While the most alluring aspects of Caribbean destinations are the year-round warm weather, beautiful sandy beaches abutting blue water, and water-based activities ranging from paddleboarding to scuba diving, many travelers also want a healthy dose of partying on their vacation. From buzzing nightclubs and casual beachfront bars, to strong rum cocktails and all-inclusive drink packages, there are some Caribbean locales that offer a plethora of party-minded pros for visitors. Keep reading for our top party-centric spots in the Caribbean.
Although visitors to the Dominican Republic often head to Punta Cana for its beachside fun, it’s actually not the best party spot in this Caribbean nation. Santo Domingo, the capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is packed with bars, nightclubs, and hotels offering live performances. Visitors can pick between their favorite style of music — merengue, salsa, bachata, pop, and reggaeton — or sample all of them at various spots throughout the city. Onno’s Bar and Sabina Bar are just a couple of favorites. In addition to fancy wine bars and buzzing dance clubs, there are grocery stores known as colmados that turn into popular spots for locals to grab a beer and listen to Latin music. Plus, the abundant historic colonial architecture, sea views, and museums are excellent ways to keep busy in the day.
With a history dating back more than 500 years, the buildings that house Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and now home to one of Santo Domingo’s most charming and historic upscale hotels. The property is well-located for exploring the city, plus it has an outdoor pool with decent views of Rio Ozama and La Residence restaurant, a fine-dining French eatery with a romantic alfresco dining space.
College kids and young-at-heart travelers head to Cancun for the free-flowing margaritas, Caribbean sunshine, and rampant nightlife spots. Though visitors should expect lots of Americanized restaurants and bars, as well as some rowdy behavior, there’s no denying it’s a great spot to let loose while overlooking the beautiful white-sand beach. Resorts in the Hotel Zone can provide all the party essentials, plus the area is packed with popular spots like Señor Frog’s, Carlos’n Charlie’s, and Coco Bongo dance club, all of which are close together for easy bar-hopping.
The all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Cancun is a fantastic pick for party-minded guests, thanks to its gorgeous infinity pool with ocean views and two popular swim-up bars, lovely beachfront, five restaurants serving international cuisine, and live entertainment, plus a great spa to rejuvenate after a night of dancing and imbibing.
Puerto Rico is a fun, colorful, and vibrant country with tons to do, and nowhere is that more apparent than the capital of San Juan. On Puerto Rico’s northern coast, San Juan has gorgeous Colonial-style buildings and cobblestone streets, which contrast the casinos, nightclubs, and bars found throughout. Start your night with refreshing pina coladas, then pop into one of the many spots for salsa and flamenco dancing, such as the popular La Factoria. For more sand-filled fun, head to Isla Verde Beach and grab a cocktail at Alambique Beach Lounge.
The upscale San Juan Marriott resort and Stellaris Casino is a 527-room property with direct access to a scenic stretch of Condado Beach. Extensive features include a pool complex with swim-up bar and waterslide, attractive guest rooms with flat-screen TVs and balconies, multiple restaurants and an ocean-view bar, popular casino, and full-service spa.
You won’t find a ton of massive all-inclusive resorts or areas packed with nightclubs in Aruba, but the small island is still a worthwhile party spot, particularly for those looking to do some gambling. Drinking and gambling at one of the several casinos is legal for 18 year olds, plus the casinos are often open until late at night and have some form of entertainment. Visitors can find a hotel with a swim-up bar for day drinking, and head to the Palm Beach area at night, which is home to popular Gusto night club, Soprano’s Piano Bar, Saloon Bar, and Bugaloe Beach Bar & Grill. For more authentic culture, drive 20 minutes south to Oranjestad to the highly frequented rum shop, Local Store, and Cafe Chaos, a pub that attracts both locals and tourists.
The lively Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club is a mid-range property in Aruba’s popular beachfront High Rise district. Rooms with kitchenettes, or apartment-style units with full kitchens are available, and many have wonderful views of the pool and ocean. The highlight here is the series of pools with a Lazy River, waterslide, and swim-up bar.
Travelers looking to experience more local culture than the average Caribbean island — without sacrificing party-filled activities — should head to Negril, Jamaica. Although it’s not nearly as culturally immersive as the capital of Kingston, it offers a lovely blend of stunning beaches, seaside bars and restaurants serving jerk chicken and Red Stripe, and live entertainment from Jamaicans. Cliff-jumping at Rick’s Cafe, fresh seafood along Seven Mile Beach, and dancing to DJ-led music at spots like The Jungle Night Club are not to be missed.
The all-inclusive Hedonism II is an upper-middle-range nudist resort, popular with couples looking to spice up their vacation, fun-seeking groups, and some singles. This adults-only resort is tucked into a quiet, secluded section of Negril’s Seven Mile Beach in Jamaica. There are both a “nude” and “prude” side here to accommodate guests of different comfort levels, in addition to sexy theme nights, a risque playroom, and shop for lingerie and toys.
You may know Cartagena from its plethora of Instagram-worthy facades in vibrant hues with climbing greenery, but this coastal Colombian city is home to a wide array of day and nighttime attractions. After spending a day exploring the colonial architecture within the historic Walled City, travelers can head to nearby spots such as Cafe Havana for cuban music and salsa dancing, Alquimico for fancy craft cocktails, and Via Apia for tapas. For more nightclubs, beaches, and modern buildings, take a quick taxi to the Bocagrande neighborhood.
Set within the historic Walled City, across the street from Cartagena’s famous Catedral de Santa Catalina, Hotel Casa del Arzobispado is an upper-middle-range boutique that’s charming and elegant. The property has just 10 spacious, individually decorated rooms, a beautiful pool and courtyard, and free Wi-Fi. All rates include breakfast and there’s a small spa and sauna for relaxing.
Albeit smaller than its neighbor Aruba, the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao still has a great spread of hopping bars and clubs. Close to the cruise terminal is Mambo Beach, which houses Wet & Wild Beach Club offering happy hour and live DJs, and Madera Ocean Club, featuring well-priced cocktail and food menus. The more central Willemstad area has 27 Bar & Terrace, a popular live music venue, and Sopranos sports bar. The great windsurfing conditions, photogenic colonial architecture, and rampant beautiful beaches are just cherries on top of the piña coladas.
The 350-room Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is an expansive luxury property that draws both couples and families with its array of features such as a lovely spa, kids’ camp, and three pools. The wide, white-sand beach and protected swimming area are highlights, as is an 18-hole golf course. The all-inclusive package covers all meals at the restaurant and pool bar; select beers, house wines, and cocktails
Known for pink-sand beaches, observable British influence, and shipwreck diving, Barbados is a spirited Caribbean nation with nightlife to match. The most popular area for drinking and dining is St. Lawrence Gap, a strip of restaurants, bars, clubs, and hotels near Dover Beach. The Cove is a bustling club there that plays a variety of music including calypso and reggae, while nearby Old Jamm Inn has a dance floor, cheap drinks, and a mix of locals and tourists. For those closer to the capital of Bridgetown, the open-air Harbour Lights is a well-regarded nightclub, while visitors to the Holetown area often make a stop of Red Door Lounge and Drift Ocean Terrace Lounge.
The mid-range Yellow Bird has a great location across from a beach in the popular St. Lawrence Gap area, within walking distance of nightlife, restaurants, and several beaches. There are 22 rooms here with contemporary decor, kitchenettes, and furnished balconies overlooking the sea. A small outdoor pool with loungers and an all-day, open-air restaurant and bar also provide ocean views.
Off the coast of Venezuela, south of Barbados, sits the dual-island country of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad is the larger, more industrialized island, while Tobago is more popular as a tourist getaway. Family-friendly activities such as lounging on the beach, snorkeling, and bird-watching are all popular activities, and there are historical attractions worth a visit. For party animals, the best time to visit the country is during February’s Carnival, when the streets of Port of Spain, Trinidad are transformed with numerous musical performers and parties, elaborately costumed women, and lots of dancing.
To be near the Carnival hub, we recommend staying at Courtyard by Marriott Port of Spain. This upper-middle-range property has 116 clean, contemporary rooms with mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, and balconies in some. The hotel offers an outdoor pool set in a spacious sundeck, a fitness center, and all-day restaurant, plus free Wi-Fi.
As the only FDA-approved hangover cure, you’re going to want to pack some Blowfish in your bag for your next party-filled vacation.
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