When arranging a Caribbean trip for student groups, it’s important to find a good mix of daytime activities, cultural attractions, and, of course, nightlife. The trouble is that many of the islands, especially those developed specifically for tourism purposes, are filled with busy and bustling nightclubs and bars where drinking way too much is somewhat encouraged – and that’s clearly not an ideal environment for student groups, even more so if they’re experiencing their first trip with friends and away from family. Fortunately, some islands are a bit more relaxed in their approach to nightlife, and it’s these places that are particularly suited to student travel. Here are five of the best places for student groups to explore in the Caribbean:
1. St. Thomas
St. Thomas is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which aren’t particularly renowned for their nightlife, but what’s on offer here is a relaxed and quiet setting that’s quite picturesque, too. The Charlotte Amalie and Frenchtown areas are filled with down-to-earth, open-air beachfront bars that look out over the Caribbean cruises sailing in and out of Long Bay and the St. Thomas Harbor. It’s a great place for students to catch up over a beer or cocktail after a full day discovering the joys of the island, such as deep sea diving at Coki Point Beach and hiking through the Virgin Islands National Park.
What better place to experience true Caribbean nightlife than the birthplace of reggae? There are literally thousands of reggae bars and clubs dotted across the island, but perhaps the best place to listen to the sounds of the 60s is Montego Bay, specifically in July. Montego Bay plays host to the annual Reggae Sumfest, a festival showcasing some of the best talents in the Caribbean. Different artists performing different reggae styles perform during each of the six nights of the festival. And the best aspect for student groups? The age limit is just 16 years, so the festival focuses more on the great music and talents rather than simply ‘getting wasted’.
3. The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a very tourist-oriented nation, with an abundance of huge 5* resort hotels, so it’s only natural that the nightlife centers around the bars and clubs in these amazing resorts. Of course, for students especially, enjoying the nightlife inside their hotel is a much safer option than exploring the local clubs, but there’s also a somewhat cheesy aspect to hotel-based nightlife that’s fun, and ideal for young groups. The Dominican Republic has been likened to the Caribbean Las Vegas, with a number of cabaret shows of questionable quality but astonishing entertainment value. It might seem laughable at first, but give it a go! There isn’t anyone who doesn’t enjoy a bit of lighthearted cabaret every now and then.
4. Puerto Rico
Although originating in Cuba, salsa dancing has enjoyed huge success in Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans have, in a way, made the dance their own. A great amount of Puerto Rican nightlife is centered around salsa, and even many of the nation’s daytime activities have a dance focus. San Juan is one of the best places to visit for some salsa-based nightlife, with clubs such as Nuyorican Cafe and Soleil Beach Club being excellent choices for taking a spin. And beginner’s needn’t be afraid, as the dancers here will be more than happy to teach students the famous six step routine, although those that want to be prepared for a night on the dance floor could take in a few lessons during the day.
Walk anywhere throughout Trinidad during either the daytime or the evening, and you’re in for a real treat: a free concert! Steel pan bands can be found all over Trinidad and Tobago, and the music style is unique to the Caribbean. Watching the players and listening to the music is one of the best, and most affordable, ways to experience the Trinidadian nightlife. For a bit of added excitement, book a trip here during February when the Carnival takes place. It’s the nation’s biggest annual event, rivaling the likes of the Rio and Notting Hill carnivals, and includes flamboyant costumes, glowing nighttime parades and, of course, parties every night.
Where are some of YOUR favorite cruise destinations? Have you been to any of the locations above? Tell us about your experiences below!