, attractions and activities on Grand Bahama now re-opened.

  • Bon Vivants, the first craft cocktail bar in Nassau—and by day it’s a coffee bar and café—opened recently in the Sandyport area, offering an extensive menu of cocktails and wines.  
  • Café Martinique, an upscale eatery opened last year in the Marina Village at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, features a locally-sourced Thai-French fusion dinner menu with flavorful options for vegetarians.
  • Although clean-ups and bridge repairs are ongoing, Lucayan National Park & Gold Rock Beach on Grand Bahama has re-opened, offering eco-lovers 40-acres of mangrove forest (with boardwalks), caves (two of which, Ben’s Cave and Burial Mound Cave, can be accessed) and spectacular Gold Rock Beach. 

St. Thomas

Magens Bay
Magens Bay always delivers stunning views. Shutterstock

There’s always something happening in St. Thomas, the most-visited of the U.S. Virgin Islands—which is now mostly recovered from 2017’s devastating hurricanes—and where dining, shopping and superb beaches make for a great escape.

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  • Check out the sleekest yachts in the marina while dining on fresh seafood crafted with a Caribbean twist at waterfront Navy Beach, St. Thomas, the first outpost of this popular Montauk, NY eatery outside the mainland U.S. (located in Yacht Haven Grande). 
  • Both seafood and steak lovers have new upscale restaurant options: Blue 11 is a fine-dining restaurant (also in Yacht Haven Grande) offering locally sourced four- and seven-course tasting menus, while Prime at Paradise Point is a steakhouse with sweeping views of Charlotte Amalie Harbor.
  • Tree Limin’ Extreme Zipline, which offers sky-high thrills plus panoramic views of Magens Bay and neighboring Jost Van Dyke and Tortola, has re-opened. 
  • Fascinated by ships that have gone to a watery grave? Check out Pirate’s Treasure: A Shipwreck Museum, a new museum in Havensight featuring interactive exhibits that highlight the history, exploration and artifacts of shipwrecks from  around the world.  
  • The Tropical Treasure Hunt Company is now offering several themed treasure hunts—among them pirates, rum and island-hopping—that challenge participants to hunt by land or sea.
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